Saturday, June 19, 2010

England, Our England!

I don’t normally comment about England games on this blog, but last nights game has compelled me to convey my thoughts.

Of course, it is the media that most of us should blame, as they are the ones who have raised expectation - as they do for each tournament - that England realistically have a chance of winning. The media, apparently with great glee, then take pride in being the most hurtful and spiteful in their humiliation of said team whenever they do not come up to the country’s, and media’s, high standards.

You build them up, then knock them down again!

Sure, England have some very good players who compete with the best week in and week out in the Premiership. It’s also true that we have a very good manager in Fabio Capello, a man whose record stands up to the very highest scrutiny. There really are not many better managers out there, yet over the last week, he has been painted as a shadow of the man who took us into these finals, and is now being blamed for any and every short-fall. Why? Simply because the media have to have a fall guy and the manager is the easiest target. Capello has standards, and he expects those high standards to be reflected amongst the players he manages; with the England team though, these pampered individuals made hay under Sven Goran Ericksson, brought us WAG headlines and scandal, and now they cannot. The backlash may have caught Capello in the nether regions, and cracks in old-stone face are starting to show...

Many football fans blame either the manager or the players when games go wrong; so if my opinion is that last nights performance wasn’t Capello’s fault, who is to blame? It has to be the players. You cannot blame Capello for picking the squad and/or team he did, as they are simply the best options available (save for the usual inter-team rivalry that may prefer, for instance, Theo Walcott to Aaron Lennon, etc,). Capello also sticks rigidly to a 4-4-2 formation (though that is now the route of our problem according to ITV, as most of the major Premiership teams don’t play that way any more!), but England need to do so (or a variation of it at least) in order to utilise their best players. When Wayne Rooney was tasked with playing up front on his own, there was outcry! When Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard play together in midfield they counter-act each others attributes. These three are probably England’s best three players, from a Premiership perspective at least, so how do we get around this issue? Obviously, Capello’s chosen formation is to play Rooney up front along-side someone (a target man usually) and switch Gerrard to a free-ish role out on the left, leaving Lampard to roam through the middle of the pitch. You cannot blame the manager for this tactic, as it is generally considered the only way to fit all three into the side.

And, in my opinion, therein lies the problem – you cannot fit these three players into an England team that is functional and able to compete with the best in the World. They just do not compliment each other. Rooney can be a great player, though he has had a poor tournament so far, and Gerrard is also a world beater on his day (and the current England captain through default), so that leaves us with Lampard as the one to look at closely. Frank may be a goalscoring superstar at Chelsea but for England, he has blown very hot and very cold over some time now. Last night, and last Saturday too, he was anonymous for huge amounts of the game, which is simply not acceptable in international football. He has become the John Barnes of modern English football - once very good, but now a passenger too often, hence the booing he receives from fans after most games. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s a very good player, but if I had to choose between Lampard and Gerrard, it would be the Scouser every time at present.

If Capello takes my advice – and it would be a very strong manager that did – and dropped Lamps, it would allow Gerrard to move into his preferred central midfield role, and either Joe Cole (my preference for a game we have to win) or James Milner to come in on the left. At least this would balance the team more, and also provide a little more goal threat than we currently have.

Goal threat is also something else that Capello needs to deal with overall, and last night it was truly shocking to see an England forward too scared to shoot when well placed. Emile Heskey has done very well for England over the years, but his record in the goal-scoring stakes is very poor, and once he fails to contribute in other areas (as we are now seeing), then it is time to ditch him and look elsewhere. I know that the only viable other option is Peter Crouch (no laughing at the back!), but the pot seems empty and we have nothing else. Another helpful addition to the goal threat of the team may have been to include Walcott rather than Lennon in the squad, but it’s Lennon that we have, and he now needs to either find his shooting boots or be replaced too. He is not making goals, nor scoring them, so what is his worth? The logical replacement from within the squad is the one that Capello has used in both games so far through substitutions, and that is to start Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right. Wright-Phillips has similar pace, and would provide good cover for the errant Glenn Johnson when he ventured forward, all the while being more likely to score than Lennon would.

The only other change I would make is the enforced one of replacing Jamie Carragher, with either Matt Upson or Michael Dawson, with the Spurs man just shading it for me.

This is the team I would ask Fabio to send out to restore the country's faith next Wednesday –

David James
Glenn Johnson
Michael Dawson
John Terry
Ashley Cole
Gareth Barry
Steven Gerrard
Shaun Wright-Phillips
Joe Cole
Wayne Rooney
Peter Crouch

This is a team capable of beating Slovenia, and scraping through to the last sixteen stage of the tournament; an alternative result on Wednesday doesn't bear thinking about! Whether they are good enough to go further depends on who they come up against, and I have to admit that to date I have yet to see any team set the competition alight, with even the Argentinians looking fragile in defence. The Cup is still to be won, and stranger things have happened should Engand be able to progress.

The media constantly asks the country to believe in our football team, and we do, always; I just wish that the media did the same sometimes!


Monday, June 07, 2010

The Moon in June

I suppose it’s about a month since the Swindon game, and about time I penned something else about our esteemed club on this blog.

Firstly, comings and goings: Six players have been released, none without a surprise. Matt Spring, Leon McKenzie, Tony Warner, Chris Dickson, Jack Clark and Dean Sinclair have all been told to find employ elsewhere. Although there could be some sort of argument for keeping all of the above players, none made any significant contribution to Charlton’s season just gone, and it is therefore hard to see them making an impact next year, whoever else comes and goes. Yassin Moutaouakil has also left the club, agreeing a deal to bring his contract to an early end. Rumours are that his pay-off was a six-figure sum, but that it falls well short of the salary he would have picked up had he merely trained and not played for the club next season (as he did most of this).

Nobody has signed for Charlton yet (apart from Akpo Sodje just before the Swindon home game), though Parky is keen to get players in as early as possible. This was also the case last year, and understandable for his perspective. Firstly, he will want to secure any of the better players coming to the club so that they aren’t pinched from under his nose, and secondly, it shows willing. The problem is that finances are such that it is often better to wait as long as possible before having to pay the players concerned. As such, I do expect a couple of new Bosman signings at the end of this month (or very early in July), but any further signings are likely to be just before the season commences as happened with Christian Dailly this year.

We haven’t sold anyone, which is good, but not a surprise. Other clubs also have to be very careful financially, and unless you are guaranteed Sky Premiership TV money then there is not a lot going on. It would be no surprise to see players of the ilk of Frazer Richardson, Nicky Bailey and Jose Semedo being bid for, and at Charlton we know that any good offer has to be accepted, but I hope that they do stay and at least see the first few games of the new season in Charlton shirts.

Those other players out of contract have probably now been offered new contracts, and no doubt some will re-sign, and some will not. Lloyd Sam has seen much speculation over his future, which has varied from a cast-iron certainty to join QPR, then to one which saw him retire early from football in favour of a fashion and music career, and now to one which has him directly quoted as staying at The Valley with a new contract ready to be agreed. What to believe?!? I have no idea if players like Deon Burton and Darren Randolph will be happy with any new contract offers, but I suspect that Christian Dailly and Grant Basey will want to stay. Chris Solly would be foolish to move on I suggest, as would Scott Wagstaff. Sam Sodje is a problem and one I can see waiting on other signings. When fit, he is good enough for this league, but his knee-knack got worse as the season progressed, and it was a major issue in April and May.

Rumours of players being linked to the Addicks all need to be taken with a pinch of salt I suspect; the Transfer Rumours website has been inundated with made up stories of this player or that coming to Charlton, mostly just to see if there was any filtering of the truth or not (which there patently isn't). Initial subjects Kevin Kyle and Chris Dagnall have subsequently signed elsewhere, while in Kevin Lisbie there may or may not be any truth...

The club has sold nearly seven thousand season tickets, which compares well with a similar stage last year, so hopefully we can expect 15,000 plus crowds throughout the season once more. The fixtures will once more see a plethora of southern clubs coming to The Valley, and will include Dagenham and Redbridge for a league game for the first time. I’ll enjoy a new ground when I visit there, and I also hope to be able to get to Hartlepool (which I missed last year) and Rochdale, two others I have never visited.

I plan to keep this blog active for the foreseeable future, but at present, my plan is not to do previews and match reports any longer. Time is the major factor, and after five years, other, fresher blogs compare well. When I do have something more to say, I’ll be there, but till then, have a good summer and enjoy the World Cup.

Up the Addicks!


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Charlton Athletic Online!

powered by Bloglet
Sports Business Directory - BTS Local
Custom Search