England compete in a friendly this evening that is genuinely pointless and meaningless. Austria have merit as an opponent but whoever is responsible for scheduling a game on the Friday before the final qualifying game of Euro2008 is the best proof that National Football Associations really do not have a clue about football.
What possible benefit can McClaren get out of this game? If he has to play anyone because of withdrawals or minor injuries, it will be someone who has already tasted international football. Even if they have not, one match does not give any indication whatsoever of ability at this level, football’s history is littered with good players who have frozen on their debuts but gone onto to do well and vice versa.
Like the friendly fixtures in August, the manager would benefit more from holding a week long training camp and not pushing the players too hard prior to important matches. The problem is that Wednesday’s clash with Croatia is likely to be the last important match England participate in until next ufabetบนมือถือ September when the World Cup Qualifiers commence.
The cause of this is not the facile argument that foreigners are stunting the growth of English players. The simple truth is that the manager is not good enough tactically or otherwise and more importantly, England’s Golden Generation was exposed for the myth that is by their failure to get results when it mattered, namely in Israel and at home to Macedonia. There is no disgrace in defeat in Croatia, a hugely underrated team within these shores at least. The manner of the capitulation that day, well that is a different matter.
Much hand wringing is going on in the media about whether or not McClaren is to get the boot and the player situation. The failure to qualify for these finals ought to bring about a root and branch change in coaching techniques we are told. Yet it never happened in the past with any success so why should it happen now? There is apparently no desire for change within the game other than to do anything that will lower the standards and find scapegoats, rather than seriously looking inwards at the real problem.
Let us not kid ourselves any longer. It is the overseas players who raise the technical levels of the