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Author Topic: International football - who needs it?  (Read 1720 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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International football - who needs it?
« on: August 28, 2020, 01:03:19 PM »
The non-selection of Jack Grealish for yet another England squad at a time when he was widely expected to be called up allows me to return to a favourite topic of Villa's international players, or in some cases, players overlooked consistently and unjustly at international level.





In the case of Grealish it seems obvious that there is a reason other than form or divisional level which causes Gareth Southgate to give ever more weak reasons (or excuses) for not calling up the Villa captain. Whether that is a personality clash, off-field issues or just the fact that he plays for Aston Villa all have been discussed by fans, journalists and pundits, as well as by Southgate himself, almost ad nauseam since the latest squad was announced on Tuesday. Grealish has chosen not to be drawn on the subject other than liking a Sky Sports' Twitter post which showed his statistics in comparison to the best Premier League players last season.

Taking each of the possible reasons for Grealish's latest exclusion they mostly do not stack up. The argument about Jack breaking coronavirus lockdown regulations in late March fall down when Kyle Walker, who repeatedly flouted the same regulations and to a far greater extent more than once, and Harry Maguire, who even as the squad was announced was in the process of being tried and convicted of multiple offences in Greece.

That Walker and Maguire, who later was withdrawn from Southgate's squad, play for the two Manchester clubs just adds fuel to those looking for a conspiracy theory. Rumours abounded that Southgate would not pick Jack until he moves to one of Sky's favoured clubs. As an aside, the begging for Grealish to join Manchester Untied on social media by fans who couldn't point Salford out on a map has been hilarious.





As Southgate pointed out, if he wasn't going to pick Villa players Tyrone Mings would not be among those chosen to face Iceland and Denmark. That the England manager felt he had to mention in the same sentence that we as Villa fans hadn't forgiven him for leaving for Middlesbrough nearly twenty years ago probably says more about his mindset than ours.

You might have won a trophy with us Gareth, and I thank you for being part of Brian Little's Villa renaissance, but you are overstating your own importance in Villa's history. If Danny Blind had joined Villa from Ajax in 1995 you would have remained an average midfielder. You owe almost your entire career to a Villa legend and were replaced by a much better defender in Olof Mellberg when you left. You may be England manager now but you would do well to remember that.

It is Southgate's ego which may provide the answer to Jack Grealish's omission and stories of him missing meetings and turning up late while the current national manager was in charge of the Under-21 side. If that is true, holding a long term grudge against a player who was little more than a teenager at the time is not a good look for a fifty year old. Lockdown misjudgement aside, Jack Grealish is not the same immature man he was when he was pictured in less than professional situations more than six years ago.

Southgate, though, is far from the first England manager to inexplicably exclude Villa players or indeed the first international manager.





Taking players from the decade from Villa's promotion in 1974-75 to Tony Barton's sacking in 1984, a period when Villa won a glut of trophies and consistently finished towards the top end of the old First Division, I've had a look at players who were obviously international standard and those who actually won caps for the home nations and the Republic of Ireland. The figures are quite stark.

Over that period of more-or-less consistent Villa success the most capped Villa player was Leighton Phillips who won 26 of his 58 caps for Wales while a Villa player with Peter Withe and Chris Nicholl sitting joint second in that list with just eleven appearances for England and Northern Ireland respectively. Nicholl won a total of 51 caps overall but for Withe his eleven constituted his entire international career.

A figure which I have always found difficult to believe is the number of Scotland appearances Andy Gray made when he was at Villa and not on the treatment table or suspended for his early MMA audition. Even so, just six games in the four years when he was tearing into top flight defences is almost criminal, especially when Scotland struggled for goals in the 1978 World Cup. Just six games for one of the most dangerous wingers in Europe in Tony Morley is equally baffling when England struggled to break down defences in the second round group four years later.

In addition to Withe and Morley of the Villa squad who won the championship and European Cup only Sid Cowans, Nigel Spink and Allan Evans won any kind of senior international recognition but still only got twelve caps between them in the relevant time frame. Sid did, however, add a couple more when he was at Bari and then made a controversial final England appearance when he replaced Paul Gascoigne in Dublin in 1990.





All of Evans' four caps came in 1982 when he played more internationals than any other Villa player except Eamonn Deacy, who also won all of his four Republic Of Ireland caps that year; missing the success in Rotterdam to tour with his country. What sums up the home nations aversion to Villa players is the fact that the most capped Villa player during 1980-81 i.e. before Villa won the league on 2nd May 1981, was... nobody! Not one Villa player played an international game when they were busy winning the league that season. Even after the season ended only Withe and Terry Donovan, who won the last of his two caps for Ireland in May 1981 despite not playing for Villa at all during the season, got any game time for their countries.

At least these players did appear at international level, which is far more than Dennis Mortimer, Gary Shaw or Ken McNaught ever did (Jack Gealish is in some esteemed company in that respect) while the man who Gareth Southgate should thank for his career at the highest level, Brian Little, played just twenty minutes against Wales for England. John Gidman also played once for England while Jimmy Rimmer did likewise but when he was at Arsenal. Alex Cropley, twice, and Des Bremner, once, played for Scotland while at Hibernian and John Gregory, Steve McMahon and Mark Walters played for England long after they had left Villa.

As Villa declined after Doug Ellis spitefully sacked Tony Barton international players, particularly for England, became fewer and further between at Villa Park with a couple of high profile exceptions, Ireland though have never had a problem selecting Villa players and our most capped player is Steve Staunton with 64 across his two spells in B6. Maybe this is the reason some have suggested Jack should revert his international declaration to Ireland.

Despite all of this, and particularly when considering the issues successive England managers have had with picking Villa players, there are two glaring ironies. Firstly, until the boardroom neglect of the last decade allowed Spurs to surpass the number, Villa had provided more England internationals than any other club.

The second irony is Villa's most capped Englishman: Gareth Southgate.

Stacy Murphy

Offline Dr Butler

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2020, 01:16:44 PM »
that is a great article, nice one Stacy.

I have regular battles mostly with locals in the pub extoling the virtues of Gordon Cowans over Glenda Hoddle and how the UEFA, French and  FA Cup winning madman was not fit to lace the boots of our European, European Super Cup, League Cup and League champion.


UTV
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Offline Charlie8182

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2020, 03:57:49 PM »
We won the European Cup in May 1982 with an all British team and within weeks the World Cup in Spain took place, and only Peter Withe (England) and Allan Evans (Scotland) went to the tournament, and even those 2 barely kicked a ball between them I seem to remember - quite unbelievable when you think about it!

Online WarszaVillan82

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2020, 04:02:07 PM »
We won the European Cup in May 1982 with an all British team and within weeks the World Cup in Spain took place, and only Peter Withe (England) and Allan Evans (Scotland) went to the tournament, and even those 2 barely kicked a ball between them I seem to remember - quite unbelievable when you think about it!


Its incredible we won the European Cup with three Scots, none of which established themselves as regular internationals. Evans had a nightmare though against New Zealand as I remember in the opening game in 1982 and lost his place

Offline jcsutv

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2020, 07:44:33 PM »
Great read.

Offline dcdavecollett

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2020, 01:58:30 AM »
Good stuff. I thought I was on the ball with this but I had no idea we had been so shabbily treated during, arguably, the most successful spell in the club's history.

Offline JD

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2020, 09:01:22 AM »
Totally agree Dave. We should have dominated the England 1982 World Cup squad. That's one of the big reasons I don't care too much about the England Team. England would have won the World Cup in 1982 with Withe, Shaw, Mortimer, Morley and Cowans playing.

Offline Charlie8182

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2020, 11:22:24 AM »
Compare our lack of inclusion to nearly men but media favourites Ipswich Town, who had Butcher, Mills, Mariner, Burley, Wark and Brazil all featuring at the 1982 World Cup.

They were even fashionable enough to have Wark, Osman, Kevin O’Callaghan and Laurie Sivell starring in Escape to Victory the year before!

Offline dcdavecollett

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2020, 02:27:33 AM »
My long-standing pet theory is that if Greenwood (hah!) had picked a largely midlands team with a few guest players from the lesser regions, we could have won it back in '82.

Consider the following 'locals': Shilton, Robson, Williams, Statham, Dennis, Sid, Morley, Withe, Francis, Big Cyrille. Add a few outsiders, and Bob's yer uncle!!

Offline Rico

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2020, 06:08:06 PM »
Always been a firm belief of mine that England should of and would have won the World Cup in 82 if they had of basically picked the Villa team (minus the Scots) that had just won the European Cup.

Not picking Grealish is yet again another reason why England will never win anything until we get a manager who recognises talent when he sees it.

Offline dcdavecollett

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2020, 01:23:19 AM »
Agreed.

Oh, missed Gary Shaw and Viv Anderson out of my midlands England XI/squad!!

Online ozzjim

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2020, 08:35:48 AM »
Great article, really interesting read. The fact Southgate mentioned the Boro move all these years later is a worrying insight to his mind. I don't think Villa fans care a jot about it any more.

Offline Damo70

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2020, 01:02:44 PM »
I think I am right in saying Tony Morley was awarded the honour of being voted player of the competition for the 1981-1982 European Cup campaign. It wasn't an honour that was given much publicity or fanfare. But when it came to the world cup in Spain Arsenal's Graham Rix was selected as the left sided player in the England midfield. Helped by the fact Rix played under England coach Don Howe week in week out for Arsenal.

Offline darren woolley

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2020, 03:06:32 PM »
Great read Stacy.

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Re: International football - who needs it?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2020, 09:33:16 PM »
Might need a minor rewrite? Excellent article, as usual.

 


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