Has reputation become more important than form and talent?

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a player can be deemed good enough for an England call up based purely on a transfer to a big club.

Once upon a time, you were called up for England if you were good enough and/or playing well, but then something changed.  Somewhere around the time when Sven Goran Eriksson took charge of the England side, it became more apparent that, more often than not, you would only be called up for International duty if you played for a so-called “Fashionable Club”.

Thankfully, under Roy Hodgson, there has been a noticeable shift back to the days when you were picked on merit rather than on reputation, be it your own reputation or that of your club. However, there are still the odd moments when a player who wasn’t good enough for England when he was at a “smaller” or less fashionable club, suddenly gets selected when he signs for a side at the top of the table.

Take a look at Chris Smalling. He was nowhere near an England call up when he was playing for Fulham, yet the moment he signed for Manchester United, he was considered good enough to represent his country. Another case in point is young Callum Chambers. He performed excellently in his breakthrough season at Southampton last year, but was never called up until he had played one or two games for Arsenal. Evidently, one good performance in an Arsenal shirt is worth twenty good performances in a Southampton shirt.

Tyrone Mings at Ipswich has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League either in this transfer window or in the summer, with Arsene Wenger said to be keeping a very close eye on him. Now, were he to sign for Arsenal this January and get two or three games under his belt for the Gunners before the next England get-together, will it mean he is suddenly more worthy of that call up than when he was at Ipswich?

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Perhaps it is this narrow mindedness that hampered the England team so much in the past. Hodgson seems more willing than his predecessors to give players a chance if they are playing well. This can only be a good thing and will hopefully stop players leaving their clubs for wealthier clubs in the belief that it will give them more of a chance of representing their country.

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