WAS IT ALL ERIKSSON'S FAULT?
Martin Samuel in The Times today saying that England's defeat was down to Eriksson and Eriksson alone. Why? Because he took off our best player and replaced him with our worst. Samuel thinks Eriksson's negative tactics, the same ones he employed against Argentina in the world cup two years ago, were responsible. He was lucky against Argentina, but he was found out by the French.
This is slightly
harsh in my view. I wouldn't have brought on Heskey, for sure. I would have tried another midfielder - Nicky Butt probably. But the replacement of Scholes by Hargreaves was an enforced change and one that worked really well - Hargreaves is so tenacious on the ball, so level-headed, so tigerish in possession, he's exactly the sort of player you want when you're holding onto a lead. The only other player who could have made a tackle as bad as Heskey's was Paul Scholes. Sven really must instruct his strikers not
to make challenges. Bringing on Vassell was an excellent decision and nearly brought immediate dividends.
The result was freakish. But the only team to win the European championship after losing the first game were Holland in 1988. They also lost 2-1, to Russia, the team they eventually met in the final.