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England and the Mikel Arteta Debate: An Undecided Stumble into Euro 2012 Qualification

Feb. 20, 2010 - 05509158 date 20 02 2010 Copyright imago Color Sports Football Barclays Premier League Everton vs Manchester United AT Goodison Park Mikel Arteta Everton 20 02 2010 PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxPOLxUSAxONLY Football men England 2009 2010 Premier League Liverpool Action shot Single Vdig xkg 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd.

Just as the Premier League begins to stretch it’s legs into a stride, the ill-timed, oft-hated and much maligned international break emerges like some disease spread upon the world footballing community. I don’t necessarily dislike the break as some do, but do I look forward to it’s oddly timed, momentum sucking arrival as club football bows to the international slop? No.

This summer taught me that international football is far from what it used to be (dead? does anyone really care anymore?). Gone are the days of commitment in attack, a stage big enough to display the brightest stars or even a reason to get excited about your country or adopted footballing nation. Here to stay: caution, defensive tactics, caution, glitzy commercials, hype, controversy, the Gods of football dead as a Ghanaian team carrying the hopes of a continent slashed at the end by some trickery and treachery, and enough cautious tactics to make one pluck out their eye in protest.

Did I mention caution?

As an England fan, I somehow convince myself to stay optimistic. Surely the Three Lions won’t muck Euro 2012 qualification up the way they did for the tournament in 2008. No, qualification isn’t what bothers me this time. Capello will likely get enough out of the boys for the ticket to be punched for 2012.

A few glaring concerns I do have though, one of which is squad selection, the other tactics. The ‘England problem’ won’t likely be solved for the next 15-20 years. So, in the meantime, who will England fans get to see take up the call? I’m not in the class of delusional England fans who think a major tournament is some ‘in arms reach realism’ likely to come before my 40’s. But where I’m drawn in this time, where my interest is acutely peaked is Fabio Capello’s squad selection and tactical formation.

Will his 4-4-2 ever give way to the new continental brand of 4-2-3-1 where the English aren’t outnumbered in midfield?

As the golden generation of English football slowly creaks and cracks into international retirement, the buoyant optimism of young, fresh faces emerging through the England ranks invigorate this England supporter enough to lend a watchful eye to their unassuming potential.

Are the old guard good enough players to get England to Euro 2012? Likely yes. Are they good enough to win it? Likely no. So out of interest and maybe just a little bit of fun, can we have a glimpse of what the younger English talent look like in meaningful matches? The optimist says we already have and Capello himself seems to say yes.

Whether by choice or lack of other viable options due to injury, Capello has included the likes of Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott, James Milner, Joe Hart, Kieran Gibbs, Ashley Young and Carlton Cole in his most recent installment of the BBC hit drama known as the England team.

Odd though, no Germans, Dutch, Brazilians or Spaniards in the mix to represent mother England in this new world of global football. Wait-, should we even go there? You knew it was coming.

Mikel Arteta, the handsome, enigmatic midfielder from Merseyside, yet to speak (in English or Spanish) concerning his international involvement in this international incident continues to pull the strings for under-acheiving Everton as the club languish towards the basement of the Premier League.

Is this Mr. Arteta good enough for England? He certainly looks the part, but what does his potential inclusion to the England squad say about the state of current England players? One part of me says little, the other half screams a lot.

First off, England have a player named Paul Scholes who is all things Mikel Arteta but better, yet refuses to take part in the play. Secondly, is Mikel Arteta really better than Frank Lampard, the man he’d likely be replacing? No. It’s really not even worth pointing out stats, goals scored, etc. over the past few years, Lampard wins all of them in a landslide. Not to mention the Champions League and international experience Lampard has tucked neatly under his belt while Arteta has played a small handful of UEFA Cup matches and obviously, or we wouldn’t be discussing this matter, appeared no where near the Spanish national team in recent years. Does some covert proof exist that Mikel Arteta is the answer for England?

So what of the debate that Lampard and Co rarely perform well on the international stage? A solid and well taken point that is backed up by years of proof, so where do we turn, what to do? Does a tournament finally approach wherein England aren’t expected to win it in a glorious fashion thus allowing football to return home? What will be the expectations this time around? Will a new look, fresh smelling England squad be enough to hold back the rabid haters and tabloid clowns?

An American telling the English to play a Spaniard in place of an Englishman dare not be uttered. Regardless of your stance on the debate or deaf to what Capello or Arteta themselves eventually say on the matter, my recommendation, until I’ve made up my mind, is to look at home first for what you’ve lost along the way, to nurture, and to somehow get into the mentality of the now tainted mind of the English footballer. The idea of my brain being able to work out whether or not a Spanish midfielder should pull the strings in the England set up is an idea too intricate, too complex to want to fathom. Where do we go once that can of worms have spilled upon our plates? 

Until this seemingly impossible feat is achieved, that of calming the intellects of the England internationals, England fans can expect more of the same from an England team that so miserably underwhelmed this summer at the World Cup. At least this time around, we’ll have a new batch of untested internationals to blame.

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  1. Svenko Wankerov

    August 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    That’s a bit rich when England basically poached Owen Hargreaves away from Canada and Wales. He had never even lived in England when he got his first cap, at least Cacau had lived in Germany prior to representing them.

  2. Poker Rakeback

    August 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Don’t want him to be picked and I’m glad he hasn’t been, We don’t need or want anyone else’s cast offs, we win with English players or we lose with English players. Let Germany have their poles, turks and Brazilians we will win or lose with our own players.

  3. Paul Bestall

    August 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Arteta couldn’t currently play for England without all 4 home nations agreeing to the choice as they have a gentlemans agreement in place.
    The irony of this is that Northern Ireland are seeing players choose to represent the Irish Republic rather than Northern Ireland due to an clause in the Good Friday agreement. This allows people born in the North to apply for either British or Irish nationality as required.
    As such, players are changing their allegiances and moving to play for Eire.

  4. Aven

    August 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    lampard shud retire from international duty and let arteta play the role and put liverpool skipper steven gerrard in the attacking midfielder or second striker role cause he knws how to get pass defenders and score important goals unlike lampard who just loses the ball cause of his selfishness…

  5. J Ray

    August 30, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Wow! Awesome job on this article! Very refreshing for an author to give pertinent information leading up to a well educated opinion. Enjoyed this read.

  6. Rob McCluskey

    August 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

    They were speaking about it on Soccer Saturday, the best Phil Thompson could come up with as to why Arteta shouldn’t be in the squad was “because he shouldn’t”. There still appears to be this mentality that England are some how better than the rest of the world, but countries like Germany and Italy are calling up these types of players and it works for them. Just because Arteta is in the squad it doesn’t mean that the whole foundations of English youth football will be destroyed, why are the pundits so hesitant and scared to admit that there isn’t a great deal of quality in English football at the moment. If anything the amount of money and foreign players brought into the Premier League (due to a lack of rules to make homegrown players given a chance) is the reason for this.

    I’m all for Arteta in the squad, if you’re English and you’re against it then you should be boycotting our cricket team that has more foreign players than English ones (including an the captain who is South African).

    Capello spoke about a revolution yet I don’t see much of that. He’s just dropped some players because of the pressure, Lampard and Gerrard are still there and they STILL don’t work in the same side, they won’t be around for the next world cup so why not start building a squad for that?

    Arteta should definetley get a call up, he’s a great player and could really add something to England, if not him then England should at least be calling on newer players to create a new squad, not this complete muddle of confusion that is there now.

    • TangoAlphaLima

      August 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm

      Regarding your comment of Germany “calling up these types of players,” I think you’re a little off base there.

      The only German player who could be compared to Arteta is Cacau, who is Brazilian but obtained a German passport after living in the country for 8 years.

      Players like Podolski and Marin were born outside of Germany, but came to Germany as children and grew up there. Additionally, players like Podolski and Klose are of German heritage. Remember, Germany lost a lot of territory following the two World Wars, and there are many people of German heritage who live in neighboring countries like Poland. Those individuals are nonetheless considered Germans, and are allowed to live in Germany after proving their German heritage.

      So, although Cacau was accepted by the German national team under the same circumstances as Arteta, I can’t recall another German player who is similarly situated. It’s not nearly as prevalent in the German national team as you might believe.

      • Rob McCluskey

        August 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

        But they still did it and they benefit.

        You could argue Kuranyi fits into this category aswell as he was brought up all his life in Brazil until he moved to Stutgart, sure he had a German parent but he was pertty much a brazillian all his life.

        I wasn’t trying to get at the fact that podolski and khedirha etc are “not German” they are, I never said that, but they do, just like Italy with Amauri. Say Arteta gets in the team and does well, then what do people think, they’ll all be his biggest fan.

        • TangoAlphaLima

          August 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

          FYI, Khedira was born in Stuttgart, and his mother is German. He doesn’t belong in this discussion.

          Also, Kuranyi lived in Germany from the age of 14. Not the same type of situation as Cacau or Arteta, who really have no other relation to Germany and England respectively except for playing football in those countries during their adult lives.

      • Dave C

        August 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm

        @Tango – Good point(s). In fact I said almost exactly the same thing in reply to the previous article on this topic. Many people wrongly think that Arteta is somehow analogeous to Germany, France or the Netherlands and their “ethnic” players, when it really isn’t the same case at all. Cacau is the only one with a similar situation.

        @Rob McClusky – This has absolutely NOTHING to do with England thinking they’re better than the rest of the world. I don’t know what gives you that impression. It’s just a simple case of the FA doing the right thing. Supposedly, all four British national teams have a gentleman’s agreement not to pick such players (that’s why Nacho Novo never got called up for Scotland).

        @ Jesse – did this article really need regurgitating so soon?? It really adds nothing new to what was written a few days ago.

        Is anyone in the real world (i.e. outside of EPL Talk) actually calling for Arteta to be called up?

        • Jesse Chula

          August 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm

          Dave C,

          I did notice after I had published the article that the Gaffer had written something similar just a few days ago. Odd, because I usually read most everything on EPL Talk, but I must have missed that one.

          • Dave C

            August 31, 2010 at 9:53 am

            Jesse – in that case, my apologies – I actually thought you had written both of them. I think this really points to a problem with this website – it’s great that so many different people post articles, but I think there should be some process to make sure the similar articles aren’t published so often.

    • Dave

      August 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      Whats the point of having someone play for your country just because they play in that league for long enough? England would soon be dominant as most of the top players play there.

      I love watching Arteta play for Everton. We see a mix of internationals play for clubs in the Prem now. Do we really want to see the same thing in internationals? Id rather see a subpar English team than win the world cup with 11 Artetas.

      Brazil should be the only exception. Every team needs a Brazialian on it!

  7. RVPFan

    August 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Mikel Arteta and Frank Lampard are two completely different persona, although both play in the midfield role. Frank Lampard is one of my favorite player, but he cannot pull the strings in the middle like Arteta does. Lampard is more forward thinking rather than Arteta. Lamps does not stay in midfield and passes around left right and center. Arteta’s arrival would signal good things for Lamps in my opinion. He can then play in the forward midfield role, Arteta can sit back and provide passes. I think they would both fit perfectly in the same squad. But, its what Capello thinks is good, and we have all seen how that has worked out so far.

    By the way Gaffer, I don’t like International breaks either, but this time it was come as a blessing in disguise. RVP has time to rest 🙂

    • Sir Guy

      August 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      “By the way Gaffer, I don’t like International breaks either, but this time it has come as a blessing in disguise. RVP has time to rest.”

      Jesse….congratulations on your promotion. 🙂 Sorry, Christopher. 🙁

      • RVPFan

        August 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

        My apologies to Jesse. Gaffer writes a lot here, so please pardon for confusion.

        • Sir Guy

          August 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm

          Please know I wasn’t being critical. Just having some fun with The Gaffer…..whomever that happens to be. 🙂

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