World Cup 2010: Heskey has proven he is the ideal foil for Wayne Rooney
The thing that shocked many about England’s 1-1 draw with the USA is that the opposition were a team that apparently play little football in their homeland. It may be the sixth most watched sport in the States, but funnily enough it is the most played. Let’s not forget, the USA did progress to the final of last year’s Confederations Cup. They were severely underrated.
Yet, the United States were largely on the backfoot and indeed, the only real problem for England was their defence. That said, it is quite a major one and for all the quality England possess in the final third, their work could be cut out by a back four who lack pace and awareness. However, that’s for another day. On a positive note, it was an impressive performance from not just captain Steven Gerrard, but Emile Heskey. Much has been made of the fact that he plays very little for Aston Villa, although Villa simply do not have a Wayne Rooney.
His first touch of the game was sublime. A lovely lay-off in the path off Gerrard, who did little wrong himself, finishing neatly past Tim Howard. He won everything in the air and his link up play, at times, with Rooney and co was a joy to watch. It was so good that even Clive Tyldesley continuously purred every time he leaped above a US defender.
He is the ideal foil for Rooney. Heskey has been made to look something of a joke, at times in ITV’s coverage Adrian Chiles and even that oat Gareth Southgate poked fun at him, but yesterday was proof, if any were needed, that he is the best target man. Sure he missed a great chance to put England ahead, and finishing is definitely something to work on. He is almost certain to play against the Algerians, and expect Rooney to benefit most from Heskey’s hard work come Friday evening.
EDIT: Turns out I was wrong, and Heskey did little to impress on that Friday evening against Algeria. People point to his goalscoring record, and although that is a concern, Heskey’s game is so much more than trying to score goals. That includes link up play and falling down a lot.