England have run out of excuses

By now, Terry Venables and Steve McClaren have used every excuse under the sun (and some of them more than once) to justify England’s spectacular loss of form after the 2006 World Cup (never thought you’d read that, did you?).

The academies are flawed. Foreign imports are a problem. Friendlies are meaningless. The press is too harsh. The public doth expect too much. Superman wears his underwear over his pants. Ferguson thinks I’ll do good. We’ve always done things the hard way. Such qualifying stages always go to the last two games.

I’m tired of it, you’re tired of it, there are signs that the press is getting tired of it. Heck, even the Guardian people have stopped taking potshots at McClaren – there’s no novelty in it anymore.

England will go to Israel will almost all fans expecting a poor and headless-chicken-like performance.

I don’t get mad at England when we lose. Really, it’s not the loss that rankles, but the manner of it. Small(er) clubs in the Premiership talk about being able to hold their head high after they lose a close but tough game to a big(ger) club – it’s the same here with England.

Losing and winning is important, but only to a certain extent. Losing while looking clueless and not putting in 100%, that absolutely drives me bonkers.

If you can’t motivate players, better academies and Arsene buying more young English talent won’t help you. 4-day training camps won’t help you.

If the spirit in the England camp is really high, maybe it’s a problem of application?

We need more Gerrards and Rooneys out there. We need Terry to be Chelsea-Terry, not Sol Campbell-Terry. We need Owen back, or someone like Defoe to be given an extended run.

We need a settled left-winger, and I wouldn’t mind Downing or even Lennon playing there at all.

And…I hope I’m wrong but…we need more specialists. We need Beckham, Defoe, Lennon.

Not another re-run of Lampard-Gerrard playing in the same team. Please. Neither McClaren nor Venables have the tactical nous to accomodate the two in one team. Shunting Gerrard out to the right is not the answer – it actually deprives Lennon of a solid run in the team, and it keeps Beckham out of the squad (a player who would be very crucial in tight situations such as the one in Croatia or the one we’ll have in Israel).

Why can’t McClaren suck it up and play a team that can actually win?

Richards-Ferdinand-Terry-A Cole

Bench: Robinson-Woodgate-Lennon-Johnson-Lampard

If Joe Cole was fit I’d put him in there instead of Downing. If Owen was fit he’d make the starting 11 and Defoe would be on the bench. I’d pick Dyer, but he just misses out to Lennon.

Macca and Venables have finally run out of all excuses.

Actually, there’s still one left – they can blame Eriksson for their problems, or blame the FA for not allowing them to pick Beckham (who said excuses had to be true?).

We ‘should’ win in Israel and we ‘should’ go to Euro 2008. A scrappy win will do.

But is Macca willing to make it happen?

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