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Look On This Roster, Ye Mighty, And Despair!

Photo credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty

What team does Jake Livermore play for? The English national team, apparently!

Okay, it’s unfair to single out Livermore, who is having a fine season for *checks Wikipedia* huh, he transferred from Hull to West Brom in January. Anyway, check out this broke-ass squad England will be bringing to an upcoming friendly against Germany and a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.


Ryan Bertrand? Michael Keane? Michail Antonio? Jesse Lindgard? Nathan Redmond? Jermain Defoe? Pooh-poohing the English national team, criticizing their tactics, and asking why the country that invented soccer isn’t very good at it is practically its own industry in England, but even by those pessimistic standards, this roster is dire.

The country that for years was never able to figure out how to play Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Paul Scholes in midfield together has exactly one real central midfielder—the aforementioned Jake Livermore. Of the five Manchester United players on the roster, none of them (maybe Chris Smalling?) is a guaranteed starter. With injuries to Harry Kane, who is good, and Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, who are not, Jermain Defoe is getting his first call-up in three years.

Is there a single world-class player on this roster, a player who would be a starter on almost every national team? The closest is probably ... 20-year-old Dele Alli? Adam Lallana? Raheem Sterling? Gary Cahill? Jamie Vardy?


“It’s just a friendly and an easily-winnable qualifier,” you say, which is true, “so they’re bleeding in the talented youngsters,” to which I respond: Who? There are plenty of young players on this roster who will have fine professional careers, but besides Alli, who will play important roles in the biggest games on the biggest stages? Marcus Rashford? I guess the Europa League counts.

It isn’t surprisingly, exactly, that a team that hasn’t made the semi-finals of a major tournament in 20 years isn’t particularly good: The Czech Republic’s roster for their upcoming qualifier against San Marino probably isn’t dripping with talent either. But still—my God! Just look at that squad!

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Kevin Draper

Reporter at the New York Times

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