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Is Michael on his cycle?

Robbo Robson | 15:46 UK time, Monday, 6 October 2008

Fabio Capello's latest squad has the same notable absentee. Michael Owen isn't even there to keep the bench dry and warm for when Defoe comes off having done nowt.

People are saying it's the end. They said the same about Beckham when he was dropped but that was when McClaren was in charge and he had more changes of mind than my missus has changes of shoes. (They can't need all that bleeding footwear can they? You need a black pair, a brown pair, a pair of trainers and some sandals that look good with socks for the summer. Job done.)

But Capello's not for turning. I'm a bit torn about the decision meself. On the one hand, he's nothing like the kid who scored That Goal against Argentina 10 years back. His Achilles heel was his Achilles heel, really, and since those ops he doesn't have the pace.

And he's not one of them forwards who can adapt to another role - he's a goal-hanger plain and simple.

On the other hand, Capello says he needs more than just goals from his striker and you do tend to think, well what more do you want, Fabio, mate?

He's a striker who scores goals, yes, but can he put up a few shelves and keep them level? Can he turn the left-overs from a Sunday roast into a satisfying and nutritious one-pot meal for all the family? Can he foxtrot and meringue with equal style and panache? (This might be the question most worth answering 'cos at this rate Strictly Come Dancing is where he's heading, poor lamb.)

It's a strange comment by the gaffer. Ask Juande I'll Fly Away Ramos whether he could do with someone who's only able to scuff it in from three yards every other game and see what he says.

I'm not saying he'll grin like an idiot - he doesn't seem the sort. In fact it's hard to remember a more mournful-looking face in football. If they ever launch a charity to raise money for old and disillusioned football managers they'd plaster that man's expression over every charity advert they ever made.

But then again, Capello's just coming off a brilliant result in Zagreb and frankly it doesn't matter what numpties like me, you, or Lawro and Hansen think. He didn't need Owen before so why change it now?
Fact is, it seems clear that Capello simply doesn't rate the bloke. Then again he didn't think Beckham was much more than an advertising hoarding when he got to Madrid but Golden Balls put some hard work in and now Capello even keeps him around when everyone knows Young can do his job and then some.

Still, I'm not going to argue. I wouldn't argue either if he put out the same team again for Saturday.

Yet again there's the crunch decision approaching, mind you, and that's not whether Owen should be around. It's whether Lampard and Gerrard play together.

Now there's some who reckon Gerrard could play on the right. That's where a lad called Walcott played last time but you're, Al, he barely did enough to justify the selection did he? I guess now Joe Cole's out, Theo'd swap flanks to accommodate the sainted Stevie.

Like him or loathe him, Lampard is playing his best football at Chelsea for a couple of years I reckon. Scolari can take a bit of credit there and I hope our 'number one fan' does show up on Saturday to lend his support. (Although the last time I heard that phrase from anyone was that mad bint in 'Misery' and if I remember rightly she ended up caving that bloke's leg in with a sledgehammer!)

I'd play Gerrard 'cos I think he's a better player, but I don't care so long as he doesn't start with both and re-enter that Land Where Reason Sleeps - you know... the land where Frank and Stevie exchange positions effortlessly like two mighty English swans in courtship, the land where Joleon Lescott makes an exquisite left-back, where standing under a brolly while your team caves in is a good example. No more of that.

As it is I think the Kazaksthan game's going to be a ponderous 2-0 victory, earned not through the guile of a Lampard or Gerrard (guile's not their strong point) or the pace of a Theo, but through a bit of old-fashioned big bloke up the middle nuisance value from Heskey and or Crouch - the latter of which is thoroughly deserving of his recall and should never have been dropped in the first place.

I think the Kazaks'll come ready for a fight, metaphorically speaking of course. The ammunition to fire them up is there in them Borat DVDs. That Sacha Baron Cohen fella could have made a terrible decision footballing-wise.

Yep. 2-0. Followed by a sea of the usual platitudes from the lads: "There are no easy games in international football", "The Kaziakistaniards've come here and they've did their best to make it hard for us"; and "Crouchy's come off the bench and he's been a handful."

Add to that a 1-0 in Belarus and no-one will even be thinking about Michael Owen. Except Len Goodman and that squealing harridan Arlene Whatsername.


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