You’ll have to take my word that I conceived of this post before the WC began and am only now getting around to writing it. If you choose not to believe that apology, just accept it as an emotional look into the dark heart of a disappointed fan the day after his home side got bounced from the tournament and the evening after a player he had long considered the hope of his club franchise took a quiet exit from a tournament that he never managed to affect too terribly much.
For years the English soccer press has been telling us that diminutive winger Aaron Lennon is the future of the English midfield. His club career has so far impressed – he has netted some of the biggest Premiership goals in club history, including the crucial strike to defeat archrival Chelsea after those swine had beaten us so many times in a row I’m feeling dirty for even speaking of it. He can beat most defenders off the dribble and collects long balls with precision and grace, unless he’s matched up with someone who can shove him around.
Make no mistake, Aaron Lennon is good. But we have seen enough to begin to see the shape of the answer to a more troubling question: Is Aaron Lennon great?
Take nothing away from Landon Donovan, who turned in a truly impressive and robust performance for the US. But does it say anything troubling that Donovan, a career MLS Star who has never scored a meaningful goal for a European club team despite spending six years of his career playing on them, was not clearly less valuable in the World Cup than the man we’ve all come to accept as The One to finally deliver England into the modern era of slick midfielders delivering incisive balls to cutting strikers?
The question hangs as we wait these next few months for the Premiership season to begin again, and to once again take up the question of who this Aaron Lennon person is, and whether we should care. He’s fast, he dribbles well. It’s a proven path to success, if you combine it with consistently effective passing and a bit of creativity in front of goal. But Aaron Lennon hasn’t yet shown he can produce enough of that latter stuff to be great.
We want to see your best soccer, Sir. It’s time. Club and country need you.