Anorak News | Plan C(rouch)

Plan C(rouch)

by | 5th, October 2005

‘ASHLEY Cole is injured and out of England’s next World Cup qualifying match. Wayne Rooney is suspended. Gary Neville is out. It looks so bad for Sven Goran Eriksson, now forced to seek replacements among the few thousand other professional English footballers.

The snow on the ball when it came down reminded Sven of home

And time is pressing. Eriksson has little time before Saturday’s match against an Austrian side short of a manager to make his selections. But he hasn’t had a just few days – he’s had just short of five years to build a squad. And plenty of games to experiment in.

Since Eriksson took charge of England affairs in 2001, his team have played 24 friendly matches. Of these, the lads have won 9, drawn 8 and lost 7.

While it can be argued with vigour that friendlies are a learning process and indicate little about the finished product, the record is not exactly impressive.

In this period, England have lost twice to Denmark; lost once and drawn twice with Holland; drawn twice with Portugal; lost once to Sweden; and once more to Italy. The only top European side England have beaten in a friendly – and by top we mean a country that has made it to the final of a major competition – is Spain, and, even then, in the last friendly the two sides contested, England lost 1-0.

Still think friendlies are meaningless? Take a look at that match against Northern Ireland, the video nasty Eriksson isn’t showing to his team, and then answer.

The head coach has had 24 frindlies – or 48 half games – if Sven’s annoying habit of making mass changes to the personnel at half time is taken into account – to form a squad of players. He could get them all playing one way, or experiment with a few new formations.

So there was 4-4-2. And then lots more 4-4-2, even when England had no natural left-footer to work the left flank.

But against Northern Ireland, Sven finally showed that he could formulate a plan B. It had taken a long time in coming, but here it was. And amid the confusion, there it went.

England were dreadful that night in Belfast. But at least Sven showed that he could change his side. And buoyed by that, he has come up with plan C – for Crouch.

This new scheme involves playing the lanky 6-foot 7-in Peter Crouch up front and aiming the ball at his head. Crouch, who betting firm totesport have recently quoted at just 10-1 not to score in the Premiership this season, has not, er, scored this season.

Paul Petrie, totesport spokesman, said: “It is not a good sign that England are resting their World Cup hopes on a striker who has a really good chance to go through the whole season without even scoring. The words cow’s backside and banjo spring to mind.”

Given that view, we humbly suggest Eriksson consider a plan D. Rather than fretting about which two of his star central defenders to start with – Rio Ferdinand, John Terry or Sol Campbell – Eriksson should start with them all, only with Campbell up front in place of Crouch.

Sol’s big, tall and strong, and, unlike Crouch, has an international goal to his name and recently scored a brace in the league.

It might not be clever or pretty, but neither are plans A, B and C…’

Posted: 5th, October 2005 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink