It seems like the pundits aren’t too keen on jumping on the Bobby Zamora for England bandwagon. I shouldn’t imagine the man himself is losing too much sleep about it.
When the idea of Zamora being a potential target man to replace the out-of-form Emile Heskey was mooted or at least offer Fabio Capello another option ahead of the World Cup, the press reaction was akin to schoolboys sniggering in the playground. More than one wily old football correspondent reckoned Roy Hodgson was trying to deflect attention away from Zamora’s burger-eating, sshing celebration after his goal against Sunderland in December.
But as Bobby’s been banging in the goals, it suddenly doesn’t seem so fanciful. Not that the media are too taken with the prospect of Zamora in the England side. The look of disdain on Adrian Chiles’ horribly unshaven face when he asked the MOTD2 pundits whether Zamora had the potential to be an international player was almost as remarkable as the uncomfortable silence that followed. Alan Hansen’s insistence that he ‘couldn’t see’ Zamora as an England player probably made he more likely when he consider the number of things the Scot has been wrong about over the years.
On Talksport last night, there was the familiar dispute between the presenters designed to encourage you to ring in and ‘share your views’ before being cut off in mid-sentence at exorbitant rates. Fortunately, I didn’t fall for the bait. Given some of the names Stan Collymore was bandying around as ‘World Cup wildcards (Phil Neville? David Bentley? Are you sure?), it was only right and proper that the former Fulham striker came out in favour of Bobby getting a call up. Mark Saggers was almost as dismissive as Hansen.
On Saggers’ old network, the Monday Night Club had a brief discussion about the subject. John Motson, who might be ridiculously given the job of calling more England World Cup games when the days of his best commentary have long since gone in my opinion, said that if it was a choice between Heskey and Zamora then the Aston Villa man would win. Gabriele Marcotti, the lauded American-Italian journalist who has never quite explained why he has a Chelsea season ticket, openly laughed at Zamora’s international claims on Sunday’s 606.
As with anything in football, you should take the pundits’ positions with a rather large pinch of salt. As I said on Sunday, if they were any good they’d be in a dugout rather than sat on a sofa in a studio. It’s not as if previous England managers haven’t had similar selection posers in a World Cup year. I re-read Pete Davies’ excellent All Played Out recently, in which he recounts Bobby Robson’s thought process over whether to take Paul Gascoigne and (to a lesser extent) Steve Bull to Italia ’90. Geoff Hurst was the ultimate outsider for the 1966 World Cup squad and look how well that turns out.
But, for footballing reasons alone, Zamora’s worthy of a chance against Egypt. Capello’s set great store by the fact that he’ll only be picking players in form and he won’t be taking any injured stars to the finals. Bobby’s physical presence would unsettle plenty of continental/international centre backs and he’s much more than just a big battering ram. You could just imagine Wayne Rooney latching onto some of those clever flicks or chested passes to great effect. Plus Bobby’s been lethal in front of goal this season. There’s no doubt he’s in the form of his life.
I just hope Hansen and co get a special version of Bobby’s cupped ear celebration when finds the net for England.