An open letter to England caretaker boss Stuart Pearce from a Norwich City fan
Dear Mr Pearce, I am writing to you on behalf of thousands of Norwich City Football Club supporters with regards to the continued excellent performance of several English players within our current squad.
You may or may not be aware that the Canaries, the team I support, are currently riding high in the Premier League. With just a quarter of the season still to go we are in eighth position, with only Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool ahead of us.
In achieving this amazing feat our squad, made up mainly of home grown players, have consistently played to a very high level, not just for this season, but the previous one also.
However, despite this, several of them are repeatedly overlooked by their respective international managers. With this in mind I decided to write you an open letter in the hope of highlighting some of their achievements, two of our players in particular.
I am sure that once you are made aware of their relative talents they will be named in the England squad at the earliest possible opportunity.
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It has been said that for many years now England have struggled to find good quality goalkeepers. That while it was once a position for which the nation enjoyed an embarrassment of riches, there is nobody coming through the ranks to challenge the undoubtedly talented Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
However, our very own goalkeeper, John Ruddy, has been playing at a consistently high level for the past two seasons now. Granted, at the start of this season, he had one or two nervy moments and I did not feel he was ready for an England call-up. However, as the season has gone on he has grown in stature, confidence and consistency, often proving to be a key reason for us winning a match.
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Take last weekend’s game against Manchester United, arguably one of the best attacking teams in the world, where he could not be blamed for either goal and pulled off several key saves. I still have the game on Sky Plus if you would like to watch it back.
In my humble opinion his particular strengths are catching, shot-stopping and distribution and he has worked hard in recent weeks to improve any of his weaker areas, such as communication and anticipation, and the difference is clear to see.
According to the EA Sports Premier League Player Performance Ratings, he is currently the ninth best keeper in the league, but the second best Englishman behind Hart and ahead of previous internationals Ben Foster and Paul Robinson.
While your current second choice, Robert Green, will always have a place in my yellow and green heart, he has in the past proved himself capable of big mistakes when the pressure is on.
Scott Carson, meanwhile, has regularly failed to become a consistent performer at all six of his previous clubs and now plays in the Turkish league, a standard roughly of the equivalent of the Championship. I’m sure, deep down, you know he is never going to be of the required standard.
At the age of 26 now is the time to blood Ruddy in preparation for being in the squad for this year’s Euros.
The other player I would like to draw to your attention is currently the second highest scoring Englishman in the whole of the Premier League. His name is Grant Holt.
Some of your predecessors, as well as managers in the domestic game, have in the past been quick to write off the talents of Norwich’s number nine.
This may be due to the fact he is often the target of cruel and inaccurate jibes from opposition fans who know that, deep down, he is a player they would dearly love to have in their squad.
The best word to describe Grant Holt is immense. As a so-called ‘old fashioned’ number 9 he possesses great strength, guile and will to win.
But, of late in particular, his game has improved dramatically. His pace, touch and positioning have all moved up many levels and these traits, combined with brilliant finishing, have made him a force to be reckoned with.
The aforementioned EA Sports ratings list him as the eight most effective striker in the league, ahead of every other forward in your latest England squad, bar Wayne Rooney.
While I appreciate that, at the age of 30, you may think his time has come too late, I would argue that it is much better to pick players who are in good form, than simply the same names as before.
Should you be lucky enough to stay on as England manager for the Euros, Holt would also offer the squad something completely different. He would be effective alongside one of your pacy strikers, on his own, as a foil for Wayne Rooney or as an impact substitute at the end of the game.
With all due respect to past England managers too many squads have been picked on the basis of names and previous reputation alone, rather than consistent performance levels. Changing that could be to your, and the country’s, benefit.
There are those who follow our club who say they would rather our players continued to be ignored by managers such as yourself, because it stops them from getting injured while not at the club or losing confidence.
However, I would argue that every fan should be desperate to see their team’s players in international squads, as it shows they are playing to their peak, as therefore is the team.
I know I would feel great pride to see both these, or any other Norwich players (why not check out Kyle Naughton and Anthony Pilkington while you are here), in an England shirt and I think English fans in general feel that it is time some new faces were given a chance.
To be fair, you are not alone in ignoring our player’s talents as the same thing could be said of Republic Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and midfield wizard Wes Hoolahan. Unfortunately he already has a cap for them otherwise you may wish to check him out also.
While the policy of ignoring Norwich players has not stopped Mr Trapattoni from enjoying success, I wouldn’t suggest adopting it as a tactic.
I also appreciate that it isn’t just Norwich who are being discriminated in such a way. Players in teams like Swansea and West Bromwich Albion also struggle for recognition, despite repeatedly playing to a high standard.
Should you be interested in following up my letter with a trip to Carrow Road to see our players in action please don’t hesitate to do so.
I appreciate that several of your predecessors have struggled to find a way out of London at the weekend, so have enclosed a map to help you on your journey.
Should you, by the time you read this, no longer be England manager, I would appreciate it if you could reseal the envelope and pop it back in the post addressed to one Harry Redknapp.
Yours more in hope than in anticipation.
The Barclay Lower Tier