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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Croatia v England: Lead-up

No Owen Hargreaves, Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Aaron Lennon, no 4-4-2, no chance of a win. That's the opinion of those whp believe they are in the know on radio, at least. Croatia have not lost a competitive match at home but this will make it their first. Potentially we will form in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 with Jamie Carragher in defence with Rio Ferdinand, back from a back spasm, and captain John Terry. I wonder if Carragher will go on the left. That leaves a five in midfield of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Scott Parker and Gary Neville, with Peter Crouch upfront with Wayne Rooney. Or the midfield is a straight four with Lampard playing behind Crouch and Rooney, and knowing how Rooney likes to drop back to collect, he could link well with Lampard and Lampard could make good late runs from a nearer point than midfield.

If we consider how we are under attack, the danger has been more likely one that could be dealt with by two defenders, and this could either stretch our 3 or they could find it very adaptable. But in plugging the midfield we must be looking at Croatia's attacks along the wings or how their central midfield like to carry the ball forward. But I'm hoping for Parker to harry within central mid and break down their possession and in the process feed Crouch and Rooney. Key could be giving Rooney the right ball into space for him to do the rest. So if 3-5-2:


Ferdinand Terry Carragher

Neville Carrick Lampard Parker A Cole

Crouch Rooney



Ferdinand Terry Carragher

Neville Parker Carrick A Cole


Crouch Rooney

I think we can win, and it will be either 0-2 or 1-2.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well we didn't win redsman, and the reason has nothing to do with any of the players. Here are the 3 reasons why england lost.

The wrong manager.

The wrong manager.

The wrong manager.

The fa should have tried someone who has consistantly proven he is capable of forging a team which is greater than the sum of its parts. Like Sam Allardice. Ultimately england are a mess because of the fa. the future looks bleak.

10/12/2006 11:34 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Unfortunately I didn't see the game at all...but maybe that was fortunate. I'll wait for your full analysis before making comments - certainly...your first paragraph said something for me Redsman...England rely on key players to up their game...and if some key players are's a bit difficult.

Good luck long will he stay?!? HA! Well...give him a few more games at least.

10/12/2006 12:31 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I disagree. The Sky Sports panel narrowed the defeat down to the formation, how 4-4-2 has always kept strong, certainly recently, and it has been a formidable formation in England's history. Not impregnable but it is the best for us. While 3-5-2 is not a nice cuppa for most, if not some, including myself, it still could have come off having been specifically implemented. Perhaps if Lampard did play behind Rooney and Crouch and we had a straight midfield four. Perhaps if our players had put in the same workrate, playability as they do for their respective clubs, then we would have shocked Croatia into a shell.

Now, I find it difficult to comprehend changing an already suitable formation that had helped us to six clean sheets, particularly away. Macedonia and Croatia are apart in world rankings but the atmosphere in Skopje and Zagreb seemed similiar enough to me. We were second best last night, hardly tested their keeper. I recall Rooney put through by Crouch's head-on as our only real chance. Croatia are known to attack rapidly, particularly through central midfield and on occasion down the flanks, which is why I felt McClaren employed five in midfield.

But I mean, come on, the players did not play well enough. For Bilic to remark that he wished for England not to use 4-4-2 and then get his wish, really summed up a poor night for us. Reading afterwards in the ITV teletext that Robinson was poor for miskicking the ball for the second goal!!! Richard Keys said players are meant to play the ball back away from the goal!! How often has Robinson launched kicks from back passes without fail??!? How can they look to blame anyone or anything other than that particular divot? It happened so perfectly, just the second before Robinson was about to make contact. It was sheer bad luck and we could have done nothing about it other than score, and we had nothing showing overall in achieving that.

Crouch is blamed, Lampard is blamed, McClaren is blamed, Robinson is blamed, Cole is blamed. I blame the change of formation. I think we needed four across the back, Neville and Cole are more accustomed to full back positions and coming forward, the midfield was too congested and hardly got forward. It seemed to me the players were not settled in the formation, contrary to McClaren's post-interview comments and apparently that of Lampard, therefore were not clear as to where they should be at given times.

Quite simply we need to get ourselves clear on our focus, get out there and win games, scoring goals and stop conceding them. Sounds simple in words but wearing a football kit with boots and training to a standard of fitness means they are equipped to do exactly that. Otherwise bring in some fresh blood from those prepared to spill it more. It's like owing a magnificent thoroughbred that constantly comes in 3rd or 4th.


10/12/2006 12:39 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

442 has kept strong???

Did you not see the world cup?

10/13/2006 12:06 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

"442 has kept strong???

Did you not see the world cup?"

Goodness, is that it?!? Someone always seems to make comments to attempt a contradiction of my views, and that is all you have to say? Great extensive debate. As already detailed, Anon, we have kept strong with 4-4-2 for six clean sheets, read the comment entirely!!! I also said it was not impregnable! The world cup? We had five games and conceded twice from open play, whereas Germany conceded twice up until the semi-finals!

And yet, as usual with someone who speaks with no aforethought, you have provided no alternative to 4-4-2 since you considered it to be flawed. You sound like one of those many opinions that fluctuate with that around them, praising a system when all goes well then criticising it when things go wrong. Hardly anyone quibbles with 4-4-2 yet you chose the world cup as an example of why it is not strong.


10/13/2006 6:21 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Redsman - I was remiss in not mentioning the formation, along with you pointing out key players were missing in the original post. You have added that key players did not play well, and certainly it seemed the case.

Robinson really couldn't see that bump'm not sure how he could be blamed entirely...and England were 1-0 down already by that point.

Now on does FEEL strange that we fell right into the trap Croatia set for us. 3 at the back was distinctly unhappy for the defense to cope with. I would have had a start with 4-5-1 instead...using wingers more...or WBs pushing up so that a 4-3-3 is achieved in attack...with a more solid defensive line. is not easy to play 3-5-2...and it takes a certain flexibility to do it (Australia at the WC did alright with it...although it did let them down when the opposition had strong wingers and faster opponents).

Havinf seen it all in hindsight...the greatest criticism must still lie with Maclaren - if he couldn't adapt and change the team to his liking as play went on...that is a sure sign of "Eriksson"ness if I ever saw it. A bit of creativity and adaptation to opposition tactics is needed on the international stage for sure and the England Manager may have missed the boat on this one.

10/13/2006 3:08 pm

Blogger SKG said...

i am inclined to agree with neil warnock's view that we are simply not good enough on the international stage to win a major tournament. the premiership is great becuase we have great international players who are technically better than the english. i agree that mclaren might not be a top top manager, but maybe we should recognise that the players are not that good either?

10/13/2006 4:48 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

We have good players, we can create and create well when we get going, but it is not substantial and repetitive enough. We have control of a game and sometimes let it go, as we started with Croatia, with Macedonia at OT. There is something within the squad, perhaps with some individuals. Something perhaps about recognising themselves now rather on reputation. As if the effort they put in is enough, instead of providing more since that what they are currently producing is still lacking. But certainly, in asking McClaren to leave, has to be premature. Bad judgement, bad decison (or lack of), perhaps, but he has to be given more of a chance.


10/13/2006 7:05 pm

Blogger T said...

Redsman, as ever you are impressive in your analysis and responses to points raised.

I don’t believe in the present England national team. The players are going through the motions and as I wrote after the Macedonia game the lack of flair and team cohesion is now a chronic problem.

Its time for a big change in the England line-up. 2006 has been a terrible year for the team and I believe they need to be freshened up/ shaken-up in a major way to halt their increasing stagnation. How about this for a line-up in March for the qualifier away in Israel:

Richards King Terry A Cole
Lennon Hargeaves Gerrard J Cole

Man City's Micah Richards has all the characteristics to be a major England player for many years to come- whilst Gary Neville still does not convince me after all these years.

Rio is good but I think Tottenham's captain, Ledley King, is a fantastic defender and I'd like to see him given a run.

Aaron Lennon is potentially England's saviour because he knows how to beat a player and his pace will scare any defence: for me a genuine world class winger in the making.
And in a battle between Peter Crouch and Andrew Johnson I know that I would select the Everton striker every time. Johnson has a highly impressive Premiership scoring record of 27 goals in 44 Premiership games and he has the all round game and character to suggest he can translate his penalty box cutting edge to the international arena. Keeping Crouch as the sub option will also limit the opportunity for his teammates to fall for the negative temptation of playing low-percentage long-balls to him.

P.S. The criticism received by Robinson in some sections of the media on Thursday was completely unreasonable!

10/14/2006 7:54 am


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