Euro 2008 QualifierPaul Robinson, England’s number one goalkeeper, committed an unforgivable sin as England crashed to a not very surprising, 2-0 defeat to Croatia. This is the first defeat for England under Steve McClaren’s regime.
One would suspect that Croatian coach, Slaven Bilic has set a trap which McClaren himself fell for it. He dared England to play a 3-5-2 formation and Macca, caring more about his personal pride, duly sent out England with the 3-5-2 formation which caused more harm than remedy.
To be honest, England’s only bright spark in recent times have to be their defence which is well marshaled by John Terry. But tonight, the formation which required 3 central defenders proved to be the stumbling block and a very average English side were made to look like a third world nation playing.
Jamie Carragher, who was drafted in to play on the left of the back three, looked confused as to where he should position himself , but looked the more solid of the three. Rio Ferdinand’s confidence on the ball seemed to be his downfall as he tried to dwell on the ball and was nearly punished by the zealous Croats.
England lacked any sort of idea, coordination and teamwork, from start to end. Captain John Terry, whom has said he’ll be giving a rousing speech before the game, seemed to have failed to inspire anyone including himself. Frank Lampard, whom before the game spoke of his selfishness and self-centeredness, was largely ineffective or to be fair, anonymous.
His two holding players behind him looked all at sea and were unable to provide any form of ammunition for the front or protection to the back. Parker looked a little out of depth due to his inexperience while the way Carrick played must have Sir Alex worried with the obscene amount of money spent on him. The supposed ‘great passer of the ball’ struggled to even string short passes and I don’t need to go into the long ball part, do I?
The strike force of Crouch and Rooney were again starved off from any supply from the so called playmaker in Lampard who was seen eating pies rather than getting stucked in and work for the team. Rooney did have a chance when he was put through by Crouch, but his poor form continued as he blasted the ball over the bar. Crouch was marked out of the game.
Gary Neville and Ashley Cole, who were the two players who were thought to be providing the widths were more occupied trying to defend rather than putting in crosses.
After 84 caps, the older of the Neville brothers failed to put the ball in the net until tonight, but unfortunately, the wrong side. But who can blame him for passing a seemingly harmless backpass to Paul Robinson, who took a huge swipe at the ball, but the ball bounced past him, leaving him red faced. Is it any wonder that McClaren looked just as embarrassed as his ‘keeper. As a top level goalkeeper playing for your nation, it’s just unacceptable to make this sort of mistake and he must have felt David James breathing down his neck already.
It was a clueless, inept and laughable performance from England. Who would’ve thought they’ll provide us with such entertainment, although the England fans will definitely not be amused by that. The 3-5-2 formation that went terribly wrong 6 years ago came back to haunt England once again and Macca will surely now take this time to work on a set formation for England rather than tinkering with the formation.
The players looked like they’re never properly briefed on their roles and the pre-match preparation will surely come under scrutiny from the press. Did McClaren gave the England team appropriate and adequate preparation before the game? Because judging by the performance, it seemed like they were truly not ready.
The ‘golden generation’ and ‘world beater’ tags surely will now be taken away from this bunch for now. They’re clearly not up to it and Steve McClaren has a huge problem ahead of him. The disjointedness of the squad will surely be a cause of concern as well as getting the best out of these bunch of players whom earns mega bucks that everyone could only dream of. But players earning that sort of money putting up this sort of performance? Shameful.
For Croatia, their performance was commedable as they taught England a lesson in football. Their fans were brilliant for the night as they spurred them on. They deserved all three points with that sort of performance.