The World Cup is always hailed as the absolute pinnacle of football, with the planet’s very best players making up 32 teams for 64 matches across the summer. With qualification all but complete, we now know all of the countries that will be present (barring an epic comeback from Jordan against Uruguay), giving us an idea of the illustrious names that will be gracing the stadiums of Brazil and television sets all over the planet next year. While illustrious names such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rickie Lambert(?) may be making the trip, there are some truly fantastic players that will be unable to perform at the showpiece tournament after unsuccessful qualification campaigns with their respective nations. Here are ten players who, like most of us, will be watching events unravel from their living room rather than on the field of play in 2014.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
The world’s top footballing competition will be without the world’s most expensive player. The £86m Real Madrid winger was unable to inspire Wales to a shock place in the competition, which really is a shame for admirers of the wing wizard. Powerful, pacey and deadly in front of goal, Bale has the abilities to grace any international side, however he will be watching proceedings from afar as many of his team-mates at club level influence play. If only he was born around 50 miles East of Cardiff the 24-year-old may have been representing England.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Enigmatic, unpredictable and extremely talented, the 2014 World Cup would certainly have been a slightly more interesting affair had ‘Ibra’ been making the trip. The burly Swede couldn’t help his nation to a play-off victory against a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal ... MORE
Sorry about the rather inflammatory title it is not an excuse for fans to list the ways. It is in response to Phil Jones recent comments that I make this post (see here http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24908525) where he declares:
"People want us to fail because we have won the league so many times - everyone hates the best clubs, It is as simple as that, and United won the league long before I was here. We enjoy that. We relish the test we get thrown at us every week."
I have to admit I do enjoy seeing the 'big teams' falter and I am not alone in that the FA cup is a great example yearly where we all gather around and wait and see which big time club is going to get their Burberry wash bags handed to them by a bunch of part timers. Everyone loves an underdog story.
When it comes to the league these 'underdog' situations are a little rarer mostly due to the fact that the Premier League is one of the strongest if not THE strongest league outside of the top two teams. So when the reigning champions have such a faltering start then it is going to catch the eye of everyone.
Mr Phil 'Please play me at centre back' Jones nails it when he states that people want them to fail because they have won the league so many times this is true because to everyone who is not a Man Utd fan it all becomes a bit dull when it is the same team winning over and over again, which is why this season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory with potentially a record number of losses recorded by whoever the champion will be.
So in my humble opinion people do not hate the best clubs people just hate the lack of variety and this is a situation that is not limited to football or team sports. I watch a bit of formula 1 and the whole sport is currently suffering due to the success of Sebastian Vettel to the point that he has even been booed for winning a race, now people do not hate Vettel they just dislike the status quo.
There you go Man Utd fans next time you lose and you get mocked by whoever just stare them straight in the eye and tell them that the loss was for the good of the sport!
There is a balance England has to find with nurturing its best talents and getting carried away without reason.
Andros Townsend may be having a positive start to the Premier League season on a personal level, scoring in the top flight, being a regular in Tottenham’s starting XI and getting a call up to the national team. But from a playing perspective, he is showing that there is still a long way to go for him to justify the hype that’s surrounded him thus far.
Townsend’s continued inclusion in the Spurs XI is as confusing as Andre Villas-Boas’ tactical setup on the whole: what exactly does Townsend provide for Tottenham at present other than an increase in the shots on goal column? Has the England winger really done so well to hold down a spot in the team over other far gifted players?
As of now, Townsend’s game is extremely limited, to such an extent that others in the team are suffering. Sooner or later, someone has to have a word with the midfielder and tell him that he’s not going to score a “worldy” every game, that there is so much more to playing out wide than just cutting in on your favoured foot and unleashing a barrage of shots in the general direction of the opposition goal.
Roberto Soldado is the obvious name to feel the frustrations of Townsends play. Where Aaron Lennon would offer the Spaniard similar service to what he had while playing at Valencia, Townsend’s inability or lack of willingness sees very little width and penetration from the right side of attack. His continued inclusion in the first XI has led to Lennon playing from the left and Erik Lamela not featuring at all – though there may be further surrounding issues to explain the latter’s exclusion.