In today’s Telegraph, Henry Winter takes it upon himself to suggest a five-point strategy to “revive England”.
This is the second five-point strategy we’ve had from the press in the last four months. You’ll remember the last one, as I keep mentioning it:
- Drop Beckham
- Get rid of Sven and appoint an English manager who will, by dint of his nationality, “understand” “English” “virtues”
- Split up the central midfield pairing of Lampard and Gerrard
- Appoint a “traditional” “motivational” captain who will “inspire” the players
- “Passion” and “motivation” and “commitment”…
It didn’t work, so here’s Henry’s follow-up.
- Build the team around Rooney and Gerrard in a 4-4-1-1 system. (Ed.: precisely what Erickson did, if I recall, with Rooney and Owen in those front two positions. What to do when both are injured? The scenario’s hard to recover from, as we saw in 2006)
- Play 4-4-2 exclusively. (Ed.: you mean 4-4-1-1, of course)
- “Address the stuttering production line of talent”. (Ed.: Winter kind of hints that there are too many foreign players in the Premiership and that this somehow restricts our talented youngsters. I don’t understand that idea – and in any case, Simon Clifford seems to have the problem well under control, with two proteges already in the Under-21s.)
- Keep Peter Taylor in charge of the Under-21s. (Ed.: I agree wholeheartedly)
- McClaren must be less scripted and more natural in public. (Ed.: so that you chaps can maul him all the more, presumably)
So, a return to the Erickson strategy that was so criticised in July – reliance on Rooney, plus another midfield player to be sacrificed without a ready replacement. It’s not Lennon’s fault, but Beckham was a far superior player at his age. In my view, neither Lampard nor Gerrard have played well for England in recent months, and the cult of Gerrard mystifies me somewhat. However, I can’t see replacements anywhere at present that will actually improve things.
My own personal take has no chance of adoption. There are two friendlies coming up, against Holland and, putatively, Spain. (Both England and Spain will be looking to that one to restore confidence, so it could be well worth finding tickets). I’d use them simply to relax into some suicidally-attacking football. Forget about the result, and play 2-3-5, with the following team if fit:
Robinson: Terry (cap), Ferdinand: Gerrard, Hargreaves, Joe Cole: Richardson, Crouch, Owen, Rooney, Lennon. Subs: Ashton, Johnson, Walcott, Agbonlahor.
The tactics can be summed up with the word “Charge!” If we get whipped, at least, for once, we’ll have had fun doing it and we’ll know we’ve cast caution to the winds.
If it worked, i.e. if we actually won, I’d be a little bit horrified, but the main idea is simply to offload all the stress and pressure and “bullshit” that’s built up around England over the last year. It’s all a bit too much, and Rooney has my entire sympathy. Unlike him, however, I have no “respect” for England fans (respect? for what? for booing Crouch and Hargreaves?) and my own response to what he received would have been less Churchill and more Cantona.