Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Edu, Saha, Malbranque and Cudicini for England

If any further proof is needed to show how utterly ridiculous international football has become, look no further than today's claims that Sven Goran Eriksson wanted to call-up Edu, Louis Saha, Steed Malbranque and Carlo Cudicini.

Four decent enough players - but none of them English! However, at the time, none of them had been capped by their countries and were eligible to play under FIFA's residency rule. The serialisation of former FA executive director David Davies's book in the Daily Mail suggests Sven gave the idea serious consideration.

Davies wrote: "'I like Carlo Cudicini', Sven told me - an opinion which led to a very serious consideration being given within Soho Square to recruiting Chelsea's Italian goalkeeper. However, our goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence was particularly concerned, insisting to Sven it would destroy our keepers.

"'Can you also find out about Malbranque, Edu and Saha?' Sven asked me. I wasn't sure what the public reaction would be to an Italian, a Brazilian and two Frenchmen coming into the squad but I did Sven's bidding.

"However, all my discreet enquiries to clubs and agents led to nothing. Miraculously, the moment our interest became known Saha and Edu were called up by their own nations, making them ineligible."

As I have posted before, I used to enjoy international football. The best players would put aside their club rivalries and the sheer pride on their faces when they pulled on their national jersey was a joy to behold. I've yet to see such pride on an England player's face since Italia '90.

But...and there has to be a but...I do appreciate many others still enjoy the national game. Some seem to think getting stonked on lager and shouting at the television is the definition of patriotism (urgh!), and the thought of those fans (let's just say somewhere to the right of centre-right, cough) cheering on four foreign players wearing the Three Lions is amusing, although it shouldn't be.

Would Sven really have picked the likes of Edu and Malbranque? Who knows, but if he did I would hope even the most loyal England fan would stop watching the game. It would be like a fan admitting they would happily sell-out their history and tradition to the highest bidder if that meant winning some silverware...as some Newcastle fans appear to be doing right now!