Did Jermain Defoe Deserve a World Cup Spot Ahead Welbeck?

Did Jermain Defoe Deserve a World Cup Spot Ahead Welbeck?

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When Jermain Defoe signed for Toronto FC back in January, eyebrows were raised as some contemplated that he probably had made a wrong decision. It was the timing of that decision that further obfuscated the issue because when World Cup was closing in and his name was nearly cemented in the 23 man squad, he chose to move away from limelight and in doing so, had probably done an irreparable damage to his World Cup dreams. However, with all fuss surrounding him, he should have been in the squad ahead of Welbeck as there is not any particular area where the Manchester United man can replace him.

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Last full season

In order to compare them on merit, we have to look on a full season basis. Therefore, the 2012-13 season is a perfect chance to compare them. In his last full season at Spurs, the current Toronto FC player managed a decent 11 goals for the club compared to 9 that Danny Welbeck have offered in the last season of Sir Alex. Although the former has started more games than the later, it is the experience that the Roy Hodgson squad would be lacking in the absence of Jermain Defoe – who bagged 3 assists compared to 1 of Danny Welbeck.

In a squad surrounded by Raheem Sterling, Rooney and Gerrard, it won’t be the first thing Roy Hodgson would want from his number 3 striker. Yet Jermain Defoe can act as a catalyst in this respect. In what proved to be Gareth Bale’s last season at White Hart Lane, Defoe created a decent 31 chances for the London club. Despite playing as the main striker, Defoe dropped deep more to help his team-mates and created 28 of them from open play, which is not bad for any striker. Compared to this, the young Welbeck was nowhere near Defoe as he created just 13 chances all season along for Manchester United. So if creativity has anything to do with age, Defoe’s performance is directly proportional to it.

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Final season before World Cup

Despite of a change in environment, it seems Defoe hasn’t particularly lost his golden touch with the ball.  Like Emanuel Adebayor during Andre Villas-Boas’ reign at White Hart Lane, Defoe seemed out of favour with the Portuguese manager. His game time was limited, still he notched several impressive performances both at domestic as well European level. In 19 matches he featured for the Whites, he started just 8 of them that proved to be a major reason for his departure.

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Why he wasn’t selected?

Having been on par with most of the stats and ahead on some of them compared to Welbeck, one may wonder why Roy Hodgson chose to sacrifice Defoe for a rookie. Having scored 19 goals in 55 games for England and being a regular part of their World Cup qualification schedule, one thing that may have ousted him is the resurgence of both Daniel Sturridge and Ricky Lambert this season. Sturridge and Lambert – who have scored 21 and 13 goals respectively – turned out to be the indirect cause for Defoe’s exclusion from the English squad.

No one might have thought the duo would be going to World Cup with Rooney but having two brilliant seasons under their belt, they were everything but confirmed for a ticket to Brazil. As a result, Roy Hodgson was probably looking for a super sub with more pace in his legs than Jermain Defoe. In a 4-4-3 formation, Defoe could have been a part of the squad but with England taking a gang of midfielders with them to Brazil, a 4-4-2  formation is likely, and consequently there is no place for Jermain Defoe to get in.

On top of that, the current Tottenham loanee should have kept in mind the fate of David Beckham who at a more elder age than his, wasn’t included by Fabio Capello for playing in a less competitive league in MLS. He could have easily waited on the bench, like Adebayor for instance, and taken his chance when it came along with the new boss Tim Sherwood. Instead he chose to play more league football, and barring any major consequence, has thrown his all-but-confirmed spot into jeopardy himself.

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