Lennon in Quest to be Capello’s Right Man
Since bursting onto the scene in 2005, Aaron Lennon has incurred a stuttering career that still has the capacity to hit the heights that most footballers dream about but quickly realise is beyond their capability. After enjoying the best form of his career for club side Tottenham Hotspur and forcing his way into the England national team Lennon has suffered a cruel start to 2010. With an unsolved injury that has kept him out since the end of December last year, the winger will have at best limited time to make an impact in the closing stages of this campaign.
Signed by Tottenham in 2005 for a fee of just £1 million, it took the then 18 year old less than half a season to make opponents sit up and take note of his talent. As a product of Howard Wilkinson’s pioneering Leeds United Academy, Lennon despite a height of just 5ft 5in was always tipped to go on and achieve at the highest level. In coming off of the bench to make his debut, ironically against Spurs at White Hart Lane, Lennon became the youngest player at 16 years and 129 days, ever to feature in the Premier League.
It was just under two years later that Spurs recognised his potential and brought Lennon south where they hoped he could continue to learn the game. However, within a few weeks of the season Lennon was a permanent fixture and a key player in a team that went on to achieve its best league finish in 16 years. Excellent performances throughout saw him drawn into the England squad for the 2006 World Cup.
The subsequent three seasons saw Lennon nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year, despite his career appearing to stall at regular periods. Not helped by two changes of manager at Spurs, Lennon struggled to develop his game and fulfil the potential shown in his first season. While a deft first touch, lively feet and lightening speed continued to provide the best left back’s in the Premier League with terrifying nightmares and enduring dizzy spells, Lennon’s game suffered for its lack of result. On too many occasion’s his genius would create freedom in dangerous areas only to over hit crosses, hurry shots, or make wrong decisions.
However, with Lennon now an advanced player in comparison, this season’s form has demonstrated a maturity in his game that has facilitated many man of the match performances. Lennon has succeeded in executing displays that have shown development, purpose and most importantly end product.
He has flourished under Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham who look to produce quick attacking play when in possession. It suits Lennon’s game that his team harbours some of the finest passes of the ball in Tom Huddlestone and Luka Modric who are capable of finding Lennon early in attack, thus allowing him to take on his full back one on one. With his shattering speed and secure ball control he now has the variety about his play to put in early crosses as well as hit the by-line. The areas he occupies outside the box have improved tenfold, yet he still needs to enhance his game by finding more goal scoring positions. Nevertheless, it is his ability to run at defenders that interests England manager Fabio Capello the most.
His international career appeared to be on hiatus but recent displays, most notably his man of the match show against Croatia in England’s crucial World Cup qualifier did place him in pole position to be Capello’s main man on the right side of England’s midfield. However, there is a mystery that shrouds his groin injury, and it has left all concerned nervous about how long Lennon will be absent for. It has already allowed the likes of Theo Walcott, James Milner and Shaun Wright Phillips to audition for a place that Lennon had finally made his own.
In contrast what is of little doubt is the ability that Lennon now possesses, and as the first half of this season revealed, England will be a better team for his inclusion. All we can hope as the speedy Lennon enters a critical phase of his career, is his race against time is one he can win.