Gerrard as second striker for England?

Wayne Rooney will take up the main striking role for England at the World Cup in South Africa. Quite right too. The Manchester United striker is in excellent form right now. Some say he is almost single-handedly keeping his team in the race for the Premiership. He can certainly change games in an instant. While doubts remain about his temperament, Rooney's continued presence up front for England is a must if Capello's men are to mount a serious challenge to Brazil and Spain.

The big question is not whether Rooney plays, but who partners him up front. Let's look at the candidates:

Jermain Defoe

Lots of goals this season but something of a flat track bully who takes advantage of weak opposition. Perfect for Algeria but not any of the contenders.

Peter Crouch

Awkward to handle, the big man with the good touch on the ground gets his fair share of goals. Unfortunately, for a man of his size Crouch still seems lightweight and easy to dispossess. Battling defenders may get the better of him far too easily.

Carlton Cole

The West Ham front man is a crude but surprisingly effective battering ram. This isn't enough to guarantee him a regular place at Rooney's side.

Emile Heskey

Oh stop it.

Darren Bent

Fell over in front of goal on an early Capello outing. He hasn’t quite recovered from the shame yet.

Michael Owen

A genius in his heyday, Owen doesn't seem sharp enough in the few games he plays now. I'd pay anything for the chance to see him roll back the years but you have to wonder whether his time has passed.

The other contenders (Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor and Sean Wright-Phillips) are impact players best kept back for later in games when defences tire.

So what is the alternative if Capello decides he needs a different option? Step forward Liverpool midfielder-striker Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard does well when paired up with clever strikers who use their brains as well as their brawn. He has the energy to harass defenders into mistakes. His high tempo style can split defences in half. He speaks the same language as Rooney - Scouse, which for American readers is a sort of English spoken only on Merseyside. They get on very well off the pitch. And the final reason? Having Gerrard up front could leave a Joe Cole-sized hole for a certain Chelsea playmaker.

Of course it won't happen. Gerrard is too highly regarded for his midfield work to be played elsewhere. Am I the only person who believes this could be a missed opportunity?

PS. As for who plays left back now Ashley Cole is injured, don’t get me started on that one.


Everton Mike said...

Can't see Gerrard playing as the 2nd striker. Gerrard will almost certainly play on the left of midfield where he can cut inside and shot from 25 yards off his right foot.

Think it will be Heskey cos he wouldn't have played in all the qualifiers otherwise. Heskey is a bizarre case of a 'non goal scoring' centre forward but he is a handful for defenders by dragging them out of position and winning free kicks.

I think Defoe and Crouch will also get picked as options for bringing on late in the game.

Mike Towers said...

Thanks Mike. Heskey didn't play in all of the qualifiers, and World Cups aren't won by persisting with someone who struggles to score but drags players out of position or wins free kicks. That's not enough against the top sides. Yes, Defoe and Crouch are options late on. Trust a bluenose to narrow Gerrard's game down to cutting in from the left and shooting.

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