Wednesday, March 01, 2006

International Fuss-ball

I've never been quite convinced by the whole concept of International Football. England (pop: 50.1million) versus Uruguay (pop: 3.5million) does seem a little unfair doesn't it?

More seriously, whilst the occasional titanic struggle at the World Cup or European championships can represent the sport at its very best, they are hugely outnumbered by the types of pointless friendlies that I witnessed tonight.

It had been billed in the media as Darren Bent's 'last chance' to prove he is worthy of a World Cup place, as if scoring 17 goals for a mediocre side and an excellent scoring record at Under-21 level counted for nothing.

I suppose it makes for good copy, but getting selected for the World Cup squad on this basis is a little like sitting an entrance examination, but not giving every candidate the same questions.

So what might Sven have learnt about Darren Bent tonight that he didn't already know? He likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender and thus runs the risk of being caught offside (but we knew that anyway). He tends not to come deep for service like Rooney does (but we knew that anyway). He's never played senior international football before so might be a bit nervous and over-eager (which is somewhat understandable). And erm, that's about it.

Sure it wasn't a sparkling performance by Bent or by England overall, but 90 minutes of football is so statistically insignificant to be a pointless source of any conclusions. Listening to some morons on 6-0-6 tonight, you'd think otherwise of course - as Ian from Bexhill put it, "Bent looked keen but you felt even if he'd got a chance he wouldn't have scored it." Thanks for that Ian, perhaps Bent should really have scored 40 goals this season by now.

Sven really has a simple decision to make as far as I am concerned. Assuming his first choice strikers (rightly) will be Owen and Rooney, and assuming he will only take four strikers in total, then taking Defoe (another small striker) as opposed to Bent would be foolhardy in my view. Defoe is a fine striker also (much to my chagrin) but in a World Cup context where short-term tactical changes are key, and teams are limited to a 23-man squad, then maximising options is key (thus Sven's favouring of Crouch).


At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Robert Harris said...

By my reckoning Bent took 23 minutes to have his first touch last night (a glancing header to no-one in particular). Considering the amount of possession that England enjoyed in this period that is a damning statistic.

Much as I hate to say it, Defoe has more unpredictability to his game than simply running on to balls over the top. As was proved last night these don't work at international level where defences play much deeper.

Bent is having a good season in a team playing to his strengths but international football is one step too far.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger New York Addick said...

Strange coincidence - the best man at my wedding was also called Robert Harris and he didn't rate Defoe.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Bent will get on the plane but the passing of Beckham, Gerrard and Cole was absolutely appalling when it go to the penalty area. At least Rooney tried a few defence splitting passes but they were all intercepted. Now if you look at Charlton Bent pops up all over the field at the front to get the ball. I suspect he was told to stay in position and let Rooney run around. For all the possession we didn't score until late in the second half - in fact I think John Terry's storming run was our bast chance up until that point.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this link is an excellent post in my opinion... spot on.

it reads....

Was it just me, I wanted to get inside the tv and rip that tw@ Hansens ears off at half time.

Rooney was roaming everywhere, coming deep, defending and was obviously told to do this. Hansen comes out and say's Bent hasn't come looking for the ball enough because the Uruguay team are defending too deep, so he looks isolated.

Shearer and Wright concur, WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can't have both your strikers coming so far deep to get the ball, one does, which hopefully drags defenders away and gives the other more room.

But this only works if your midfield can support and feed off the withdrawn striker and feed the striker left forward.

Beckham and Gerrard were virtually anonymous last night, Cole who despite clearly being man of the match, wouldn't pass if his life depended on it, leaving Carrick, who I thought had a fair game to try to pick the passes all by himself.

Only when SWP and Crouch came on did we start to have genuine width and look to get behind them, then of course Darren came off.

Some of Darrens runs last night were crying out for a decent pass, but almost none came. And this even though the Uruguay side were defending so deep. Hansen say's 'Bent is only looking for a ball over the top'. Absolute garbage, some of his running along the line was superb and if a decent 'through' ball had been made, he'd have been in.

I accept my eyes might be a touch rose tinted, but I don't think they're blind.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Your Best Man said...

I suppose everything is relative.

The Bent performance made Luke Young look like an international player.


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