March 25, 2007

Team Israel vs Collection of Individuals England

Now as nobody else has talked about it here, possibly because they have been either ramming their heads into a wall instead or they fell asleep during the second half and haven’t woken up yet, I’ll do a brief entry on the “game”, if you could call it that.

I was admittedly working, so I missed pretty much all of the first 25 minutes, and apparently missed nothing of note. My boss was complaining that all Carragher and Lennon were doing in possession is turning round and passing it back and inside five yards, and proceeded to let me stand there for a few minutes and see this was in fact the case. He reckons Carragher made at most three passes in a forward direction in the whole of the first half. Second half was similarly crap, and again consisted of England passing the ball around with no real intent before Lampard hit a long ball that Peter Crouch wouldn’t get to if he was on stilts, never mind Johnson or Rooney. With no creativity in midfield, McLaren responded by changing first his right back, then his centre forward, and we started to get very bored and checked if England were winning their other sporting contest of the evening. So yeah, a dreadful game that both teams deserved to lose.

Whilst watching England spray the ball aimless around the pitch and then seeing pointless non-game-changing substitutions, we were wondering if McLaren was watching the same game as us. Listening to his press conference, we knew he wasn’t. England might have had the better of the possession, but created next to nothing. The keeper was barely tested, Carragher’s header on the bar can hardly be constituted as a “near miss” as any lower and the keeper would have snapped it up, and quite frankly everything that came out of his mouth was rubbish.

So let’s see if I can do better…

  1. Carragher is not a full-back, nor is Gerrard a winger. Let’s not play them there.
  2. Phil Neville is not an international quality player – jack of all trades, master of none. But at this exact moment in time, are the alternatives good enough to replace him?
  3. Time and time again it’s been shown that you can’t play Lampard and Gerrard in the same team unless you play with two proper attacking central midfielders, and this means changing the team shape to either a 4-4-2 with no width or 3-5-2/4-5-1. Frankly, Lampard probably doesn’t deserve his place at the moment – certainly not ahead of Gerrard.
  4. If you’re playing Lennon, you want him running at people, not stopping, doing a few fancy turns and then passing the ball back to Carragher, who passes the ball back inside to whoever.
  5. England need a far better strategy than the long ball. It hasn’t been working with Crouch and it sure as hell won’t work with Johnson. If we were meant to play the long ball, God would have put grass up there.
  6. I learnt nothing about Johnson as an international striker from tonight, nor how well he links with Rooney. This I blame entirely on the midfield.
  7. McLaren is clueless.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. McLaren is clueless.


    25 Mar 2007, 23:01

  2. Tele Savalas

    Trouble is no one else wants the job of managing England. You have a bunch of mediocre prima-donnas who can’t be arsed and aren’t necessarily that good to begin with and when you don’t win every single game with those players you get loads of abuse. I’m not saying the dude isn’t a crap manager, but I don’t think he’s the only problem here, and unless you solve the dual problems of

    a) under-achieving mediocre prima-donnas
    b) fans with unrealistic expectations

    then no top flight manager is going to take the job.

    It’s a good job I don’t care whether England win in the football.

    26 Mar 2007, 21:18

  3. I think b is a more general problem with sport in this country, the way that the tabloids in particular love to build up people, especially those who aren’t quite good enough, and then cut them down at the first opportunity. England are not a great side – good but not great – and possibly not even top 10 in the world, and Israel are a far better side than most people appreciate. But given the options England should not be failing to beat them or Macedonia and losing tamely Croatia at all. If the manager can’t inspire the team, he’s either got the wrong team out or he’s doing something wrong, and as McLaren is being so stubborn with his team clearly he must be the one at fault.

    27 Mar 2007, 00:28

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