23 March, 2006

Lennon's eyebrow

Aaron Lennon's eyebrow is the new Mido's headband.

What's the big deal with Spurs' Aaron Lennon? The 18 year old midfielder scored his first Tottenham goal last week to help the side to a 2-0 away win at Birmingham (they of the 0-7 reverse against Liverpool in the FA Cup this week).

Lennon has fast become a favourite down the Lane. He has speed to burn in the mould of Shaun Wright-Phillips. Speed excites. Add ball control and you're coming up with a good package. Crossing and shooting ability, now they'll be useful.

Soccer Weblog's gone weak at the knees over Aaron.

Great. Donutball is a fan of Lennon. But, let's not get too carried away. Around the time of the Theo Walcott move from Southampton the Arse, one old writer commented that there was a day when players like Walcott grew on trees or were on every street corner or some such silliness.

West Ham manager Alan Pardew was on the same lines last week with his comments about too few English players in the Premiership. Players like Walcott and Lennon stand out because there is a dwindling number of English players in the Premiership.

Dountball does NOT, however, advocate quotas for home players. That is not the solution and never was. Donutball has fond memories of Ossie and Ricky, the Argentine World Cup pair who trailblazed the foreign player influx in the late 70s. The best foreign players have improved the game in England. But, the problem is with the run-of-the-mill foreign player or the faded star (Patrick Kluivert is a classic example) who gets here and just doesn't fancy it.

What Donutball would like to see is roster limits (18 first-team players is plenty thank you) to help block the hoarding of star players, combined with stricter rules on imports of players under 18. We'd stop short of a salary cap, which would be illegal under EU law anyway.

When Arsenal, through the close connections with France look to the continent for development players, then that's what's wrong. And, that's why the Walcott transfer was such a big deal.

That brings us neatly on to Martin Jol's policy at Tottenham. Jol firmly believes that an equal proportion of home and foreign born players gives the right mix. Not for him the journeyman foreign pro looking for an easy payday languishing in the reserves or on the bench. Jol's policy is bearing early fruit with 5 Spurs men on the pitch for England at the end of the Uruguay match and that - tenuous it may be - 4th place standing. There's Tom Huddlestone and Andrew Dawson on the fringes of the England side too.

Lennon for England? Maybe. But, he needs a few more than 21 first-team appearances before pulling on the Three Lions shirt.

In the meantime: Mido needs to lose the headband; Lennon needs to lose the "gansta" eyebrow.


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