As an England fan there hasn’t been much to cheer about in recent months. The dismal World Cup has been quickly followed by a stuttering start to their EURO 2012 qualifying campaign and then a disappointing 2-1 friendly defeat to France.
But in that game there was a ray of light that pointed towards England’s future. Andy Carroll made a promising debut and has given Fabio Capello a steady peg to build his team around.
Those who only followed the live match score might note be aware that he showed some decent touches and worried the French centre halves both in the ground and in the air, giving England an option they haven’t had in a while.
Ever since Brazil won the World Cup in 1970 England have been obsessed with trying to emulate that style of play, seeing the traditional English ‘up-and-at-em’ style as stale and out dated.
But the problem is – we are nothing like Brazil, play nothing like them and so trying to copy them will only end in tears. Its time to get back to basics and play to our strengths.
English football is at its best when they press for every ball, get in the opponents faces and then break with lightning speed. They also play at their best with a target man upfront.
Emile Heskey bravely filled that role for nearly a decade, though his sheer number of England caps reflects a desperate lack of other options.
Heskey brought the best out of players around him, like Wayne Rooney and previously Michael Owen. But his inability to finish meant he was always a passenger. When following the live football scores, you never really expect Heskey’s name to flash up do you?
Carroll is all round a better player. He is great with his back to goal – effectively filling the ‘Heskey role’ but also has a rasping shot on him and is dangerous in the air.
With promising wingers like Adam Johnson and Ashley Young beginning to find their feet at International level the potential is there to build a potent attack around Carroll, with Johnson and Young on the wings and Rooney playing just behind.
Maybe the future isn’t so grim after all?