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Michael Ball for England?

After a confidence boosting Christmas period football managers do tend to get carried away, maybe it's the sherry or the festive spirit, or maybe they're just dreamers like the rest of us.

Sven-Goran seems to be no exception. Ever the optimist, admittedly, Sven has come out this week and lavished special praise on Michael Ball. Justified? Or a load of twaddle to be tossed in the bin like those naff presents you got from distant relatives?

Well, let's look at the facts.

Actually scratch that. Let's just take Martin Petrov as an example. I think it's fair to say that Martin has hit a purple patch. He's twisting defenders veins inside out. I'm pretty sure Lucas Neill probably fancied heading straight to Gatwick and flying back home to Australia after the first half roasting he received.

Now as with everything, there tends to be a catalyst. It just so happens that this catalyst seems to be stood about fifteen yards behind him. He goes by the name of Michael Ball.

Every now and then you hear football pundits talk of 'textbook' examples of football at its highest quality. If you opened up a defensive manual then I couldn't think of a better man to showcase a 'textbook' tackle, Richard Dunne aside of course, than our current left back. Michael Ball is Mr consistent. He loves to defend. He loves the satisfaction of snuffing fancy dans out of games. He's all about controlled aggression (that one moment of ********** (fill the word in at your own discretion, to suit your own needs) aside against Ronaldo) and reading of the game. He's a defenders defender.

As much as I love Javier Garrido, and I do, I personally felt he was fantastic up until the Chelsea mauling which resulted in his head dropping, there's an air of inexperience and vulnerability to his game. This will naturally come with time, as Michael Ball himself would probably attest. In the meantime however Sven has made the right choice. Michael seems to be reaching a peak in his career. He's arguably playing at the highest level of his career (Is the Eredivise really that good?) and he's rose to the challenge, trying to make up for lost time.

Everyone loves an unsung hero. This could just be Michael's year. The timings perfect...

Step forward Mr Capello. The new England manager.

Capello is a tactician. A general. An iron fist. He doesn't expect anything less than one hundred percent. He expects consistency. He demands consistency. He wins, regardless.

As with most foreign coaches, he seems to be a bit more tactically astute than most British coaches (I'm just saying what I see) and knows the importance of a good defence. The early signs are that he'll look to solidify the defence. You don't lose games if you don't concede goals after all. He's the kind of coach that is happy if his defenders just do their defensive duties. If they do that right then it's the more creative players turn to do their bit.

Bearing this in mind, how many natural consistent English full backs can you think of currently plying their trade at a high level? Ashley Cole? Check...err...Wayne Bridge? Um...probably not so reliable. Joleon Lescott can play there? Right - Let's ask Shaun Wright-Phillips about his defensive credentials shall we?

I'm a realist. I cannot see him replacing Ashley Cole, who on his day is genuinely top class, but there's a spot to be grabbed, and I know if the hatches were down, and the men had their backs against the wall, then I'd be ecstatic to have Michael on my side.

The timing couldn't possibly be more ideal for Mr. Ball to win his second cap. He's solid, consistent, and playing at a high level week in week out in the premiership. I think Mr Capello would love a guy with his attitude. I think there will be one or two surprises when the next England squad is announced. Our Bally could just be one of them, and can you honestly name a single football fan who'd begrudge him that honour? (Once again, United fans aside) He'd definitely sure up the leaky defence, and allow whoever is in front of him to get forward, Joe Cole more than likely...

Step forward Mr Ball. It's going to be a good 2008 for you I think! Here's to the unsung heroes!

Oh and I'm Steven by the way. This was my first article. It took me a while to work out how to post this. I'm sure there will be a few who think I shouldn't have bothered, but I hope I'll win you over. I thought I may as well start on a positive note with my first entry!

So what do you think? Does England beckon?

The journalist

Writer: Steven McInerney  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 11 2008

Time: 2:55AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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That stupid suggestion has put a smile on my face on a wet Friday morning!
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11/01/2008 06:43:00

Good Article SM, but Balls only hope is that Capello does start with a clean sheet or does he go with the same old faces. City have a tough game this weekend a 6 pointer as they say. Everton and City are playing well. El dianlo for a couple? Merlin you cannot be a city fan because at the moment we all have a silly grin on our faces.
Buzz Lightyear
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11/01/2008 07:02:00

Welcome on board, Steven! A call up would be rich reward for Bally's sound progress at MCFC. Christ knows, we need more English players recognised in the Premier League. By all accounts, the likeable scouser is a sound professional and after fighting back to this level after that career threatening injury in Scotland a few years back is admirable.
Johnny Baguette
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11/01/2008 07:32:00

Excellent article Steven...Its is plainly obvious that Merlin has never seen Ball play and what would England give for THREE consecutive clean sheets. I am convinced you will see a totally different England team next time round.
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11/01/2008 09:08:00

Will I tell you something, A few years ago when the international player joins Man City, They not be selected again to the national team !, Take the examples Mills, David Jams, sinclir & Vassel, But now, with our good performance, Became attention tends to us, This is a good sign and do not forget the production of our Academy, Which I expect to have a role in English foot ball in the few next years.
city 81
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11/01/2008 10:17:00

Thank you everyone! Tell me Merlin, why is it such a laughter provoking idea? I can't think of a more suitable alternative to Mr Ball. Ashely Cole likes to get forward, Ball likes to defend. A lovely little back up option! I'd rather have him instead of Wayne Bridge if we're trying to maintain a lead, and if Phil Neville, Joey Barton and the likes can get in the squad, then so can Bally! x
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11/01/2008 10:35:00

ps - Twosips is me, myself and I - Steven, in case it wasn't obvious!
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11/01/2008 10:43:00

I will give you a clearer example, Distin & Silvestre, Distin is better than Silvestre, But becouse Silvestre play with strong team who play also in European Champion, The France national team coach chose Silvestre to French national team and left Distin !
city 81
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11/01/2008 10:58:00

Ah one of life's great mysteries. The continuous ignorance towards Sylvin whilst he was a blue. Ah well. C'est la vie!
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11/01/2008 11:22:00

I agree City 81, but I think now things will change,regarding our English Players because Stuart Pearce is already picking our younger players for the under 21s and they get noticed there, because from that squad they should progress to the senior side.Dunney and Ireland already play for their International sides.
Buzz Lightyear
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11/01/2008 11:54:00

Twosips C'est la vie! thats JB talk. we will have to call you deuxseeps
Buzz Lightyear
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11/01/2008 11:55:00

Agree with you Buzz Lightyear the future augurs for us, and Welcome to Twosips.
city 81
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11/01/2008 12:19:00

I was quoting that lovely Irish girl band 'Bewitched'. I was unfortunate enough to be young enough to sing along to that song when it was released. What score does everyone think it'll be tomorrow then? x
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11/01/2008 12:31:00

Depends, how that for sitting on the fence. I wish i had confidence in our striker to put away then I would say 2-1 to us, but a draw is the least I am expecting.
Buzz Lightyear
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11/01/2008 15:18:00

I am sorry we missed out on Anelka,but part of me is glad because youjust can't trust him to keep his word. When he wants a move he is always reported as wanting away in a foreign newspaper, then he denies it, but everyone knows it is true and that he is looking to move on. I think drogba may go now, Anekla does not like playing with players better than he is. Sour grapes, yep I think I had a ciouple there.sorry
Buzz Lightyear
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11/01/2008 15:31:00

Undoubted quality though... Whilst being opinionated, I don't think he's ever been disruptive, to an extent, over the past handful of years. He has matured a lot admittedly. I still feel Johan Elmander is the man for us.
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11/01/2008 16:19:00

Definitely looks like Stephen Ireland's position is the one under scrutiny if th erepeated links are to be believed. Maybe it is the one Sven is looking for consistency from. If the balance is right with Petrov on the other wing, things could get interesting. Maybe the boss will switch El Diablo into that role for Everton.
Johnny Baguette
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11/01/2008 17:25:00

JB I agree with that Stevie Ireland is a central MF and plays better there, but we have quality there already. I really like Ireland and think he will develop into a very good player, but not on the wing. I have been asking for a right winger for ages. El diablo plays wide but not having seen him I understand that he is left footed, can anyone tell me if this is right.?
Buzz Lightyear
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11/01/2008 21:02:00


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