Thursday, 1 March 2012

England's next striker?

Sadly, we are not in a golden age of English goalscorers. Those heady days of the mid-1990s when we were so gloriously blessed with strikers that the likes of Wright, Fowler and Ferdinand picked up many of their caps from the bench are a life-time away.

What would we do for a Wright, Fowler and Ferdinand today? Rooney is a very fine player. He is to the current England team what Shearer was to the 1996 team. Indeed, he is a finer version - the goals plus some guile and all round play. He doesn't have a Sheringham alongside him. Indeed, one could argue we expect Rooney to play as both Sheringham and Shearer. He certainly doesn't have the supporting crew of Fowler, Wright or Ferdinand.

Outwith Rooney, we do not have a huge glut of good strikers. Although there are fine youngsters coming through - most obviously Welbeck, Sturridge and (arguably) Carroll - other than Rooney and, to a lesser extent, Crouch and Defoe we are pretty stuck. Realistically, Zamora, Bent, and Agbonlahor are never going to set the heather alight.

However, the call-up of Frazier Campbell has caused a little stir. People have legitimately called for Danny Graham and Grant Holt noting that they have scored relatively heavily in the Premier League.

My view is that Pearce, or whoever replaces Pearce, should look north and look to Glasgow. 

Gary Hooper, a 24-year-old Englishman, has scored 42 in 74 goals for Celtic over the last two seasons. I realise that the English view of the SPL is that anyone can knock in goals left, right and centre up here but I'm not sure that the league is quite as bad as those make out. Here we have a player who has scored a lot of goals in Scotland, who has played and scored - unlike Graham and Holt - in Europe, and one who is more than just a poacher.

Pearce has shown as manager of the England Under 21 team that he is willing to look to Scotland - calling up Driver and Hooper previously. It seems odd, therefore, that he wasn't so keen for the grown up squad. Seeing as we are scrabbling for strikers - scrabbling to the point of calling up a man who has scored six goals in four years - we could do a lot worse than give Hooper a run out.

People may say he won't set the heather alight either. That he is no better than Campbell or Agbonlahor. Maybe so. But the arguments that many have made for Holt (that he has played in the lower leagues and it is great to see progression) and Graham (playing for non-traditional clubs) or both (they are in form and deserve a go) all stand for Hooper.

I'd rather have the guy who is playing every week and has scored 20 goals this season already.


*11 as it happens due to a three-way tie.


elliott said...

In an era when continental inverted wingers and false nines and enlaces dominate play, I'm not sure this worries me at all. If anything, England has a super strong and deep midfield that should get bled this summer, but seriously compete for the next decade.

Rob Marrs said...

I don't know - I think we are getting a little too excited about Cleverley, Jones and Rodwell (not mentioning McEachran and co). I haven't seen enough from them consistently although am impressed.

I'll grant you Wilshere.

My midfield for the summer (as Wilshere won't be fit) would probably be (assuming all fit and willing) Carrick and Parker with Gerrard playing off Welbeck and two wingers. Gerrard could drop back when needs must.

Unlikely, admittedly.

Regardless, I still think there is a need for orthodox strikers and if we are handing out caps to the likes of Bothroyd and Campbell we may as well to Hooper.

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