Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stevie Mac attack

Some things are best left unsaid. And criticising England's deplorable performance against Croatia would have to fall into this category. As I didn't post on Macca yesterday, some of you may have taken this as compassion to a manager under fire. Not at all, my blog was down all day. I am from the kick them when they are down school. So here goes. Ok, so I was lucky enough to miss the match as I was out in Northampton enjoying a thai yellow curry, but I suffered the highlights/lowlights afterwards.

Paul Robinson: anyone criticising him for the own goal is bang out of order. I don't quite know how but Robinson has become a sort of Calamity James figure in the eyes of many, this is as patently unfair as it is wrong. Robinson was keeping us in the game. Full stop (grammatical necessity and particular emphasis on this point). The bobble was a freak goal. People have said he should have got his body behind the ball or he should have taken a touch before wellying it upfield. What a load of tosh. 99 times out of 100 the ball wouldn't have bobbled like that and not one single person would have criticised him. Yeh his positioning was a bit suspect for the opening goal but with three centre backs and a left back covering the little Croat lad shouldn't have even got his head to the ball.

: You can play 3-5-2; 4-4-2; 4-5-1 or any other combination - basic fact, if you play that badly you will lose. Personally, I think Macca played the system correctly with Neville and Cole as wing-backs but a central three of Parker, Carrick and an out of form Lampard doesn't exactly give you a hard-on. For me Carrick has been really disappointing. I rate him, but he's got to do much better.

Out of form players: Wayne Rooney is playing badly (at least by his standards). Frank Lampard is playing badly. I don't know if this is particular just to England but it appears almost impossible for big-name players to be dropped. David Beckham was never dropped, he was axed totally - virtually excommunicated - by Stevie Mac. In the 3-5-2 we played against Croatia. The positions of Lampard (attacking midfielder) and Rooney (link up player just off Big boy Crouch) are the most important. Both are so out of form that it is hardly a shock we lost to the Croats. There also seems to be a preferred ranking order of the substitutes too: Defoe will always come on before Darren Bent (irrespective of form); Wright-Phillips will always be brought on. And Kieran Richardson will 8 times out of 10 be the third sub. Just so formulaic, which would be fine if it worked. Sadly, England are in a lull reminiscent of 1993/4.

David Beckham: I have no problem with McLaren dropping Backham. As far as I can see he was poor during the World Cup. However, is it right to totally discard the player who is arguably the best English player of the last decade? Granted, I am looking back with hindsight, but you look at the results and the answer is there in black and white. If there is one position Beckham could fill in this England team you'd say it would be the sitting midfielder passing the ball around. With Hargreaves (or whoever is fit) filling the role of midfield enforcer. In the 3-5-2 is there anyone who seriously believes Carrick is a better player than Beckham in that role? Even in a 4-4-2 there is an argument that Beckham would be of more use than Lampard (so long as both wide midfielders were attacking). The whole Beckham episode looks dodgier as it has now come to light (through Mark Bosnich) that Beckham and McLaren do not get on and that this dates back to when Macca served as assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Interesting.

Wholesale changes: Apparently Macca has declared that his next squad (to face draw specialists Israel) may be considerably revamped. I wonder who he has in mind? If fit Jonathan Woodgate, Andy Johnson, Aaron Lennon and Kieron Dyer must be shoo-ins. Jermaine Pennant must be a decent enough shout. And after his two-goal salvo in the U-21 match, it may be a recall for Theo Walcott (although it should be noted that he was only a sub in this match). Defensively, I would be happy for Micah Richards to come into the squad as Gary Neville's understudy. The key to the majority of these players is pace. Johnson, Lennon, Dyer, Pennant, Walcott and Richards are like shit off a shovel. Woodgate is just a class apart.

I reckon Macca's got a few games left to save his bacon. Good luck. I must reiterate I don't want him to fail. I just suspect he will and if he is failing he must be booted out. This is England and at the risk of sounding jingoisitic; we are a massive country with top qulaity players and should not struggle against footballing pygmies like Macedonia and supposedly inferior (ranked 24 in the world) teams like Croatia. Come on England.

Agree with Robinson, always rated him and I was a bit baffled as to the stick he was getting from some quarters before the Croatia game, let alone after the bobble....and,I may add, who hasn't done that very same thing when playing in goal?

I'm not big on formations, formations don't win you games.Good players playing at the top of their game win you games and tournaments.We haven't had that for a long time.

Beckham, not mobile enough and getting less mobile each passing week.Lennon is the future in that down the right role.

The forwards should always be Rooney with AN.Other as far as I'm concerned.

Ferdinand, never understood his automatic place in the side and his much vaunted ability to bring the ball out from the back has been utterly invisible on the international stage.Statuesque central defenders is one of the reasons why we are constantly under pressure and our full backs can't move more than 5 yards into the opposing team's half.At least Woodgate has had some experience being coached in Spain...

I suspect McLaren won't last too long either.Being English he'll have a much shorter shelf life than Sven...
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