Gary Cahill New England Leader?
It seems like just yesterday England was littered with defensive choices that included John Terry...
It seems like just yesterday England was littered with defensive choices that included John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and others, whilst the likes of Gary Cahill sat as a prospect vying to one day take their place. That day is here. The Chelsea defender has been a regular for both his English Premier League side Chelsea, and country, England. His role is set to expand now. Coach Roy Hodgson shocked football fans by selecting only seven defenders in his 26-man squad for Euro 2016, and Cahill is the clear leader of the pack. He has since vowed to take the duties on, but can he really be the new leader of such an expectant England team?
First and foremost, Cahill is a good player, but none the less, he’s not in the same bracket that Terry and Ferdinand were in their prime. That doesn’t mean he’s not good enough. He’s the best of a bad bunch. However, he has been crucial for both club and country against a host of elite players throughout his career, so it’s rightful for him to take his place, and believe he can be the new-age leader of his international team.
Cahill believes with his experience, and Chris Smalling’s youth, they can make a defensive unit good enough to succeed. He is happy to be the leader, watching Smalling grow. The pair will be crucial. However, it’s Cahill who many believe can make his mark on the competition. His defensive presence and leadership could be crucial to their summer tournament hopes.
"I find it comfortable playing with him. This season he has kicked on again and I think he has been terrific for United. He has captained the team a couple of times and he has been a big player for them; to be a big player for a football club that size is impressive and he has come on leaps and bounds since last year. He is a top-class performer so to play next to him, it has made my job easier.”
He went on to say:
"We have a good understanding and with international football it can be hard. At club level you are asked to do different things, different tactics and when you put your England hat on you don’t get too many times to play with your partner, so I feel like it has gone well.”
He realises that his leadership will be needed, and he’s sending a clear message to his team, insisting:
"We need to get off to a good start and that will be key to easing the pressure. Of course we need to defend better as a team but it is ultimately about results. If we get the right result in the first game then it breeds confidence. It’s all about getting a good start.”
With the average age of under 25, it’s clear England will need all the experience they can get, and Cahill provides a brilliant blend of both youth and experience. He may be an in-between player, but he has enough knowledge and ability to become the leader of the defensive unit, and the entire team.
He’s not threatened by the youngsters, however, saying:
"It’s refreshing to see as an England fan, not just as a player, these players coming into the squad and performing the way they are performing in the Premier League"
England has an abidance of attacking options, however, a player like Cahill might prove to be the difference between winning or losing, and he knows just that. He concluded:
"I feel good. Obviously going into a tournament at the end of a long season is the same for every player and every country that play in a tournament. But it’s all about looking after your body in the time that we have between now and when the tournament starts. Personally, I feel fine and I’m ready to go.”
He’ll have to not only focus on himself, but his teammates. That’s often the difference between the good and great players. If the former Bolton defender can step to the challenge, this might be the moment the world accepts him as a world-class, team-leading center-back much like his team-mate Terry was for both Chelsea and England for so many years.
It’s clear he has the self-belief, and it’s clear he has talent, but now, it’s time for him to showcase not only his abilities, but his nous of leadership at Euro 2016.