Despite Roy Hodgson being “pleased with the way the players went about their task” last night at Wembley against the Ukraine, a salvaged draw on a penalty kick has got many supporters—from the apathetic to the “tribal”—slightly alarmed about England’s World Cup qualifying adventure. The press, like usual, is consequently hyperventilating, with John Dillon of The Daily Express writing: “Make no mistake…the World Cup qualifying campaign is already on the rocks” and James Lawton of The Independent adding: “This, if ever there was one, was a night for England to face the reality of still relentless decline.”
Although it was Frank Lampard who ended up rescuing dignity from the jaws of embarrassment, perhaps England is on the inevitable downward arc—or should I say, England’s “golden generation” is. With John Terry out from injury, Steven Gerrard out from red-card silliness, and other aging players showing signs of, well, aging, maybe it’s good for Hodgson’s side that the times they are a changin’.
With younger players like Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling ready and able, perhaps it’s time for Hodgson to make a proactive move instead of following the tired England script of old. Which brings me to the point of this diatribe (talk about burying the lead): England needs to call up Swansea City’s Nathan Dyer. Why they haven’t already would be a mystery to me, except that it’s no real secret that it’s not a true English side without an ounce of masochism and a pound of disrespect toward Wales (and the ghost of Edward I smirks).
Dyer is a creative winger and solid passer who could add much to the stagnating, dare I say limping, Lions. He scored six goals last year at Swansea while playing within a system that required both intelligence and discipline to pull off well. This experience would make him an asset to any squad, but especially to one looking for new life.
If Hodgson is intent on keeping Gerrard and Lampard as the field generals, then he might want to equip them with some new weaponry. Enter Nathan Dyer.
Dyer won’t be called up, though, because that would make too much sense.