Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Sometimes I wish I'd been born Brazilian

Although my football career reached its zenith when my team won the Marauders FC under-8’s 7-a-side league in 1989, I feel that my comments on the England team’s diabolical performance in Zagreb tonight are at least as valid as the people that write for the papers. So here they are…

It’s not so much the result that annoys me. Every team loses every now and again, and I can’t remember the last time England lost a competitive match in normal time. And, let's be honest, at least if we lose a few qualifyers it means that we won't suffer losing in the major tournament concerned. We'll all be safe at home!

It’s the performance, again, which makes me wonder why I consistently waste hours of my life in smoky pubs watching the team play so very badly indeed.

I doubt there is a better-paid squad of players in international football. Rio’s on a hundred grand a week for God’s sake. Even SWP’s on £60,000, and he barely gets off the bench for club or country! Nor, I reckon, is there a better starting eleven on the planet. With a full strength team out I wouldn’t swap anyone in there for anyone else. Unless Downing was playing.

And yet we consistently under-perform. I don’t think it’s Mclaren’s fault. Of course he was the wrong choice for the job – I’d have liked Sam Allardyce if we couldn’t get Scolari, and although he got Boro to the UEFA Cup final, Second Choice Steve did nothing with them in the league and was far too close to the Sven debacle. Plus, I saw him scribbling in his note-pad after the second goal today. What were you writing exactly Steve? "Don't let the ball trickle under your feet and into the goal?" Tactical genius at work...

I don’t think it’s the formation that's to blame either. I heard Graham Taylor moan earlier that 3-5-2 meant that we were unfairly “Moving the goalposts” for the team. This from the same man who moaned so consistently in the summer about how much Sven needed to change from 4-4-2. Full time professionals should adapt to whatever formation they're playing in.

I think it’s the players’ fault, fairly and squarely. With the exception of Gary Neville, Hargreaves when he's fit, and maybe one or two others on occasion, the whole team looks as if it couldn’t care less. Even Gerrard, a lion for Liverpool, just doesn't look bothered for England. It looked like that in the Summer during the World Cup tragedy, and it still looks like that now. Rooney’s anonymous, Lampard the same, and frankly Downing and Parker aren’t good enough to be in the squad.

We were unlucky with the bobble tonight for the second goal, but we didn’t create a single chance in the entire second half. Where was the urgency? Where was the passion? These are some of the greatest players in the world. All they do EVERY DAY is play football, so why can’t they string three passes together for England?

I honestly don’t know. Which is why I’m not a professional football pundit…


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