With recent matches against Scotland and Spain, our performances have been described as dangerous on the counter-attack but lacking elsewhere. English football have long had a history of quality wingers, some have proven to be heroic role-models such as David Beckham, some were blessed with immense skill such as John Barnes, and others failed to realise their vast potential such as David Bentley and Jermaine Pennant. Presently the national team couldn’t be more spoilt with options on either wing, whether our future manager chooses to be bold remains to be seen, I believe they won’t. The current squad boasts Raheem Sterling for whose talent is debated and whose form for Man City vastly overshadows that for country. Another is Theo ‘Willy’ Walcott, a player whose only attribute is rapid pace, for which he rarely uses effectively. He has been at Arsenal for 10years now and still struggles for a first-team place, how he has signed numerous new contracts is beyond me. The positive selection in this area of the pitch has been Jesse Lingard, a skilful yet grafting player, whether he operates better out wide or down the middle is still to be determined. So here I explain the selections available presently to the England Football team.
First I start with Andros Townsend, a player with an interesting yet underwhelming career so far. You would be forgiven if you thought he was younger than 25years old, yet during the previous two seasons he has only really shown the clear talent he has. During his spell at Spurs he amassed 9 loan clubs, with only ever playing 20+ appearances solely in one season . With failing to break into Pochettino’s plans at Spurs, he headed up North to Newcastle only to get relegated after 6months of being there. All respects he alongside Sissoko were there best players. This opened yet another avenue for his career heading back to London to join Crystal Palace, where only 10 games in (at time of writing), he is proving to be a top player and partners a fearsome wide trio with Wilfried Zaha.
Now to on the fellow Palace winger in Wilfried Zaha, who I believe will be ‘the one who got away’ from Man United, they didn’t give him enough guidance or time. Albeit unpredictable in both a positive and negative way, and annoyingly inconsistent, on ‘his day’ he still proves to be the most gifted natural English winger in decades. Pace, power and skill are the hallmarks of a modern winger and Zaha boasts all of them aplenty, it must be a nightmare for any full-back to play against him. Surely only a matter of time before he is given his chance on the international stage.
Southampton winger-cum-striker again is still fully finding his feet in the Premier League, especially after only two seasons in it with Norwich where they were relegated both times. Hopefully with his summer transfer to Southampton and under tutelage of respected manager Claude Puel he can show the English public his true potential. Whether he plays down the middle or out wide, I feel he is yet another direct option for England.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, will he ever become the footballer we all expected him to be, was he only ever as good as the clueless Walcott, or is Arsene Wenger affecting the progress of young talents? At the age of 23 now, and like Zaha, learned his trade ripping up defences in the lower leagues, he is still not a regular at Arsenal and failed to make the EURO 2016 England squad. Seemingly having bags of pace and skill with a footballing brain to accompany, we sadly still await consistent top performances from him.
One half of the Murphy twins with brother Jacob Murphy (who I don’t know enough of to write about), is a former FA Youth Cup winner who is breaking through into Norwich’s first team yet concurrently being chased by a host of Premier League clubs. I saw him live two months ago when a Norwich U23 side demolished my local club The Posh 6-1, it could have easily been double figures embarrassingly. He played left-wing that game and his pace and ability with both feet impressed me, alongside that performance was a top showing against Everton where he scored a cracking, powerful goal. Give him 2/3 seasons and we’ll make judgements then.
Ibe is an underrated player in my opinion, and I was very surprised when Klopp sold him to Bournemouth, whether a buy-back clause was included in the deal remains to be seen. Inconsistency seems to be a recurring theme with the wingers mentioned, but the players Southgate has recently picked are simply not performing. A physical specimen, who was a constant danger to West Ham on their first home league game this season. Again has the ability to effectively play on both wings, this season at Bournemouth he has the opportunity to be the clubs star man.
Still only 15 appearances (at time of writing) into his top-flight career with Leicester City, the 20 year-old winger from Birmingham is certainly a bright spark in his clubs struggling start to their title defence. His recent screamer against Man United and being the arguably the best player on the pitch during the second half surely warrants a starting chance is the next upcoming games.
In only the last season we have seen the likes of John Stones, Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford make their marks on the league and are close to cementing places in the England side. Now with these prodigious talents needing to make a similarly impressive mark on the league, the future could be bright for the England side. How many times have we all said that though?