Sub left-back; the most prestigious and romantic role in the whole wide world, you’ll agree. So, having previously examined the wider causes surrounding why Leighton Baines failed to make Capello’s final World Cup squad despite appearing to be a certainty to go (see What exactly did Baines do wrong?), it seems appropriate to look at the on-field football factors; who was actually deserving of a place and who would be the better surrogate for Ashley Cole.
In comparing and contrasting their respective merits, how on this dreary dull earth are we going to determine who reigns supreme? It seems there’s only one way to find out… (no, not fight!!), it’s a bit of good old-fashioned top trumps.
The primary function, life-blood and modus operandi of our dear competitors, defending is clearly a fundamental sphere for consideration. Whilst Baines is certainly proficient and fairly secure, he can on occasion look unrefined in getting caught out of position (likely due to his attacking impulses and role), whereas Warnock is largely more adept in his defensive positioning, offering a stable and sturdy option.
Warnock may have started out, and still be capable of filling in, as a midfielder, but going forward is where Baines excelled for Everton this year. Forming a formidable, fluid and flexible partnership down the left-flank with Steven Pienaar Baines only scored one goal this season but was responsible for 9 league assists; frequently overlapping and delivering efficiently, hence making him a valuable and dual asset for Everton.
Form this year:
Both have grabbed the left-back spot and become mainstays for their respective sides. Both also demonstrated a strong level of consistency and formed a steady foundation for Everton and Villa’s push for European football. Indeed there is little to separate them, however playing over 600 more minutes of league football this season, arguably demonstrating the best form of his career and playing a critical role for his club, I’ll just about give it to…
Winner: Baines, just, by half a mark.
Clearly neither are particularly experienced on the international scene, boasting an almighty 3 caps between them, though they have justifiably been finding themselves part of the England set-up .Warnock hasn’t actually played for England for two years and has one of the shortest international careers at only 15 minutes; probably unlikely to be augmented during this World Cup. Baines meanwhile found himself in recent line-ups but still only has 2 caps. So, again, there is little to separate them (a cap, one measly cap), but its going to have to go to…
Winner: Baines, again only just, by half a mark, by a scraggy cap.
There you have it, literally the most scientific and methodical experiment ever conducted – well at least there were some facts involved. The empirical evidence unquestionably, undeniably and categorically proves Baines should have gone and only didn’t get the nod because of recent comments: What did Baines do wrong?
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