Is the PL and the CL knockout stages the only proving ground?

As Fabio’s search continues for the perfect foil to partner Wayne Rooney, it has to be asked whether the only proving ground is the Premier League and the Champions League knockout stage.

In recent years English teams’ performances have been so strong the expectancy is almost to reach the semi final every single time they enter European competition. There is also much debate about who the best partner is and where the manager looks at for the concrete performance indicators.

Do we select England friendlies where Peter Crouch excels with an excellent goal scoring record? Do we look at partnerships in which Wayne Rooney and Defoe haven’t managed a goal together in around six matches? Then all the other strikers who get a maximum of forty five minutes in a friendly to prove their worth. These friendlies viewed at negatively can often be in the middle of when some of the players will have much bigger games coming up in the Champions League and the league that they will be thinking of.

If we look purely at the Premiership, everyone talks about that twenty goal striker and on that basis Fabio would lead his line with Darren Bent and Rooney. If you consider that it is likely Defoe’s record with all the flair players Spurs have available it looks like a better achievement for Bent to manage twenty over Defoe. Then when you have the creative talent that the England midfield has available that surely puts Bent in the frame.

Then you throw in the Agbonlahor and Zamora cards. Both players have been particularly important to their clubs who have been dependent on their goals and contribution. Zamora poignantly missed two cracking chances against Man United at Old Trafford whilst Fulham were still in the game. Yet five days later he inspired his Fulham team to a 4-1 victory against the mighty Juventus at the Cottage.  Whilst Emile Heskey contrastingly to all the other players seems to empower all players around him to score.

There is no doubt that bar Rooney and according to the best managers in the world England’s strike partners for Wayne are not good enough to play Champions League football. Yet the standard of teams and key players which we will face in the toughest games in the World Cup will be littered with Champions League quality players.

On that base England should revert to the method used by Manchester United and play Rooney upfront on his own either in a front three or a 4-5-1 formation. Employing wing forwards or Steven Gerrard to patrol the flanks.  England seem to have one top quality striker and a stronger midfield than strike force, therefore lets simply play to our strengths.

Written By Darren Wells-Burr