After last Saturday’s disappointing draw against Switzerland in the European Championship qualifier there are once again a number of questions being raised about the standard of English football and in particular it’s Strikers.
A number of papers have since claimed that without Wayne Rooney the team lack options up front and a real cutting edge, and with just 11 goals scored so far in the qualifying rounds it is clear that England need more from their front men.
In a game that at one point looked lost and then was almost won but for Darren Bent failing to convert from close range England fell short of the expectations of the home fans. Further to this rumours of Peter Crouch retiring have been quashed, the striker was apparently considering his international future after not being selected in Capello’s starting line-up for nearly 13 months.
So is it a case that those players eligible to play are simply not good enough or is squad rotation for both club and country having a detrimental effect on player performance? Obviously the managers preference has to be considered but scoring goals at club level is surely the perfect way to convince him that a certain player is worthy of a starting place.
Bent for example has an impressive goal scoring record in the Premier League, 91 in total and has enjoyed a good start to life at Aston Villa, scoring nine goals in 16 games. Though at international level he has struggled to establish himself, having played on a regular basis at Sunderland and Villa can this really be put down to rotation effecting his game?
Two players who may have a case are Tottenham’s Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe, both have found chances limited this campaign and now find themselves on the fringes of the national team. Defoe for example has a superior goal scoring record to Bent for both club and country but due to injury and being in and out of the Spurs team has failed to recapture his form.
Crouch on the other hand seems to save his best form for England, scoring 22 goals in 42 games and yet does not seem to feature in the current set-up. People suggest that his presence in the team simply encourages the use of the long ball game but over the years he has proved he is a more than capable player, but in order to be selected for England he must be playing well at club level, and with just 4 league goals this season it is clear he is short of form.
In the case of players such as Andy Carroll it is far too early in his career to judge just how good he may or may not turn out to be, and with the added pressure of a £35m transfer to Liverpool he’ll need time to progress. The same can be said of the highly rate Conner Wickham, currently of Ipswich Town but linked with big money moves to Arsenal or Liverpool, and of whom much is expected at the forth coming U21 European Championships in Denmark.
Most other major European nations have regular strikers that play regular club football and score goals, Spain’s Villa, Torres, and Llorente, Van Persie and Kuyt for Holland, and the Germans have a number of quality strikers to call on and this has been clear in qualifying with Germany and Holland both scoring over 20 goals already.
Rotation will always be a feature of football, players like Defoe, Bent, and Crouch have all shown they have ability but must be given regular starts to prove it. If England are to be successful we need to have options other than Rooney and players capable of scoring goals. With this the major honours will surely follow.
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