Crouch for England?

4 03 2010

Just a couple of quick thoughts on England’s plans for the Football world cup in South Africa this year. Much of the talk today and in the coming months has and will surround Fabio Capello’s selection plans for his forward line. Rooney, being something of a talisman, is a given. His striking partner (if indeed he gets one and Capello doesn’t leave him alone up front) could be one of a handful with probably a further two spots available in the squad.

We did not see the game last night and so cannot comment on any single players performance but we were struck by Crouch’s reported double strike. As you can see from the list below of strikers there or thereabouts, he has by far the best goals to game ratio. We realise this doesn’t tell the full story about a striker but thought it was interesting nevertheless. Rooney is highlighted as a given  so the choice seems to come from the rest of these mentioned. (If we have forgotten anyone obvious we apologise, please let us know in the comments section below!)

  • Peter Crouch – 37 caps – 20 goals – 0.54 goals per game
  • Michael Owen – 89 caps – 40 goals – 0.45 goals per game
  • Wayne Rooney – 57 caps – 25 goals – 0.44 goals per game
  • Theo Walcott – 9 caps – 3 goals – 0.33 goals per game
  • Jermain Defoe – 28 caps – 11 goals – 0.29 goals per game
  • Emile Heskey – 57 caps – 7 goals – 0.12 goals per game
  • Carlton Cole – 7 caps – 0 goals
  • Darren Bent – 5 caps – 0 goals

As can be seen from this list, other than Owen and Rooney, Crouch is essentially the only proven goal scorer amongst the forwards England have. Owen can probably be discounted due to a lack of game time at Manchester United, Defoe will probably go to South Africa having been in such fine form for Spurs, Walcott is used these days as much as a right midfielder/winger than as a striker, but the one that puzzles us is Heskey.

Heskey has never been a prolific goal scorer at any level of professional football, more often being renowned for his strength and ability ‘to hold the ball up’ and for others to play off. Useful as he is in this regard, the Compulsive Hooker has never totally understood why successive managers have wanted to play him so regularly. As a forward player your primary job is to score goals and currently Heskey’s record in this regard is almost identical to that current pariah of the footballing world, John Terry. Perhaps Heskey has simply been lucky to play in England teams with prolific midfield goal scorers such as Scholes, Lampard and Gerrard meaning that the pressure wasn’t on him so much.

Throughout his reign as England coach, Capello has shown a slight mistrust in Crouch’s abilities despite his statistical claims to the job. As we said above, we realise that stats are often misleading and strikers are measured in other ways as well (how else would Heskey have played 57 times otherwise), yet we do feel that surely he is justified an extended run in the side next to Rooney. He is tall and strong and should be able to play the target man as well as Heskey.

There are other considerations of course, such as formations and tactical ploys that may in the end deem Crouch surplus to requirements. A partnership of Defoe and Rooney is also possible, although both being shorter men and with Capello’s stated preference to have at least one big man up front, this seems to rule this option out long term. Perhaps a reader who watched last nights game could comment on how they played together as both started?

For our money though a Rooney – Crouch partnership seems worth a shot!

********

Finally, we felt a mention to Fabio Capello is due as we have been highly impressed by him since he came into English football. The English managers job must be one of the most challenging in history and the pressures have finished several England managers prematurely over the last 15 years. Capello though seems to be a very strong individual and one that crucially is not cowed by the well paid stars of today. In this age of player power and over blown wages, England will need all of this strength to push them forward.

With Capello at the helm we are experiencing a feeling of optimism that simply wasn’t there before.

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4 responses

4 03 2010
Chris Allen

Well written, for my money its still Owen, sorry but stats say everything, if he stays fit he is a natural goal scorer. However I think Gerrard should play a role in front of midfield and support Roonie, he can score and change a game, we have plenty of midfield players who can cover for him. So my choice would be Gerrard. Can you really put Heskey in at this stage? Different class.

7 03 2010
Bradders

Thanks for commenting Chris. Sadly Owen is now out due to injury and I think you’re right in saying he’ll probably go with the 1 up front and a midfielder just behind. Never understood heskey, its a bizarre one.

10 03 2010
Dingo

I’m not an expert, but I think they use Heskey as a big target for passing the ball through the air and then he holds it up and gives it too the fast guys. Not all teams defense will allow these little fellas to simply outrun, so hoofing one over them is sometimes the quickest way. I like Heskey anyway, he seems like a decent fellow and 90% of pro soccer players are absolute w*****s.

10 03 2010
Bradders

I think you’re right although I just don’t really understand how a striker can have such an extraordinarily poor goal scoring record and still get in. He does seem a decent bloke though. People talk about his ‘strength’ a great deal, and this is something that also confuses me slightly. At uni we used to play a game guessing how many times he would fall over in a game as for a big man he goes down surprisingly often!
Also a little edit there on your comment inserting stars…… Family friendly site this!!!
Cheers for commenting.

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