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No European Championship-No Surprise

Well, the dust's settled.  The sacrificial lamb that is the England manager has been sacked and the recriminations and philosophy of self denial has cranked into gear.

Cue no resignations whatsoever from those responsible for his selection

Woefully inept tactically and indecisive were some of the nicer things said about Steve McClaren last week.  It's a surprise that he was first choice... although, he wasn't was he and we all know that.  So did the players, so did the fans who have lacked belief for a while, that feeling stoked up by the near hysteria which appears to surround our national team which has failed to win anything for forty one years... yes, that's forty one years.

So why the hysteria at yet another failure?

Great expectations? Golden generation? Are we serious when our Premier League contains more foreigners than Songat.

Let's look at our team.

In a 4-4-2 formation, most people, Mclaren included, would have selected

.....................................Robinson...........................................

NEVILLE........FERDINAND..............TERRY.......................COLE......

WRIGHT-PHILLIPS.......GERRARD.............BARRY...............COLE......

.....................ROONEY...............................OWEN.....................

McClaren then loses Rooney,Terry & Cole injured & Ferdinand suspended.  Heskey, who looked to have saved our bacon when paired with Michael Owen, was also promptly injured thereafter.

Terry & Cole played 90 mins just a few days after the Croatia game. 

OK, on the right flank we could have Beckham or Lennon, but young Wright-Phillips did well enough against Russia & Israel at home.

Then, some stuffed shirt marketing guru at the FA decides we'll play a meaningless friendly in Austria, McClaren selects Owen who promptly pulls a thigh muscle and that's our last world-class striker out.

McClaren is put under further pressure by the fact that England, for the first time in decades, do not have a world-class goalkeeper and the one we do have is having a nightmare season.  Up steps a European Championship debutant and the rest's history.

So what did Macca get wrong?

Playing Owen against Austria, although one can't blame him for arranging the game, which our players needed like a hole in the head.

Formation & tactics in Croatia, although you can't blame him for the underperforming players.

The low level performance against Maccedonia that saw Engalnd drop the two points that woud have made the Croatia game at Wembley a formality.

Did I mention Wembley? The national stadium.  Or given the cost of a stadium with a roof that doesn't close (hence the sodden pitch), is it more accurately described as a national, over-budget, embarassment?

Who decided to attract funding by playing grid iron football on it weeks before the most important international for years? Who decided the roof shouldn't fully close and why have one if it doesn't???

So back to the team we fielded.

Everyone knows that Lampard & Gerrard can't play together in a two-man midfield... everyone apart from Macca who, after getting lucky with the enforced pairing of Barry & Gerrard, squandered that luck by reverting to a different formation that heralded whoosh football, although, who complained when that same whoosh football with Owen & Heskey up-front destroyed Russia & Israel at
home??

Our Premiership ensured that England's second best left-back could hardly be described as battle-hardened by first team football as he, regretfully for all but Chelsea fans, occupies a squad position behind England's no. 1 left-back!!

Add a great prospect & athlete, yet inexperienced right-back, plus a brand new central defensive pairing ands the recipe for disaster was written.

The one striker we had at the start, Crouch and the two partners he finished up with are a 30/35m trio of reserves who didn't start any of last weekend's fixtures for their clubs and what does that tell us about the golden generation?

It's not a popular thing to say, but had Ferdinand, Cole & Terry started, we would have at least drawn, even given the other selection & tactical faux pas throughout the campaign.

The Future?

Pick a manager who the players will respect/fear - take your pick.

Let him instill his mentality and pick his best team - And stick to it - Not devalue the caps by cow-towing to Premiership managers and introducing five substitutes at half-time, throwing what should be a huge honour around like confetti at a Pikeys wedding.

Who'll want a job that will pay about 2mpa?

Surprisingly, not that many will want their private lives intruded into beyond belief. What was McClaren's first admision on gaining the job? A fling about ten to fifteen years previously - Can that be right and what did that have to do with anything?

Allardyce, Benitez, Mourihno? Who knows.  Fabio Capello will hardly bring a Wenger like quality to our play as the man who mastered 1-0 wins - Would we take that, as long as they were wins?

Still, there's always the World Cup qualifiers.... oh and the hope that has sustained us for the last forty one years of heightened expectation. 

The views expressed in this 'Soapbox' section are those of the author of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bristol City Supporters Trust

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