Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sacred Cows

I wonder how often I'm going to say this about England - poor performance, but they got the result. Having said that, I still have a degree of sympathy for Ericsson at times. For some time he has been copping stick for not having a plan B. Today he made some positive substitutions, changed the shape and there was a definite improvement (although anything else would have been difficult). The instant he does so though, up pipes the woeful Tyldesley "nothing like changing your formation half way through a tournament".

Now, commentating's not an easy job, sometimes you'll say something that doesn't come out right and you look foolish and I'm not one to pick up on "Colemanballs" all the time. But just think about that comment for a moment. To Tyldesley, it is apparent that a team should adopt the same rigid formation for up to 7 games against opponents with completely different styles in completely different game situations. So apparent that it's worthy of sarcasm when the manager should, God forbid, change it. Of course you change your formation in a game when it's clearly not working and, although England have very rarely done this, there's no reason why a tactically astute coach shouldn't come up with different formations designed to counter specific opponents. As it happens, Ericsson probably isn't the tactically astute coach I'm talking about, but even so, he really is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't sometimes.

As for England, they still have problems to solve. Ashley Cole looks absolutely dreadful when he's called on to do any actual defending, which fortunately has been very rarely in the two games so far. Do you fancy him if England play Germany in the next round and Odonkor gets at him ? I don't. But the bigger problem is up front. Crouch and Owen just hasn't worked so far. They both need to play right up "on the shoulder" which leaves a big gap between midfield and forwards. Once Rooney came on, it wasn't just his ability, it was the fact that he could test the defenders round the back and drop off into the space as and when required. When Rooney comes back in, maybe in the first knockout game, will Ericsson be brave enough to leave Owen out ?

Have a look at a few other teams. Brazil played Ronaldo and he was awful. France have 3 or 4 in the team who are playing on their reputation. Spain, on the other hand, left Raul out. As a result, their two younger forwards tore the Ukraine apart, all with Raul champing on the bit to get in the action. I'd give Owen one more start in the dead (for England) Sweden game, but tell him straight, if you don't come up to scratch this time you're out. Owen thinks he has a right to play whatever. Show him he doesn't. There shouldn't be any sacred cows at this level.


  • At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    From the BBC website. He added: "I've been training well and scoring goals in training. I've never shirked responsibility and if I'm given chances then I'm sure I'll score goals. I've only had one chance in the last two games, and one rebound that was blocked, and I kicked myself because I didn't score it. But I'm still a decent finisher, I won't lose that. I'm feeling fine and feel like I'm playing well. If it means bringing me off and putting Wayne on, as it was against Trinidad, then that's the manager's decision. I wouldn't say I've played the best two games of my career but I'm quite content. I'm not that type of player like Wayne Rooney who is always involved even when we are playing bad. My job is to get on the end of crosses."

    How's that for clarity of purpose and self-awareness? He talks almost as much bóllocks as wor alan.

  • At 10:30 PM, Blogger Andy_Ward said…

    Speaking of She-Ra, apparently yesterday he said of someone "I like him because he plays the game with a smile on his face".

    Just like you did, right Al ?



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