Ian Herbert: Why City's dominance is good news for the nation
Thursday 09 September 2010
Typical United. Just when Manchester City thought they might have equalled a post-war record for the most players in an England XI – six were on the field when Shaun Wright-Phillips ran on as substitute on Tuesday in Basle – the history books tell us the old enemy have already gone one better.
There were seven of Sir Alex Ferguson's charges wearing the Three Lions in Tirana nine years ago, when Teddy Sheringham arrived six minutes from time and the scoreline was Albania 1 Most of United 3. Liverpool also may feel they can curse United's modern-day record. If only Kevin Keegan had not left for Hamburg two weeks before England's 1977 goalless draw with Switzerland at Wembley they would have numbered seven, too. Keegan played but Bob Paisley's charges actually numbered only six.
Fielding six representatives is a remarkable feat – something achieved only three times before Tuesday night at St Jakob-Park – and one which, City supporters may be gratified to hear, in the past has reflected the honoured club side's place as the supreme force in British club football.
Paisley's all-conquering Liverpool side were still the country's dominant force in 1980 when a slightly different group of six played in England's 1-1 draw against Belgium. United had six for Sven Goran Eriksson's first game in charge – the 3-0 win over Spain at Villa Park, the month before going one better in Tirana. The five-man club includes Spurs, who achieved the feat in 1987 and 2006 as well as the 3-1 pre-Word Cup friendly against Mexico at Wembley; Chelsea twice and Manchester United once plus Liverpool on an occasion which gives them famous bragging rights – the 5-1 win over Germany in Munich in September 2001. England have only lost one international with five players from the same club – the Chelsea-heavy England's 3-2 defeat to Denmark at Old Trafford in November 2003.
So can City maintain this kind of presence? James Milner and Adam Johnson, as well as Joe Hart, ought to be fixtures for the arrival of Montenegro next month. Gareth Barry should give the returning Frank Lampard a run for his money, though with the memory of Barry's struggle against Germany in Bloemfontein hard to dispel, the suspicion is that Lampard is the man for the tougher occasion.
Still, Joleon Lescott's best performance for England and the security he and his former Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka provided demands that they be considered as an ongoing partnership. Wright-Phillips looks least like a future England player but if the fates and Roberto Mancini's powers combine, it is conceivable that these six could be present again, with Micah Richards to make it the magic seven.
Then City really would have something to shout about. But before anyone gets too carried away, a moment's thought and admiration, please, for the south-west London-based Corinthian Casuals. In 1894 and 1895 they twice provided the England team's entire eleven players. And they won. Match that, Sir Alex.
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