East England National Team

Salutations comrades, and welcome to the East side of the wall. Today we do the exact same thing we did for the west of England, but with players from the other side of the country. Remember that we’ve had a significantly smaller geographical area to work with here, and most of England’s best players were born outside of these hypothetical borders. But I don’t think the team is all that bad regardless. 

Goalkeepers: Nick Pope, Angus Gunn & Marcus Bettinelli

Kicking off the team with our goalkeepers, it’s fair to say all the best stoppers were raised in the West. Not that Nick Pope is a poor choice for the number one jersey, mind you, in fact I’d say he’s streaks ahead of any of the other goalkeepers we have to pick from here. A reliable number one who hails from Soham, he has back-up provided for him in the form of Angus Gunn and Marcus Bettinelli. I wish there were better options on offer here, but the only other half-decent keepers I could find were Wes Foderingham and Joe Lewis, and they’re simply not good enough for the team. 

Norwich local Gunn is a decent keeper at Southampton, and at age 24 still has time to improve and develop. His season has been currently derailed after supposedly keeping net in the Saints’ 9-0 home loss to Leicester, but he’s still a worthy inclusion in the team. Bettinelli, meanwhile, currently finds himself as Fulham’s back-up goalkeeper in the Championship, but he was once called up to the England team (somehow) and he’s literally the only other good goalkeeper from the East I could find.

Right-Backs: Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Max Aarons

One of these players will never have a proper run in the England team due to the existence of Trent Alexander-Arnold, and the other will probably never get an England call-up because of the three or four other people ahead of him. But here in the East, we share international caps freely.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the obvious choice for the right-back berth, coming in hot from Croydon and nailing down a spot at Manchester United with his strength and physicality. In line to fill in for Aaron we have two Aarons in the form of Max Aarons. Hailing from Hammersmith, Aarons has been a standout performer for struggling Norwich this season, with his pace and reading of the game being key assets of his, and can only go from strength to strength at the mere age of 20.

It’s well-known that England currently have a plethora of available right-backs, and most of them seem to have been birthed in the hypothetical East. So, in case of injury to one of the two righteous Aarons, we could pick from any one of; Reece James, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Nathaniel Clyne, James Justin, Ryan Fredericks or Adam Smith. At least some of those players are half-decent.

Centre-Backs: Joe Gomez, Fikayo Tomori, Chris Smalling & James Tomkins

Literally all of England’s good centre-backs are playing in the West in this reality, which makes this selection a real ball-ache. Londoner Joe Gomez is easily the best centre-back of the bunch here, and Fikayo Tomori qualifies for Eastern representation since he moved to Gravesend with his family when he was a young boy. It gets into shitshow territory when we look past the aforementioned duo and realise what we have to work with as back-ups. They come in the form of Chris Smalling and James Tomkins, the literal definitions of the word ‘meh’. They’re ok, they’ll be good back-ups and that’s that.

It’s a good thing Tomori’s family moved to the East because if they hadn’t, we’d be turning to either Alfie Mawson or Curtis Davies for cover. What a world that’d be.

Left-Backs: Ben Chilwell & Luke Shaw

Probably one of the most straight-forward selections in the entire squad. Ben Chilwell, from the fabled land of Milton Keynes, is one of the finest left-backs in the league right now and a comfortable starter for the England team. Luke Shaw meanwhile, despite still not reaching the potential that he promised just yet, has been competent and dependable when he’s come into the Manchester United team recently, so he takes his place on the bench.

In fact, it appears the East has pilfered all of the nations’ best left-backs, leaving the West with Danny Rose and Aaron Cresswell. Ryan Bertrand is a comfortable reserve option if needed, and Bukayo Saka has unexpectedly been starring from the left for Arsenal this season. There’s even Charlie Daniels and Kieran Gibbs is things get that desperate!

Central Midfielders: Declan Rice, Harry Winks, Ruben Loftus-Cheek & Jonjo Shelvey

As we’ve already established, England don’t have the greatest selection of central midfielders to pick from as it is, but the West have got substantially better options than he East do. Declan Rice is probably the best of the bunch, and even then people can’t seem to make up their mind as to whether he’s actually any good or not. Or if he’s actually English. My take: he’s fine, he does a good job dong the dirty work in the middle of the pitch, and that’s about it. He was also born in Kingston upon Thames, so that’s good enough for me to put him in here. Partnering him is Harry Winks, who I refuse to consider a good footballer, based solely on the fact that he isn’t. That should tell you about the quality of player we’re dealing with here. But as a Hertfordshire local and at risk of any backlash, he goes into the team.

On the bench I’ve plucked Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jonjo Shelvey out of obscurity for a place in the team. I do actually like Loftus-Cheek, and he could yet have a solid career at Chelsea, it’s just unfortunate that he’s been injured for so long this season, so he’s going to have to take up a position on the bench for now. Jonjo Shelvey completes a very average-looking midfield selection, since he’s by no means a bad player, it’s just that everything he can do can be done better by someone else. Should any of these lads find themselves injured, then Jack Cork and Mark Noble are probably the most likely to come in and replace them. And if Jack Wilshere had stayed injury-free for the majority of his career, this midfield would probably have a lot more class to it.

Attacking Midfielders: Dele Alli & Todd Cantwell

With the West again snatching all of England’s best attacking midfielders, we’re being forced to convert wingers into attacking midfielders, we’re that desperate here, people. Milton Keynes messiah Dele Alli would probably find himself as first-choice attacking midfielder here, although the Tottenham man has been going through very mixed spells of form this season, even seeing him dropped from the England team. He’s still a class act on his day though, and it would be silly not to start him here. I wish I could put Dereham’s finest Todd Cantwell in ahead of him, but he’s going to have to take his place on the bench for now. I know that Cantwell plays on the right for Norwich City, but I think his flair and creativity are better suited to an attacking midfield role, especially since he tends to drift all over the pitch as it is. So that’s where I’m going to play him.

If I didn’t put Cantwell at CAM, it would leave the East’s other options rather limited, to be as polite as possible about it. In fairness, it’s not like I don’t rate Adam Lallana, I think he’s a very gifted footballer, but he’s also one who’s getting on in years and doesn’t feature at all often for Liverpool anymore, but he’d be a decent option if needed. Otherwise, it’d be between either Manchester United youngster Angel Gomes, who barely gets any game time for them as it is, or Championship star Bradley Dack. For everyone’s benefit, we’re going with Todd.

Right-Wingers: Jadon Sancho & Andros Townsend

If the defence and central midfield of Red England is pretty average with a smattering of quality, the attacking forces more than make up for it. Starting on the right is Borussia Dortmund starlet Jadon Sancho, another Londoner, who even at the humble age of 20 has been scoring and assisting for fun in the Bundesliga and has already staked his claim for a starting spot in the England team. And providing back-up and experience for him is one Andros Townsend, a reliable squad player who was strangely good for England when he played for them. And you guessed correctly, he’s also from London.

Michail Antonio pushes Townsend close for a spot in the team, and it’s likely there’d be a lot of rotation between the two of them. But I’m going with Townsend given his experience on the international scene, and that he’s less prone to injuries than Antonio is. And if this selection was made a few years ago, then Theo Walcott would probably be featuring regularly. Sadly, he’s semi-washed up at age 30, and it’s unrealistic to see him making a challenge for a place in the squad. And if we give it a few years, then Arsenal wonderkid Reiss Nelson would probably be a frequent addition to the team.

Left-Wingers: Raheem Sterling & Callum Hudson-Odoi

If the greedy capitalists of the West have taken the bulk of England’s talents, at least they’ve left the East with arguably our best player right now. Raheem Sterling has gone from strength to strength over the past few seasons and has evolved into one of the best wingers in world football. Despite being born in Jamaica, he moved to London with his family at a young age, so he qualifies to be a part of this team, perhaps as its prized asset. And with Callum Hudson-Odoi on the bench, we have a highly promising youngster who could learn a lot with Sterling ahead of him. Not that he’s exactly bad at the moment of course. That also makes it four wingers out of four who were born in the capital.

And to be honest, there isn’t a whole load of other options to choose from. I think Ryan Sessegnon could make a strong case to be in the team ahead of Hudson-Odoi, but I feel as though he hasn’t been showing what he can do as regularly as Hudson-Odoi has this season. But at least he’d be versatile to fill in at left-back if needed. Apart from that, well there’s Junior Stanislas. Moving on.

Strikers: Harry Kane & Tammy Abraham

Not only do we have England’s best player, but we have their captain as well! Even though I strongly believe Harry Kane doesn’t deserve to actually captain my country and it pains me that he’s going to end up our record goalscorer one day, but the thing is he scores goals and that’s all you can ask of a striker. He leads the line up top, and Tammy Abraham finds himself making up the numbers on the bench. In fairness, in terms of back-up strikers, you can’t really ask for much better than the biblical finisher himself. That also makes it six from six in terms of London-born forwards. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

It also helps that he’s yet another Londoner who plays in attack, because we also don’t have a whole lot to work with without him. Karlan Grant is probably the next best thing, a player who I really think should be playing regular Premier League football, but he isn’t, so that’s his fate sealed. We’d probably have to then turn to any one of the aging Jermain Defoe, MLS legend Bradley Wright-Phillips, former Bishop’s Stortford superstar Dwight Gayle, and failing any of them, Lewis “The Pube Beard” Grabban. Imagine the scenes if he got a call-up.

Manager: Gareth Southgate

The current England manager, the chosen one to bring it home, it could only be Gareth Southgate to manage this team. A local of Watford in Hertfordshire, Gareth will be leading these working-class heroes to potential glory, complete with red and white kit, hammers and sickles, all from their glorious Vladimir Lenin Stadium (formerly known as Wembley). 

If Gareth was for any reason to relieve his post, I get the sense that Eddie Howe would probably be the man to come in and take his place. But that’s a reality too dark to comprehend right now.

So that just about does it for this little detour into an alternate reality. It’s true that this exercise, in reality, was completely pointless, but I though it’d be something interesting if nothing else. And if we’ve learned anything from today, London produces some pretty incredible attacking players. 

I hope you all enjoyed, and if this is the sort of thing you enjoy then there’s plenty more for you to read coming your way shortly!

But for now, safe travels, and all hail Lenin. 

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