Goodbye Mr McClaren

Having been handed a very unlikely life-line by Isreal at the weekend, all England had to do was draw (at home) with Croatia. Just a draw.

McClaren decided to drop Paul Robinson because, as far as we the public could see, he had been unreliable… so Scott Carson started in goal. David James, with years of experience under his belt and having a great season between the sticks for Portsmouth (ignore the Reading game), was the second choice. Irony, as we know, is a fickle mistress, and thus Croatia’s first goal was caused by Carson’s schoolboy error (apologies to any schoolboys reading this).

By the time the second Croatia goal went in, I was at the stage of not being able to decide whether the drama unfolding was comic or tragic. By half-time I had the awful feeling that I wanted a third Croatia goal so that McClaren’s misery could be absolutely, gloriously complete. England were utterly rubbish in the first half. While Croatia looked well-organised and dangerous on the break, England were a shambles.

Steve McClownCroatia obviously had better studs on their boots as they seemed to manage to keep their footing while England slid around like Oliver Reed appearing in ‘Magic Moments from the Keystone Cops on Ice’ (while pissed). And who decided it was a good idea to let our American friends pound the pitch wearing body armour in a game that’s based on diving headlong across the turf… in Autumn, when it’s wet and there isn’t much sunlight? Wembley Stadium, the pride of England, sported a Sunday league-style surface.

As the seconds ticked away, following England’s two goals and Croatia’s third (in the words of the Incubus song “you should be careful what you wish for”) it was pointed out that we could still qualify if Andorra pulled a goal back against Russia. Andorra has a population of about 72,000 but Andorran’s are a minority in their own country (more than 67% of inhabitants are of other nationalities)… you get the point, it wasn’t going to happen.

The BBC web site reports that Steve McClaren has insisted he will not step down. Well, if he doesn’t do us all a favour I hope the FA do, preferably tomorrow.

So that’s it, no UK teams in Euro 2008. Northern Ireland got very near and should be very proud – “something to build on” would be an understatement. Scotland (I’m proud to be half-Scottish) got very near too and did far better than was expected – just falling at the last hurdle, but against world champions Italy there is nothing to be ashamed of. England on the other hand… I’ll use Ports’ word… “pathetic”.


  1. I don’t get why the Israeli lifeline was unlikely. They have proved to be a capable team worthy of their points total in this qualifying campaign, and only just missed out on qualification. OK, their performance in England was abject but the arrogance of the media to suggest that an Israeli result against Russia was unlikely shows how little understanding they have of the world game. As you are an Arsenal fan Darren, I guess you can use that as an excuse 😉

    As for the “unbelievable” turn of events last night. Which of the 2 teams had already qualified? If I was a betting man I would have put money on a Croatia victory considering our injuries and the team selection.

    McLaren out? He should never have been put in in the first place. Time for Mourinho.

  2. To add insult to injury, here in the US, it was pay per view, so not only did I have to suffer that horrible performance from a very poor England side but also had to pay for the pleasure of doing so.

    Almost to a man, the team were awful. I will make the execption to Mr. Crouch who I thought battled through every minute and got his reward with a great goal. The team also looked a lot better when Beckham entered the fray. I will also name and shame the worst player on the pitch. Mr Carson I hear you shout…. No… Wayne Bridge. looked totally out of place. Is this the best left back we can muster?

    I know there were a lot of injuries but with the strength in depth we have in the Premiership, surely we could have done better.

    I am sure this will reignite the debate on Foreign player quotas in teams. I know football is a business and winning is everything but surely some National Pride must kick in sometime soon and make sure that some of our young talent gets a look in for thier clubs. Even as a Gunner, probably one of the worst offenders, I’d welcome 4 or 5 home grown players turning out for them every week.

    So McLaren has gone and as far as I can see, there really isn’t a qualified candidate with a UK passport to take on the role. Will Jose be prepared to take the pay cut ?

  3. Steve, I don’t suppose you saw the BBC’s line-up of pundits… Wright, Shearer, Lineker and Hanson. At half-time I’d have rather seen the three English guys warming up and getting their boots on than discussing how crap their ‘successors’ were. It made me realise just how great a player Shearer was, and I don’t think I’m being over-nostalgic by saying that he would never have turned in a half-arsed performance like we saw yesterday.

  4. Sad but true.
    But on the bright side, the current crop of U21 players have been excellent in thier recent U21 qualifying games which bodes well for the future. Now we dont have to worry about the inconvenience of preparing for a major championship next summer, perhaps some of this fresh talent might get a chance to play alongside the more established players. A little more youth and a major injection of pace could be the recipe for success.

    That and a coach who prefers a little flair in his teams rather than one who can coach the ability to endlessly pass sideways across midfield.

    I hope Beckham gets his 100th cap, but doubt if he’ll play any part in the next World Cup qualifying campaign.

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