Will Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers get 100 caps between them?

Agree to Disagree – where the argument you had at the pub last Thursday becomes a well mannered discussion.

Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw emerged in the same Southampton team before securing big money moves to Arsenal and Manchester United. Both have debuted for England with the latter knocking on the door of the first team. Many believe the two are certain of big England futures but are they really good enough to rack up the caps? We argue whether they’ll reach 100 collectively – and this time there’s money on the line…

Sam Simmons argues…

Yes – I still believe Calum Chambers and, particularly, Luke Shaw are destined to become England stalwarts. However I must admit I feel far less confident about this bet now than I did 12 months ago. When I first wagered a score on this I was willing to increase either the cap count or the bet itself. Wind forward a year and I fear that I may well be out of pocket. To be honest, this isn’t a great concern, we won’t find out the answer to this question for about another 10 or 12 years, by which point I may actually have found a job!

I am always an optimist when it comes to English players. Some may say I am too optimistic and let it cloud my otherwise flawless judgement. Winning 100 caps for your country is an achievement few reach; there have only ever been nine English centurions. Yet it becomes a different thing altogether when you combine caps between two players.

For example, if you choose to add Kieron Dyer’s and Owen Hargreaves’s individual totals you reach 75 caps, Stewart Downing’s and Wayne Bridge’s combined total gets you to 71. I guess the point here is that two players can win an awful lot of caps between them. I believe that come the World Cup in 2026, Luke Shaw and Callum Chambers, who already have nine caps, will have a accumulated a combined total of something between 85-100.

However, I fear that if I am going to win this highly coveted £20 then I will have to be heavily reliant on Shaw fulfilling his unquestionable potential. When Shaw joined Manchester United two summers ago he was considered by many to be the best young left back in Europe. His first season was average at best; questions about his attitude and his weight blighted his development.

A good pre-season led to Shaw starting the following campaign in fine form. He even looked to have cemented his place in the England team, starting the Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland in September, winning the man of the match award against the latter.

An unfortunate leg break against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions looked to have curtailed Shaw’s season. Nevertheless, the then England manager, Roy Hodgson, was not keen on giving up hope of him recovering for the finals. This was testament to how highly Shaw was rated by the England management at the time, and there can be little doubt that had Shaw not suffered that injury he would already be well into double figures.

Unlike Shaw, Chambers was not even a Southampton regular when he joined Arsenal for a deal reaching a potential £16 million in 2014. Chambers had only ever appeared in 25 Southampton games, with nearly all of those coming at right back.

Yet Arsène Wenger saw in Chambers a player who could be converted into a centre back. He was thrust into first team football earlier than he might have expected when injury struck Per Mertesacker. If there had been concerns regarding Chambers’ ability to adapt to his new position, then they were quickly quashed.

His early season performances led to a call up to the senior squad. He started the two October qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia and was even nominated for the European Golden Boy Award. It was a meteoric rise for someone who had played fewer than 40 senior games.

But sadly, Chambers could not build on his early season promise. Injuries and poor form restricted his appearances from January onwards. His second season was a similar tale as he appeared in just 22 of Arsenal’s 53 games. The signings of Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding in the summer threatened to restrict Chambers’ playing opportunities further. Realising he needed first team football, Chambers chose to join newly promoted Middlesbrough on a season long loan deal.

Shaw hasn’t played for England for 14 months, Chambers, not for over two years. Yet I still hold faith in their ability to return to the international fold. Shaw has already been called up to the England squad this season, for Sam Allardyce’s one and only game in charge, yet he did not feature. An indifferent start to the season with United, and the odd run in with José Mourinho have meant that he has not always been first choice for United.

Despite this I can’t envisage a situation where Shaw goes off the boil. I think it’ll be a matter of time before he regains his England place. When fit he is undisputedly the best English left back. Others like Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand have come in and impressed but neither are of the same class as Shaw.

For Chambers the situation is a little more complicated. In order to get into the England squad, he needs to ensure that he returns from his loan spell after having got a solid run of games. He also needs to commit to a position. England are blessed with good quality right backs so if Chambers is going to become an England regular it will almost certainly be at centre back.

Mike Franchetti argues…

No – This Agree to Disagree really did start with an argument in a pub, evolved into a bet, and quickly became a mild obsession. I should also add I have no real aversion to the two Southampton graduates and would happily accept either nodding in a winner in the final of Euro 2020.

The critical part of me thinks they simply aren’t good enough. A more rational part thinks there’s some hefty competition at full-back (admittedly less so at centre-back) and mustering an average of 50 caps each will be no mean feat. There’s been plenty of talent from the Saints’ academy, but I think Shaw and Chambers were snapped up for big money far too soon creating a buzz they’ve so far struggled to live up to.

Let’s start with Shaw – a man many think will get close to 100 caps on his own. Shortly before his 19th birthday he signed for Manchester United for a figure of around £30 million. Shortly after my 19th birthday I turned up to Reading University football trials with glow paint in my hair. However, I’ll refrain from throwing a price tag argument into the mix. Shaw wasn’t worth £30 million but in this Andy Carroll/Raheem Sterling/Yannick Bolaise/Paul Pogba environment no footballer represents true value for money. I won’t be using his lofty transfer fee as an argument against his obvious potential.

But how much potential had Shaw actually shown prior to his move? It was difficult not to have some love for his Southampton team with perhaps only Nigel Adkins having any real gripe with Mauricio Pochettino’s success. Shaw had played 60 Premier League games by the age of 19 but was he delivering standout performances? My memory is of another terrific campaign for Rickie Lambert, the emergence of Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana, and rocksteady displays by Dejan Lovren and the underrated Jose Fonte. At the end of the 2014 season a fallen Manchester United were eager to replace the excellent Patrice Evra and threw their weight into the transfer market to pick up Southampton’s exciting youngster.

They say big club players have a greater chance of getting the nod and I felt Luke Shaw transitioned from ‘promising young left-back’ to ‘future England centurion’ far too quickly (he’s played just five times for the England U21s). His first season at United was promising – if unspectacular – but he was dealt a huge blow in September 2015 when suffering a horrible leg-break. I feared the worst for Shaw and the injury seemed so horrific I was happy to call it quits on the bet. His absence was felt in Louis Van Gaal’s stuttering side and everybody was excited for his return. People were, if anything, too excited for his return (a similar story to Jack Wilshere’s) and believed he would magically comeback to save both club and country. Shaw’s a good player but let’s not pile the weight of the nation on his shoulders just yet; he’s got to get into Jose Mourinho’s good books first.

In order for Shaw and Chambers to collectively reach 100 caps the United left-back may need to receive upwards of 90. I just don’t think Arsenal’s Chambers – plucked from Southampton for £16 million – has an England future. He’s currently on loan at Middlesbrough and its feasible he spends the better part of his twenties plying his trade in the lower-mid table (who remembers Justin Hoyte?). In Chambers’ favour is his dual-positional status functioning both at right-back and centre-back. However, this could also be his greatest flaw and he needs to become a specialist; my vote would go for centre-back. The first obstacle to any young English centre-back is squad stalwart Phil Jagielka and anyone vaguely promising deserves to displace the aging Everton captain.

At left-back Shaw’s competition is far greater with Danny Rose the current first choice. It’s surprising to think Rose has locked down a starting place with such authority. It doesn’t seem long ago that he was flapping about in Sunderland colours but a return to Tottenham has seen the 26 year-old hit some real form and he’s consistently one of England’s better players. I’m confident he’ll block out left-back for another two years. Aaron Cresswell is another left-back who’s received a recent call-up following an eighteen month period peppered with good games. Shaw champions both in the age department but must make headway into both the Manchester United and England first XI before the next hot prospect emerges; full-back is a position England has a recent history of overflowing in talent.

Collecting 100 caps is a big ask. Assuming Chambers struggles to make an impact, Shaw will need to have a huge career. John Terry got 78 caps and Rio Ferdinand 80. Glen Johnson started young and will end on 54. Gary Neville was a top full-back and can count just 85.

I’m confident they won’t make it.

Should Arsène Wenger take the England job?

Agree to Disagree – where the argument you had at the pub last Thursday becomes a well mannered discussion.

WANTED – England manager to last more than 67 days. Gareth Southgate has recently taken over England duties and whilst he looks to be a safe pair of hands whispers of Wenger have surfaced stronger than ever. Is he the best choice for England? Is England a good move for him?

Sam Simmons argues…

Yes – The ideal manager of  the England team ideally possesses experience managing in the top-flight; knowledge of the English game; big game know-how; integrity and honesty.Crucially the above description bears no reference to the nationality of this person.

The events of the last week have seen the resurrection of an old question – should a foreign manager be in charge of the England team? It is a difficult discussion to have with patriotic supporters. The heart almost certainly says no. However, decisions made by the heart are often idealist, ill-advised, impulsive and frequently bad. Just ask poor Sam Allardyce. The England job is the biggest job in English football. It eclipses the jobs at Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and, dare I say it, Arsenal.

Arsène Wenger stands out as the outstanding candidate.That statement alone is likely to incense a large portion of England’s loyal following. Realistically though, Wenger has to be the FA’s no.1 target. If measuring it against the criteria listed at the beginning of this article, then there can be little doubt that the Arsenal manager is the best suited for the role.

For all of his faults, of which there are many, the Arsenal boss is undoubtedly a great manager. His arrival in north London two-decades ago heralded a footballing revolution. Whether he could have the same effect on the England team now is questionable, however, there is little doubt that he is the most qualified for the job.

Wenger is at the right age for the role. At 66 he it at the end of his career. Taking the England job is not a risk for him in the same way it would be for say, Eddie Howe. Why would the Bournemouth boss walk away from a stable job to take up a position that seems almost cursed?If Howe were to fail, then his career would be forever tarnished. If Wenger were to fail his legacy would still stand. If people insist upon the England football manager being English, then the pool from which to choose from is automatically narrowed. Whether we like it or not that pool lacks both depth and quality.

Whilst football romanticists may envisage a true and proper Englishmen, whatever that may be, lifting a World Cup or European Championship, the hard facts are that there aren’t any suitable candidates.

If people were to look beyond the rather jingoistic and prehistoric opinions of so called experts, then they would realise that the nationality of a manager means little if he is the best man for the job. Wenger certainly is the best man for the job. With 20 years’ experience managing in the Premier League, there is no man, English or otherwise, better suited for the role.

Wenger’s future is entirely in his own hands, He, and he alone, will decide when time is up at The Emirates. The sad truth is that Wenger has probably outstayed his welcome. The last few years have not gone the way we he would’ve liked.
Sometimes he has looked aged, downtrodden, and dishevelled.

Let’s be clear, the England job is not easier than the Arsenal job. Far from it in fact. But as a foreigner, Wenger would almost be detached from that pressure. Eriksson and Capello both failed, but neither felt the wrath of the British media like McClaren, Hodgson or even Allardyce. Both have managed to move back home or abroad and resume their careers elsewhere.

Wenger loves Arsenal, but the notoriously stubborn Frenchmen must realise that enough is enough. Longevity is only good if there is an evidential progression. For Wenger and Arsenal there hasn’t been; in fact, they’ve been stagnant for the best part of a decade.

For Wenger the time has come. With his contract up at the end of the season he will have a decision to make. His legacy at Arsenal will stand for an eternity. But now his adopted country needs him.

For England fans there has to be some realism. Whilst having a foreign manager in charge is not ideal, insisting upon having an Englishmen at the expense of the success of the national team would just be absurd.

Mike Franchetti argues…

No – Should Arsène Wenger take the England job? Erm, no – definitely not. I’m sure his appointment would reinvigorate the bumbling England fanbase – I’d certainly love it – but should Wenger walk away from this current Arsenal team to join the mess that is the national set-up? No way.

Let’s first mention the timing of the whole thing. Wenger’s in the ‘last year’ of his seemingly never-ending contract. This could be the perfect time for Le Professeur to cast a look beyond the Emirates and take the reins of the national side. However, on closer inspection, it’s the worst possible time for him to do anything of the sort.

Wenger survived Sir Alex’s supremacy and clawed his way through more than a couple of seasons of Chelsea dominance. Right now, his Arsenal side are better than both of those clubs. They’ve just comprehensively swept aside Chelsea whilst Manchester United, though finally improving, haven’t looked convincing since 2013.

Don’t be fooled by the accent (which gets more French when answering difficult questions), Wenger is a lover of the English game. It’s for this reason that his name and the England job continue to be mentioned in the same sentence. But would the F.A really appoint a man so ingrained in the history of one club? Would England’s Spurs contingent thrive under the man who spent twenty seasons keeping north London red? It seems unlikely a man of Wenger’s professionalism would do anything other than select and nurture the best players, but it’s difficult to picture him with an arm around Kyle Walker.

In truth, the players would probably be fine – but how about the fans? It seems unfair for this to be a factor, but it’s exactly the sort of nonsense the F.A will be thinking about. Look at the recent England managers with their passive personalities and non-reputations; McClaren, Hodgson, Southgate, to some extent even Capello.

But back to the point at hand – why would Wenger do it?! He already cops enough flak from his own supporters; does he really need to be thrown in front of the entire nation? He has a strong reputation and the England job is poison. Even the hardiest of his detractors start their complaining with ‘he’s done well but…’ and there’s no denying his impact on club football.

Even if you are of the mindset that the England situation can’t get any worse, the job remains a gamble. Wenger won’t be able to freely overhaul a national system which is altered only slightly with every appointment. In the mid-90s Arsenal football club was ripe for change and Wenger was revolutionary. England’s needs are far messier. Wenger may still have a few tricks up his sleeve but what will he get out of the England job? Two years of mediocrity and a World Cup quarter-final? Anything longer or more successful than that is hard to imagine.

He’s 66 now and the current England team needs more than a quick fix. The idea of Wenger’s England is exciting to players, fans and probably the man himself – but the same could be said of Pep Guardiola’s Aston Villa. Even with Sam Allardyce doing his best to make it happen, the perfect storm needed to bring Wenger to our national side will pass by as a near-miss. Arsenal are too strong right now, Wenger too old, the risk too great.

Even if you don’t believe in Arsenal’s thirteenth straight attempt to recapture the Premier League, Wenger does – and that’s all that matters. Everything he does – the way he acts, the decisions he makes – reeks of commitment, calculation and maintaining his reputation. If he has one eye on another job, he’s doing a masterful job of disguising it.

There have been no ‘do-or-die’ purchases, no signs of player unhappiness and no interviews conducted in any way other than classic Arsène. If he does eventually take the England job it will have been triggered by a break in the status quo; he’d have just won the League or Champions League, or bombed to fifth and got sacked. It’s autumn now and he’ll be pairing that knitted navy V-neck jumper with a bright red tie long into 2017. I can’t imagine it any other way.