Where aren’t you going to watch the match? The news that Frank Lampard’s broken wrist will keep him out of England’s team against Andorra in Barcelona tonight brings us full circle. It will mean that by the end of tonight’s game, we’ll have tried everything. The list reads:
- An English manager
- Dropping Beckham
- A “traditional” English captain (although Terry Butcher doesn’t see Terry this way and neither do I)
- Plan B
- Passion and Commitment
- Gerrard and Lampard with/without a holding midfielder, in a 4-3-3, in a 4-5-2, with Lamps in the centre and Gerrard out right where he plays for Liverpool, without Lamps and with Gerrard in the centre where he plays for Liverpool
- Gareth Barry and Joey Barton
- Rooney and Crouch; Rooney and Johnson; Rooney and Defoe
- Shouting at the players
I might have missed one or two things out, but you get the drift.
Does this mean that we’ve got all this nonsense out of our system? I’d like to think so – but I don’t.
The facts are too unpalateable for that. Fact one is that there probably isn’t an English manager with enough experience and tactical nous to take the job on. Fact two is that the press wouldn’t allow a second foreigner into the job, no matter who he is. Fact three is that we have one good side available, that is disrupted entirely by a minimal number of injuries, and that for the last 5 years, we’ve always had that minimal number of injuries.
I can remember a time when the statistic still stood about England never losing when Gerrard was in the team. Now that Gerrard is usually fit, it’s Owen, or Rooney, or Ashton (whose career I now fear for) permanently crocked at the crucial moment. Had Owen and Rooney’s injuries taken place a fortnight earlier in the season than they did, had Owen not been injured against Sweden just as he was finding his range, England’s World Cup would have been a different experience.
That’s the truth of the matter, but it’s easier just to throw mud at Sven and hide behind lies about the English game and football in general. It’s not about motivation, or passion, or aggression, or shouting, or tradition – football is not the successful expression of tabloid sentiment and it is not the successful expression of terrace opinion.
I’m wasting my breath. But here’s something that even the most extreme and thoughtless 6-0-6er might have to admit. Whatever else you might say about the England job and its requirements, it’s been made impossible for Steve Coppell. Think about it.