It’s become par for the course that England squads don’t contain Newcastle United players.
Let’s be honest, there really haven’t been many worthy candidates in recent years either. However, there has been a few, and the recent England squad has left me scratching my head and finally asking the question, “do Gareth Southgate and the FA have a problem with us”?
It’s a theory I’ve seen and heard discussed on social media and in pubs and I’ll be honest, I never bought into it. I thought it was paranoia on the part of Newcastle fans, but, this time around, it’s the selection of Tyrone Mings and Mason Mount that’s really irked me (although it’s obvious the latter has all the tools to be a cracking player).
I must stress that I don’t think there are any current Newcastle players who should currently be there but, as I said, there have been recent cases when a few most definitely did. For example, if you go back to the 2017/18 season, Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey deserved at least one call up.
Lascelles was absolutely outstanding that year, he captained a newly promoted team to a 10th place finish and was as good as any English centre back that year, yet he didn’t get a look in.
Jones and Smalling struggled for form and fitness, Stones was in and out the team at Man City whilst making some high profile errors, Cahill was deemed too old and Maguire was emerging. While Tarkowski and Mee were getting all the plaudits at Burnley, and both were called up, there was absolutely zero recognition for our skipper.
We all know Lascelles is limited on the ball, but defensively he’s as good as any of them. His inability to play out from the back was cited as a reason for his continued omission, but calling up Mings who has only played four games for a newly promoted team, and isn’t exactly Franz Beckenbauer on the ball, makes a mockery of Lascelles’ snub on that ‘ball playing’ basis. It just doesn’t add up to have one player barely put a foot wrong all season and receive no call up, yet another newly promoted centre-back has a few solid games and is called up immediately. There is no comparison, yet look who got the nod.
Then the case of Shelvey in the same year. There was a lot of lazy journalism saying he was a liability, in fact since his stupid red card on the opening day of that season Shelvey’s on field behaviour has been exemplary.
People also harked back to an incident between him and Southgate around 7 years previously when Shelvey refused a call up to the U21’s. Whatever the case, Shelvey was, in my opinion, entitled to a second chance, at the very least a conversation with Southgate. On purely footballing ability and form, he deserved a crack that year. He offered something different. I mean is there anyone in the world who actually thinks Jake Livermore is a better footballer than Jonjo Shelvey? I say that because Livermore was getting the nod at that time where Shelvey was being ignored. I know they are a different type of player – Livermore is more defensive minded – but where is Livermore now, and while we’re on the subject, if Livermore ever got a call up, does Issac Hayden not deserve a call up in that position?
Then another strange case being that of Sean Longstaff last year. Yes it was only 9 games, but it’s more Premier League appearances than Mason Mount, and Longstaff was every bit as good if not better than Mount following his break through to the first season. Baffling considering England are crying out for that kind of player. Sadly Longstaff hasn’t been as good this year, but I’m hoping he’s still finding his feet after a bad injury, and also hoping it isn’t because he’s been coached by Bruce instead of Rafa. And what of Oxlaide Chamberlain? Good player, of course he is. It was a career threatening injury he sustained just before the last World Cup, but his form (and complete lack of game time) since returning has had Liverpool fans worrying about his long term ability to get back to that level. He hasn’t looked the same player, yet once again, he’s straight into Southgate’s squad.
Let’s just hope that Shelvey, Lascelles, Longstaff and Hayden can indeed play well enough to turn Southgate’s head, however far fetched it seems. But it’s hard to argue that if any of the afore mentioned players had been playing for certain other clubs during this peak form they would have stood a better chance of a call up.