e-2004
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
  Apportioning blame misses the point
As Mark says below, finding fault with Eriksson's substitutions to explain - from the Anglophile perspective - what went wrong in stoppage time during the England-France game is a little harsh (if not churlish).

Bringing on Hargreaves was the right thing to do (see about Eriksson on Rooney below), especially as the boy wonder Scholes does indeed need to start pulling his socks up: he was fairly quiet really.
Hargreaves is one of the few in the squad who seems able to really effectively aggressively keep possession as a way of protecting a lead.
And although Rooney vied with King as the revelation of the match from the English point of view, bringing him off was correct as well (it's just a shame it's the likes of Heskey on the bench as regards attacking options and not, say, a player of Alan Smith's calibre); Eriksson has since explained his concerns that he felt a riled Rooney was ready to blow, and that seems like a good call to me.

What really happened to England is that they met Zidane and - this is a terribly cliched thing to type - that couldn't be legislated for (appalling individual errors by certain players could be, admittedly).

One other thing of interest is that nearly everyone agrees in the English press that the panicky Silvestre should have been sent off for when he recklessly brought down Rooney.
But - to be fair, James should have walked near the end too, if we're being consistent.

And, yes, England were negative against France, as they were against Argentina two years ago, but it was largely effective.
That is the one point that Martin Samuel makes that seems to really stick for me, and it's a bit of a disturbing one, as it cuts to the heart of what many of Sven's critics say.
But for now, that really is on the back-burner.

Incidentally, Alan Hansen has apparently said he thinks England are the best team he's seen so far. I normally don't pay any attention to his views (all those years on MOTD when he wanted to discuss Liverpool's terrible defending and little else, Man United not winning anything with kids, and so on), but obviously I'm clinging to that right now!

scott.
 
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