If ever a player signaled he is back to his world best it was Michael Owen in the last two games for England. We have to remember these were two massive games for England – that they had to win to ensure they can still qualify for the European finals next year.
They not only won both games but played probably the best we have seen from an England side in many years.
Guts and glory is what it was all about but why the change in England’s fortunes? We’ll take a look but it’s seems a simple lesson for England manager Steve McClaren.
Michael Owen – celebrates scoring for the 40th time for England last night
Steve McClaren, either through great foresight or because of so many injuries to the squad, or pure luck, picked players who actually played well together as a team. What a concept.
Up front Heskey has always played well with Michael Owen, and he did in the last two games, taking all the heat off the smaller striker so he could poach in the penalty area, which he did with good effect and 3 great goals. Heskey was so good that Newcastle fans are now wondering if Newcastle should sign him.
We’ve never much liked Heskey but we have to admit that he has played two excellent games for England and our congratulations go out to Emile, not only for his performances against all odds, but for his guts and determination. We’ll never underestimate the man again.
The other big partnership that worked for England is the central midfield of Gerrard and Gareth Barry. Barry has long been ignored by England (and Eriksson in particular) and played in left central midfield and seemed to actually enjoy playing with the great Steven Gerrard.
Many fans in the past have insisted that Lampard and Gerrard are just too similar to be a good pair together and that has been proved a number of times in England games. The best team is not always the combination of the best 11 players â€“ because it’s always going to be a team game. Gerrard and Barry were outstanding, but where Gareth Barry will be in England’s next game is debatable â€“ we hope it’s not on the bench.
Where all this leaves Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Owen Hargreaves is not clear. They are good players but we think Steve McClaren should stick with the players that have rescued both him and England these last few days.
Why? Because they deserve it and no longer should we automatically pick the stars when they are available. They should be judged by their England performances. What a concept that is – but if we do that – gone will be the days when England look so lackadaisical and out of sorts.
Michael Owen now has 40 goals for England and is only 9 goals behind the record of the great Bobby Charlton. We now wonder just how many goals Michael will eventually get for England – and for his club Newcastle?
Comments very welcome.