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All Things Footie | Sunday, October 13 | Jordan

Is Doing the Job Enough?

So, what did you think of the Slovakia game.

I was torn between cheer that we had taken three points from was turning into a dificult game, and exasperation at how we'd made it look so difficult against a team ranked 45th in the World. Firstly lets not try and convince ourselves that Slovakia are any good. Morale is at an all time low and their best player is an average Middlesborough forward. Secondly, though England had two players injured we were overwhelmed by the number of suitors for the role of central defender. Morale and confidence, despite the Ulrika Johnsson affair, was reputedly high and players like Owen and Scholes were in fine goalscoring form. We should have beaten them.

The pitch didn't help, I've seen better Sunday League surfaces; and abuse from the crowd along with the unsettling (and absolutely intolerable) shooting of two England fans the night before no doubt contributed to the nervy looking line up.

From watching the opening few minutes, you would have been forgiven for thinking that England's XI had been out for a jog to Prague and back, such was the laziness of the passing and general non-plussed attitude. For some it refused to abate and if was was Sven I'd tell Steven Gerrard that he'll get a £1000 fine for every pass he attempts over 15 yards. I spent the whole game screaming at him to stop making it so easy for a defence we should have torn to shreads, I thank Sven for saving my voice in the 79th minute.

I've never thought Gareth Southgate was international class; and despite his recent good form for Middlesbrough he looked thoroughly out of his depth against his team-mate Szilard Nemeth. Jonathan Woodgate didn't look great either, but his youth and promise allows the excuse. That said, for all the talk of Sven's affinity for form players, Woodgate has not been performing particularly well this season from where I've been sitting.

It wouldn't be an all things footie report on an England game without some Heskey bashing. Well, as long as Sven insists on playing the lumbering oaf, I'll insist on asking the question why? All I'll say this time is that it's bloody embarassing when your left back's first touch is infinitely better than your holding centre forward's.

Another of Sven's criminal decisions is wasting our best player. No, not David Beckham. Or Michael Owen.Paul Scholes is the only English player capable of consistently ripping a top class team apart from midfield, as well as being our most talented all round footballer. To put him in the anonymous left midfield position that Eriksson refuses to lose in favour of anything other than a flat four in midfield, is akin to playing Pele in goal. If you're going to lose anyone in the left void, it might as well be Hes…

Which brings me on to my next moan. Why are England unable to adapt to teams playing unfamiliar formations. You would have thought that the lack of a left sided player would already have forced his hand on this one but Sven has doggedly stuck to playing someone out of position and wasting (in theory) one of the eleven best players in England. Why not use the attacking instincts and hard work of Ashley Cole in a wing back style role? And do the same on the right with Danny Mills or Gary Neville?

This would enable Eriksson to use Gerrard's protective qualities in front of the back four and hopefully discourage the wasteful and frustrating long balls he's so fond of. Gerrard would have to keep the passing short and sharp to a midfield of Beckham, Scholes and Butt. In more adventurous games, Butt could be sacraficed for a more attacking option — such as David Dunn, Thompson or Joe Cole — with Gerrard moving into the midfield three. Flexibility, no one out of position and a hard working midfield that would link with attack and defence equally.

It's the big question over Sven from my point of view, he's proven his ability to motivate a side and get the players thinking about what they're doing as a unit, but does he have the flexibility and tactical nous fhe'll need if this England side are going to win anything.

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