5. Darren Bent
“Oh, but he’ll always score goals.”
Er…no, he wont – in fact, Bent has only scored 20 Premier League goals for Aston Villa in three seasons. He’s a modern day Andy Cole, just with a less impressive goal-to-chance ratio. He is, silly as it sounds, a very poor finisher – if he gets three chances in a game, you can put your house on him not walking away with the matchball. Gone, also, are the days when it was acceptable for forwards just to score goals or to operate as a poacher – the contemporary striker needs to effect the play as much as be served by it. If Villa don’t play well, then Bent is almost always completely redundant – a shrug of the shoulders and an abdication of responsibility. Herein lies the reason why he’s never been given a proper opportunity at a top Premier League club – he’s someone who’s only capable of scoring goals for poor sides. He’s Andy Johnson or Grant Holt – that’s his level.
4. Tom Cleverley
If he didn’t play for Manchester United nobody would care, we’d just see him for what he is: a talented young player who will have a good future in the game. Talk to Manchester United fans, and a he’s prime era Paul Scholes/Michel Platini hybrid. Relax, putting the anointing old away, and give him the opportunity to turn into the player which he’s already heralded as being. Good footballer yes, reincarnation of Zico…no.
3. John Terry
Lionheart, fearless leader, warrior…Terry is a throwback to old fashioned English centre-halves who loved the contest more than the actual game. Does he have merits? Of course he does, you don’t captain Chelsea for as long as he does – but does he have pronounced flaws in his game? Absolutely – no pace to speak of and nearly always exposed against the top-tier players in the world. Compare him to Gerard Pique, Giorgio Chiellini, Mats Hummels… does he belong in that category? No way.
2. Theo Walcott
A myth propagated by one night in Zagreb. An athlete rather than a football player, with the decision-making ability of a learner driver. No longer seems assured of his place at Arsenal, yet miraculously walks into the England squad – which kind of proves the point: Walcott’s selection is a case study into what could happen, rather than what is likely to. Having Walcott in a team is akin to owning a high-performance sports car but being unable to work the garage door. Great in theory, valueless in practice.
1. Jack Rodwell
Was there ever a more glorious example of why we shouldn’t listen to the press’ assessment of English players than on Wednesday night. Manchester City were forced into replacing Javi Garcia after half-an-hour with Rodwell, and from that point on, the Dortmund midfield had their wicked way with City. The problem with the former Everton player, is that nobody seems to be able to look beyond his tangible attributes – essentially just his physique and his nationality. The future of the English midfield? Really? He has rarely made a significant, game-winning impact on a Premier League game, so what chance if he was to step up a level. Yes, he’s only 21, but if he was as good as we all pretend he is, then that wouldn’t be an obstacle – plenty of top-class midfielders show production at that age or younger.
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