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Sunday, December 11, 2005

"He’s the headstone of English football.”

Let's hope Sven can finally inject some tactical wizardry into the England side for the next World Cup, because he certainly won't be adding much fighting spirit.

With such a talented squad at his disposal, it's already difficult to figure out how much value he adds to the team. (TDH could have said the same thing about Big Phil in the last tournament.) One could argue that a chimpanzee with a markerboard could have qualified from England's group in UEFA; "4-4-2, 4-5-1, whatever, just go out and make some pretty triangles, now watch me play with myself...." You can tell why the players like him, too - he's about as fiery and aggressive as a blancmange.

But when the turnip-headed Swede makes comments like these, from before the draw, TDH really has to wonder whether he'll ever understand English football:
"...there is a wider aspect to Australia. There is a sporting rivalry between the two countries. What I saw during the summer when England won the cricket was amazing. If I had known all about the rivalry, I would never have played that friendly against them. It was far from a friendly game. They wanted to beat us, and they did."

Is it such a shocker that a team would want to win a friendly match? Do the words "England versus Argentina" mean anything to you, Sven old boy? Is it just now dawning on you that your decision to play completely different XI's in each half might not, as a rule, be echoed by the opposing coach?

Maybe Sven spent too much time in Italy, where the last couple of games in each season tend to be a little bit too friendly. But there's no such thing as a meaningless game for the English national side, and hopefully Sven will realize this before the next few "friendlies" take place.


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

I don't know, I think you're being harsh on Felipao there. don't forget that before the tournament started, everyone said that this was the weakest Brazil side in living memory. They only just got automatic qualification, and went through a couple of coaches in the qualifying stages. He got them playing like a team, and overcame their defensive weaknesses with canny positioning (two nominally defensive midfielders morphed into a very attacking lineup when Juniho Paulista came into the side). All this while coping with the loss of the captain just before the tournament. Don't forget, Little Ron wasn't the consistently brilliant player he is now back then.

6:03 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh. But the Brazilian defense was four years younger in the last Cup, and the tournament wasn't exactly known for the fearsomeness of the opposition, either. I think Argentina, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and England (as well as Brazil) all have better squads this time around. France might, too, depending on how the youngsters do.

I take it you agree on Sven and Italy?

7:39 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

Having read 'The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro', I'm afraid I have little choice...

I'm sure there is widespread corruption among most teams in Italy, but probably confined to lower divisions and the bottom of Serie A, where the penalty of relegation makes the punishment seem a worthwhile risk.

Sven's big problem is a (very Italian) lack of trust in flair players. when England go behind, you can bet the first substition will be one to stem the flow, like putting on Hargreaves, rather than one to change the match (Cole at the last world cup - risky but at least somethng new. This time, I think the positive sub could be Downing).

He's got the team operating in solid banks, but not got them moving in the intuitive way the South Americans, Dutch or Czechs do.

8:28 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

and of course, the most recent milan derby (last night) was fixed. Fixed, I tell you!

8:38 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

I agree on Downing for the left or try SWP on the right if that flank looks weaker. The problem in both cases, though, is that Sven almost always makes like-for-like substitutions. He needs to learn that in the 80th minute of a World Cup match, you have to make do with three defenders. (That said, John Terry is looking like a pretty good center forward these days....)

12:19 PM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

most definitely. He doesn't have a flexible mind for formations. Consider the way the special one completely changes the shape and approach of his team when necessary. Of course he has greater resources, but England could easily, for example, switch to Milan style formation (not that the last couple of weeks have been a great advert for it):

Robinson; Cole, Sol, JT, 'tache; Gerrard, Carrick Lampard; Rooney; Bent (Crouch/JD), Owen.

Voila. Wingless wonders. sometimes it might be tactically astute to play for a 30 minutes.

4:18 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

That formation is downright military - a sharp vanguard stabbing through the defense. But I think it could be genius for England, and here's why.

Rooney and Owen are two of the best two-touch shooters of long balls anywhere in the world - bring it down, pow. And Bent doesn't play like other big men; he's used to running onto through balls and powering his way past any remaining defenders.

So you'd want Bent playing in front of Lampard, with Rooney and Owen running diagonals to the corners of the 18-yard box. Fat Frank would be the main distributor. Gerrard and Carrick would hang back a bit, both somewhat offset from the center of the pitch, lobbing balls up to Mr. Naughty and Mr. Nice.

It could be deadly against a team that relies on speed in attack rather than a rock-solid defense, like... Brazil. Are you reading this, Sven?

6:12 PM  

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