Home > England, Euro 2008, Preview, Soccer, Steve McLaren > England V Croatia Preview

England V Croatia Preview

Well, it’s make or break time. England have (again) left it with all to play for going into the final game.
Croatia go to Wembley knowing that qualification is secure. Their 2-0 defeat to Macedonia will have stung them into action though and the longer the game goes on at 0-0 the more likely Croatia might decide to try and knock out England, allowing Russia in should they beat Andorra, which they will.

...lads? Er.....lads?

(McLaren wanders lonely as a cloud…)

McLaren is not a popular man at the moment. Then again, on current form, should England qualify they might fancy their chances given some of the stronger teams’ qualification campaigns. Italy look strong but the likes of France, Holland, Portugal and Spain have all suffered blips in their respective campaigns. Spain and France lost to Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively. Portugal are still chasing qualification tomorrow night and Holland have been well beaten thus far by Romania and seem to grind out results against much weaker teams.

However, for England to look at this as positive news they need to do two things. (a) qualify and (b) get a new coach.
I appreciate that everyone is saying McLaren needs to go and that it is hardly shocking to suggest he should go however it is not based on results that I would see him sacked.

McLaren is recognised as a fantastic coach through the methods he employs on the training ground and you don’t get to no.2 at Old Trafford and no.1 for England without being good at what you do. The FA appointed the wrong man, yes, but that doesn’t mean McLaren has nothing going for him.
The problem with McLaren is he hasn’t made the big calls at the right times. The news that Scott Carson is possibly set to start tomorrow night is a joke. Not because of Carson, because Paul Robinson has been short of confidence for some time now. A decent Spurs defence (on paper) has looked like something from St. James’ Park due to the lack of confidence in the man behind them. Robinson has made a series of gaffes this season, far more than any top keeper should make in a season or two, or three.

His blunder against Croatia can be forgiven, but still shouldn’t have happened. Carson should have had his chance before now. Had Ben Foster been no.1 at Old Trafford this season he would have been wearing the England jersey before now. His injury has simply left McLaren not considering an alternative. Carson is a loanee. He plays at Aston Villa who aren’t a fashionable club. McLaren must have wondered what the reaction would have been had he put Carson in and seen him humiliated. Which betrays a lack of confidence. Which makes it baffling why he decided to bring back David James, a player he clearly has no intention of seeing as a viable no.2

Why not?

(Little bit unnecessary but why not says you…..)

Beckham. No, no way, not at all. Sorry, but this nonsense about Beckham being good at set-pieces and worth his place in the team is a joke. Beckham’s days in an England shirt are over. His initial decision to drop Beckham was the right one, but bringing him back destroyed everything he’d accomplished by standing up to the media and saying that Beckham was done. How do you bring back a player into the fold that you had previously got rid of? How does Beckham feel, knowing the media’s clamour brought his return quicker than anything he did with a ball in the past few seasons. He’s unfit. People say he’s playing in an inferior league. He’s not even playing in it. He’s been more or less permanently injured since arriving in LA unless there is an England game on. The quality of the league doesn’t apply when Beckham isn’t playing in it. Were he playing week-in, week-out with a pub team he would possibly deserve his place in the squad. The fact that Beckham is not playing is the most important thing. Should he start tomorrow, or go to Euro 2008, it will be a sorry day for the squad when a player bursting to play, giving it everything at the weekend to show he deserves a place, is left behind in favour of the nation’s icon.

People may read this and see it as an anti-Beckham vendetta. Not so. Beckham has done amazing things on the pitch. And been a terrific leader for England. But not in the last couple of years.

McLaren needs to make way for someone who will make a real team out of England. Someone who will come in with no sentiment and decide if Gareth Barry is playing better than Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard, Barry will play. Every single player in the squad should believe he can make the first eleven. Not the last one or two…..

  1. November 22, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    England need what we Scots now have, a shrewd manager who is PASSIONATE about his country. If I was an Englishman, I’d like to see Sam Allardyce in charge. But as I am not, I’ll just say “Bring Sven back!” lol

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