November 20, 2007

McLaren drops Robinson and Beckham for final Euro 2008 qualifying group match.: After riding the qualifying rollercoaster almost off the rails, and having their campaign pulled back on the tracks by an improbable 2-1 win by Israel over Russia, England manager Steve McLaren has opted for relatively junior players Scott Carson (Aston Villa keeper) and Shawn Wright-Philips (Chelsea winger) instead of stalwarts Paul Robinson and David Beckham. With England only needing a draw to qualify for next year's competition, is McLaren making another unnecessary gamble? (Last Friday's friendly with Austria that ended with Michael Owen injured, and only one viable striker left for tomorrow's match is considered another recent example.)

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 09:59 PM - 23 comments

btw, where can I catch this on US telly?

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:00 PM on November 20, 2007

Wright-Phillips seems like he's pretty much ready to give the national team a go anyways, isn't he? I only see the game listed on PPV, not ESPN2 or FSC, but hopefully you'll be able to find an accommodating public establishment. Where are you?

posted by chicobangs at 01:18 AM on November 21, 2007

Or you could watch Spain verses Northern Ireland instead...

posted by JJ at 07:37 AM on November 21, 2007

Croatia are 7-1 to win tonight. I've put a tenner on them, more to annoy my English colleagues than because I really think they will win.

posted by JJ at 07:39 AM on November 21, 2007

Sound bet there JJ. I wouldn't underestimate England's potential to feck it up royally.

posted by squealy at 07:48 AM on November 21, 2007

I think I'm gonna watch the Spain match on GOLTV instead. Thanks for the confirmation, chico. btw, I'm in the Bay Area.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:56 AM on November 21, 2007

And us poor non-paying US yobs can get the England v Croatia game via Guardian's live web text commentary. At least it'll be funny. I hope.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:57 AM on November 21, 2007

btw, I'm rooting for N. Ireland over Spain. Spain are already in. N. Ireland must win and hope that Sweden lose to Latvia. Any other result combination knocks out the N. Irish.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:02 PM on November 21, 2007

Ten minutes to kick-off and I believe it'll be live on Chinese free-to-air telly. It's 4 a.m. here, so I hope I haven't sat up for a heartbreak.

posted by Abiezer at 01:53 PM on November 21, 2007

How the hell does McLaren still have a job? I mean Sven was shite, so how is it remotely logical to keep his second in command in charge? Fucking idiots. I'm a Brit. Only time I get passionate about soccer is when England play. But McLaren needs to go. And after we've lost, hopefully he will.

posted by Drood at 02:06 PM on November 21, 2007

I mean Sven was shite But England qualified every time.

posted by owlhouse at 03:19 PM on November 21, 2007

Now all you England fans know what it feels like to be Welsh. Return of the home internationals tourney next summer?

posted by afx237vi at 04:49 PM on November 21, 2007

Congrats on you windfall JJ!

posted by trox at 04:50 PM on November 21, 2007

I understood the rationale of 7-1, given that Croatia were secure. But they went out wanting to beat England at Wembley as a matter of pride. As someone who suffered more than enjoyed SMac's tenure at Boro, there were hints of the two UEFA Cup miracles in the second half. But switching to 4-5-1 was classic SMac negative play, and it had predictable results. It's a good thing, I think. A Beckham-led salvation qualification would have papered over the obvious cracks (cracks? canyons, more like) in the setup that have been there for years. They wouldn't have been remotely competitive in Euro 2008 anyway. Better to have a long postmortem, and plan for World Cup qualification. Ideally, put a caretaker in charge for a year, until Guus Hiddink's contract comes up.

posted by etagloh at 05:58 PM on November 21, 2007

Where the hell were Gerrard and Lampard (well-taken penalty notwithstanding) in that match? I think whoever was doing post-match commentary that I heard as I was leaving the pub got it right -- "I have a hard time remembering so many players playing so poorly." Shouldn't have been surprising in the least, but after the equalizer, it just seemed inevitable that England would luck their way in again.

posted by holden at 06:12 PM on November 21, 2007

I avoided heartbreak by laughing like a crazy bastard instead. What a shambles.

posted by Abiezer at 06:35 PM on November 21, 2007

The triumph of expectation over reality seems to haunt England. Welcome to inter-generational disappointment. Some of us have memories of: Rotterdam 1993 Rome 1976 Wembley 1973 By contrast, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Germany always qualify. England have shown over the last 30 years that they are a second tier nation. Even after getting through, quarter finals are about as good as it is ever going to get. Someone should take a long, cold shower at the FA and ask the media to do the same. While, at the same time, thinking about how to use the money pouring into football through the Premier League on building some proper grass roots schemes and technical development programs. Dare I say have a look at the Australian sports funding model? Maybe the Olympics will trigger something, but I live with little hope. And great bet, JJ. Exploiting the distorted market on England's games should always pay off in the long term.

posted by owlhouse at 06:51 PM on November 21, 2007

What's the odds on McLaren getting the boot now? I'm guessing he may opt for a run at Birmingham, given the current circumstances.

posted by worldcup2002 at 07:19 PM on November 21, 2007

And tough luck, N. Ireland. I feel a lot more sorry for you than England, giving that the English were living on borrowed time and, oh yeah, they sucked.

posted by worldcup2002 at 07:21 PM on November 21, 2007

Maybe the Olympics will trigger something, but I live with little hope. Not when the separate associations means no national GB&NI team to play the national game in the London Games. Someone should take a long, cold shower at the FA and ask the media to do the same. The serious media -- as opposed to the love/hate redtops -- has long been making the point that England's just not good enough on the international level. Paul Doyle's Grauniad postmortem isn't saying anything new. The 'academies' are there. Player development is there. But the translation to the international stage fails, and the chauvinistic demands for An English Manager hamstring players for whom the international callup must seem like a return to the 1970s.

posted by etagloh at 10:47 PM on November 21, 2007

Maybe the Olympics will trigger something, but I live with little hope. Not when the separate associations means no national GB&NI team to play the national game in the London Games. I meant in the general sports funding sense, not specifically football. That is, maybe putting back playing fields and other public facilities that Thatcherism sold off, and giving kids opportunities to play a variety of sports and get good coaching. It always surprises me when I visit Britain how little access there is to good, free facilities, when compared with Australia. My children have experienced so much more in comparison to their English/Scottish cousins, especially the girls. I think the English academies have got it wrong. They are really apprenticeships for the professional clubs, not aimed at long term talent or skills development. The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) football program, for example, isn't affiliated with any clubs, and the participants have the opportunity to spend a few years learning the technical elements (and studying) without the pressure of trying to get a contract at the same time. I don't know the details of the French model, but it's producing a conveyor belt of wonderful talent - so perhaps the English should look at what is working elsewhere. And besides, Australia didn't lose to Croatia. We finished ahead of them in the same group in Germany. In fact, the Croatian squad at the last World Cup also included two Australian-born graduates of the AIS and a third who was born, and learned his football, in Melbourne.

posted by owlhouse at 11:38 PM on November 21, 2007

Looks as though your odds on McLaren getting the boot are a good 10:9 at lowest, worldcup2002, as the FA Board holds an emergency meeting in the morning to discuss his future. As an American, I give all ye Brits some advice on this day: Give thanks. (that McLaren's done.)

posted by boredom_08 at 12:45 AM on November 22, 2007

Ultimately, owlhouse, Aussies care more about their sport. They're more a nation of participants than Britain. And the AIS model has been cited for perhaps the last fifteen years as a model to follow, with half-baked results. I absolutely take your point on the academies, though, and it also makes me wonder whether the NCAA approach, diversified and without professional ties, is going to pay off big-time in the next decade, not least because I know that US college programs have been good at tapping up British coaches with scholarships. And the problem with London 2012 is London Facilities, just as rebuilding Wembley meant London Facilities. Any wider investment is likely to be sucked towards the capital as 2012 approaches. Those playing fields? Well, the cul-de-sacs built on them won't be knocked down; the yuppie health clubs built on them won't be turned to reccie centres. It often takes individual efforts like John Amaechi's work in Manchester to make a difference. The proponents of sports development are there, but I really think there's not the collective national will, because Aussies hate losing and the British (especially the English) sort of enjoy it.

posted by etagloh at 02:18 AM on November 22, 2007

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