Saturday, 19 June 2010

The One That Will Write Off For The Job. . .


What a complete bloody shambles that was last night. My thoughts on the performance are divided between the players and the coach.

Firstly we know that having seen four successive managers try and fail, that Gerrard and Lampard cannot play together in a 4-4-2 system. They both need a holding midfielder alongside them to allow them to range forwards in support of the two front line players. Play them alongside each other and they both become neither fish nor fowl. We know from their performances at club level that they are in the elite group of offensive midfielders, so the problem is obviously not with them, but the system the play in.

Sticking Gerrard out on the left wing is not a solution. He is no winger and will habitually cut into the middle, when you’ve a right winger in the shape of Lennon or SWP, this gives the team a real lopsided feel and makes them all too predictable.

4-4-2 as a system now looks as outdated as the 5-3-2 system so favoured by the Germans in their 1990 win. It is too rigid. too easily neutralised and does not allow the creative players to create. All night last night we saw the Algerians string 5 across the lower half of the midfield, not challenging the English midfield for possession, but just starving the front two of any service. This leads to what we saw from the midfield last night; having no option but to shoot from 30 yards because there’s no space to move the ball forward, and what we saw especially from Rooney; having to drop back to in front of the defence in order to pick the ball up, and then having to shoot from 30 yards because he then had 5 hairy arsed Algerians bearing down on him.

When they line up like this,

I’m afraid this is the most likely outcome. It may work against Belarus and Kazakhstan, but against a very well drilled and organised side, like Algeria or like the USA, most of whom play their football in Europe’s top leagues, you’ll get found out.

When you think back to 1990, the senior players got together after the Ireland game, and again after the Egypt match, and said to Sir Bobby ‘Gaffer, this isn’t working’, they suggested a different shape and style, and Bobby, being the pragmatist he was, listened to his players, worked with them and we got to the semi-finals, and were damn unlucky not to reach a final we would probably have won.

Capello is far too wedded to the 4-4-2 system to change, and I suspect his mantle of ‘strict disciplinarian’ crosses the line into ruling by fear. I also suspect that if Gerrard, Terry or Lampard went to Don Fabio and suggested the same, they’d be shouted out of the office.

It’s a great shame, without doubt we have the best generation of English footballers in 40 years. We have three or four genuinely world class players, something we’ve not had since Moore, Banks, Charlton, Peters. However if they’re not used properly, they’ll not achieve anything.

I reckon if they lined up like this:

The space that Gerrard would have to link up with Rooney would make that pair much more effective, and with Rooney, Lennon and Joe Cole having carte-blanche to roam and rotate between themselves, they’d pull apart and confuse the hell out of a zonal marking system, with Gerrard and Lampard allowed to move forward onto the attack and make a general embuggarance of themselves.

But what do I know?

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