With all the doom and gloom surrounding Old Trafford at the moment, it is easy to forget that the greatest show on Earth is just around the corner with the World Cup due to kick off in just a few months in Brazil. Packed with flair, excitement and the inevitable English disappointment, the summer months should hopefully be a healthy distraction for players and fans alike after the torrid time they’ve had this season.
Unfortunately, United’s form this season will not have helped many player’s cause when it comes to securing their place in the national squad but there should be enough players on display to keep it interesting for every Reds supporter.
On the Plane
Captain Wazza will be the first player on Roy Hodgson’s team sheet in the summer, sure in the knowledge that tenacity, work rate and bulldog spirit are exactly the attributes that are likely to prosper when you make a man renowned for fitness problems chase around for the ball in 30C heat. Joking aside, Wayne Rooney will be one of the few genuinely feared England players in the squad and will be looking to finally show that he can perform on the world’s biggest stage. Alongside him, the young trio of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck will all likely be selected for their versatility and exuberance after all playing an important part in qualification.
Elsewhere, Robin van Persie will be hoping to lead the line for Holland if his strained ligaments manage to recover in time. As his country’s main talisman, he faces a race against time to make it to Brazil- compounded by the fact he has always been one of those players who tends to return later rather than earlier than the initial prognosis. If he does make it however, he’ll be hoping to better his tally of just 1 goal at the 2010 World Cup. Similarly, Shinji Kagawa will be looking to set Group C alight and should be very fresh considering his lack of game time this season.
In Group E, Antonio Valencia and Patrice Evra should be facing directly up to each other when Ecuador face against France in June. Considering the amount of times they must have come up against each other in training, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top of the battle with both players having had moments of weakness this season both offensively and defensively. Finally, Fellaini can rest assured of his place in the Belgium squad but will be increasingly worried that he may find his contribution limited to bench warming with the likes of Witsel, Defour and Dembele currently ahead of him in the pecking order.
Bags Packed, Waiting for the Call
Despite being an ever present in Roy Hodgson’s squads so far, the thousands of people who signed a petition to stop Tom Cleverley going to the World Cup may have their wishes answered. Based on poor form and limited opportunities, the young midfielders stock has fallen over the last few months. Meanwhile, the likes of Henderson and Barkley have improved their prospects drastically with their performances.
Both Nani and Javier Hernandez will also be nervously awaiting phone calls from their national managers after hardly featuring at all in 2014. Whilst the former has been plagued by a bad hamstring injury, the latter has simply not been selected. Regardless of their historic importance to both Portugal and Mexico, there is no room for sentiment at a World Cup and there is no guarantee they will be thrown into the squad without the requisite match fitness.
Finally, after the unfortunate injury to Victor Valdez, David de Gea will be crossing his fingers and hoping he has done enough as United’s one shining light this season to secure a place on the plane to Brazil. With the likes of Casillas and Reina seen as certainties to go, he will be battling it with Diego Lopes for the final keeper spot and will be hoping his youthfulness and potential are enough to hand him a place.
Left a Gap in the Diary
After being dropped for the latest friendly, the experienced due of Michael Carrick and Ashley Young find their position in the squad under scrutiny. Whilst both are more experienced members of the squad, they have failed to set the world alight when given the opportunity for England with the likes of Gerrard and Townsend being preferred.
Meanwhile, the dancing du0 of Rafael da Silva and Anderson will be in Brazil in the summer, regardless of whether or not they are selected for a place at the World Cup when Brazil should beat Croatia, Cameroon and Mexico in Group A. Despite a controversial run out in the Olympics, when he was blamed for their final defeat to Mexico, Rafael may harbour some hope if either Dani Alves or Rafinha goes down injured in the next few weeks but the case for Anderson looks bleak (see Kaka, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Sandro, Luis Gustavo, Oscar, Ramires, Lucas etc).
Sadly, Juan Mata will be delaying the planning of his inevitably cultured holiday this summer in the hope that he can finally find some form for Manchester United and secure a place ahead of Santi Cazorla in Spain’s squad. After forcing a transfer in the hope of making it to Brazil, he will be more disappointed than anyone if he misses out.
The tattooed trio of Buttner, Bebe and Zaha will most certainly find themselves on a beach somewhere this summer, wistfully exchanging notes on bad defending, kamikaze runs and atrocious crosses. Be warned, if you see them, beach balls hurt
Coming to a TV Screen Near You
Intent on ruining your ear buds for the first time since Rio’s World Cup Wind Ups, Rio Ferdinand will be sat along side Thierry Henry and Gary Lineker this June in an attempt to provide insight and analysis of England’s matches this summer. Good luck with that! #Merked
Which Manchester United player are you most interested in watching in Brazil?