Bobby Zamora felt he did ‘okay’ last night. I think that’s about right. Football’s a fairly subjective sport – there are plenty of opinions flying around. The newspaper rankings place his performance at the lower end of the spectrum but for me they miss what Zamora’s about. The Sun complained about him spurning chances saying that if he was truly world class he’d have made more opportunities for himself, but I reckon they fail to see what Capello appreciates in Zamora.
For a start, he’s a useful retainer of possession. Frustratingly, against Spain Darren Bent couldn’t really hold onto the ball. Yes, he was horribly isolated and up against a top defence, but without the service to work the centre backs or get in behind, he felt like the wrong fit as a lone striker. Even though Zamora didn’t see too much of the ball himself, you see tell the Swedish centre backs were alive to his danger. At one point, when he received the ball from a throw-in he was surrounded by four Swedes on the edge of the box. He drew plenty of fouls and there was a lot of encouraging link play, when he dropped deep to keep possession.
Zamora’s more of a workhorse than a poacher – and if you were being harsh you’d say that he’s not an international class finisher. Perhaps Bent would have put away one of three chances that fell his way. But would Bent have been able to fashion a chance out of the frenetic move that began with Walcott and ended with Zamora stabbing instinctively into the side netting after an improvised one-two? He brought others into play nicely – like the old-fashioned number nine – some patient play down the left creating the space for a surging Leighton Baines run and his presence in the penalty area for England’s goal afforded Gareth Barry vital room.
Zamora spoke in the build-up to the international week about every game being a trial, with the understudies auditioning for the right to replace Wayne Rooney. While he didn’t steal the show, he was effective enough to earn another outing. Perhaps the most encouraging thing was that his physical presence up top allowed the likes of Phil Jones and Jack Rodwell, largely holding midfielders in Capello’s 4-5-1, to break from midfield. His cushioned header invited Rodwell, venturing much further forward than in Saturday’s win over Spain, to lash a drive over the crossbar.
Disappointingly, just as he was stretching a tired Swedish defence, Capello withdrew him in favour of Bent. It was noticeable that England were much more fitful going forward in his absence. Rooney’s suspension will likely mean Capello will take five strikers to Poland and Ukraine. Bobby’s in with a shout – but he’ll need to get a few more goals to further his cause.