England’s forward options never looked so good

by Sam Rider

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Wayne Rooney has six goals in seven for Manchester United so far. For England in qualification matches his record is nine in eight. The national side has booked their place for the World Cup next summer allowing him to whet his appetite for South Africa by focusing on Premier League and European competition.

Come June, without the WAGs to distract him, Wazza can tuck into the native cuisine of biltong, ostrich and vetkoek (literally ‘fat cake’) and eye-up the opposition with menace. For finally it looks like England have all the ingredients of talent up-front to envy any side on the international landscape.

This sudden discovery or revelation, call it what you will, came to me when indulging myself on the forums in recognising Darren Bent’s reinvigorated form for Sunderland. ‘Is he good enough to be taken seriously again?’ I asked. The conclusion was emphatically definitive: no.

He has turned a few heads and can be lauded for his league form but nobody’s making space on the plane for him to join the World Cup party just yet. He may be given a glimmer of hope in Capello’s next squad to be announced on Sunday but that may be misleading as others are simply too good right now.

In analysing the probable forward options that will be in attendance in South Africa it looks like England have an abundance of riches. Capello has everything rolled into one in the form of Rooney. Defoe has pace and explosive finishing. Cole has strength and power as well as an effective shot on him and ability in the air. Crouch has realised he can score with his head and Heskey is the glue that holds it all together. Give Agbonlahor and even my newly crowned hero Michael Owen time to impress until June and all the boxes are ticked.

‘Fox-in-the-box’, Defoe. Pace, Agbonlahor. Power, Cole. Aerial threat, Crouch. Link-up play, Heskey. Finishing, Owen. All of the above, Rooney.

And for the rest:

Torres, Villa. They need to be supported by a ‘big man’. Back-ups Cazorla and Llorente sound more like something you’d throw in a paella than up-front. Yet they may not even need one if Spain play like they did at the Euros and Bojan could be back on the radar by then.

Henry, Anelka, Benzema then possibly Saha if he keeps scoring for the Toffees. That seems a daunting attack complimented by Nasri, Ribery and Gourcuff! Think they are struggling for qualification at the mo but they have the most all rounded front line for me.

Robinho, Fabiano, Adriano (suprisingly included – he must have run out of beer money). We know all about them and will be re-acquainted in November when England face them in a testing friendly. Yet, they have unknown quantities such as Nilmar and Tardelli waiting in the wings and being Brazil, they will probably be quality. Could say they have the complete package but injuries would expose the more inexperienced players in a World Cup.

Podolski and Klose have had plenty of opportunities to play together. Klose is effective in the air and together they can be prolific but I don’t think there is much back up after Gomez.

Gilardinho and Iaquinta don’t really scare me. They are not consistent enough and Rossi and Di Natale are too slight and inexperienced.

Van Persie, Kuyt, Huntelaar and Robben as a wing-forward should be quite a handful. Yet when Robben goes missing they do lack someone with blistering pace. Against England they didn’t create much that wasn’t put on a plate for them by our errors.

Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Higuain and Milito. They are all tricky players but no one stands out as offering much of an aerial threat and anyway, they may not even qualify so we’ll worry about them later.

African nations
each have one big name striker like Drogba, Adebayor, Eto’o etc but don’t have enough quality back up.

So all in all, England surely have plenty of the right ingredients to produce a dynamic, diverse, devastating forward partnership that is only rivalled by France and Brazil. But three months ago it didn’t look like we had any capable centre-forwards so who knows how we will shape up in nine months time…

If everyone’s fit, Wayne will still be licking his lips at the prospect of getting stuck into the opposition defences with ample support for good measure, and England should be the team to beat.

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  • dexylongshot

    We have plenty of goals in the side, i think before the last game we had 9 more than anyone else in European qualification. We have goals from all over the shop. That’s not to say that we would be up sh*t creek if we lost Rooney, his all round play does make it easier for others to score.
    It’s the same with Spain, they lost Villa in the Euros who up till then was one of the top scorers but Cesc came in for him as a link between midfield and the front and they did ok didn’t they. They didn’t really have to rely on a another out and out goalman like we don’t by playing Heskey.

    PS: I haven’t done a Ukraine build up because the game is of no real importance and Mickey Marbles is going to put some blog about England tomorrow. What I will be doing is a round of all the final qualification details worldwide next week and I can assure you there will be plenty of room bating for Maradona and the Winker. As for tomorrow, the real game will Paddy O Toni taking on the Azzurri at Croke Park. Go on the Greens!!!!!!!!

  • Darren

    I have to disagree, not just because I’m an England cynic. Rooney aside, how many of those players would get into a top European side, top 4 included. The answer I’m afraid is a big fat 0.
    The last time we had genuine quality was way back in 97 when Ian Wright struggled to get into the side!

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