The 3 Lost Lions?
After a rather disappointing World Cup, England looked to move on from Sven-Goran Eriksson's reign as manager and appointed Steven McClaren. Before I start with all the strange and absurd decisions, let me point out that I'm not an England fan and I can choose not to write anything. But as a football fan, it's kinda disappointing to see that England might just be going in a round-about rather than moving forward. I'll also have to take off my red-tinted glasses off and look at this with a neutral perspective, from a football fan's view rather than a Liverpool fan.
1) Managerial Choice
I stumbled across a piece of news today that is the former England manager, Sven, will be paid up to £3.6million till June 2007. That would mean the English FA will have to continue paying him his regular salary, even though he isn't even in charge of England! You really have to wonder how on earth can a manager earn that sort of money, especially it's so much easier than club football's manager. More so for Sven, he regularly picks the same old 25 players, go for games and sit in the dug out with his legs folded and looking clueless. You have to wonder what warranted him that sort of salary.
Then he left, as England stepped up the search for a new manager before the World Cup. How long did the whole process took? 2 whole weeks if I'm not mistaken, and that is laughable. The attempt to try and lure Big Phil Scolari from the Portugese set up is embarassing and without a doubt, got turned down, as he led Portugal to triump over England months later. It was widely known that the way England 'interviewed' managers and to me, it's just plain wrong. If you want a manager, eye him, let him know, and get him. What a farce.
Then they found the candidate in Steven McClaren, who's Sven's assistant manager during his reign in England. He's also the manager of the mid table regulars, Middlesbrough. He's not a bad manager, but was never a really good one. Who would've forgotten about him getting thrown a season ticket after losing a match against Aston Villa. If you wanna look at his managerial style, just have a look at Middlesbrough. Not having a dig at the midlanders, but they are extremely inconsistent. They can beat ManYoo 3-1, Chelsea 3-0 and yet lose to teams like Aston Villa and Birmingham. It's laughable and although he did a great job by leading them to the UEFA Cup finals, he made a mistake by naming an unfit Mark Schwarzer as his team crashed to a 4-0 defeat by Sevilla.
Club managerial profile aside, if England really wants to move on from the Sven era, why did they appoint McClaren then? After all, he's part of the team and he might have just picked up a few traits from Sven from time to time and I personally don't call that 'moving on' from England, I call that plain lazy and maybe more to the fact that nobody wants the job (other than Fat Sam that is). As we all know, England's a nation were much hope are being placed upon the football team to succeed and for the past 40 years, they have failed time and again. The Italia 90 was the closest they went and although they've been named as a superpower in football terms, they'll never match that in terms of success and trophies. Will McClaren be the one to carry them from mediocrity to prosperity? I personally think not.
2) Captaincy Choice
"John has all the attributes an international captain needs: leadership, authority, courage, ability, tactical awareness and a total refusal to accept second-best. He has been an inspiration for Chelsea and is at his best in adversity." McClaren on John Terry
After reading those words, I thought I was reading about him describing Steven Gerrard. But no, he's talking about the Chelsea captain, who probably had a troubled past and wanting people to forget about it. Of course, as a football fan, I have to give credits to John Terry for being a wonderful defender, albeit a little lack of pace. He's always seen shouting and commanding his team from the back and is a passionate footballer. As a core member of Chelsea, he won't be too bad, isn't it?
But can Terry really be compared to Steven Gerrard, in terms of almost all the points given by McClaren? To me, maybe not. We do understand that fluctuation of performance are not rare as they change their club kits for the nation colours. Steven Gerrard was so awe-inspiring and magnificent for Liverpool in recent times and yet he looked a different player in the England shirt. But the point is, whether his performance had been affected by the manager's tactics, as to accomodate a certain Frank Lampard, he had to drop deeper into the defensive midfielder position, which is not the position which he could shine, but still does his jobs well.
Looking at John Terry, he did have a troubled past. He was charged with assault back in 2001 and was given a ban by the English FA and a temporal ban from the national team. He was made Chelsea captain by Claudio Ranieri and has grown from strength to strength.But if we compare both men in terms of captaining their club, I would have to say Steven Gerrard is a finer captain, and fits the bill perfectly. Is there another player more dynamic, more influential, more imposing than Gerrard? I personally think there is not much players in modern day football that is in that Gerrard mould anymore. He's a more natural talented footballer rather than the technical player you see in Frank Lampard. He's the player that is able to grip the game by the neck, pull a rabbit out of a hat and does the spectacular.
He's the player that sparked the most amazing comback in sports history (to me) and who could've forgotten the moment after he scored, he flailed his arms, encouraging his team mates and lifted the team up when everyone was down and out. When we had no right-back, he was there to switch from his midfield position and drop back, defending.
Then he was at hand for yet another comeback when Liverpool were trailing West Ham 2-1 in the FA Cup Finals. He smacked home the equaliser and his reaction was a 'bring it on' handsign and little did he knew that he was to become a hero once again, when we're 3-2 down in the 90th minute mark. He had no other choice but to give it a go and smashed an unstoppable shot and the rest as said, was history.
John Terry had his moments of course, twice lifting the Premiership title. But how inspiring he can become when he's playing as a defender, is yet to be seen. I for one thinks that a captain should be a midfielder, fully involve in the action, leading by example, sticking in for the team and of course score some goals. Right or wrong choice, time will tell.
Ir's only a friendly, I know. But maybe we should take a close look at the announced England squad.
Robinson (Tottenham), Kirkland (Liverpool), Foster (Man Utd); Bridge (Chelsea), Brown (Man Utd), Carragher (Liverpool), A Cole (Arsenal), Dawson (Tottenham), Ferdinand (Man Utd), G Neville (Man Utd), P Neville (Everton), Terry (capt, Chelsea), Young (Charlton); Downing (Middlesbrough), Gerrard (Liverpool), Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Jenas (Tottenham), Lampard (Chelsea), Lennon (Tottenham), Richardson (Man Utd), Wright-Phillips (Chelsea); Ashton (West Ham), Bent (Charlton), Crouch (Liverpool), Defoe (Tottenham).
Surprise! Nobody noticed? England idol cum ex-captain David Beckham was missing from the list! Yes, he might be a superstar rather than a world class player, but it's really mind-boggling. Is McClaren already surrendering to the media under pressure and drop the golden balls? Nobody knows.
You wondered why there are a few names with bold character. I tell you what, I don't bloody know how that few players still managed to get into the national team. Look, who's Forster? Ah, Ben Forster from ManYoo, on loan at Watford last season and had a great season. But is he worthy of England number 3? I have my doubts. He couldn't even break into the ManYoo squad.
Then you have Phillip Neville. I think his presence just means that McClaren needed a 'jack of all trades, master of none' player in the team. What position is Neville gonna play? Left-back? Right-back? Defensive midfielder? No bloody idea, dude.
Jermaine Jenas' inclusion. Oh dear how this decision beggars believe. Why on earth is he ALWAYS picked ahead of players like Scott Parker and Nigel Reo-Coker? They are much better footballers and are not prone to missing open goals to be honest. Sh*t decision, again.
Wright-Phillips? He'll be comfortable sitting in the dug out of Chelsea no doubt. Oh, maybe a handfull of reserve game experience helps too!