This will be brief, as I’m struggling to wake my interest in an England team sans Beckham, sans Owen, sans Rooney. (Sans Ashton, too, most regrettably).
A few more details of changes within the camp are beginning to sneak their way out. Apparently players are now allowed minibars in their hotel rooms: captain John Terry is quoted, whether accurately we’ll never know, praising this move as a sign that the management regards the players as adults. Likewise, players now have permission to wear tracksuits when travelling rather than England suits… more comfortable, apparently. Good to see traditionalist, old-school, passion-driven, patriotic Terry keeping team discipline at the forefront of his thoughts, isn’t it? How long before the players ask to travel with their wives and sweethearts (may they never meet)?
Erickson would have felt confident about Macedonia: McClaren is warning of the challenge they represent, something his predecessor might have saved for the likes of Brazil, France and Italy. I’m not yet reminded of Bobby Robson’s excessive respect for Denmark in 1984, following which we lost and failed to qualify (what! failed to qualify under passionate English coach Uncle Bobby? Yes – and it was his first tournament, too). Frankly, whatever McClaren says, this group of players is accustomed to winning in these situations, for all that they win ugly and with a host of scares along the way.
I’ll be out, thank heavens, and I’ll miss the game. Macedonia 1 England 2.