Being England manager is a job that has a lot of rather unfortunate side effects. Intrusions into your private life, ridiculous pressure from the media and public who have long since deemed it their responsibility and right to question every single decision you make – with the benefit of hindsight, of course.
But Steve McClaren is not making it any easier for himself by pandering to the questions and wind ups aimed his way. Whether he’s justifying practicing 3-5-2, telling everyone who will listen that he’s the boss, or trying to convince himself that he’s capable of “hairdryer” treatments – the more Steve says the more the former Middlesbrough boss backs himself into a corner – the last thing you want is for the media to realize that they can stir the pot. Sven was as quiet and soft spoken as they come, and look how that worked out for him.
McClaren cares too much about what the media is saying about him. Dropping Beckham seemed to be a statement of intent about his reign, and I would be that continuing to start Stewart Downing against Croatia will be another. He’s the boss and he might feel dropping the left winger undermines his much-disputed decision to play him in the first place. But with so much at stake, making decisions based on trying to put one over on the press and supporters who doubt you is not a recipe for success.
He needs to take a page from Scolari’s book, when coaching Brazil he ignored cries to bring Romario back and that worked out pretty well. He dropped or subbed Figo in the Euros because he was playing crap and couldn’t have cared less than he was a national hero.
So, Stevie M, please put Scott Parker in for Michael Carrick. The Manchester United holder is a fine player but with the England midfield looking so pedestrian the Newcastle captain’s energy will be welcome in the absence of Owen Hargreaves. And while Stewart Downing may be “like Beckham” in that he can’t beat his man but has a good cross – he isn’t a shade of Becks’ delivery now and certainly not in his prime. So get that little Chelsea bloke in there, he may be right footed but with Rooney looking off the pace the team is crying out for someone who can cause problems with the ball at his feet.
It may be hard to admit that you’ve gotten a few decisions wrong already in your England managerial career, but no one will give a donkey’s arse if you’re picking up the points.
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