Tottenham Hotspur, as West Ham fans like to pretend was the case in 1966, have supplied quite the collection of stars for England’s World Cup campaign this year.
Be it Dele Alli, Eric Dier or Danny Rose, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are out in full force to take over in Russia.
It’s one man’s name on everybody’s lips, however: England’s salvation, battling for the flag, country, Queen and roast beef. The boy from White Hart Lane has arrived, emphatically, ready to deliver World Cup glory back to its rightful homeland. His name is Kieran Trippier.
It may well be his plaudit-grabbing teammate (perhaps unsurprisingly) grabbing the plaudits, but Trippier’s performance against Tunisia on Monday night deserves serious recognition.
While it’s as easy as bagging a brace for a frontman to beckon his country’s prolific, drunken praises, for a full-back things aren’t so simple.
Defenders must work consistently without being noticed and it’s certainly true what they say about the best being those you don’t clock. It’s an impressive, well worn sound-bite for the pub. Defensively, Trippier seemed to be the most assured man in England’s slightly precarious, if dynamic, back line. He undoubtedly satisfied the pub sound-bite there, then.
But, quite remarkably, the 27-year-old provided a notable offensive threat as well. He rivalled his better known Lilywhite teammate in terms of attacking potency and did so whilst keeping the Three Lions’ back line well protected from out wide.
Trippier was an eye catching embodiment of what every middle-aged man just about catching on sees as the ‘modern full-back’. He added pace, prowess and pressure to an England side that eventually benefited from the plethora of chances they were handed (though largely squandered).
Without that ‘modern’ full-back as an attacking threat, Southgate’s men certainly wouldn’t have been so fortunate in the numerous silver platters handed out. England are spoiled for choice in this role, however, so it was perhaps surprising that a man with just eight caps to his name and barely a year’s experience in the first team performed the task best.
In fact it was Trippier who delivered the most impressive statistic of the night in that he created the most chances (six) of anyone in the team and can therefore be proudly attributed to exactly half of England’s 12 opportunities. The lad from Bury actually provided the neutral with 37% of the night’s attempts on goal, creating one-and-a-half of what Tunisia – a country of 11 million – managed collectively. We’ll let you do the maths.
No one bar David Beckham has created six opportunities in a World Cup game for England since 1966.
So, whilst we sing a certain Mr Kane’s name from the rooftops, having tried and failed to avoid using it here, it’s perhaps time we turned our attention – momentarily at least – elsewhere.
Trippier’s assuredness going back makes him England’s go-to man in the unit of the squad most poorly equipped. His presence out wide allows a back three to cover the centre ground, ensuring England’s attacking force is at its strongest as Southgate favours the ambiguous winger/full-back role for his wide men; Ashley Young being Trippier’s counterpart on the left.
This is most significant when facing the cluttered defenses of the world’s Tunisias and Panamas, because more players can be positioned higher up the pitch, thus increasing the propensity for frequent, tiring attacks on a well stocked half.
It’s the unsung heroes of the World Cup that often make us the most proud. But we say bollocks to that. Sing it loud, sing it clear, and make the man a hero. After all, Kieran Trippier is bringing football home.