After waiting for what must have felt like an eternity, Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick got the news that he so desperately wanted when he was named in the squad of 23 for England’s World Cup campaign together with team mates Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney. After failing to get any game time in last Sundays 2-1 defeat of Japan, Carrick was considered to be extremely doubtful of making the cut.
Right up until the squad was announced by England manager Fabio Capello, Carrick was preparing himself for the possibility of being one of the seven players to miss out. “I don’t know whether I’ve done enough to be in the squad” he said “It’s not for me to say, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s a different situation to what we’re used to but that’s what it is. You’ve just got to hope your best has been good enough” Capello obviously thought that it was.
Carrick is fully aware that he has struggled to establish himself in an England career which has run more cold than hot so far. The lifeline given to him by Capello will be an opportunity for the midfielder to rediscover the form that he showed at Old Trafford in the first two seasons after his move from Spurs. This year has been far less impressive with some ordinary displays by his standards resulting in manager Sir Alex Ferguson barely using him in the latter part of the season.
Rio Ferdinand – South Africa will be the England captain’s fourth Mundial since his introduction by Glenn Hoddle to the world stage in 1998. But his participation in this one was in doubt at one stage after ongoing injuries severely curtailed his season at Old Trafford. All those problems appear to be behind him now confidently stating “My back is fine and hopefully I’ll be fit for the tournament. I feel good, I love playing in big games and in World Cups. Hopefully that will happen again.”
Ferdinand goes as far as saying that his injury problems this season may even be of some benefit for England. He’s a strong believer that other teams have an advantage because of their domestic mid season break saying that “If we did the same in England we’d give ourselves a better opportunity of doing well in summer tournaments because we will not have to play in as many matches”
Wayne Rooney – At the beginning of the World Cup qualifying campaign Capello needed to find some way of getting maximum value from Rooney. Up until that stage, 16 internationals since Euro ‘04 had only produced two successful strikes, a disappointing return for a super goal machine.
At the end of it, he had found the net nine times in nine matches showing Capello how well he had adapted to a system which handed him the responsibility for scoring. Rooney is totally focused on the job that needs to be done if England is to beat the world for the first time in 44 years.
If Rooney’s performances in South Africa can come anywhere near those which won him both the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year for United, he will go a long way towards proving that England is capable of producing Ronaldos and Messis as well as the best of them.
Very best of luck to England and the Manchester United trio