The England manager made some strange choices…
England boss Roy Hodgson has invited ridicule after naming neither Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi in his three nominations for the 2014 Ballon d’Or. He instead had Javier Mascherano as his first choice for the prestigious award.
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Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer were the other two players in the top three he put forward for the prize. While the complete absence of attacking players may be seen as a damning indictment of the kind of defensive mindset that the current national team manager has, his choice of Mascherano was not completely ridiculous.
The Argentine may have not won any trophies in the last calendar year, but he was inspirational as part of the Argentina side that got to the 2014 World Cup final. The midfielder was also admirable in his time at centre-back with Barcelona and he was one of the only defensive players to have come out of the Catalan club with his reputation intact.
Also, his play in the big matches was amazing. In both the semi-final and the final of the World Cup he was one of the best players on the pitch, even reportedly tearing his anus to keep the South American side in the competition against the Netherlands with a match saving tackle. These are the kind of moments and performances that should make him noticed as one of the best players in world football.
Neither Messi or Ronaldo really played in the same inspirational manner in the massive fixtures they were involved in. The Portuguese only scored from a penalty in the Champions League final, and a misfiring Messi was unable to score the goals that Mascherano’s work deserved for Argentina. Surely it should be the biggest stages where the best players are decided? At least this seems to be what Hodgson thinks.