Monday, September 03, 2007

Emile Heskey for England (v Malta), 3 June 2000

So, after 39 months in the international wilderness, England's struggling Euro 2008 campaign took an increasingly desperate left turn yesterday when all-round hapless lunatic Emile Heskey (left) was recalled to the England squad.

Coupled with an injury list that reads like a "who's who" of international underperformance and disappointment, England head into a crucial set of matches with their most halfwitted coach since the Turnip and a side that most second rate international nations should see off with no bother.

How has this happened? Coach wise (as I have always said), Eriksson was competent. I think the revisionist view on Sven will end up being pretty favourable, considering the sows ears he had to work with to make his silk purse. Was his choice of Vassell, Heskey or Defoe any worse than the current options? I'm not sure. McLaren, however, appears to believe that grinning inanely and treating his international players like schoolkids (Carragher, Bentley, Beckham, even) is the way forward.

And then there's the players. Despite England having one or two international standard players (Rooney? Gerrard?) this is probably the worst set of English top flight players since the early 1990s. Despite the Premiership being the richest (and supposedly best) league in the world, the dearth of English talent is immense. 9% of the Premiership's goals this season have been scored by English strikers, and, with the greatest of respect, I can't see Cameron Jerome (2), Michael Chopra (2), Matt Derbyshire or Victor Anichebe (who has chosen to represent Nigeria anyway) troubling major international defences (Heskey and Darren Bent are the others).

When an injury to Kieron Dyer is portrayed as a huge blow to England's chances, you know something serious is up. And you know what? Something serious is up. England are in real trouble that even a fully fit first choice XI would struggle to remedy. And this weekend's second choice and second rate selection leave me with no confidence at all.


Anonymous said...

Here's a thought/question: Why is it that whilst I find myself agreeing with everything that is written here, I know that come come kick-off time I'll still be telling myself 'Sure, it's probably not a team that would rival Brazil circa 1970, but they might just produce a remarkable victory from somewhere... bring it on'? (To be followed by the drip drip of reality)

weenie said...

Hey, maybe this bunch of no-hopers could surprise us all!

swisslet said...

Well, look at it this way: usually England -- perhaps almost alone in international football -- usually manage to magically appear to be less than the sum of their illustrious parts as various highly rated players manage to play like utter clowns. Perhaps when we put out a side of absolute clowns, led by the head clown himself, just perhaps we'll manage to appear as more than the sum of our parts for once. Or at least we'll have a good reason (and the makeup, collapsing cars and buckets of glitter) for playing like clowns.


Anonymous said...

I just don't have the belief in the team and it must be bad when that happens. Is there any direction in McLaren's management, or is he just picking players willy-nilly and hoping someone will become good?

He seems lost, but then who were the alternatives for the role? We all wanted an Englishman and that's what we got.

I'd like to see a lot more linking up between the U21s and the full squad, and I suppose with Bentley and Lescott in the team that is comign true, but without the injuries would they have got a chance? hmmmm

ian said...

If England qualify for this tournament that no-one has tickets for, then we'll be stuck with McClown for another 2 years. If they don't qualify, he'll get the sack. Which do you want?

LB said...

I wonder whether non-qualification might be a Good Thing in that the FA and the suits might actually then do something about the paucity of English talent available.

And Adem - I am inclined to agree with you, but then who'd you rather have in your first choice England team? Owen Hargreaves or Nigel Reo-Coker? David James or Joe Hart? As I read somewhere the other day, the U-21's might be younger and hungrier, but on the whole they're also "shitter".

weenie said...

Hi, any chance of posting the international predictions tomorrow as I'll be offline from Friday? cheers!