Thursday, November 22, 2007

Everyone barring FA blamed for England's failure...

Few will be surprised that Steve McClaren has been sacked following England's failure to get a result against Croatia at Wembley last night. The manager and his assistant Venables had their contracts terminated today because England failed to reach next summer's Euro 2008 finals. It is all so tragically predictable.

In time honoured fashion the blame game has started in earnest as the hapless FA announce that they will launch a 'root and branch' review as they go in search for the reasons behind the England team failing so badly. In reality, many football fans will believe this will turn out to be nothing more than talk as the FA launch yet another damage limitation exercise in a bid to look like they are actually doing something.

At today's press conference questions were asked about the position of FA chief executive. Remember that Brian Barwick is the man who made a complete hash of trying to appoint Philippe Scolari prior to Steve McClaren being offered the job.

At the time Scolari was still the Portugal manager and the World Cup was just around the corner, the Brazilian claimed that Barwick wanted him to agree to becoming the new England coach which put him in an impossible position. The British press got wind of the story and their intrusion and resulting publicity killed any chance of a deal.

In response to questions about his own future, Brian Barwick allowed FA board member Premier League chief Dave Richards to speak on his behalf who insisted that the McClaren appointment had been a board decision...(so perhaps they all need sacking too?).

The FA and Barwick have also been blamed for the poor state of the Wembley turf, which had clearly not recovered from the recent NFL game. Both the England and Croatia camps had complained about the surface prior to the game. Of the state of the Wembley turf one commentator said 'we will never see an NFL game at Wembley again'...(it isn't all bad news then?).

No doubting some will also blame the Russian millionaire who promised the best four Croatia players a Mercedes each if they got the right result.

So no stone will be left unturned in the search for answers to England's problems, at least that is what we the fans are being told.

Going into the Croatia game, the coach was without his big star names like Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. The press had as per usual picked the team by telling McClaren who to select and like a lamb to the slaughter he followed their lead by dropping Paul Robinson and David Beckham in preference to Scott Carson and Shaun-Wright-Phillips.

The former England manager might will look back on those decisions and wonder if he'd done things differently then would he still be the manager, because on just eight minutes Carson made what can only be described as a schoolboy error when taking his eye off the ball in doing so allowing Nico Kranjcar's tame shot to slip beyond him into the corner on the net. Catastrophe number one.

As if that wasn't bad enough on 14 minutes a Croatia counter-attack carved open the England defence and Phillips was guilty of doing a Tony Adams impersonation when standing still holding his arm aloft appealing for offside, worse still he allowed Ivica Olic to run free to make it two-nil.

Phillips later missed England's best chance of the first-half before being replaced by Beckham at half-time. The Chelsea winger had not played badly, but at key moments he'd let himself and his country down as had Carson.

No doubting some will argue that the keeper atoned for the error which led to the opening goal by making a string of fine saves, which he did, but that double salvo really left England shell-shocked for virtually all of the opening period. That isn't an excuse, but a statement of fact on what happened and not what should have happened regarding those in possession of the England shirts.

England looked like they were going to turn the game around after Lampard converted a second half penalty and then Beckham's superb cross was finished in style by England's outstanding player on the night Peter 'the coat-hanger' Crouch to make it 2-2.

Alas it wasn't to be as Petric scored with a thunderbolt on 77 minutes, in doing so bringing down the curtain on McClaren and sorry England.

Few will be optimistic about this root and branch review given Barwick's track record, but it is to be hoped that if there is anything good to come out of failure of not qualifying for Euro 2008, it is that hopefully future generations of England players can play the kind of possession football displayed by the Croatian's at Wembley on what turned out to be a very dark day for the English game.

For that to happen it is going to take a lot more than sacking successive England managers. Premier League clubs will need to ensure that they have a core of English players within their squads and for that to happen the recently much talked about quota system may well have to be looked at again.


  1. On the night, McClaren made 5 mistakes. In no particular order...

    1. Inexperienced keeper.
    2. Not starting with Beckham.
    3. Lampard with Gerrard.
    4. Crouch as sole striker.
    5. Five-man man midfield.

    That said, we'd better get used to England being rubbish. Nothing's going to change until we have a quota system for non-English players in the Premiership. It won't matter who the manger is. If that's against EU rules, change the bl**dy rules.

  2. Glad to see you, like us, see bigger problems than simply changing the manager. Disagree with the quota though. All that will do is create artificial protection for average English players rather than developing good players that can hold their own in the first place.

    Please have a look at our blog and see if any of it touches a nerve with yourself. If so sign our guest book. We're looking to build a groundswell of supporters to stop the incompetent FA aqnd the coporate animals ruining our game.

  3. What people need to understand is that a quota system can be implemented so that you can still have foreign stars in the Premier League. Take the example of Scottish football which has now insisted on a minimum of three Scottish players in each match-day squad. If clubs are forced to increase the numbers of English players then they will have no option but to concentrate on improving quality.


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