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Saturday, October 07, 2006

As inspiring as yesterday's porridge

Oh, England. Remember the World Cup qualifying campaign, where every game was an occasion? Hopes were high, the line-up was packed with stars who seemed like they could do anything, and the team just kept on finding ways to win. It looked as if England could right the wrongs of the past 40 years.

Well, the World Cup itself scratched the luster right off. What we learned was that England could only score through David Beckham. Now he's gone, and quite rightly given that he's got no chance of playing in 2010. But Stevie Mac seems to be all out of ideas. And as TDH said previously, the return of El Tel to the coaching bench signals more mediocrity to come.

TDH saw the match with commentary from Martin Tyler and David Platt. Tyler was ready to see a 9-0 drubbing; he called the Macedonians "brazen" when they had the nerve to attack - would you believe! And in Old Trafford! Platt was much more realistic. He knew Pandev was a real player, and the balding striker duly caused all manner of problems, especially for the aging 'Tache.

Platt also sussed three major areas where Mac's tack seemed to lack:
1. Lampard should have pushed forward more, leaving Carrick to distribute.
2. Neville should have been substituted, not Downing.
3. When Wright-Phillips came on, he should have swapped with Gerrard.

But he missed one big thing: without Becks on the pitch, the crosses and dead balls were absolutely horrific. Except for an occasional good ball in from Downing, the service was atrocious. And anyway, the Empire State Building was, as usual, crap in the air. That free header in the last minute especially should have been a goal. The only bright spot was Ledley, who covered almost everything for the lagging 'Tache and the often-strangely-out-of-position JT.

The overall verdict? England and their coach are devoid of inspiration. TDH proposes playing Gerrard in the center (after his unfair suspension) with Downing and SWP or Cole and Lennon (when they're healthy) on the wings and Carrick behind. Put Bent, Harewood or Defoe up front with Rooney.

Leave Lamps and Crouch on the bench to think about what bad boys they've been. Besides, Crouch is the perfect suprise to spring on a tired defense, as he showed against the Argies. Yes, remember that famous victory? Back then, it actually appeared that England were good.


Looks like a tough group for the Toon in the UEFA Cup. Don't worry, though - we'll make it out, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion in the quarterfinals. Oh yes.

And come on, ye Scots!


Anonymous Palms said...

No, no, no, no, no! Carrick is a failure in the English midfield. I'm mystified over the preference for him over Parker. His rangy passing may be pleasing to the eye, but i maintain that he is completely ineffectual at international level. he's certainly no Pirlo (gah! praising an Italian player...I have to go throw up now...)

Considering what a success the terrier-type hargreaves has been, surely the obvious replacement is Scotty. An unforgiving tackler with a great footballing brain. I was with you all the way until you kept Carricks name in your proposed starting line up and I'm afraid i have to emphatically disagree with you on this point.. I can't stress this enough: Carrick is not the sort of player we need in that midfield. trying to mould england into an Italy or Spain type team will never ever work. I'm actually kind of mystified why people continue to tout carricks's name above our fearless captain.

I think the UEFA group is negotiable, but we really did get stuffed with the draw. It really is like a Champions league group(albeit a not very good one). Expect our squad to be decimated by injury by the time january rolls around.

9:47 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Easy does it, Palms! I was just talking about the squad based on Stevie Mac's apparent preferences. Do you seriously think he's going to give Scottie P the start one of these days? I'd love for that to be true, but I can't see it happening. I think if he really rated SP so highly, he would have gone to Germany with Sven & Co.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Palms said...

I wasn't shouting, I swear! I wasn't surprised when Sven routinely ignored Parker, because I had no faith in his abilities as a manager. I guess I gave McClaren a bit more credit than he deserves.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous jonathan said...

The consensus among informed speakers on Radio Five tonight was that with Gerrard, Hargreaves and Cole unavailable for Wednesday night, Parker could very well be in line for a call-up- his blend of stern tackling and unfussy distribution, it was argued, could be just exactly what is needed to deal with the tricky interpassing sure to emanate from the Croatian midfield.

Of course round here we have been arguing Parker's case for what seems like years (well Palms has been doing enough arguing for the rest of us put together). Seems at long last the footballing community as a whole may be coming around to our way of thinking. Now, how about this equally-overdue dropping of the vastly overrated (although admittedly, mostly only by himself nowadays) Lampard?

12:21 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Personally, I think SP's problem originates with the roles he played at Charlton and Chelsea. He was still a central player at Charlton, but strayed more towards the front of the pitch. And then at Chelsea - when he played - he was practically a winger. Evidently these performances have stuck in Stevie Mac's mind, and no amount of cobweb-clearing will reveal to him the midfield dynamo that now powers the Toon engine.

I hope the Radio Five crowd have it right, for once. But if my theory is correct, expect to see - at best - SP subbing for Gerrard with Carrick still in the holding role. That's where old Claudio would have played him, right?

4:25 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

isn't downing a bit useless? I was excited by him when he first started, but he's predictable - has he ever really tortured a top defender like Damien Duff used to?

btw - anyone see Luca Toni's beautiful goal v ukraine? what a shot!

12:12 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

I actually had the feeling that Downing had lost a step. I used to think he was as tricky and speedy as the Chelsea wingers (you know who they are...), but now I'm not so sure. There were moments against Macedonia where I thought he'd get by someone, and he didn't. Maybe Downing always fakes the same way, and the Macedonian coach just watched a lot of tape - who knows. Of course, my initial impression could have been influenced by the way he tore us apart in one of his first matches for Boro.

4:17 PM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

the macedonia coach is the severely under-rated Srecko Katanec - this man is a genius (witness Slovenia's positive show in Euro 2000 and qualification for WC 2002). For Zahovic, read Pandev. looks like he's trying to do it again.

7:50 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Yes, there's a piece in the IHT today that includes some interesting bits on Katanec. You can read it here. I'd say he's got better raw materials with the Macedonians than he had with the Slovenians, too.

3:55 PM  

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