Toothless Lions: The Sad Truth of England's 2007 Strikeforce

Matt BinksCorrespondent INovember 21, 2007

IconWhen the final whistle blew to bring England's Euro 2008 campaign to an end, many questions were thrown around.

Why give Scott Carson his competitive debut in such an important game?

Why not start David Beckham, the player Croatia admitted they feared most?

Whilst both valid questions, a more important question surely must be:

Why did England HAVE to start with Peter Crouch as the lone frontman?

McClaren may claim that he played an attacking 4-3-3  formation with Shaun Wright Philips and Joe Cole joining Crouch, but the reality is England played this game 4-5-1. McClaren may argue that he felt 4-3-3 was the best tactic to win the game but make no mistake about it, had Owen or Rooney been fit England would have started this game 4-4-2.

So why were England, the nation with arguably the greatest league in the world, forced to change their favoured tactics due to injuries to only two players? The answer is there is absolutely nothing else.

On the bench today were Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent. You can easily count on one hand the goals they have scored between them this season, and more worryingly, you can count the number of starts they have made for their clubs.

Who else is there? Alan Smith? Dean Ashton? Andrew Johnson? Whilst all decent enough, they are not players who would worry the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Italy, or even Croatia.

Go back in time 10 years to 1997 and look at our options up front: Alan Shearer, Teddy Sherringham, Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Andy Cole and Robbie Fowler.

All of these players are head and shoulders above England's options tonight. All of these players were capable of scoring 20-30 goals a season and any two of the players could form a strong partnership in a 4-4-2 formation. 

After this bunch, you also had the option of calling in the likes of Chris Sutton, Dion Dublin and Matt LeTissier, all of whom contributed 15-20 goals a season. A young lad from Liverpool called Owen was also coming through not very quietly!

Since the emergence of Owen, only Wayne Rooney has come through. This generation of English footballers was recently refered to as our "golden generation." In terms of strikers at least, we are at least 10 years too late.