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England Without United Players

England, producing an astonishingly, mind-bogglingly, desperately dismal performance, failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Without a single United player on the pitch.

An end of an era, that's what it is. With Second Choice Steve now out, something must be done with the game overall because yesterday's performance was pathetic.

Croatia were so much more comfortable in possession that was unbelievable. Their players were confident on the ball and had the vision to do damage with it. A thought occurred to me.

Which English teams base their gameplan on possession and technical ability? Yes, Arsenal and Manchester United. Which of them actually have English players? Only United.

Yesterday Owen Hargreaves and Wes Brown sat on the bench while Rio was suspended and Rooney injured. Carrick didn't even make the squad which is baffling. Now I would be hard pressed to find an argument for Brown's inclusion - Campbell's terrible performance maybe? But England can do without him.

Hargreaves is another matter. Anyone who saw Lampard and Gerrard giving away balls like some traders overcome by generosity attacks will agree that England would have needed someone who is comfortable in possession and can tackle. Maybe Kranjcar and Modric wouldn't have been allowed space about the amount of the Milky Ways. If it must have been a 4-5-1, then a Barry-Lampard-Hargreaves central midfield should have been obvious.

As it was England's performance was crying out for someone who could pass the ball - in other words, they could have used Michael Carrick. Yet he wasn't deemed worthy of selection.

But I must say that I'm happy that United players were either unavailable or ignored. At least they were spared this humiliation and their confidence wasn't dealt a heavy blow. Our English stars will at least have a calm summer of rest, won't have to cope with extra pressure of morons who insist England must win the tournament playing fantasy football otherwise it's no good.

And there's another thing. Ask anyone who never witnessed Rooney playing for United but saw his every game in England shirt and they will tell you he's an average player. Ask a United fan with only a little common sense and they will tell you he's bloody brilliant. Why? Because he receives good passes when playing for United and he's got players to pass to. As simple as that.

Same with Scholes. When playing for England he was never allowed to rule the midfield. He was asked to cover the entire pitch, chip in with tackles and cope with long balls hoofed up from the defense. His passing abilities were never allowed to flourish, simply because England's attitude and gameplay did not favour the idea of a player who is capable of passing the ball. Nick Hornby was right, it just went out of fashion. God only knows why.

England managers always failed to bring out the best from United players - look at Rio hoofing the ball up to the England strikers and bringing the ball out of defence with composure when playing for United - and that is a testament to the poor skills of said managers.

So England need a manager who is aware of the fact that you must play at least one real holding midfield player, especially if the defence is suspect (sometimes, if your attack is deadly, you might get away with not using a holding player like United did during most of last season but England are not deadly in attack). Drop Lampard AND Gerrard, play Hargreaves and Barry or Carrick and please, try to get the best out of Rooney. Surely SCS could have asked for Fergie's advice in this case?

And please, one more thing. Tell the coaches all around Britain that passing is a good thing, really. It should not be a crime if someone tries to keep the ball on the ground. It sort of works for a lot of teams.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 22 2007

Time: 5:14PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Sorry but England did use Man U players against Russia when we lost, Israel when we drew and Macedonia when we drew.
Report Abuse
22/11/2007 17:30:00

and how funny gerrard played all those matches and played the one yesterday and lost. He was terrible so dont try and come onto our site and act like you have any brilliant england players.
Report Abuse
22/11/2007 20:48:00

Gerrard almost single-handedly beat Andorra. I know you'll say it's 'only Andorra' but if it's 'only Andorra', why didn't anyone else score? You're God has played about 2 good matches for England in the past 3-4 yrs.
Report Abuse
22/11/2007 21:32:00

Has it not sunk in yet that only two teams in the Prem play the type of football that England meet at international level. Players from 'hoof it to the big guy' teams like chlescum, liverbore and spurs, deserved what they got on Wednesday. They were a disgrace to the nations shirt
Report Abuse
23/11/2007 10:54:00

Why not get your facts straight, rooneyisgod? Steven Gerrard did not play for England when they were away to Croatia. Is he to blame for that loss as well? Yeah, now that I think of it, it must have been Gerrard's fault that Paul Robinson let in a howler or that Gary Neville scored an own-goal? England, collectively, played poorly more often than not in the qualifying games that mattered. Players from every club, including Manchester United, were below par. You can point the finger of blame anywhere you want (and clearly you are) but you're only deluding yourselves if you think that England's woes are only down to one or two players who, coincidentally, just happen to play for the clubs that you most hate. If you can't put aside your petty, tribal differences for even five minutes when it comes to the national team then you should quit supporting England altogether.
Harry P
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23/11/2007 13:54:00

As for you, bseymour, I'll resist the temptation to simply point out that, as good as they are, Arsenal contribute next to nothing to the England team but I will tell you this: if you think that only Manchester United and Arsenal are the only Premier League clubs capable of playing well against international quality opposition then you're nothing short of blind.
Harry P
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23/11/2007 14:08:00

i never said it was gerrards fault did i? i merely pointed out that liverpool players played the matches aswel so how about you start reading our site if you chose to come on instead of making assumptions.
Report Abuse
23/11/2007 16:23:00

Yes, you did. "and how funny gerrard played all those matches and played the one yesterday and lost."
Report Abuse
23/11/2007 17:29:00

where exactly does it say it was gerrards fault.
Report Abuse
23/11/2007 21:09:00

"and how funny gerrard played all those matches and played the one yesterday and lost." Now, that suggests to me that England have lost their matches because Stevie Gerrard has played in them and I know that is not true.
Report Abuse
23/11/2007 21:43:00

Sorry but England did use Man U players against Russia when we lost, Israel when we drew and Macedonia when we drew - and that implies to me you blaming man utd players for england missing out.
Report Abuse
24/11/2007 21:14:00

No, he wasn't blaming Manchester United players. He was simply pointing out (in response to an article that said that England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 was down to players from other clubs failing to get the job done, unless you've forgotten) that Manchester United players have played their part in the qualifying campaign. You can't have an article that says "look, no United players, that's why we lost, they're all useless" and then cry foul when someone points out that, sorry, but United players were also present on the other occasions when the team played badly and failed to get the job done. England didn't miss out because of one bad team performance on Wednesday, they missed out because of a collection of bad team performances (at least five of them), spread out over the qualifying campaign.
Harry P
Report Abuse
25/11/2007 07:43:00

and im pointing out liverpool oh i mean Gerrard played a key role in getting us knocked out.
Report Abuse
25/11/2007 21:07:00

How did Gerrard play a key role? Any more of a key role than, say, Wayne Rooney, who gave away the penalty (yes, we know it shouldn't have been a penalty, but that's what was given) against Russia? Or Paul Robinson who gifted goals to both Russia and Croatia? Or Gary Neville who put the ball into the back of his own net against Croatia, as well? Or Scott Carson for not getting his body behind that awful first goal on Wednesday? Or Wayne Bridge for being a spectator as the Croatian right wing ripped England apart for the second? Or Rooney again for not putting the ball in the back of the net against Macedonia? Or Frank Lampard, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Peter Crouch for also failing to do it? Face it, mate, plenty of players played their part in this fiasco. If you want to heap the blame at Gerrard's door then feel free to do so, but it only makes you look petty and foolish.
Harry P
Report Abuse
26/11/2007 13:43:00

Oh, it might interest you to know that, apparently, after England equalised, Terry Venables advised Steve McClaren to bring on Owen Hargreaves, but it was advice that fell upon deaf ears. If I was being petty and childish then I'd be screaming that McClaren learnt his trade at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, and thus the whole shambles is of United's making. But I'm not that petty and childish, and, as I've said, there's plenty of blame to go around. The players deserve some, McClaren deserves more than most. But, hey, carrying on stigmatising Gerrard for it: it worked so well for the Newcastle fans at St James's Park on Saturday.
Harry P
Report Abuse
26/11/2007 13:52:00

im sure gerrard should have been more defnsive the rooney in the russsia match so rooney was just doing the job which should been done v=by gerrard and the other more defensive members. and time to remind you if it werent for rooneys goal england wouldnt have had a lead to throw away.
Report Abuse
26/11/2007 16:44:00

Hmmm, so when Rooney does good (his only goal in qualifying, right?) then you give him all the credit but when Rooney doesn't do so good then it's someone else's fault? You're not even trying to be objective, are you? Does anything other than the club someone plays come into the equation when you evaluate their contribution?
Harry P
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26/11/2007 17:16:00

what was rooneys fault? im sure the penalty werent as it wasnt a penalty. and rooney also scored against esonia so no it werent his only goal.
Report Abuse
26/11/2007 21:20:00

You really don't get it, do you?
Harry P
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27/11/2007 07:09:00

with the scouser jiberish slang you talk it is hard to get.
Report Abuse
27/11/2007 13:20:00

Sorry, what part of "11 players played badly for England in five matches" is too hard for you to get?
Harry P
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28/11/2007 01:46:00

11 players didnt in all those matches so thats the part.
Report Abuse
28/11/2007 13:47:00

Don't make me laugh, pal. Are you really deluded enough to think that England dropped points in games vs Croatia (twice), Russia, Israel and Macedonia only because of Gerrard? Are you so stuck in your anti-Gerrard rut that you can't acknowledge that he wasn't the only one that had a bad game or two for England during qualifying? Really? Everybody else was perfect in your eyes, were they? You're either blind or stupid, or both, if you think that.
Harry P
Report Abuse
29/11/2007 10:16:00

If you look at my last comment i said that 11 players didnt play bad in all of the games. So where did you get the name Gerrard from. I think gerrard is a good player. And what i ment from my comment was trying to point out that was was a few good displays such as crouch against croatia.
Report Abuse
29/11/2007 10:43:00

There are 11 players in a team. There were five bad team performances that cost England points, and hence qualification. Had they picked up more points in even one of them then we would not be having this conversation, would we? You've consistently made a point of singling out Gerrard but, as I've said repeatedly, there is plenty of blame to go around and he's no more culpable than anybody else who put in some bad performances or made awful mistakes in those games. It would be nice of you to at least acknowledge that, even just once.
Harry P
Report Abuse
29/11/2007 20:02:00

I can acknowledge that there is plenty of blame to go round but you should acknowledge gerrard played awful against croatia
Report Abuse
29/11/2007 21:16:00

Where the hell did you get the idea that I believed that Gerrard had anything but a bad game last Wednesday? Did you read anything that I've written about it, here or elsewhere? This is an extract from the first thing I wrote after the Croatia game: "Did Gerrard have a bad game? Yes, by his high standards, he had a bad game. Did others around him also have bad games. Again, yes, by their high standards, they did. Did the manager get the tactics wrong? Yes, he clearly did." But unlike some people, I haven't tried to make a scapegoat out of him or anybody else, or tried to use one of the five occasions when the team failed to get the job done to make my own club look somehow more superior.
Harry P
Report Abuse
30/11/2007 10:11:00

Its not just one bad game is it? He has had many for england recently. Also i do not have to make my club look more superior cause they have been doing that for the last 16 years on the pitch.
Report Abuse
30/11/2007 13:46:00

You're positively myopic, mate. You'll point out Gerrard's bad games and ignore his good ones. You'll latch on to the fact that no United players played in the final game against Croatia but fail to acknowledge that they were there when England dropped points previously. Keep pretending to yourself that your choice of targets isn't about petty club rivalries.
Harry P
Report Abuse
30/11/2007 13:52:00

i guarantee if rooney played against croatia england would have been lot better of.
Report Abuse
30/11/2007 21:21:00

I'm sure you do. Tell me, if you can guarantee that Rooney alone would have made the difference then why didn't he make that difference in some of the other games where England dropped points? Where were his stellar performances during the qualifying campaign? See, it's easy to pick any one player and make it only about him.
Harry P
Report Abuse
01/12/2007 06:32:00

not rooney alone but rooney to fire up the rest of the team cause he one of the few who showed passion in the qualifying group
Report Abuse
01/12/2007 15:16:00

Ah, so Rooney showed passion but Gerrard did not? Were you watching the same games as the rest of us? Who was England's saviour while mighty Andorra held them scoreless for more than 45 mins? Who put in performance after performance, even playing while injured, when England rattled off a succession of 3-0 wins? You'll accept and excuse the deficiencies of some of the players but you won't accept and give credit to the work of others. Start giving credit where credit is due and stop heaping blame only on those players who you've got grudges against.
Harry P
Report Abuse
02/12/2007 11:18:00

HA HA Andorra is hardly anything to brag about. You are also confused about performance after performance cause he hradly ever performed. And for the record i dont have a grudge against gerrard im just stating facts
Report Abuse
04/12/2007 10:51:00


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