Another reader submission for ‘From The Terraces, as Matthew takes a look at the man who would be Rooney.
Although small in stature, not necessarily strong or quick Leon Osman has come through the Everton youth system as one of its more consistent performers, if not one that has hit all the headlines.
The 25 year-old has paid his dues through the lower leagues and is now quickly carving out a niche for himself in one of the hardest working midfields in the premiership. What he has is undoubted class, vision and pure grit attitude that give him an edge to his play, although rarely does he fly into a challenge or retaliate childishly.
As he has shown over the past few seasons, and most recently at Tottenham even when a man down in midfield, he posseses the rare ability to effectively link the midfield with attack – something most Premiership clubs still seek. The best comparison would be a mix between Trevor Steven and Teddy Sheringham, though without the heading abiilty of the latter. Having suffered a serious career threatening injury in 2001, he stumbled through his recovery a little with a loan spell at Carlisle followed more convincingly by a rip-roaring success at Derby, again on loan. From then on he has begun to fulfil the potential he showed when he was touted as the most promising product of Evertonâ€™s youth system years ago by Colin Harvey – despite the presence of Wayne Rooney.
Performances like the one against Arsenal in January where he orchestrated the midfield masterfully with Cahill and Arteta against a star studded Arsenal midfield got the ball rolling. Against West Ham, a blistering strike strike from the 18 yard box into the roof of the net sounded the bell. This season he has again been a key cog in Everton’s fantastic start.
If he maintains his form, and if McClaren is to be believed, it won’t be long before Osman pushes for a place in the England squad. Although there may be a tendency to compare Osman with other fringe midfielders such as Manchester City’s Barton, Bolton’s Nolan, Newcastle’s Parker or Tottenham’s Jenas, Osman in fact offers something extra perhaps even to challenge Chelsea’s Lampard or Liverpool’s Gerrard. The unique ability to keep the ball and keep it moving which in a tight, congested midfield or heavily marked attack something that Leon does with ease and England do not. The current midfield is all about the glory ball, the one that finds Peter Crouch, or the thunderous shot, the one that deflects off 9 players into the net. But, especially in the absence of Rooney, Osman could provide that short outlet in the final third.
Of course it’s difficult to see him earning a starting berth with England any time soon but, come on, Jermaine Jenas?
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