Good afternoon planet earth! Or if you are reading this in the morning or evening, lying in bed and thinking of Michael Dawson confusedly as I often do, then replace afternoon with the appropriate terminology that applies to your current situation.
Congratulations for choosing to read this article, and joining me on what appears to be a personal crusade to see Michael Dawson selected for the World Cup in South Africa. I won’t bore you too much with my love for the rugged Yorkshireman, as there are some feelings words cannot express. Therefore, here are five reasons why Micky D needs to be on that plane in June…
Fabio seems like a pretty academic sought of chap, so to get the ball rolling here are some nice statistics for the Italian general to mull over… Good old maths.
Below are the statistics for the competing centre halves, taken over the last two seasons of Premier League competition.
Name: Joleon Lescott
Appearances/Goals conceded: 55/65
Goals conceded per game: 1.2
Name: Matthew Upson
Appearances/Goals conceded: 66/85
Goals conceded per game: 1.3
Name: Phil Jagielka
Appearances/Goals conceded: 43/45
Goals conceded per game: 1
Name: Michael Dawson
Appearances/Goals conceded: 41/30
Goals conceded per game: goals: 0.7
Unless I am very much mistaken, of all the potential centre halves (Terry and Ferdinand excluded) Michael Dawson has the best defensive record. He may well have played the least amount of games-and so Capello has not had long to scout the player-but Dawson has played over a seasons worth of football over the last two years, and with Dawson in the team, Tottenham have conceded less than a goal a game.
Whilst you cannot for example, blame Matthew Upson for West Ham’s defensive frailties, the statistics in Dawson’s favour are still compelling.
2. Capello’s selection promise
Capello informed the media that players would be selected on their club form. However, it is late in the day for Capello to make far reaching changes to the team, and calling for wholesale changes at this late stage would totally disrupt Capello’s plans.
Nevertheless, fringe players who are not expected to start matches in South Africa in any case, surely represent less of a risk to the overall team strategy. Whilst Upson performed ok for England during the World Cup qualifiers, he was never convincing. For West Ham, Upson has struggled for form, and has arguably failed to rise above the poor performances of his teammates, with Scott Parker seemingly the only player to emerge with any credit at Upton Park this season.
Dawson and Upson are similar ‘old fashioned’ defenders, and there’d be little disruption to the overall squad by bringing in Dawson for Upson. The argument against Dawson of course, is that he has still not played a game for England, and international football requires a different kind of concentration to that of the domestic game.
The best alternatives to Dawson are too injury prone, or indeed not match fit. Even if Joleon Lescott was the solution for Capello, he is all but ruled out having suffered both knee and hamstring problems for much of the season.
Ryan Shawcross has arguably had as impressive a season as Michael Dawson. However, due to suspension and a foot injury, the youngster has not played since he was sent off for that infamous challenge on Aaron Ramsey on 27 February. Further, Shawcross has even less European experience than Michael Dawson.
Were it not for Rio Ferdinand’s ongoing groin and back problems, you’d have to consider Ledley King for South Africa. Were it not for his injury problems, King would be up there with the best defenders in the world. Unfortunately, Ferdinand’s injury concerns mean that Capello cannot risk taking another defender who could miss a succession of games. King cannot play two games in a week, and so must be ruled out.
Dawson, 27, appears to have shrugged off a tendon problem, and England can rely on the player to be in peak physical condition in June.
4. Big games
Whilst Dawson slipped at a vital moment as Spurs crashed out of the FA Cup at Wembley this term, Dawson’s record against the ‘big four’ over the past two seasons suggests the player is capable of marking some of the best players the world has to offer.
If we consider the big teams to be Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in 2008/09, with Manchester City added to that list for 2009/10, Dawson has played in six games against these teams. Here is his record:
Tottenham 0-0 Manchester United, 13 December 2008
Tottenham 0-0 Arsenal, 08 February 2009
Tottenham 3-0 Manchester City, 16 December, 2009
Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham, 20 January 2010
Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal, 14 April 2010
Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea, 17 April 2010
Dawson has played only 6 of a possible 18 matches against the ‘big four’ in 2008/09 and the ‘big five’ in 2009/10, and all but one were at White Hart Lane. However, the fact that over the past two seasons, when he has played, Spurs have lost just once, and conceded three goals in six matches, is evidence that Dawson is capable of mixing it with the best.
Reminiscent of Thierry Henry’s words regarding Ledley King, Carlos Tevez recently spoke of Dawson’s ability:
“We lost 3-0 and he didn’t let me into the game.
“I know he [Dawson] doesn’t play for England, but he is the best English defender I have played against.
Perhaps the real test for Dawson however, will come in the two upcoming away fixtures with Manchester United, and Manchester City…
5. Ability on the ball
As good as Dawson is defensively, Dawson is also capable on the ball. He may not be as good as Ferdinand or even John Terry in possession, but Dawson has an excellent long range pass, and does not get flustered easily. Maintaining possession is a pre-requisite for international football, and Dawson wouldn’t let anyone down in this department.
Finally, if England need a goal, Dawson has the ability to score from a set piece. He has four goals over the past two seasons, three with his head, and one spectacular volley which earned Tottenham a point at Villa Park this term. In short, the player is as capable as Terry or Ferdinand in an attacking sense.
Well, hopefully I can count on your support to get Michael Dawson on that ruddy plane! If you wish to physically join the campaign, I will be outside Buckingham Palace every day until the World Cup kicks off protesting. See you there!
You can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mark0turner
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