Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hunting season is officially 'open'

Yes, of course I’ll give McLaren a chance, and yes, of course I support my country.

Steve McLaren has been in the job for only a short while now, and after his name-making “I’m dropping Beckham” spiel last week – a rousing affair to stir the hearts and minds of every English man exiting the churches after praying we don’t have a Mini-Sven on our hands – he announces the starting line-up for his first international in charge. (By the way, don’t be surprised if Beckham comes back now that dust has settled on that bombshell.)

Whilst McLaren is enjoying the usual “honeymoon period” allocated to each new England manager before the press decide to go on a duck shoot, I thought I’d be different and get my shot in early.

The biggest thing for me is the role of Gerrard. Sven was accused of trying to fit square pegs into round holes – or putting players into a formation and not a formation based around the players - most notably Gerrard, Beckham and Lampard.

So in comes the new regime – and what do we find? Well blow me if its not the same problem with the same solution. Not having the balls or perhaps tactical mind to drop Gerrard or Lampard – and lets face it, "Barndoor" Lampard has been shocking for club and country for long enough now – he decides to keep them both and play Gerrard out of position on the right.

Surely dropping Lampard at this ‘friendly’ stage can only be beneficial. It’ll give Lampard a kick up the behind, and make players realise that there places aren’t ‘assured’.

Instead, we have Gerrard playing in a position which he "doesn’t mind" – but one to which he has commented on before, saying its not his preferred role. To add more fuel to the fire, its not as if we don’t have other options on the right. Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wrong Phillips are just two alternatives – both are in the squad.

As I said at the start, I support my country and after posting the above I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Lampard and Gerrard on the score sheet – and a large amount of ridicule to boot.

Such is the nature of the beast.

England team to face Greece: Paul Robinson; Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry (captain), Ashley Cole; Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves, Frank Lampard, Stewart Downing, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch.


Chris said...

I agree with your premise. Surely you've got to look at your best players, observe where and how they play and fit your team to match that as best you can?

At least we don't have three quality midfielders fighting for a place now that Beckham's gone. That should make things easier although I take your point about Lampard being off-form. Can't decide whether dropping him is the answer though!

And excuse me for being predictable, but Owen Hargreaves STILL?!? :-(

Kedge said...

The trouble is, as far as the press is concerned, and public opinion (sorry already mentioned the press), Hargreaves was the only player to come back from the world Cup with any honour. (Actually I suppose he stayed at home). On that basis I suppose Maclaren need to give him a run otherwise his honeymoon period will over quickly.
Sitting here typing, England have just gone 3-0 up. Lampard scoring the 2nd with a wicked deflection that left the keeper stranded, and the 3rd, scored by Crouch following Lampard's failure to make proper contact 6 yards out. This means that Lampard will get loads of glory, rave reviews, despite not really playing well.
That aside.......We're WINNING and thats the main thing. Perhaps I'll have a different view on things at the end of the game.

How soon before Walcott gets the call after scoring for the U21's? And anyone got a bet on when he'll make is premiership debut for Arsenal?

4th goal just gone in and the commentator utters the immortal words "Why couldn't England have played like this last month?" followed by a comment from Lawro "Perhaps Steve Maclaren should resign now!"

Chris said...

Well that wasn't at all bad as far as England performances and managerial debuts are concerned!

I'd quite forgotten the absence of Beckham in the first half, so we must have been playing pretty well! Strangely enough, I think one of our best players again was Owen Hargreaves. He looked like he had a sense of purpose for once, going in for some strong tackles and tidying things up at the back when necessary. Maybe he was trying to attract the attention of Sir Alex, I don't know...

Gerrard looked a bit remote on the right and would I'm sure appreciate the chance to play in the middle again where he's at his best. Rio Ferdinand gave me cause for concern once or twice, but in general the defence looked pretty good to me.

What is it with Jermaine Defoe, though? He never seems to quite come up with the goods in an England shirt and I'm struggling to understand why. Is it the system he's playing in?

Ah well, at least Crouchy seems to have defied all the odds by scoring a lot more often than most of us gave him credit for. Who'd have thunk it, eh?

Kedge said...

It's certainly a game of two halves. 1st half we looked unstopable, although I still can't agree with the press that Lampard is back to his best. I think he needs a couple of months off.
Hargreaves I agrre seemed to play well and maybe he is starting to show he's worth including. Gerrard, again blew hot and cold, and I concur with Chris, maybe he is better in a more central position. Downing seemed pretty good out on the left. What is it with Crouch. He looks totally useless, but he still manages to score (8 in 12 I think). A couple of time he looked as if he couldn't be bothered to make the effort and then blow me bags a brace. Defoe definately dissapointed for me. Quick he may be but somehow he just doesn't seem to have the touch he had at West Ham. It could be that it's too early in the season for him. I think the World Cup would have done him a lot of good, but Sven had other ideas (or rather no idea).

All that aside, rejoice I say rejoice. We won. It's a good start. Bring on the Euro qualifiers.

And Chris said:
"Strangely enough, I think one of our best players again was Owen Hargreaves. He looked like he had a sense of purpose for once, going in for some strong tackles and tidying things up at the back when necessary. Maybe he was trying to attract the attention of Sir Alex, I don't know..."

I think he already has Sir Alex's attention. It's now a question of whether his club are willing to let him go. Watch for a late bid from Chelski just to muddy the waters.

Smart said...

Some interesting points raise there.

I dont have much time to grace you with my presence, so i'll cut to the chase...

Owen Hargreaves - He won me over against Portugal. He was playing in, suprise suprise, his favoured position - not at right back or wherever else the Swede wanted him.

As for Defoe and England... well I remember when he played last year upfront with Rooney and the gulf in class between the two was astonishing.

I do feel, however, that whenever England play with Crouch upfront and a 'little un', the England players see Crouch first and more clearly (for obvious reasons) and so he becomes the focus of passing\crossing.

The other striker then finds the only way to pick up the ball is to drop deep, reducing the amount of shots they will get, but at least they get to see the ball.

That was the case under Sven - hopefully 'Malcolm' can sort that out.


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