Lucky Col
Dance as though nobody's watching, love like it's never going to hurt

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Landing on your feet

I'm not a big Steve McLaren fan, but credit where credit's due, the last two England performances have been superb. Not just the results, which are EVERYTHING when qualifying for a major tournament, but also the general application of tactics & ability to make an average Israel side look poor and a decent Russian side look even poorer.

And this is despite the large number of injuries we're currently carrying. Frank Lampard, Owen Hargreaves, David Beckham & Wayne Rooney would all have played last night had they been fit, while Peter Crouch would have denied Emile Heskey his international renaissance but for suspension.

Or is it because of the large number of injuries we're currently carrying ?

It is now time for Steve McLaren to earn his more than substantial wages.

The England team last night was the first un-changed England side for 30 matches, and it showed. Gone were the individuality of Beckham & Rooney, lethal at times but absent for large parts of games, replaced by a commitment to work for the team, to pass to other parts of the ground than down the right flank, to tirelessly track back to cover the now significantly lower number of mis-placed passes. I've never had a problem with Emile Heskey, you know what you're going to get and Michael Owen can read his flick-ons like a book. When Peter Crouch came on to replace the Wigan centre-forward, the difference in how well the ball was held up was immeasurable. Micah Richards is a class act which should render Gary Neville's England career to the history books, while Gareth Barry's performances should be rewarded with a slot ahead of Owen 'why' Hargreaves.

Will Steve McLaren pick the same starting eleven against Estonia ? I doubt it, although I think he should.

If he doesn't, will he regret it ? Possibly.

If he doesn't get England through to EURO 2008 from this strong position, should he be asked to do one ? Definitely.


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