Anorak News | Taking The Low Road

Taking The Low Road

by | 9th, September 2002

‘ENGLAND, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were all in action this weekend, with varying degrees of success.

Scotland – a small island off the Faroes

Once the smoke cleared after the pre-match fireworks, England’s game against Portugal was a bit of an anticlimax.

The first half was fairly satisfactory, with Lee Bowyer and Alan Smith particularly impressive. But England are famously suspect when it comes to second halves, so the real test was yet to come.

The Portuguese decision to change practically their entire side at half-time made it difficult to evaluate England’s second-half performance, especially when Sven Goran Eriksson himself made several changes.

Certain baffling traits remain, however, such as Eriksson’s strange fascination with playing Emile Heskey wide left, not to mention using Owen Hargreaves as a makeshift right back.

Neither player looked happy, and it was more ammunition for those who see the Eriksson phenomenon as a case of the emperor’s new clothes.

Wales have had some good players over the past couple of decades, but even in the days of Rush, Hughes and Southall, they never quite had the overall strength to get to the finals of a championship.

That might finally change, as Mark Hughes seems to have got a reasonable collection of players together, organised them and given them some self-belief.

Their 2-0 away win against Finland was a very impressive result, and one with which any of the big European sides would have been well satisfied. It was a good start to their Euro 2004 campaign, and they will fancy their chances now.

Ireland were always going to be susceptible to a crash landing after their adrenaline-fuelled World Cup trip. The Roy Keane saga is beginning to get to Mick McCarthy, and the team lost its composure against an admittedly talented Russian side.

Their 4-2 defeat in Moscow was no disgrace, but it will have thrown them out of their stride nonetheless.

But when it comes to problems, it is hard to imagine a worse predicament than Scotland’s. Alan Hansen reckoned they were ”lucky to get a draw” in their away fixture, which wouldn’t have been such a problem had their opponents not been the Faroe Islands.

It’s a fair bet that there will be no children christened Douglas Ross Crainey Dailly Weir Dickov Ferguson Lambert Johnston Kyle Dobie in Scotland this year – although there may be a few south of the border.

The worst Scottish team ever? Probably. So far, at least.

Posted: 9th, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink