Before the Israel game, Pini Zahavi, super-agent, predicted that the English media would set upon Steven McClaren like a pack of wolves if England failed to beat Israel.
He may just have been stating the obvious truth, but what he predicted has come to pass.
The Sun, that paragon of virtuous reporting, is leading the attack, isolating McClaren by showing him in a dispute with Wayne Rooney and Terry Venables (including the fantastic claim that Stevie “never got along” with Venables in the first place) and revealing McClaren’s contract details, which do not include the same type of payoff deal that Eriksson has.
How the Sun can rattle off details of what happens in the England dressing room after the game, or how they can reliably claim that Venables feels unwanted, is for you to decide.
The Guardian and BBC aren’t far behind either. Phil McNulty (BBC) calls McClaren a poor man’s Eriksson, unsurprisingly (given the goldfish memory of the media) forgetting how he had called Eriksson’s England low-key and lifeless.
Richard Williams (Guardian) chimes in with the obvious – that McClaren lacks tactical wit. But didn’t we know that 5 months ago?
If you read what I’ve written on Steve McClaren and his England tenure, you’ll know I’ve said much of the same – Stevo cant motivate his players, he can’t gel them together tactically and he isn’t picking the best team. We said the same about Eriksson, and it’s the same story here.
But as with Eriksson, it’s not just McClaren’s fault, is it? The players have to be held responsible as well – these are not 13-year old boys with no knowledge of football and tactics. England’s line-up had experienced players on the pitch against Israel (as they have had throughout Macca’s reign), and if they are not performing well, they have to shoulder the blame as well.
More on this later today. England play Andorra on Wednesday in Barcelona. Let’s hope we won’t be left wondering, like against Israel, if Peter Crouch might have scored a goal…