Bobby knows his critics need to do better

At university, I was shaken by the confidence of one of the lecturers in my first year. This old-school history professor railed against ‘the perils of the welfare state’ and talked in excited terms about the importance of military might and, being young, naive and liberal, I wasn’t a big fan. My disenchantment grew when it seemed as though I couldn’t score highly on any of the essays he marked.

Approaching him at the end of a seminar, he rather gruffly asserted that I ‘hadn’t done enough reading’. I decided against asking him whether he had surveillance cameras in my room and the library to know this was absolutely true. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to go and see him in his office. He offered me a cup of tea and was much more polite than I expected. The problem with my essays was that they were ‘rather weak’. He explained that, if I was writing in opposition to a particular view, I needed to form a cogent argument and offer evidence in support of it. In short, the onus was on me to prove that I was right.

You’re probably wondering why I chose to recite this story from when I skulked around the Amory building in my first year at university. Well, sometimes when I read things on the internet, my blood begins to boil. Normally, my ire is reserved for rabid right-wing nonsense but sometimes I’m annoyed by sarcastic stuff like this, which happens to focus on Fulham’s Bobby Zamora.

I’ve never heard of Prashant Bhatt and he probably doesn’t know who I am either. That doesn’t matter. His petty barbs at one of the league’s most improved players managed to rile more. To use my lecturer’s logic: he didn’t bring too much weight to his case.

Let’s take a look at some of what the esteemed contributor to The Transfer Tavern has to say:

This season he has scored more goals than in previous seasons, but, has anyone considered that it has taken him until the age of 29 to have this sort of campaign? In all honesty he’s not an England player and never will be. I can understand the view that there are some strikers in that squad *cough*, Emile Heskey, who makes some fans wonder as to how they’re still in it but the excuse that Zamora should be there in front of certain people doesn’t quite work. Then again, the thing with this is that if Zamora was chosen for the squad he would probably play as a replacement for Heskey or Peter Crouch, as a sub, and Heskey doesn’t really score many goals does he? So how Zamora can be expected to do so having had no international experience is beyond me.

Two things, here.

1) Zamora was a prolific lower-league goalscorer a while back. He scored 31 goals for Brighton in 2000-01 and managed 32 the following season at a higher level. Fourteen in what’s now the Championship in 2002-03 wasn’t a bad return for someone whose first-team experience was rather nondescript before he teamed up with Micky Adams on the south coast.

2) Statements like ‘in all honesty he’s not an England player and never will be‘ imply both a) that England players carry some distinguishing mark that means we can all spot them and b) an ability to see into the future. He would most probably be a back-up striker in South Africa (if he gets on the plane) but it’s worth remembering he’s scored more goals than Crouch and had much more playing time than Heskey, despite suffering several injuries this year. If you don’t give Bobby a go, how will ever know if he can cut it at the highest level?

Then there’s this lovely little paragraph.

Let’s get in to tactics here. Fulham usually work their way to the edge of the box where Zamora either holds it up with his gangly structure or either gets on the final ball to finish a move. But a striker going to a World Cup needs more than that. The question is: what else does he offer? If we are to believe what we see than Heskey is the one who holds the ball up and gets the best out of Rooney (ha, that’s great that one…Heskey gets the best out of Rooney) and the strikers all have decent goal-scoring records- something that should be their first priority.

Clearly, our friend Prashant hasn’t actually examined Fulham’s tactics in any great detail. Yes, Zamora can sometimes be used as a target man but he makes him sound like some 1950s throwback who got all his goals through brute force. Such a simplistic characterisation of Bobby ignores the clever little flicks, intelligent runs and his sterling defensive work that have made him such an integral part of Roy Hodgson’s side. As a creative player, he’s a lot more impressive than many armchair fans believe (six assists in the league alone this year).

This idea that Bobby’s not got enough to cut it against international defences can only be predicated on the football equivalent of snobbery. He only plays for Fulham after all: the disdain was evident on Alan Hansen’s face when Adrian Chiles limply asked him if Zamora could play for England. Bobby’s given plenty of international defenders the run around this year and, arguably saved his best performances for the Europa League this year. Just ask Fabio Cannavaro.

Zamora’s scored nineteen goals this year. He’s probably not finished yet. Because he hasn’t played for England before isn’t a valid reason for excluding him from consideration now. No amount of sarcastic commentary can sully his convincing case.