e-2004
Friday, June 25, 2004
  The penny has dropped
I think we're more or less in agreement now Philip.

I'm Scholes' harshest critic. I would have dropped him before now. If you look back, you'll see that I said he was highly overrated. He's a bit like David Platt - not really good enough either as a passer or certainly as a tackler to be considered a top-class midfielder, but justifying his place because of goals. When he's not scoring, well...

I agree in fact with almost everything you've said. Gerrard is not as good as Ballack at the moment. But he's young and impetuous and will, I hope, learn. Beckham has cut a somewhat pitiful figure. There's something wrong there, the Rebecca Loos nonsense has clearly had an impact on his game. (Plus there are nagging doubts about his ability to impose himself in major tournaments.)

Where I would differ is on the view that England's failures are somehow inherent in the English game. Partly because of the impact of high-quality foreigners in the Premiership, English football has improved out of sight in the past few years. None of the top English teams play kick and rush or anything remotely like it now. At their best, English teams - and the national side - can play an exhilarating high-speed passing game. There was no way that, in the seventies or eighties, or even the nineties, that you could seriously imagine England winning a tournament. It is now at least thinkable. The quality gap is nowhere near as vast as it once was, if it is there at all.

The problems last night were tactical, not, or not primarily, technical. No team can defend for 87 minutes and expect not to concede. Whilst I admire Eriksson and hope he stays (who would we replace him with?), he does seem to have a tendency to want England to play cattenaccio. This doesn't suit England, who are much better playing a high pressure attacking game.

The two-footed thing is something that bothers me, too. How can people who are paid to play football not play with both feet? What do they do all day?

Mark
 
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