England host Lithuania tonight, with qualification already ensured, it is effectively a dead rubber. Famous globally as united and proud supporters, football aside, the English are actually very diverse. Some question the presence of a North-South divide in the country, between the more affluent South and the traditionally working class North.
Putting politics to one side, what would separate Northern and Southern English football teams look like?
Obviously there is disagreement amongst, well just about everyone in the UK as to where the North ends and the South begins. To make things as easy as possible, the central city of Birmingham will mark the boundary and be included as Northern. This, of course, will also be disputed but making a third ‘Central England’ football team goes too far. It’s just a bit of fun!
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The rules to picking the sides are simple: The current England squad will be carved up first and each team supplemented by players of suitable ability who were either not selected or are injured.
Also, players will be classified by where they spent most of their lives; not merely their birthplace. Sterling is a Londoner as that’s where he grew up and learned his trade. Seems fair, so let’s start.
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Northern England (4-4-2 Diamond)
Walker (Sheffield) Jagielka (Manchester) Cahill (Derbyshire) Jones (Preston)
Carrick (Tyne and Wear)
Milner (Leeds) Henderson (Sunderland)
(C) Rooney (Liverpool) Sturridge (Birmingham)
Southern England (4-2-3-1)
Clyne (London) (C) Terry (London) Smalling (London) Gibbs (London)
Wilshere (London) Lallana (St. Albans)
Oxlade-Chamberlain (Portsmouth) Sterling (London) Walcott (London)
Although only a bit of fun, I think the two teams above demonstrate the strength and depth England have as a united national team. With the odd compromise in position, both sides have top Premier League players throughout which is great to see. England legend John Terry has been drafted in to captain his side and utility man Phil Jones has to solve the crisis at left back for his region.
The Northern pool seems to feature a more hard working and industrious ethic with the likes of Milner, Henderson and Rooney willing to run all day. While stamina is important, the tempo of play may be restricted by this group.
The Southern side clearly has a lot more flair players. An attacking trio of Sterling, Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Walcott would be an exciting prospect. All three are interchangeable, technical and have pace to burn. Behind them though Wilshere and Lallana may not provide the defensive strength to win the ball.
Both sides are undoubtedly quality and, ironically, possess the contrasting, stereotypical features attributed to their regions. It would certainly be a tight game worth a watch.