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Surprise – England’s problem was not just the previous manager



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It is fashionable to round up on Eriksson and blame him for all of England’s problems.

Steve McClaren used this card to full-tilt by dumping David Beckham and then going on a charm offensive where he emphasised himself as the anti-thesis of Eriksson – emotional, flexible, in control of his players, passionate about England.

Thing is, all that is bullshit if he can’t get England to play well.

McClaren talks a good game – he’s worked hard on his PR skills and during press conferences and interviews comes off as remarkably confident and polished. To add to that, Macca has learned from one of the best managers in the business – Alex Ferguson – and as such is ideally placed to become the next big manager in England.

But eventually, all managers will be judged by history on their results. 100 years down the line, no one will remember Mourinho as a pompous ass – they’ll know him as the manager who helped Chelsea win back-to-back Premiership titles. It’s arguable that while the money will still be a talking point, the results are all, and will be all, that matter.

McClaren, as a manager, has wasted two glorious opportunities to bag quality results, both of them against a tough but beatable Macedonia side.

Andorra and Greece – 9 goals in two games – were easy pickings – didn’t England romp to a 6-0 win over Jamaica right before the World Cup?

Away at Skopje Macedonia brought us back down to earth, and tonight at Old Trafford even Crouchie’s luck ran out and England ended up with just a point to show for their 90 minutes of toil.

People will blame Michael Carrick and Manchester United fans will rightly fear that the 14 mil signing could have been a waste. What these same people will fail to realise is that Frank Lampard played a major role in England’s inability to score – he was constantly dropping back to fetch the ball when he should have been pushing up forward at Macedonia’s defense.

Carrick is not the hard-tackling type – he intercepts passes, creates moves and is generally a ‘soft’ player (although he does put in crunching tackles once in a while). Macedonia read him well and ganged up on him, but without Lampard moving up front Carrick had no where to spray the ball except left and right, and move after move was sent back because England tried being too clever or were lacking that extra man in the box (Lampard).

Verdict? McClaren needs to weed out a couple of players before he can say that his team is truly different and capable of playing well. Right now, this is just England without Beckham, and the Beckham I remember would have forced at least one goal out of a free kick or a cross.

What price will England eventually play for dropping Beckham in place of Frank Lampard?

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.