Can you believe that Gareth Southgate has picked (insert a player you don’t like) over (insert a player from your club in decent form) again? The man’s clueless!
Now that’s out of the way we can get down to the (un)serious business of selecting a hypothetical England XI using this season’s Dream Team points.
Generally, we let the players’ current totals determine the line-up but we had to intervene on occasion to ensure the team adopted a semi-realistic structure – for example, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.3m) misses out despite being among the top four defenders in terms of points because it would be ludicrous to select him as a centre-back.
Let’s get into it…
GOALKEEPER: Aaron Ramsdale (£3.7m)
In reality, Jordan Pickford (£1.9m) is the Three Lions’ No1 but the Everton custodian is just the fourth-best asset in his position among his compatriots.
Nick Pope (£4.2m) leads the way but we’ve omitted him because he has withdrawn from Southgate’s squad with an injury concern.
And so it’s Arsenal’s keeper who takes the gloves for us by virtue of his 86 points – 35 short of Pope’s tally but 40 more than Pickford has mustered.
Ramsdale is neck-and-neck with the Newcastle man in the race for the Golden Glove with both having contributed to 12 clean sheets in the Premier League so far this campaign.
DEFENDERS: Kieran Trippier (£5.8m), Ben White (£4.3m), Dan Burn (£4.3m), Luke Shaw (£4.4m)
Trippier (195 points), Shaw (128) and White (128) actually make up the podium places among Dream Team defenders this term, suggesting England have the luxury of in-form players at their disposal in defence.
In reality, Southgate has overlooked Arsenal’s No4, much to the bewilderment of the Emirates faithful.
White has predominately played as a right-back in recent times but he’s a centre-back by trade so he can easily slide into the middle for the purposes of this exercise.
It’s a similar story for Burn too who used to play as a centre-back alongside White at Brighton but now occupies the left-back slot in Eddie Howe’s frugal back four.
The clean sheets may have dried up for the Magpies in recent weeks but they still boast the best defensive record in the league and the 6ft 7in defender’s total of 112 points remains highly impressive.
Interestingly, Southgate’s long-established first-choice partnership of John Stones (£5.6m) and Harry Maguire (£4m) are nowhere near our line-up.
MIDFIELDERS: Bukayo Saka (£5.3m), Phil Foden (£5m), James Ward-Prowse (£3.6m), Solly March (£3.8m)
Okay, here’s where we get really funky.
4-4-2 is the best formation if we hope to forge a semi-realistic line-up.
Saka is nailed-on at right wing as they only Premier League player with 10+ goals and 10+ assists to his name at this stage of the campaign.
Arsenal’s No7 has been inspirational in his side’s title challenge this season and his tally of 172 points (helped by a haul of 20 at the weekend) makes him the third-best midfielder in Dream Team right now – only Kevin De Bruyne (£7.6m) and Bruno Fernandes (£6.2m) are above him in the rankings.
Foden is fourth in the list having plundered 152 points overall despite a relatively barren run after the World Cup when affected by injuries.
The Man City wonderkid will be our No10 meaning Ward-Prowse will have to sit.
Southampton’s skipper has done brilliantly to amass 99 points given his side’s place in the table (20th) and of course he’ll be on free-kicks.
Lo and behold, March is our other winger having registered 115 points, only seven midfielders have produced more to date this term.
Brighton have entertained under Roberto De Zerbi’s guidance and we certainly don’t mind the idea of England borrowing a piece from the Seagulls’ enterprising set-up – Southgate’s side are prone to risk-adverse football which can frustrate fans.
The elephant in the room here is Jude Bellingham, who isn’t subject to Dream Team scoring while an employee of Borussia Dortmund.
A quick check of WhoScored suggests the talented teenager would have earned seven Star Man awards this season which is equal to Erling Haaland’s (£9m) tally…
FORWARDS: Harry Kane (£7.8m, Ivan Toney (£6.3m)
Marcus Rashford (£6.7m) would have led the line for us had he not also withdrawn from the squad with an injury problem – he’s amassed a whopping 256 points, the most of any Englishman.
As a result, we’re aligned with reality with Kane as the focal point and you’ll get no complaints from us – Spurs’ season is collapsing as the conclusion draws nearer but their all-time top scorer has pulled his weight and more.
The 29-year-old has 23 goals in all competitions with 21 coming in the league – only runaway poacher Haaland has more domestically.
Kane has produced 205 points and is once again on track to finish among the very best Dream Team assets of the season.
Last but not least, a deserved place for Toney, who should have made his actual England debut a while ago.
Brentford’s top scorer has 17 goals and five assists in 27 appearances this season for a return of 155 Dream Team points.
Here’s the full team presented through the prism of classic Football Manager graphics…
There’s slim to nil chance you’ll see this line-up in reality but the Dream Team rankings must be respected – are you reading, Gareth?