Though supporters, reporters and cavorters are explicit in their demand for more English players at top-six sides, there appears to be an unspoken “but not Manchester City” caveat, the result of which is that many will be hoping for Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph to fail at the Etihad Stadium.
Indeed, the expectation is that the transfers will be to the detriment of Delph in particular, with one Betfair Sportsbook market pricing him at 8/11 not to make the England Euro 2016 squad compared to EVENS to be part of Roy Hodgson’s chosen 23.
Here are five reasons why the latter price should be hastily snapped up…
The competition has thinned
Commanding an England central midfield spot is nowhere near the challenge it has been for the past decade. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were handcuffed to two of the berths at all tournaments since 2004, with the exception of Lampard’s late withdrawal in 2012. Suddenly, anyone has a shot, which is why Delph has been given a chance and every Jack, Jonjo and Ryan has been called up.
Delph will play more than expected…
The assumption is that because other Englishmen have moved to Man City and struggled, Delph is destined to follow suit, yet there is a difference between Scott Sinclair failing to displace David Silva and Samir Nasri and Delph rivalling Fernando and Fernandinho. If a departing Lampard was able to command a starting position for his final six games, why wouldn’t Delph? The 25-year-old is 8/13 to make over 7.5 league starts.
…but it wouldn’t matter if he doesn’t
Big-club bias is so prevalent that top-six bench-warmers are often preferred to in-form bottom-half ever-presents. James Milner left Man City for first-team action, but played enough there to persuade Hodgson to take him to Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014, where he started five of the seven matches. Shaun Wright-Phillips went to World Cup 2010 despite making four post-Christmas Premier League starts in 2009/10.
He has proven his worth
Delph isn’t on the periphery for England, he is established not merely as a squad member but a starter, having lined up in four of the first six Euro 2016 qualifiers. Only Joe Hart, Gary Cahill, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney – the spine – have featured more prominently. It will surely therefore take a Tom Cleverley-esque horror season, complete with fan petition, for him to not at least be worth a seat in the dugout in 11 months.
It will be a midfielder-heavy selection
Though they have tip-toed away from it recently, one of England’s favoured formations in qualifying has been the diamond, which utilises four central midfielders, so Hodgson will want to cram his 23-man group for France with as many as he can accommodate. There aren’t many outstanding options besides Henderson, Wilshere, Michael Carrick and Milner (who may be picked as a winger), and Delph has been used more in qualifying than the latter pair.