Michael Owen’s recent exclusion from the England squad has seemingly signalled the end for the Newcastle striker, who’s goalpoaching nature deemed too predictable by manager Capello.
Micheal Owen, England’s greatest goalscorer it should read and there is every chance he could still be, however the striker’s recent exclusion from suggests his time may be running out in England colours.
There is great argument for his inclusion; one of the great strikers of the last decade while his goals have bailed out England on a number of occasions. But looking at the profiles of Capello’s initial choices as forwards means Owen has no place. Crouch, Cole and Heskey are the ideal men for England to base their attacking play on; tall, strong and selflessly able to link and hold up play with their back to goal while also offering a more direct threat. Owen on the other handed, as regular readers of this web blog will know, is part of what is becoming an outdated luxury in top level football; a goal poacher.
Of course regular goalscorers have their merits as Van Nistelrooy and Torres have showed but must possess more to trouble the nowadays more highly mobile and agile defences. The aforementioned two have that in abundance while Owen prefers to feed of others. “I can’t believe that in England they don’t teach young players to be multi-functional,” said Jose Mourinho. “To them it’s just about knowing one position and playing that position. For me, a striker is not just a striker. He’s somebody who has to move, who has to cross, and who has to do this in a 4-4-2 or in a 4-3-3 or in a 3-5-2.”
His movement is still superb however and under Keegan showed he has far more in his locker than he is credited for after playing a support striker role for the Magpies. Nevertheless playing with his back to goal is not something that is recognised with Owen.
Injuries have plagued Owen but there is a case for him to play at least as an impact sub as Inzaghi does for Milan. His movement can see him accommodate in a 4-2-3-1 as his record partnering Rooney shows and could still provide the fluidity Capello wants although that would mean England would need to be more accurate with their passing, something that still requires work.
The coffin is not buried for Michael Owen and while Capello seems reluctant to mention his name, the Italian knows never to close the door on anyone after recalling Beckham at Real Madrid. Drafted in in front of Owen is Darren Bent by virtue of his more built frame and who, believe it or not has scored 15 goals this season. The Tottenham striker has got more than a bit of goalpoacher about him but has he got the presence to lead the attack?
Thierry Henry of France also found it tough to lead the line against Lithuania on Saturday despite his frame and with Gourcuff behind, Les Bleus will be hoping they can revive the partnership the striker had in his Arsenal days with Bergkamp. The Milan playmaker has been one of the French’s bright sparks along with Ribery who bailed them out with a stunner. Domenech is failing to get the best out of a creative France generation and he, like Benitez is known for his extensive preparations before matches but seems to be looking for things that are not there. A strong number nine to lead the line and an out and out right winger is what he is looking for and all to fit in his extremely cautious 4-2-3-1. The transition period has gone too long for France while England under Capello are going full steam ahead.