Anorak News | The Double Bluff

The Double Bluff

by | 25th, June 2006

GIVEN that football is about getting the ball into the opposition’s net, reading on the Mail’s front page that England are “CONFUSED” is more than a little worrying.

Thus far things have been very straightforward for England. The team have stripped the game down to its barest of bones. England get the ball. They then get it as quickly as possible to a) Peter Crouch, who scores, or b) Wayne Rooney, who scores. The one piece of trickery is when England get the ball to c) an opponent, who forgets what he’s doing and scores in his own net.

But now the squad are getting confused because, as a source tells the paper, Sven Goran Eriksson intends to introduce Michael Carrick as a holding midfielder. If he does, then this will be the third different formation England have tried in four games.

And now the players are in a state of “REVOLT”. According to the People, “players fear Sven hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing.” A source looks at the latest formation and says: “It doesn’t make mush sense to the players.”

But the cunning things is this: if it doesn’t make sense to England – and remember that Frank Lampard has nine O-levels, including two As and an A-star – it makes even less sense to England’s opponents.

“Ecuador plans thrown into confusion as Eriksson springs midfield surprise,” says the Telegraph’s headline. And at once we see the genius of Sven’s plan. Just listen as Ecuador’s assistant coach Armando Osma fields a question about Michael Carrick. “We know very little, very little,” says he. “We just know that he is very quick and strong like all the English players, but that is all we know.”

Michael Carrick is not quick. Granted, he is quicker than most of the population, and would be expected to finish in the top half dozen in a race involving the country’s MPs, train drivers and supermarket checkout girls. But in the world of football, Carrick is not quick, much less “very quick”.

Osma is wrong. But he does know something. “What we do know,” says he, “is that England will play 4-1-4-1 and we therefore obviously have to look for a solution that will be a surprise to them.”

And at once Sven is the master tactician. Ecuador have been knocked out of their stride. They are now trying to second guess England.

And what if it’s all a bluff? Sven might just keep it at 4-4-2. Carrick might not play. The Ecuadorians will look foolish when they set out their stall to counter a 4-1-4-1.

Of course none of this really mattes. Don’t tell Ecuador, and whisper it to Sven, but whatever the formation, the England game plan remains simple: a) get it to Crouch; b) get it to Rooney; c) get them to score an own goal.


Posted: 25th, June 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink