Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Saturday, June 02, 2007

England 1 Brazil 1: Much ado about nothing.

This famous thespian title describes perfectly, we feel, the on goings during this uneventful and mainly dull encounter between these two famous national teams.

It was after all a friendly game and this was the reason why the visitors played it like one. It was also an end of season encounter with the Brazilians next serious competition, the Copa America, another month away still.

England on the other hand had more at stake and took this game much more seriously. The European Championship qualifier away at Estonia on Wednesday predominantly on the coaches and players minds.

There was also “much ado about nothing” with regard to Beckham’s return to the fold which was hyped up as the return of a rejuvenated star who will lead England to qualification and beyond!

Well we are sorry but we just don’t see it. Yes his crossing is second to none and his capabilities from dead ball situations are well known. And it was his cross from a free kick that allowed Terry to head home.

But we all knew that his forte was this! He was after all displaying these skills in abundance for England prior to his axing by McClaren! The fact is that this is all that Beckham can do. He can’t go pass his man, he can’t tackle and is not very good at tracking back to defend.

His inclusion in the squad stinks of desperation by McClaren who we think is displaying signs of reaching the maximum of his capabilities as a coach (which are not of the type that will make your head dizzy if you happen to be afraid of heights).

“The press are on to me… Do I not like a repeat of the horror in Skopje…If we don’t get a result at lowly Estonia my head will go…Get Beckham in, at least this will quiet the press and the public….Estonia is no great shakes and if he delivers a winning cross or scores from a free kick then I gain some more time to think what to do next….”

If the inclusion of Lennon was not possible due to injury why not try Shaun Right Philips or even David Bentley who by all accounts excelled for the under 21s a few days before. Give youth a chance.

Beckham’s inclusion also stinks of press over hype who as always like to elevate players (and coaches) to the top layers of heaven and then bring them down to cruel earth. It sells papers after all. But it is shameful nevertheless.

Beckham’s contribution other than his crosses was to often abandon his position right of midfield and try and play a play makers role getting into Lampard’s way and jeopardizing the team’s balance in the process.

It also meant that England had no real width on the right.Just like Arsenal this season with its wide players coming more infield!(Arsene. Who to buy?) Beckham has of course realized that he can’t go past players any more that is why he drifts infield. It’s a shame that McClaren hasn’t!

Joe Cole’s inability to exploit the other wing meant that most of the play was compressed in the centre of midfield as both Lampard and Gerrard were reluctant to venture forward. The latter obviously following instructions to play an withdrawn, man to man, role on kaka; which he performed with excellence. But we ask you is this really Gerrard’s role in an England shirt?

England will surely beat Estonia and qualify from this weak group but its progress when the competition proper begins will continue to be hindered we feel by the choice of formation and the players within it.

The formation of course needs to be chosen taking into consideration the players capabilities. So since Roonie is indispensable then the formation up front has to be of the one one variety. That is Roonie playing off a striker, as he is at his most efficient at this position.

The midfield therefore needs to consist of four players and since balance is very important in a football team the right and left midfielders have to be natural wide men with pace to burn. Not Beckham or Lampard or Gerrard. Square pegs in round holes don’t go. And the national team’s performances have suffered greatly from this selection policy.

The center of midfield needs to have a holding defensive midfielder to give protection in front of the defence. Brazil had Gilberto Silva of Arsenal who excelled in that role, scoring an incorrectly disallowed goal in the process. Enter Hargreaves for England.

And this leaves a place for a creative midfielder who will play the play makers role, support the attack when needed and the defence when under pressure. A great all rounder. The box to box midfielder. Both Gerrard and Lampard can do it but not both together. Enter Gerrard.

This formation will leave out Beckham, Lampard and Carrick to form part of a very formidable bench. But hey the name of the game is to win isn’t it?