Monday, June 26, 2006

Another date with Scolari

Well we rode our luck on occasions in the first half but we're through, and once again England have done the bare minimum amount of work required in order to get the job done. The BBC sum it up pretty well in truth, "England looked comfortable and clumsy in equal measure on a strange afternoon in Stuttgart."

It's boldly obvious to all football fans that we have gone just about as far as we can go in this tournament unless the standard is upped, Portugal will rip us to pieces if we continue with this type of disjointed and boring style of football. The first change that I would make would be to drop Michael Carrick again, why he was considered the be the right man to slot into the holding role on the strength of his showing against Belarus last month I will never know. Perhaps even being linked with a transfer to one of the top 3 clubs is enough to earn you a chance in the England squad these days.
Hargreaves acquitted himself well as the holding player against Sweden, so what is the point in moving him to right back in order to accommodate Carrick? Why didn't we just let Carragher continue in that position and leave Hargreaves where he was?

In truth the whole formation changing thing is really starting to annoy me. No matter how much you move the players around them, Lampard and Gerrard cannot play together and both perform to their maximum, they are just too similar. It's got to be time to stop trying to arrange the rest of the team around that central fulcrum and just deal with the problem itself. Drop one of them, bring Beckham into the middle to orchestrate the play, and give the boy Lennon his chance out on the right. I know it's difficult to bench one of the three or four truly World-class players that we have but we can't keep playing like this. We need to find a system that works for us and then fill it with the best players available, not choose a system which might not work, but accommodates all of the players that we have.

FIFA's statistics claim that Frank Lampard has had more shots on goal than any other player in Germany, and he has yet to find the net. Is it really feasible at this stage of the competition to keep him in the side just because he is getting into the right positions? He might be due a goal, but that's no guarantee that he is actually going to get one...

So Phil Scolari's Portugal are next on the list. At least they won't be at full strength when they take to the field against us. Red cards for Costinha and that little poison dwarf Deco mean that they will both have to sit out the Quarter Final, and if there is any justice FIFA should give Figo a retrospective red card as well in light of a blatant head butt. Couple that with an injured Ronaldo and with any luck Portugal will have to play with almost their second choice midfield. I'm not going to get too excited though, Scolari has put paid to England's chances in the last 2 major tournaments and you can bet your bottom dollar that he will have a plan B which actually works.

Interesting little statistic I found about Phil today. His various teams have won every single World Cup game that they have ever played in. 10 games, 10 victories. No wonder the FA wanted to sign him up so badly...

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