Should Beath Mead be selected for the England senior squad ?

The answer seems to be an obvious YES as the 21 years old was the League top scorer last season for her first season in the top flight.

Firstly, it is important to note that she has already been called at senior level by Mark Sampson. She was in the squad for the China tournament back in October 2015.

She has already been invited to senior camps as well, so it is quite clear that she is not unknown to the coaching staff and has gone through the age groups at England youth levels.

If we look at her statistics for the FA WSL 2015 season, it is quite telling :

She is number 2 in the goals scored per minute with a goal per 104.92, second to Fran Kirby with a goal every 98.75 minutes.

Her chances to goal conversion rate is good as she is ranked number 4 behind Gilly Flaherty, Fran Kirby and Jess Clarke. She converts 25.53% of her chances while Flaherty converts a fantastic 42.86% of her chances.

Another interesting statistics is the number of chances created, she is ranked number 9 with 19 chances created while Christiansen created 32, Davison 32 and So-Yun 31 in the top 3 players.

So why does she not get more chances at senior England level ?

One of the “problem” is she is quite small 1m63 and at senior international level, it is an important factor in certain positions on the pitch. I remember more than 6 years ago, I was  speaking with a NT manager and a club manager, who had a center forward with exactly the same size as Mead. They both said they’d prefer a taller and physically stronger center forward for the Champions League and international tournaments.

That club bought a very succesful center forward who was 15 cm taller than the smaller one and scored many goals for her club and country. Put it this way, Beth Mead against Wendie Renard challenging for a ball in a 50/50 in the air or on the floor, I have no doubt who will win this battle.

Another question is does her profile fit the England tactical system ?

I would say yes, she could be used in the little and tall association with Jill Scott in the current 4-4-1-1 system currently favoured by Mark Sampson.  It is quite obvious that her profile is well suited to a team that has space in front of them, rather than ball possession in the opposition camp.

What about the competition in her position ?

I think the real reason for her lack of opportunities lies there. The competition for places is huge. If you base your squad on 18 players, you will have 3 forwards including one center forward place and two subs on the bench or maybe three with an attacking midfielder/forward.

Now if look at the long list of candidates to play as a forward for England :

Carney, Aluko, Duggan, Kirby, Taylor, Davison, White, Clarke, Sanderson, Carter, Parris and Dowie have all been called up in the last 12 motnhs.

There are only two typical center forwards players in that list : Dowie who does not get on well with certain squad members and has not been called up recently and Mead.

There are some pure wingers there : Davison, Clarke and Aluko

And then the hybrid players half wingers/half center forwards like Taylor, Duggan, Clarke, Carter, Parris or half wingers / half playmakers  like Carney, Kirby  or Sanderson.

So when you are talking about building a squad, do you take a slightly more mono-dimensional player like Mead, who is a great goalscorer or do you take the players who can play in two or even three positions on the pitch and are likely to  offer more creativity overall?

It is definitely a football philosophical question, as it seems clear that Mark Sampson prefers multi-dimensional players on the pitch rather than a typical goalscorer who plays in the number 9 position and scores goals.

It boils down to this : if your center forward does not score goals, will she contribute enough to the overall team play in the other parts of her game ?

 

We know that England have not scored many goals in recent games. the 2016  results are 0-1, 1-2, 0-0 , 1-1 , 1-0. Clearly a poor return on goals, hence the clamour for Mead to get a game and score the goals that have been missing.

I believe the system more than the players makes it hard for the England team to score plenty of goals, a problem that the France team also faces on regular basis.

I think if Beth Mead was really the panacea as fans seem to make her, mark Sampson would have already have had her a regular in the England squad. We have to remember that we do not know what happens in training  and if Mead fits well with England’s footballing style.

But hopefully she will get another call up soon, so that we know if she can make it at international level.  In the meantime, she is still eligible to play for England U23 team while patiently waiting for another senior call-up.

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