England’s striker crisis

by Ashleigh Rose

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Who’s going to score the goals?

This week see’s another double header for Fabio Capello’s England, as they look to continue their unbeaten start to World Cup Qualification against Ukraine, following the friendly with Slovakia. But as Capello’s squad suggests and as shown in the defeat to Spain in February Fabio’s England are far from the finished product. And my main concern is the strikers at England’s disposable right now.

The four who that Capello has picked, Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole have all, it has to be said had good seasons. Rooney apart though, who at times has struggled for consistency on the international scene, where is the genuine out and out quality goal scorer?

For as long as can remember (which is about 1990) England have had a least one striker you could absolute guarantee that give the opportunity would grab a goal for the Three Lions whatever the circumstances. Gary Lineker was followed by Alan Shearer who in turn was followed by Michael Owen – but who is there now? Fabio’s first choice of course right now is the combination of Rooney and Heskey and thus far this seems to be a partnership that working. With Heskey now getting credit for the unselfish work he does, creating space and opportunities for both Rooney and the midfielder runners it’s been hugely beneficial to Fabio’s England.

But if that is Plan A, what is plan B? I’m a big Peter Crouch fan but despite his impressive early England goal scoring record the only thing he offers is a different option and one that is very similar to that of Heskey. Carlton Cole has been of this season’s surprise stars but having never been a top goal-getter at club level it’s hard to see step up to international level. Of those not picked, Gabby Agbonlahor’s alarming slump in form has seen his stock drop while Darren Bent is struggling so much that Bolton’s Kevin Davies now seems to be ahead of him. Jermaine Defoe is on the injured list but for is not international class and he’s had so many opportunities to prove me wrong now.

So that leaves a name largely discarded so far by Capello – Michael Owen. Of course he wasn’t fit for this squad but if Owen can get himself anywhere near peak fitness he’ll be surprised to learn that the competition for places in Fabio’s brave new world is getting weaker by the squad. Yes I know he’ll never be the Owen of old but if we are 1-0 down with ten minutes to go and need a goal, there’s one man I’d put my house on to get it off all the names above.

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  • http://ukfootballfinder.co.uk/ Darren

    I remember when Ian Wright & Matt Tis couldn’t get into the team, now we have the likes of Charlton Cole, Heskey & Crouch. No disrepect to those 3 but are they really International class? Ar ethey going to score the goals to lead England to glory?

    There’s even talk of Kevin Davies from Bolton. We really do have a problem up front if these are our only options.

  • Ash

    Something I forgot to say was look at 1996 our choice of strikers was: Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Sir Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Robbie Fowler, Andy Cole and Matt Le Tissier. Arguably all would get in todays squad.

  • http://ukfootballfinder.co.uk/ Darren

    that’s what I’m saying. Look at today’s, the quality is pretty poor! Dexy actually thinks England will win the World Cup, I can’t see it, we need a goal scorer…

    QF at best. That’s my prediction, not exactly exciting or even patriotic but I have been let down since 1982….

  • Doug

    I’d agree the strikers we have are not in the same class as 1996 lot but I do think Crouch is a different striker who I would select because he does get goals and he is very difficult to mark even if his height is a red herring (Heading is hardly his best quality). Gabby A is also a decent prospect who could turn out to be a class act.

    Even though I am a Spurs fan I’d agree to an extent with you on Defoe. Quality finisher, but still suspect positioning in my opinion. That said, he has never been given anything like an extended run in the England team to prove himself and is probably England’s best ‘box’ finisher.

    Disagree on Owen though. Likeable guy, but I think his legs are well and truly gone and shouldn’t be picked on reputation alone.

  • Ash

    Oh I’d pick Crouch everytime cos your right he offers something different and I still think he’s a better striker then he’s given credit for. But my point was that he’s never going to be an Owen/Lineker/Shearer.

    I think Defoe has had enough chances, thing is you never get a real extended run because there isnt enough games and most are so important that you have to be good enough to step up to the plate and perform – that’s what I regard as international class. Something Defoe isnt.

    Write Owen off at your peril too, he has a history of contuinually proving people wrong!

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I do tend to agree, Crouch is under rated, he’s probably the only England forward to score on a consistent basis.

    Dafoe is not intelligent enough to be an International striker, he’s offside far to many times and doesn’t know how lead to the line.

    You need a talisman to win tournaments and we don’t have one I’m afraid. Saying that Italy won the World Cup with Luca Toni so there’s hope yet!!

  • dexylongshot

    Erm, Theo.
    3 goals in his first against one of the top teams in Europe. Not a conventional striker i know but definetely a threat. Fabio has said that he is englands most important player. Let’s just hope he’s fit. Sorry after Owens admission last week about his fitness at the last world cup (Mickey told me about it), he’s not in my good books any more. France won the world cup in 98 without decent striker, why can’t we??? We have always had decent players, just crap tactics. Capello is gradually bringing that to the fore with every game. Spain outplayed us for large parts of the games but when it cam down to actual chances we had the same as them. One of theres was a defensive lapse which gifted them 1 as well. We had a goal-line clearance at the end. We have 15 months to get it sorted. Fabs the man, mark my words.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    now we really do have a striker crisis, Darren Bent is in the squad!

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