Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hopeless, flabby England are almost out of ideas.

Ok. I hold my hands up. Some of my predicitions were a little off. Although not the one - albeit sarcastic - about yesterday's game being boring rubbish.

Macedonia were a far better team than I gave them credit for and were well worth their point; perhaps even more. I was especially impressed with their half-striker Pandev, who seemed to have far more spark and inventiveness about him than poor old Wayne. He's looking like a shadow of his former self at the moment. Suspended by the FA after a friendly, absorbing the blame for England's failure to beat Portugal, and having, almost literally, the weight of 50 million people's expectations on his shoulders finally seems to have got to him. I think he will return to form. But when?

England were poor. Ledley King's more than adequate job at centre-back would surely mean, if not for our celebrity obsessed culture, he'd be pushing Ferdinand for a starting position.

Carrick must go. I've tried to see what others do in him, and I struggle. He is good at receiving the ball up in midfield and picking out passes. That's it. Also, he usually needs time on the ball to do this. He can't tackle, so he's not a holding midfielder. He can't score, so he's not an attacking one. He gets the ball, and, given sufficient time, he might make a half-decent pass. A water-carrier. I still surprise myself every time I say it but, we need Hargreaves. In the short term, Parker must come in for Wednesday's game.

Although one could argue that Lampard's continued presence in the side is bordering on comical. I read Sam Allardyce state today that we should consider picking Phil Neville for centre-mid, given that Gerrard's suspended and Lampard is, well, 'out of sorts' shall we say. It says much about the real strength of English football, that, when our supposedly 'top players' our injured, these are the reserves we have in store. I think Phil has done well at Everton. But please. No.

Indeed that seems to be the story of England in our creative positions at the moment. Owen and Rooney - seemingly a good starting partnership. But with Owen injured and Rooney out of form, who do England have? Defoe, who lost his starting place at Spurs last season; Bent, who has done well for Charlton, but I don't think is really international standard. And Crouch. Want to know how good Crouch really is for an international player. Watch Koller [spelling?] for the Czechs and compare the two. Crouch is still shaky with his head, and needs too many chances for a top level player before he slots one away. Moreover, the Czechs don't just pump long-balls, to Koller. They have the technical skills to mix the play. Do England? The future, may lie with Andy Jonhnson and Dean Ashton, but they are completely untried at the top level.

Then we have Stuart 'I'm not only in the team because I'm mates with McClaren, honest' Downing, who needs a day before he can accurately pass the ball. Even Gerrard, who was for a long time my favourite England player [prior to his odious Walcott comments], seems to have become hopelessly selfish. Its not for nothing that Benitez feels he needs to play two defensive midfielders next to him. SWP was a brief, bright spark, but he needs to get out of Chelsea quick, before his potential is completely destroyed. I say, we bid for him and Ribery next summer and hope to get one of the two.

The conclusion to me is evident. Scratch the surface of the hype and hubris surrounding them, and you have a good, but not great England team; penetrate past the first eleven, and the actually depth of English talent is worrying.

I think England will lose in Croatia on Wednesday. Playing 3-5-2 might get us a draw but England won't be the first to record a qualifying victory out there.

What England don't do is play as a team. I think this has a lot to do with the Galactico-esque pride of a few players in the set up. Football is a team game; that's why Chelsea may not win the league this year. Its also why Scotland beat France yesterday. France played decent football, yet couldn't break the Scots' massed ranks. The scots took their chance and showed that eleven players on the same wave length, decently coached, and with a dash of luck can beat high quality opposition. My main concern was that our boys got through the game Ok- which they did. Even if Thierry is in a bit of a sulk.

Elsewhere, RvP scored again. I stand by my earlier statement that he plays better for the Dutch than us. Tommy Rosicky was in a Czech team that unexpectedly battered the titans of San Marino; Arsenal are preparing to sue Sweden for £20 million after Freddie got injured in their game. Just joking, but its still annoying.

Right, three days in which most of the press will analyse how England will bounce back. I don't think they will. Systemic change is needed to the set-up. And we can't blame Sven any more. Maybe, just maybe, and I'm sorry to burst the Daily Mail's bubble here, a foreign manager wasn' t the entire cause of England's problems...

17 comments:

Little Dutch said...

Very good article that acknowledges what most don't. England is a team of celebrities, not footballers. On the other hand, who cares? Not me, that's who.

Anonymous said...

Sven has done better than the new gaffa

Anonymous said...

Mate, agreed with your Carrick comments, and reckon King should be pushing Ferdinand. Also wouldn't mind seeing Johnson given a chance.

Anonymous said...

I'm still backing my radical theory that all England games between major tournaments should be played behind closed doors with a complete media blackout...

Anonymous said...

Play P Neville in the England team?! U must be kidding right?! His game is predicated on taking out the opposing star player so it will not be surprising if he receives the red card before half-time. Continential refs are less forgiving compared to the EPL species. His type of game is suited to Everton so he shud just stay there.

Anonymous said...

Yep, nice article. England have been awful for years, but it must have a lot to do with the fact that just past the first eleven, there is a real lack of technically good players in England right now.

Who's to blame, the youth coaches, the clubs for buying foreign, the players themselves for thinking they are celebs just coz they can kick a ball?

England will qualify but they have a severe case of mid-tableitis. Its not that they are bad, even though they are, its just that they are just so fucking boring.

Reminds of Graham Rix and Stewart Robson for the Arse in days gone by. A lifetime ago now. Maybe its watching the Gunners these days that makes England stand out as so awful.

Anonymous said...

Gerrard is a stinking, overrated, vicious cheat

Anonymous said...

England was awful that day and of the other games under Mac- they were at least average and one can see not everything negative can be blamed on Sven. He did well.- number of defeats in competitive games(normal time ones-pen shootouts NOT included) are slightly more than the fingers in one hand.(his friendlies were those where he practised his team till FIFA chopped his plans by limiting subs)
P Neville? NO way please- as worries of conceding goals from tripping opponents in one's penalty box will crop up!(only half a dozen years since EURO2000 exit due to his trip)

gazzap said...

spot on. andy johnson is the man to go up top with crouch. Carrick is not international class (what a waste of £18.6m of Glazer's money!). Downing is not even premiership clas. Parker SHOULD be in that team (and should have gone to the world cup). King is better than Ferdinand.
Lampard and Gerrard still cannot play in the same team (yawn). its funny how we all see that but the managers who get paid fortunes cant.

Anonymous said...

If you guys think this is a good article you are illiterate.

This looks like it was written by a 12 year old.

Little Dutch said...

I think this is a good article and I teach English. Your move jackass.

Goonerboy said...

Cheers LD.

Gelbs said...

Who the fuck leaves a comment like that?

longtimegunner87 said...

anonymous whoever you may be. Why dont you right an article and we'll all judge you ya muppet. Well put goonerboy and i agree my personal opinion of the england team is that there full of personalities all trying to show who's the best nopt playin for the three lions. I know it's old hat but the boys of 66' knew how to play for your country and play as a team and they were on pennys compared to todays outrageous salaries! Thing is im still only young and still revert back to them players cos our current crop are hopeless. No pride, no passion no chance to win anything! Can't wait till this shitty international week is up so i can concentrate on proper football!

Ton said...

RvP was used to playing wing in a 4-3-3 in which he had license to score for Feyenoord, and he is being used the same way for Holland. I think he's just struggled to adapt to 4-4-2. Some Dutch strikers are like that; RvN is perfect for 4-3-3, but didn't do as well with a partner. We may see more 4-3-3 to get the best use of his talents.

I can see why McClaren is talking to Scholes. Joe Cole is the closest thing to a playmaker he has at the moment. Been missing that since Gazza and Macca.

scotch said...

"Systemic change is needed to the set-up. And we can't blame Sven any more."

Well, one could say that the reason we need systemic change is largely down to Sven's incompetence over the last few years. So we can continue to blame him first and foremost. McClaren isn't my favoutite, but he can't sort out overnight the deep seated problems Sven left for him. In fact, he probably can't period. England needs a bigger man than him. Unfortunately Big Phil wasn't interested! England got the man they deserve. But they'll still qualify.

gazzap said...

'deep seated problems' what are you on about? an england manager just picks players. no one forces maclaren to play the same players as sven did. he could choose to drop fat frank or fat wayne but he plays them with Stuart Drowning. you cant say these are deep seated problems made by sven. you sound like the Daily Mail.