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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beckham inclusion inevitable, but is it right?

Hindsight is a funny thing to experience, funnier to comment on. Yet it seemed on the horizon in the days and performances post David Beckham's exclusion from Steve McClaren's England XI preference that Beckham would be recalled. I felt it was McClaren's intention to withdraw the captaincy from Beckham to give to either John Terry or Steven Gerrard, and he communicated this to Beckham prior to the WC QF against Portugal, if not sooner. I say it was before that game. Hence why Beckham was off-key during that game and subsequently was withdrawn due to illness and eventually vomiting on the pitch. Also hence the decision to step down rather than have the media report he had the captaincy taken from him, I always wondered why would he step down but still play for England? Why not continue as captain if you intend to play?

As Beckham's exclusion echoed on through English football, McClaren got on with selecting either the interim role of Gerrard or including Aaron Lennon on the right wing. At this time Joe Cole was on the left with Stewart Downing not impressing for England, and I felt Beckham's exclusion also paved the way for both Gerrard and Frank Lampard playing at the same time. It did in a sense but it didn't have both players in their preferred role. Nonetheless Lennon went on to produce his work rate down the wings which did not bore fruit as expected while Gerrard more or less floated in and out of his right wing role against the Israelis. The right side needed a Beckham-Lennon player, combination of pace and delivery and the eye for defence-splitting passing. Beckham has some pace and delivery and can pass the ball. So too can Lennon but his delivery is questionable, so in essence Beckham is the right person for the right side.

So in hindsight it seemed inevitable Beckham would be recalled because other than Lennon and the now-and-then choice of Gerrard on the right which should only be used in an emergency, there is no one else for the role. David Bentley has been appealing for a first XI start but is not good enough yet while Lennon is out injured anyway. Lampard and Gerrard will probably come in with Owen Hargreaves holding, and with this I would consider 3-5-2, as long as England have two strikers. OR consider my approach which would have one central defender doing an ad-hoc holding role in that 3-5-2, dropping back under attack beside Terry. Ferdinand and Matt Dawson are out, so potentially Phil Neville at right-back, Terry centre with Wayne Bridge on the left (subject to a fitness test, failing which it will probably be Nicky Shorey of Reading), Ledley King/Jamie Carragher in that ad-hoc role.

The 3-5-2 accommodates for Lampard and Gerrard and this time round with Gary Neville, Micah Richards, Ferdinand, Dawson and Ashley Cole unavailable, seems suitable to deploy. With Beckham back it has to be 3-5-2, leaving little to the 4-4-2 that most feel, including myself, England are better with. With Neville and co to return when fit, I wonder which formation McClaren will use. If he was brave enough to drop Beckham, he may well have to repeat such bravery with another household name.



Blogger T said...

Redsman, I like that hunch you have about McClaren pre-warning Beckham about his intentions and allowing him to vacate the captaincy with dignity by making it seem like it was his decision. Never thought about that myself- but it is a possibilty.

I advocated Beckham's departure from the team after the world cup. My reasons were that he did not contribute to a quick passing and possession game and aside from his set-pieces would be absent from games. Also, with Lennon coming thru it made sense in planning for 2008 that the younger player be given a chance to adapt to international football.

Yet things have changed. One, England have performed really badly so far and have had a big difficulty creating chances let alone scoring them. Second, it has been Gerrard - not Lennon - that has been given the go on the right with indifferent results. Third, Beckham look really good at the moment for Madrid- much better than he did this time last year. He looks really fit and is contributing lots of assists through his set-piece and crossing ability.

So you have to say that Beckham is at least a place in the squad let alone the first team. He also is a proud man and will play like he has a point to prove which undoubtedly can only help the England cause. I support, therefore, McClaren's decision to bring him back in and don't accept the argument that it is shows lack of courage by failing to stick with his original conviction.

Beckham has earned his place in the squad thru excellent play with Madrid and for me it would only be self-defeating stubborness if McClaren let his own pride stop him from selecting the Madrid player. I, for one, would be happy to see him make a triumphant comeback and get excellent supply in for Owen and Rooney like he has for Van Nistelrooy and Raul.

5/29/2007 9:41 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I applaud both decisions for the very same reasosn as T stated. But for me Beckham should not be looked on as the 'scapegoat' for McClaren, there were only a few names, probably accountable on one hand, who did themselves proud in Germany. Hargreaves is one who has developed to the point of a move to Man Utd virtually signed and sealed this week.

But with the options of Lennon and Bentley, our development is poor. Lennon is lacking in delivery and Bentley is not consistent enough but then again who is to say how he would come about were he selected. Players can be exceptional once given a high chance in their career. Beckham has impressed since forReal, as T said above, and perhaps McClaren's decison was the 'kick on the rear' needed to push him. If so, that kick should be repeated.


5/29/2007 10:53 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When England play 4-4-2 I think your idea of the central defender dropping down to hold is questionable. It sounds feasible but unlikely, England will never try it. With Rooney, Owen, Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, and J Cole, we look a much better team on paper. Beckham and Owen back is like back to the old days. When out defenders are all fit, we can go at the qualifiers and get those points back.

Good site, like the pics and Liverpool were unlucky not to win. English football is looking good from my POV.

5/29/2007 10:57 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

I don't understand why David has been selected. I can't imagine that this is a long term solution to England's problems.

5/30/2007 8:30 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand all the fuss. When Beckham was off form he was dropped and now he's on form he's reinstated. Players should always be picked according to form. What better criteria is there? The fuss should have been at full throttle during the world cup when say becks & Lamps were left in the side for more than the first 2 games when they were nowhere near their best. Anyway I don't much care how England perform while that typical FAs choice of doozy manager is at the helm. I'd use the next euro championship as a platform to bring on younger players and ensure they have some proper experience for the next world cup. I wouldn't panic over winning it. That's why managers continue to play the older 'safe pair of hands' players. Drives me mad.

Here's to a better choice of manager next time. Should have been aller 'no' dice. Shame.

6/01/2007 3:09 pm

Blogger SKG said...

i agree with the above comment by anon that mclaren is not the right man for the job. england have a squad of top class players but at the end of the day its up to the man in charge to make them gel and play good football. mclaren cannot do this.

i would like to see lampard dropped and a midfield of beckham, gerrard, hargreaves and cole. i really do think england are wasting the talent of gerrard.

6/02/2007 2:41 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Well, the game produced good reason for Beckham to be reinstated, for the very same reasons I stated: we have little else on the right. But my goodness, the media make so much of his return it's sickening. They showed more the footage of his cross for Terry's goal and his reaction afterwards than of anything else from the game. The media are certainly something else, like barking seals.

As for the current theme that Lampard should be dropped to accommodate Gerrard in the middle, the consensus is precisely that. I felt Lampard's contribution was very average at best, so far from the Chelsea player he is. The holding player is useful to help with both central midfielders on the pitch but that reduces the numbers elsewhere so we had both in a 4-4-2 which the Brazilians did little to exploit.

When Gerrard was missing from the Poland qualifier at Old Trafford, October 2005, Lampard was aided by Ledley King holding, did well and scored. When Gerrard played in Lampard's absence against Andorra, he had a better second half and scored twice (in fact the whole team had a better second half). It's up to McClaren but either one of them has to be dropped and it seems better for Lampard to make way, no bias. Gerrard looked so restricted against Brazil where he mostly contributed to breaking down attacks and passing out of danger.

And McClaren. Not Sam Allardyce, not Terry Venables, not Phil Scolari, not Stuart Pearce, so by process of elimination McClaren was assistant to Eriksson and the only contender. Who else was there for the job? Who else is there for the job? I sense McClaren likes to be part of the set-up rather than running it. Some will say that's his rapport but England needs someone detached from that kind of relation. Otherwise chopping and changing if necessary becomes more of a chore than a thorough decision.

On a whole, not bad. Though why did we defend to keep out Brazil for practically ninety minutes only to concede poorly is baffling. A simple aerial ball to defend, King in central defence should meet it but it went over him for Ribas Diego. Concentration from start to finish a must, and with Croatia, Israel and Russia winning yesterday, quite simply a win is all that matters. We cannot afford to allow an equaliser in the same manner, it would be catastrophic.


6/03/2007 12:18 am

Anonymous patriot said...

It's hard to say Beckham was good to come back as the Brazilians were not at full strength down the wings to give much. McClown doesnt know his arse from his elbow and the team chooses itself. If the Wembley police investigate any burglaries Lampard will be suspect cos no one knows of his whereabouts between 8 and 10pm. Shorey was alright on the left, Smithy tried but couldnt do anything and got no service, Owen was on scraps and King was not happening with Terry. Win on Wednesday night? It bloody well better be or forget it and get McClown out.

6/03/2007 11:34 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Yes, that was one thing I forgot, to commend Nicky Shorey for his role. I felt Carragher was engaged more than Shorey but when the Reading man was called in he did his job. Certainly a good choice for the interim so Steve McClaren should be credited for that.

The thing is with Gary Neville and Micah Richards out Carragher is primed for right back, leaving King alongside Terry. My choice for Estonia is:


P Neville

J Cole



6/03/2007 11:39 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not Crouch, put on Defoe FFS! he can score goals for us when we need it. Leave Gerrard alone in the middle, Beckham on the right Cole on the left and we can do the Estonians. Or better still use Dyer as the link man with Owen, Dyer can run fast and beat players feed Owen in the box. Frank Lumpy moaning about the fans when he's moaning he got booed on Wednesday. Did nothing so he gets nothing, simple as. Cant play for country can stay with his Portuguese mate for good.

6/03/2007 9:19 pm

Blogger Pat said...

Beckham has proved he still has it with Real Madrid and England despite many, including myself, doubting him.
However, if i was English or supported England, I would be disappointed that there was no viable replacement for an over 30 year old thats about to be put out to pasture in the MLS.

SWP surely deserves a chance. He may not play much at Chelsea and should definitely move clubs, but he still gets to train daily with some of the worlds best and has performed well when given the chance. I've never thought Lennon was amazing, he may be good enough for an ok EPL team, but World Class - certainly not.

Also, as a Rossoneri, I think England could play a similar style to Milan. either 4-4-2 or 4-5-1.

In 4-4-2 you could have say Owen Hargreaves as DM, Becks and Gerrard as central Midfielders that drift wide if needed and Lamps upfront. The fullbacks would provide the width.

In 4-5-1 the fullbacks would again provide the width, Hargreaves again as the DM, Carrick and Becks in central roles that sit deep and provide passes as well as cover the defence and Lamps and Gerrard sitting behind the striker. They certainly have the players to pull it off in my opinion, if they could adjust from the English style to a more continental style.

Also, does anyone else still worry about their keeping choices. They have to be so good in the outfield because they dont have a Cech or Buffon (not that many do) and I dont really think Ferdinand and Carragher compare to some of the other defensive partnerships because, despite both of them being good players, i dont feel they gel.

6/04/2007 12:35 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

That's been my point, Pat, we have little cover for the right side in Beckham's absence. OK at the time he was disappointing and I was behind the decision to drop him but such a decision needed a back-up which Lennon did not provide enough (though it is difficult to do if you are then positioned on the left side despite doing so for club for an interim). I dont agree SWP trains with some of the world's best but if he is in training regularly and therefore pushing for a starting place domestically, that is obviously good. Mourinho has begun to give him more starts and he has progressed well in that respect. Yet his distribution is equal to that of Lennon.

The 4-4-2 proposal sounds like a potential 2-3-2-1-2 with the full backs almost level with the DM, interchanging with Beckham and Gerrard on their way through in attack to feed the forwards plus Lampard. I think 4-4-2 is just right for England, using the AM and wingers with two strikers making their movements, wingers are backed up by the full backs.

Yet what if it is down to the players chosen more than the formation used? That's why I would go with my selection above. Ferdinand has yet to be thoroughly tested, the jury is still out on him. Carragher is good adequate cover, was so in the last moments against Brazil but I would start on Wednesday with Terry and King in the middle.

I am still to be impressed by Cech and know about Buffon, Cech for me has still to improve for country. Saying that, our keeper options have tightened up. Carson had a good season with Charlton, was their player of the season. Foster was Watford's POTS, David James may have been Portsmouth's POTS as he has earned his clean sheets record this season and has kept goal the best he has at this stage of his career. Robinson is on equal footing with those three and there is Robert Green too who was immense for West Ham.

The main impetus is upfront for England. Owen may have instincts and less pace, Alan Smith was ineffective while Dyer came on and had bursts of pace that should be utilised. Crouch will have to really get at the Estonians within time or face being taken off (injuries pending). I understand Anon (9.19PM) looking for Defoe instead alongside Owen, yet with Owen and Crouch there is the mix of height and good touch with instincts and vision. All in all, I think, regardless that Estonia have yet to gain a point so far, England have it now to really put on a performance to not only win but to satisfy the nation they mean business.


6/04/2007 9:16 am

Blogger Pat said...

I think Cech is top quality but i concede he wasn't fantastic this year but he got his skull fractured and i think it shook him a bit and rightly so.

Carson has potential but playing well for Charlton is a bit differnet than playing well for england and still needs development. Foster, James and Robinson all have had a handful of fairly significant clangers in the last year.

I dont understand at all why England has problems up front. I agree with you that they do its just that there is so much talent and yet it just doesn't come off.

However, at the moment I do think that defence is more important than offence at international level.

Plus with players like Lamps, Becks and Gerrard in the midfield you should hardly need a tonne of goals up front.

I think tactics are essential. I think Greeces win at EURO 2004 and Italys World Cup 2006 were both down to smart tactics that suited the players and a cohesive atmosphere in the team which comes from the coach. McClaren doesn't provide any of this as far as im concerned.

The lack of quality English managers is worse than any shortage of talent on the pitch. Unfortunately after the Eriksson debacle im sure there wont be a foriegn coach on the bench for a while

6/04/2007 12:21 pm

Blogger T said...

Good discussion Pat and Redsman.

Like the point Pat makes about our keeper situation. Must say that Robinson gets a lot of question marks in my household (especially my brother)- he is slow to get down to shots and watch him from set-pieces... he punches everything instead of taking authority of his box and catching the ball.

For me Carson and Foster are better bets for the long term. Particluarly impressed by Carson this year- he should leave Liverpool to further his development because he won't dislodge Reina for at least a season.

6/04/2007 8:35 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Carson is a dilemma, I dont want him to leave because he is a good keeper and he adds to the Englishmen count at Anfield playing for country too. But I'm sure he is eager for more first-team action and waiting for Reina to be dislodged is something else. Foster should also leave Utd on that account as Edwin van der Sar is unlikely to be replaced.


6/06/2007 10:56 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Good discussion guys. Beckham on his own...well..I would say he is on form, why not play for the team?

The question shouldn't be centred around beckham...but really...who have england got that can actually play well in all the different positions?

Terry, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Joe Cole to an extent are all super world class players..what England need is the same in all departments, but also players that are TEAM players, not just superstars...and I think that is where the Beckham question is coming from.

Shorey sounds like he did good, and I thought other lesser know players Nugent etc, should be given more of a change to shine...I'm confused as to why Andy Johnson for example is omitted vs. Crouch purely on playing for a "big" club perhaps?!?!

That is perhaps the hardest thing to do...and that's why a strong manager is needed...of which McClaren has not shown the complete package yet.
But I do sympathise with an England coach...critcism from all quarters....relentless...and egos everywhere.

I reckon there is a need to be ruthless...look at player on form...and take the plunge...stand up and be IS a TEAM game after all!

6/06/2007 4:04 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Looks like Beckham was involved in a few goals last night!!

Joe Cole, Crouch, Owen...well done! Now the team need to show this ruthlessness vs other teams in the same group...and not only against the 110 ranked Fifa team!

6/07/2007 1:59 am

Blogger Pat said...

i think vander sar was far from competent at the end of the season and if Chelsea had have been able to win a few more league games his form would have come under heavy scruitiny in my opinion. anyway foster should probably move but i cant see him doing it. 2 more seasons max for van der sar i reckon then foster the whole way.

Its kind of funny to see teams like England and france so relieved and joyful over 2 and 3 nil victories respectively against sides that they should win by that much anyway. Fatigue?

And whats your stance on UEFA's recent press release redsman? are you the worst fans in europe? i thought UEFA handled the whole thing really poorly!!!

6/07/2007 2:05 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I wonder if England were happy on Wednesday because they got a win to staisfy the fans. Nothing else would suffice, but were we top of the group, like Croatia, would the fans and the media be satisfied with a 0-1 win, like Croatia??

Pat, I speak on an unbias basis in general, be it football or otherwise. When you have people who have spent £1500-£2000 on genuine tickets, not forgeries, not from touts, but from genuine authorised agents, to attend a sports venue, the biggest in its category, to end up restricted outside the venue, refused entry because the numbers are full inside or the ticket purchased is believed to be forged, there is a major breakdown.

The allocation of the tickets was down to UEFA, the arrangements of facilities and checkpoints works in collaboration between UEFA and the Greek authorities. If both sides are allocated the same amount of tickets, that is fair enough. Yet when you see that less than half that allocation, for both sets of fans, is less than the number provided for friends and families, fans will feel disgruntled.

I understand AC returned 4,000 unsold tickets, which UEFA would not relocate to Liverpool but that, by and large, would not have solved even a quarter of the problem. It was mentioned Liverpool would have a following of 40,000 coming to the final and to me 23,000 of them would have to be disappointed. Because you come along to the venue does not mean you have an outright claim to be allowed in. There is no condoning WHATSOEVER (capitals just to emphasis) of fans assaulting any other fan, be they Milan or Liverpool fans, for tickets, that is barbaric and not the actions of a football supporter.

However, as I came across with the Glastonbury festival, intellience informed me the organisers used the picture of the purchaser toplace on the ticket itself to establish the person presenting it for entrance is the very same person on the ticket. If there are multiple purchases, I'm not sure of the option but maybe one person has their picture on all tickets OR the pictures of those who wish to use the tickets are on the tickets too.

There are a number of ways of establishing authentic tickets from forgeries, even a system where they are collected with proof of identity or other proofs to ensure genuine purchasers are getting their tickets. Had the Greek authorities even formed a cordon away from the stadium, perhaps at a radius of 100-150 ft, maybe more, to ensure no one gets within a whiff of the stadium once entry has been denied, that would have helped. When you hear that the facilities were inadequate, checkpoints were few and far between, staff seemed reluctant to scrutinise tickets after the 1500th time, it smacks of an inadequate facilitating mechanism leading to disgruntlement, anxiety and then frustration through to violent behaviour.

Who is to say those involved are genuine Liverpool supporters? Simple for one to don a shirt and take a trip to Greece to disrupt a major sporting occasion. UEFA choose the duration of four years ago, like a lawyer looking for a mitigating circumstance or judgement to help cover their poorly produced case. In consideration of European football over the last decaed or two, UEFA come up with circumstances of four years ago when the spotlight is placed on them by the British government. The conclusion of the report was poor, to the degree president Michel Platini had to backtrack for UEFA and retract the conclusion.

No, with thorough justification I would hold my hands up and say Liverpool have been tainted with mindless thugs who have caused our reputation to be called into question, particularly since we have ventured into Europe after a long absence and have carried our support peacefully and amicably since. But in the manner presented by this shambolic report UEFA were let down, and their spokesperson William Gailliard backed the report so he should step down. Some of his comments (which I included in my match report) were comical, particularly where he said there was no trouble from the Milan fans, which is clearly due to the fact that they were comfortably seated in the stadium while many Liverpool fans with good tickets were not!!!

And I have to wonder whether the 'ticket' bug is spreading as 15,000 seats at a 90,000 Wembley stadium capacity were left empty during the Championship play-off final recently between West Brom v Derby. I recall the Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney stating Wembley officials couldnt sell the tickets, wouldnt allow anyone else the tickets to sell even though the Football League said they could sell them. So 15,000 seats left empty that someone would have been very glad to have snapped up were they even given the opportunity. And you ask the £m question: why?? Why is this happening with the officials and authorities we have available to monitor and administrate. The argument is they cannot cater for everyone, whereas I say that's rubbish, they can but won't.

The arrangements for Athens were something short of a debacle and UEFA should simply own up and apologise, as belated as it would be.


6/08/2007 5:40 pm

Blogger Pat said...

I think the report was based on four years and not just this years CL final. But it seems strange to come out and attack a team like that. i think they were definitely trying to deflect attention from themselves.

I dont think this would have happened under Lennart Johansson. Michel Platini has made a poor start to his tenure.

6/08/2007 11:41 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I concur. You couldnt do that without thorough research and evidence, which there has to be little of in regard to Liverpool, notwithstanding the reported incidents involving Liverpool fans. Platini seems a favourite why he was elected but I'm unsure as to whether the man has favourism for factors that simply put European football into disarray.


6/08/2007 11:53 pm


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