Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gary Cahill v Martin Petrov

Some may claim that Bulgaria visited the new Wembley Stadium in London last night to play a UEFA 2012 European Championship qualifier, but all I was paying attention to were the Bolton Wanderers players that featured in the squads on either side.

Martin Petrov started on the left wing for Bulgaria, just as he does for Bolton, and he saw precious little of the ball, just as he does for Bolton. Now, some players always seem to be in open positions, but as you look closer you realize they have put themselves in an area where it is almost impossible to give them the ball. Petrov is not doing that, he is getting himself into threatening and available spots with great frequency for club and country.

So why isn't he seeing more of the ball? The answer is a bit strange. He is too clever. At least, he is too clever for his current teammates, many of whom are talented enough to find him in these positions, but rather young and inexperienced. There are also some veteran players who should be able to find him, but just don't have the technical ability to do so.

I think this will sort itself out. As youngsters such as Lee Chung-yong, Fabrice Muamba, and especially Stuart Holden become more accustomed to playing with Petrov they will learn how to find him in space. When that happens, Bolton will start to look a threat going forward, at least much more than they do now.

As for Gary Cahill, I should also include him in the group of youngsters who must learn how to play with quality, because one of Cahill's virtues is that he is a ball-playing centre-half, and he often plays a part in the distribution on the attack. But his greatest strength is defending, and he did that very well in his England debut last night. As people in England start to realize how far past it their big name central defenders are, Cahill will have an opportunity to become a fixture in the England squad.

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