He has more goals than any other member of the England squad. He’s been a consistent performer in all eleven matches in the EPL he’s competed in so far. He’s also proven himself capable as a provider. And he doesn’t have a single England call up. So, what’s wrong with Kev?
If one needed any further example of the absolute incompetence of Roy Hodgson, he’s provided it in spades with his latest decision. Hodgson has chosen to call up Wilfred Zaha, yet to play a single EPL game this year, over Kevin Nolan. It won’t come as a surprise for Nolan, as he has somehow managed to not earn a single call up for the senior England squad although he’s been one of the best performers in the Premier League throughout the course of his career. Whether it be at Bolton, Newcastle or now West Ham Nolan has never disappointed. He can be counted on to win balls, provide assists and has a real knack for popping up in the right place at the right time.
It would be easy to turn this into a “oh poor West Ham” issue. But it’s not that at all. It instead has everything to do with England managers insistence on picking players from the top 4 or 5 clubs over players who most certainly deserve to be there. It would appear the club you ply your trade for has more to do with gaining selection than your form. One only has to look at the England midfield for Wednesday’s matchup with Sweden. Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United are all represented. This despite the fact that Jack WIlshere has stated he believes he was called up too soon. Despite the fact Tom Cleverly has played 4 less games in the EPL and has 4 less goals than Nolan. Ashley Young has only made 5 appearances with one assist to show for it. Hardly convincing form.
But all these lads will get a crack before Kevin Nolan does. It reminds any West Ham supporter of Scott Parker’s plight. Scott Parker has impressive season after impressive season before gaining his place in the England squad. A youngster at Manchester United or Liverpool merely needs to have a couple good performances and a bit of a buzz to get in the England squad. Parker was having numerous good performances over the course of a season yet never got a sniff. His place wasn’t cemented til he moved to Tottenham.
At some point The FA has got to get a manager through the doors that will pick his squads based on performance rather than reputation and club attachment. The German squad has players from seven different clubs who are likely to start. England has players from five. Spain regularly selects players from nine different clubs, Italy as well. Yes the best players tend to play for the best clubs, but while buzz may abound in regards to a great EPL performer, he often doesn’t end up chosen for the squad until he completes that big move. All three of these teams have had more success in recent years than England has even come close to attaining.
There is a number of problems facing the English national squad, as there has been for years. English clubs not developing the “right” players, lads not getting a shot while pricier foreign players are brought in and finding the right manager are all problems which cannot be fixed right away. But the problem regarding the bias of selection based on club team is something that could be changed immediately. And we’d see immediate results. It’s just going to take a manager brave enough to start making these decisions. Form over club. We deserve it by now, and Kevin Nolan does too.