Leon Osman’s England Selection: An Evertonian’s Perspective

November 14, 2012 in International

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Tonight, Everton midfielder Leon Osman may get his first England cap, at the tender age of 31. Persistent injury problems stalled the start of his Everton career, and it wasn’t until the 04/05 season that Osman became a first team regular. Perennially underrated, Osman could be described as a technical utility midfielder. Osman possesses excellent ball control and dribbling ability, but suffers from a lack of strength on the ball, and at times, he can completely disappear from games. Interestingly, Osman’s game improves when there is seemingly more pressure on him; a good example of this was during Mikel Arteta’s lengthy spells out injured, when Osman would seem to elevate his game and turn in some excellent performances for the Blues. Despite good performances in the league and abroad (including a wonder strike against Greek side Larissa), many Evertonians were (and continue to be) highly critical of him, scrutinising his errors and ignoring his good performances.

Maybe this says more about the England team than Osman himself, but it is surprising to see him called up. Just last season Osman was seemingly slowly being phrased out of the Everton team; Fellaini and Gibson were occupying the central midfield roles in the team with even Tim Cahill, beyond his best days, getting in the side ahead of him. I think a big factor in Osman’s good performances is the increased mobility of our newly improved attack. Osman has always had an eye for a pass, however, like Arteta before him, he did not have the required more mobile attackers ahead of him to make telling passes count. It is strange that Osman has been picked now, as there hasn’t been a massive improvement to his game - he’s always been very solid. This leads me to the question: ‘Are Everton now a good enough side that above average players will be selected from our team for international duty?’. Granted it’s only a friendly, but it is interesting that Osman is picked ahead of a younger alternative (counter-balanced perhaps with Zaha’s selection from Crystal Palace).

So why would Hodgson select him? Most people would not see much of an England future for Leon Osman, but it was hardly down to media and fan pressure to get him in the team. Maybe Hodgson rates him. What will Osman offer England? I’d say the main thing he offers is a lack of ego. A lack of selfishness in his game won’t lead him to attempt ‘Hollywood’ passes or get caught out of position chasing every player on the pitch. Short passing and a good first touch have seemed absent from the England team of late, so I would expect Osman to make our build-up play a bit smoother (you never know we might actually string five passes together).

So what’s the most significant thing to come from Osman’s selection? He can go from being underrated to overrated, all it takes is a game. Bless you England.