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Good bye, good riddance

July 2nd, 2006 by · No Comments · Features, Football

It wasn’t the first time that we’ve cringed at the lack of quality and tactical naivet? of an England team but it was the first time that we’ve wished the other side to score during extra-time. Not just to avoid the inevitable sorry spectacle of England losing their nerve at a penalty shoot-out, but also to avoid this team progressing to the semi-finals of a World Cup.

The reasoning behind such blasphemy is that the only good thing that can come out of this debacle is a huge dose of reality. If England had somehow scrapped past a poor, and under strength Portgual, by far the worst team left in the competition, then there would be a danger of looking back at Eriksons England career as partly successful. In the same way that we look back at Booby Robsons 1990 campaign with that ‘could have won it but for a dodgy penalty, near miss, sending off, blah, a semi-final spot would have left the manager and the team with a level of respectability. But let’s look at the facts.

1. In the five years that Erikson has been in charge he has collected a total of ?24 million from the Football Association. That’s just his salary; he earns more from sponsorships, endorsements, appearances, etc.

2. Not content with being the highest paid international manager [by a mile] he continued to negotiate with clubs during his contact [Chelsea and Manchester United are the ones we know about]

3. He has lost in every major tournament at the quarter-final stage against a lesser team [on paper], Portugal in 2004 and 2006, and a much reduced team, Brazil in 2002. On each occasion the manager failed to make any tactical changes to halt the slide to defeat. His opposite number, Phil Scolari on all three occasions, changed losing positions to winning ones but making astute substitutions and formation changes.

4. His commitment to the job, and his focus, must be questioned following scandal after scandal [Ulrika, Faria Alam, Fake Sheikh, etc].

5. The current England squad, and arguably the 2004 version, are the best collection of players available to an England manager since 1970.

6. The FA themselves can take their share of the blamed for the current state of affairs. From sharing the sexual favours of staff to very public headhunting for replacement managers, who turn you down, to the laughable statement that Steve McClaren was first choice all the time.

The bottom line is that for the last five years England have had a mediocre manager, a morally corrupt governing body, and a group of players that don’t seem able to reproduce their weekly form into anything resembling their foreign Premiership colleagues. The sooner we accept that and sweep away this mess the better. Let’s hope the new manager can find a way to exploit, rather than squander, the talent available to them. Oh, it’s Steve McClaren……oh dear.

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