It's been a tremendous week so far, reading all the newspaper going 'Honeymoon period over for McClaren' etc. So there's actually a 'honeymoon period' for managers, eh? I didn't know, I thought they're supposed to do their best from game 1 till the day they get sacked or leave on their own consent.
Okay anyway that's not the point here today. England will soon face their toughest test so far under the new Steve McClaren regime. After a very disappointing 0-0 draw with Macedonia over in the 'Theatre of Dreams', Steve must have felt a little pressure from the fans and press already.
It was an inept performance from a group of 'world beaters' as proclaimed by Mr. Sven, who till this day, still get slated for getting England nowhere further than the quater finals every 2 years. To be really honest with you, he actually 'over-achieved' with this bunch, whom everyone thought to be a 'golden generation'. But it's for everyone to see, that they're nowhere near the pinacle of 1966 (40 bloody years ago).
With the latest news regarding Ledley King's injury that forces him out of the game, England will no doubt, have to start working on a tactic which fits the squad and at the same time, get the result. So now, I shall give a little suggestion of mine that is England should start the game against Croatia with a 4-5-1 tactics.
- England has a settled back four. Don't dismentle them in anyway.
- Most English players played in the formation before. Lampard did it @ Chelsea etc.
- They have Crouch and Bent who both are capable of playing the lone striker role.
- 5 midfielder will keep the central area tight. In away games, possesion is key.
Goalkeeper: Paul Robinson. No reason for dropping him. He kept 7 clean sheets so far and have done...reasonably well actually. Nothing more, nothing less.
Defenders: G Neviller, Rio, Terry & Cashley. These 4 defenders have played with each other for long enough and the understanding is there. So playing a 3-5-2 will definitely jeopardise the already weak 'communication link' beween the England players.
Central Midfielders: Fat Frank, Michael Carrick, Scott Parker. Firstly, Lampard is undroppable and would you rather Lampard or Jenas? Yes, so I'll still keep him anyway if there's a need to deflect a shot in.
So the important thing is with a 4-5-1, you have 3 central midfield spot up for grabs. Currently, managers prefer Carrick, who is deffo not a defensive midfielder everyone is talking about. He's a deep lying ball playing midfielder who sprays passes, links up defence and midfield and also dictates the tempo of the game. BUT the down side of him is he needs a 'rubbish collector' alongside him to actually make him effective of any sort. Don't believe? Look at Alonso & Sissoko. One's a cultured passer of the ball who can't really tackle, the other's a 'destroy who runs and tackles'. Pirlo and Gattuso @ AC Milan is of the same partnership.
So without Hargreaves' all-action presence, Scott Parker would be the ideal man to partner Carrick. He'll do all the tackling and cleaning up, helping Carrick and giving Lampard the license to get forward. Parker will be needed with his guile and aggresiveness especially in this sort of games and let's take away the 'he's inexperienced' cliche because everyone started as one before, isn't it?
Wingers: SW Phillips & Kieran Richardson. Phillips was one of the few shining lights in the game against Macedona, so he deserves his spot in the first eleven with Gerrard being absent.
Now Richardson will be controversial to some, but I think he SHOULD be better than Downing, who looked out of depth and definitely not England class. At least Richardson has got the pace and ability to beat a man (no pun intended) and also his defensive aspect of the game will be better compared to Downing.
And Wayne Rooney MIGHT be able to suit in that role at left-wing. But he's really off form at the moment, so I won't risk him.
Lone Man: Peter Crouchinho. Who else but the big man with a good touch. His holding up of ball can bring Lampard and others into the game. He's the plan A and plan B for England isn't it. If things aren't going well, just hoof it up for the big man.
Some will argue that I might be having a game of Football Manager too much, but I think this tactic is the best England can get at the moment. Wayne Rooney's exclusion might make some of you feel that I'm kidding, but if Macca continues to play him and he continues to let people down, the pressure will be so huge that he won't be able to handle, even more so now when he seemed to be struggling already at the age of 20. I still think bringing him on for the last 15-20 minutes will be most suitable for him because he might be a good player, but he's still only 20.
Croatia will be a tough game altogether and England shouldn't expect an easy game, with the partisan crowd cheering on the home team, who haven't lost there for 30 games. So a 4-5-1 formation will be able to slow down the game a little, congest the midfield area and try to get hold of as much possesion as possible.
A draw will be good for England I think. Talking about winning with this players is a little far fetched at the moment and from what we've all seen. But this is football and it's unpredictable after all. Who knows Lampard might just hit a hat trick or some sort. We'll have to wait and see.