Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"England have gone Bent" - Cheers Lineker.

Well it’s half time at Anfield as I write this and Darren Bent’s debut hasn’t gone quite the way he planned it thus far.
What he has done, he has done well, but the fact remains that it took him seventeen and a half minutes to get his first touch of the ball, and he only had a few brief glimpses of action in the remainder of the half. Not that it was his own fault however, as England's poor showing in the first period didn't do much to help his cause.

I’ll admit, I ended up watching Darren’s movement rather than the match in its entirety, and for the most part he was left plowing a lone furrow up front. The supply to the forwards was almost nonexistent, and because of that Rooney kept having to drop deeper in order to look for possession, leaving Darren extremely isolated up top.

When England attack it’s rare that they play with a long ball over the back four. They are much more the sort of side that will get the ball wide and attempt to swing in a killer ball; or try to pick teams off through slick passing through the defence. I’m not sure whether Bent will be out again for the second half, but if he is, he needs to come to the ball more, demand possession, and then turn and run with it. The players around him are good enough to create space via intelligent runs, and they will make themselves available to lay the ball off to. Darren would then see himself come more into the game.
He did however manage a decent effort on goal 5 minutes before the break. Turning well and firing a snap shot wide of the far post. When I saw the replay I actually thought that the shot got a slight deflection off of the defender, but a goal kick as given and the chance was gone.

Lineker has just announced that Bent will indeed be out for the start of the second half, so I’ll get back to the game, and continue this report at full time.


With Crouch coming on not long after the break I was hopeful that Bent would be able to feed off of his knock downs and create more of an impact than he did in the first 45; but it just wasn’t his night. He continued to get into promising positions (and was unlucky to be flagged offside on a couple of occasions), but ultimately it was Crouch himself who was in prime position when the chance came. Joe Cole’s late winner means England turned their half time deficit around, and that can only be good for squad morale as the World Cup approaches.

I don’t think Darren will be too pessimistic about his chances of going to the Germany on the strength of this showing. Granted, things didn’t break for him in front of goal on the night, but he was constantly jostling for position and creating space with intuitive runs off of the ball; and the crowd certainly showed their appreciation for his work rate when he left the field on 80 minutes to be replaced by his main rival Jermain Defoe.

This was the last friendly to be played before the squad is announced, and if Darren misses out I will consider him extremely unlucky.
As previously stated, Defoe is his main rival for the final strikers seat on the plane, and he was totally ineffective for the duration of his 10-minute cameo.

Bent would have earned more ‘credits’ on the pitch than Defoe did this evening, and provided that both players have acquitted themselves well in training all week, the battle between the two could well boil down to a straight shootout in the remaining 11 Premiership games. Whoever is in the best form when June approaches, wins.


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