Wednesday, June 23, 2004
  Owen, the abandoned mother
'I cannot recall all of the signs of the apocalypse, but England midfield players hitting left-foot screamers at will in big tournaments is surely among them.' Quote from a brilliant article by Martin Samuel in The Times today.

Samuel argues that Owen remains integral to England and that what he is going through at the moment is an adjustment of role analogous to that undergone by a mother whose teenage children have just flown the nest. Once, the whole team depended on Owen. Now, with Rooney and Lampard regular scorers, and Scholes hitting the net again, the team can fend for themselves.

Owen's new role - supporting team-mates, providing assists, making runs, creating space - is less glamorous and much more unselfish than that of the sole provider. Yet, Samuel says, Owen will be needed in that role again.

Gordon Strachan seems to be saying the same things re: Beckham in the Guardian today. Not sure I totally buy the argument for either of them. Yes, they're not England's only, er, 'world class' stand-out players any more, and they may be readjusting to the new reality, but they've both been poor.

Dignifying Owen's contribution as a 'new role' stretches it a bit. Beckham just hasn't been a proper captain. Strachan praises him for the support he gives to Gary Neville! This is some faint praise for the once greatest crosser of the ball etc. etc.
The French commentators praised Beckham for being a self-sacrificing team-mate and I would agree with that to a large degree. He did also get in a fair amount of quality crosses, but lacked edge.
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