A bold statement, maybe, but people forget that despite Eriksson’s failure to convert 3 quarter-final berths into something better, England under him were not prone to losing games like they did yesterday.
England, under Eriksson, would have stuck to a 4-4-2 or at worst, a 4-5-1 and played out a drab draw.
England, under Eriksson, would not have drawn against Macedonia and would probably have scored against Croatia as well. How? David Beckham, of course.
Yes, England under Eriksson were poor, and some of his decisions are laughable (such as not taking Defoe to Germany, or not using Walcott at the World Cup, or playing Gerrard and Lampard together in midfield). But he would never have allowed England to get into a position of such desperation as they were yesterday where McClaren had to ring 3 subs to switch his team back to a 4-4-2 in search of a win.
I said yesterday that a 3-5-2 was a smart move, but only if the same 11 was capable of switching to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 when needed. When you’re going for flexibility, you make sure that you keep your best 11 on the pitch.
Eriksson gave us stale football. Macca gives us more of the same, plus the odd surprise result (a big win, a bad loss).
Neither of them can solve the core problems England have – dealing with the pressure, picking the right captain, fixing the relationship between the back 5, playing Rooney into form, picking a solid midfield combination, getting the basics right….the list goes on, but it’s not Macca or Venables who can put things right.
Maybe the players can change on their own? We need Hargreaves, Gerrard, Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Rooney fighting fit for Euro 2008.
The Soccerlens England Lineup for Euro 2008
Foster (better command of his box than Robinson)
Wes Brown (the Nevilles will be too old), Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole
Aaron Lennon, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Joe Cole
Alternative (4-5-1 / 4-3-3)
Brown, Ferdinand, Terry, A. Cole
Lennon, Beckham, Hargreaves, Gerrard, Walcott
Rooney in a 4-5-1 can work as long as he has the wingers and midfielders pushing up to link with him. In a 4-3-3 he will be quite destructive.
Guardian’s excellent coverage
- A rash tactical gamble (Richard Williams)
- England’s problem was defending (David Pleat)
- Eriksson better than McClaren (Rob Smyth)