XI worst decisions of Steve McClaren’s England reign


22nd, November 2007


1 Shunning David Beckham
McClaren was determined to become his own man after succeeding Sven. Dropping Becks was an easy way to signal this, but it was a case of cutting his nose off to spite his face. The former skipper clearly still had a part to play and Macca was forced to go crawling back.
2 Picking Scott Carson ahead of Paul Robinson
It wasn’t fair on Carson, it wasn’t fair on the fans and it wasn’t fair on Robinson (not that you lot can complain – you were all for it!). The 22-year-old froze under the considerable pressure last night.
3 Picking Paul Robinson up until last night
Robbo has been out of sorts for some time now. If there is any logic in persevering with him until the last game of qualifying before dropping him then I can’t see it. He should have been dropped long before last night, which would have given Carson time to bed in (or at least proven he wasn’t up to the job).

4 Working with Terry Venables
Yet another case of McClaren bowing to popular opinion, I suspect. They never seemed to have functioned as a team. There were rarely found to be bouncing ideas off each other in the dugout. Venables role seemed poorly defined and he was basically there as a figurehead for the good old days.
5 Three at the back against Croatia away
A woeful experiment which set the tone for this qualification campaign. England couldn’t get to grips with the new formation. You could argue that they ought to have been able to, but the manager should work with what he has got.
6 Taking the job in the first place
He knew he was second choice, he was still relatively young and he was building a decent side at Middlesbrough. Steve McClaren must now be wishing he had stuck with Boro and kept his pride in tact.
7 Playing Joleon Lescott at left-back against Russia
McClaren overlooked an experienced international in Phil Neville and an out-and-out left-back in Nicky Shorey to play Lescott against Russia. He was out of his depth and put in a really poor performance. At least Macca learnt from his mistakes, eh Robbo?
8 Sticking with the Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard combo
He has broken this combination up occasionally (mainly through injury to one party) but never really found a solution. Wherever possible he has accommodated both into his side. Hopefully the new man will spot that they NEVER PERFORM WHEN THEY ARE PLAYING TOGETHER.
9 Getting his teeth whitened
Another example of a bloke who looks like he should drive coaches for a living trying to be a PR man’s dream. Square peg, round hole. His dental improvements simply opened him up to being lampooned even more.
10 Hiding under his umbrella
Having conceded two goals in 14 minutes, McClaren should have been on the touchline bawling and gesturing at his players instead of perfecting his Gene Kelly impression.
11 Pleading to be judged over 12 games
Macca might have thought this was a handy way to sidestep criticism, but in the end he wrote his own epitaph.

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  1. GS says:

    ‘2 Picking Scott Carson ahead of Paul Robinson’
    Picking Scott Carson over David James was the big mistake. can’t argue with the rest though!

  2. bleustilton says:

    As far as I’m concerned, his biggest mistakes are as follows:
    1. Experimenting with tactics and formation against England’s toughest opponents, Croatia, twice.
    2. Putting PR over substance (dropping Beckham, bringing him back after the press called for it, dropping Paul Robinson after he was getting back into form). He’s a weak manager who gave in to popular opinion far too much. He was obsessed with “making a statement” instead of putting a good team out.
    3. Choosing to get the sack instead of resigning. He loses every ounce of respect anyone had for him as he receives undeserved paychecks.
    I have to say, no one could have predicted that Lescott was going to be bad at left back. He’s a fine left back (He proved it last season) who had a bad game against Russia. It’s really easy to say that in hindsight. Bad effort guys.

  3. FJ says:

    I’d say the biggest mistake was the 5-3-2 he tried to pull of in Croatia. As tactics go, this was the footballing equivalent of the Dieppe-raid: England have no wingbacks bar Michael Ball, and he’s not very good; Croatia have traditionally played that system and thus could pick holes in it in their sleep and King/Ferdinand is the defensive version of Gerrard/Lampard or indeed Owen/Rooney. Should have been sacked by then, would’ve saved the FA a lot of money.

  4. I think that up there with #2 should be McClaren’s decision not to give Robert Green a shot. Everybody has been begging for it for months and now, finally, the pro-Green supporters can say they were at least right that their guy couldn’t be worse than those McClaren selected. Robinson’s form and psyche have been a mess as of late, and obviously Carson wasn’t ready to make his first competitive start in the most important game of England’s Euro 2008 qualifying quest. If a goalkeeper of traditional English standards was in goal last night Croatia wouldn’t have scored their 1st or 3rd goals. Goals from 20+ hurt England early and late, and showed that goalkeeping in England just isn’t where it used to be.

  5. […] As if the poor old corner flag doesn’t already take enough punishment (from the likes of Tim Cahill), now some Dutch player comes along and uproots it. Ja, screw de cornervlag! Good to see that Schteve McClaren saw the funny side, although I bet last night’s Champions League exit wiped the smile off his face: Twente were set to go through at home to Sporting Lisbon (having battled to a respectable 0-0 draw in Portugal) when the visitors’ keeper rushed forward in injury time and did this: A painful way to go out. MORE McCLAREN XI worst decisions of Steve McClaren’s England reign […]

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