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Anorak | Narrow Escape

Narrow Escape

by | 12th, June 2003

‘PELE. To Cruyff. To Zico. To Tardelli. To Zidane. To Best. To Maradona. To Mills… What happens next?

Danny Mills is called in to see Sven

I’ll tell you. The ball is ballooned at five hundred miles per hour straight into the stands. Mills turns and like the gimp looking for his security box runs back to his berth on the right side of defence.

Of course, Mills is not lucky enough to play with the world’s greatest ever players. He has to make do with Phil Neville, Matthew Upson and Frank Lampard.

There are the likes of Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, who Mills can take the ball off and then put an end to the any move. But they are in the minority.

The fact is that England have no width. Relying on a plodding fullback to get forward is a joke. Mills moves with all the grace of James Bond’s old adversary Rosa Klebb trying on some new shoes.

Mills is everything that is wrong with the England side. Clearly not all of this is his fault, and he should be rightly proud that he is playing for this national side.

But he is no winger. So why is he playing on the wing? This is a question Sven Goran Eriksson can answer. But we won’t need to put it to him because we know the answer: there are no decent English wingers.

Darren Anderton is an option. And much as I would like to criticise the limping tampon, I can’t argue with the notion that he at least provides width.

Steve McManaman is another option to occupy the wide left or right. But he pretty much disappeared the day he went to Spain.

This paucity of wing options is set to be more evident should Trevor Brooking, who commentated on last’s match, take charge of England’s affairs.

He’d consider playing Wayne Bridge and Ashley Cole on the left, one behind the other.

I can feel the tears beginning to well up at the very thought of it.

The only option for England – until Ryan Giggs sees the light or the likes of Jermaine Pennant or some other young prospect makes the grade – is to play all England games on a very narrow pitch.

Something as wide as the players tunnel should do it, with a neat security-conscious 5-4-1 formation.

It won’t be pretty, but at least we shan’t have to look at acres of space behind the opposition’s fullbacks that no England player has the guile or speed to get into.



Posted: 12th, June 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink