Following England’s 3-1 friendly defeat of Egypt at Wembley, opinions were focused on the performance of Peter Crouch who scored two of England’s goals in an adequate team performance leading up the announcement of the 27-man preliminary World Cup squad in May. With Wayne Rooney playing the full 90 minutes, and both Jermaine Defoe and Crouch getting a half each, I guess we should wonder if any decisions have been made regarding who starts for England against the USA in their first Group game in South Africa next June. The other candidate to be Wayne Rooney’s strike partner is Emile Heskey who didn’t figure in the Egypt game and as a result of Crouch’s performance, it looks like he might have missed out in the race to be Capello’s frontman.
Before we let the concrete set on who will play and who won’t, I have my own opinion on what Capello’s strike force should be, and a radical one it is too.
Let me first state that I have always felt that Frank Lampard is one of the most overrated players I have seen in my 40 years watching and playing this game. I put him in the same category as Ray Wilkins who I saw play regularly during my days on the Stretford End in the late 1970′s. Both come with shining resumes and a great pedigree, but in my world, both have been idolized way out of proportion in comparison to their ability. We won’t get into my opinions about Wilkins but Lampard never ceases to amaze me. He is probably the worst striker of a soccer ball that you will ever see anywhere in the game and his skills are limited. He plays on one of the top sides in the world and but for that, I’m not sure he would even be in the England squad. His only redeeming feature is his goalscoring ability, which for the purposes of what I am about to suggest, pales into insignificance.
My suggestion for Capello, and let me say that it is probably too late to introduce this formation to a starting line-up but he might entertain the possibility as an adjustment late in a game, is to play Rooney at Lampard’s position, just behind two strikers, who would be Crouch and Defoe, leaving the Chelsea midfielder on the bench. Radical, I know, but if you look at what this gives us, we actually gain a striker, and a goal-scoring one at that. Rooney can do what Lampard does and better. He is a more competitive player, a better passer of the ball, and in that position, would still score goals. He is willing to defend, and his stamina is unquestioned. Playing Rooney there, gives Capello a chance to have two pure strikers, both of whom score goals on a regular basis. We now have three goalscoring threats on the field. We already know that Lampard and Gerrard have a tough time playing together, but Rooney and Gerrard would benefit each other.
It remains to be seen what the final outcome will be upfront, but I think Heskey is a bench player from this point on in favor of Crouch, but I wonder what that formation I described would do given half a chance.
Worth trying, don’t you think ?