You can’t really hold your breath in the hope that England and the FA will do something sensible. It’s off the back of Greg Dyke and his no-holds-barred attack on the Premier League, while also blindly talking up the targets for the national team at the 2022 World Cup. There’s little accountability and little sense of reality.
This is a footballing nation, apparently one of, if not the leading nation in the world, who fail to recognise the importance of Michael Carrick. When you have players like him, and we know what he’s capable of, you build your national team around him, not Wayne Rooney. How long did it take before the issue of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard was addressed? Yes, Daniel Sturridge, in his current form, should be taken seriously at international level. But will it happen?
Part of Dyke’s attack was based on the lack of opportunities for young English players. Well here’s an idea, if the youngsters from England can’t get a game, why don’t they move abroad? The game exists there too. Like players from Spain, or Brazil, or Italy, or any of the other football nations, if opportunities are limited, they do the sensible thing and find playing time elsewhere. We can touch on the hints of xenophobia all we want, but as usual, it’s someone else’s fault, and not those of England and its players.
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When can we say with absolute confidence that England had a fit and firing, high-end striker at an international tournament? 2004, when Rooney had his only meaningful outing for the national team at a tournament? The England camp have gone through the Andy Carrolls, the Darren Bents and now Rickie Lambert. Nothing against any of them, but where their strengths may come to the fore in the ‘rough’ badlands of the Premier League, will they hold up to much at international level where countries simply won’t stand for that level of one dimensional thinking?
Sturridge has shown that he has more to his game than tactics which simply launch the ball forward from the back and bypass the entire midfield. Let’s not get too carried away, Sturridge isn’t on the way to winning a Ballon d’Or. He isn’t Mario Gomez, Sergio Aguero, or Robin van Persie, but he’s currently the in-form England forward, and, coincidently, he’s one of the youngsters that Dyke is so desperate to see each week.
How about something back from the powers that be in the England camp? Will Roy Hodgson have it in him to run with Sturridge and his potential for the next year? Brendan Rodgers will, of course. But the Liverpool manager, I’m sure, isn’t too bothered by what goes on at international level. For Hodgson, the easy thing to do will be to build around Rooney once again. It’s the thought process that doesn’t really require much thinking: Rooney is England’s best forward, so regardless of form, he should be able to lead England to a win. If England lose, bemoan the lack of options. No accountability.
Sturridge, this calendar year, is in the best form of his career. He’s playing each week, and it’s been his goals that have offered Liverpool a 100 per cent record thus far in the league season. You’d hope that he earns a regular starting spot in the England team; not as a wide player or a forward playing behind another striker, but as the foremost attacker in the team. He has his flaws that need to be ironed out, but those are as much the responsibility of England and that flash new training facility that’s recently been opened as it is of Liverpool.
But as suggested initially, I’m not holding my breath for something forward thinking over the long term.
Is it time England and the FA began to take Daniel Sturridge seriously?
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