England took the plaudits this week for the 2-1 victory against Uruguay but I don't think anyone should read too much into it. The only good thing for me is it looks like we have a plan B this time with big Peter Crouch if anything should happen to Wayne Rooney, whereas last time I never saw plan B.
I do like Crouch's enthusiasm and he has got more in his locker than just being tall. One particular run he made when he came on, the one in which he slipped a clever pass to Joe Cole when everyone thought he would play it out wide, was very skilful given how big he is. And his height is an obvious bonus. Even when he doesn't win balls he takes two defenders out of the game by his presence which is bound to give others more space.
For me the man of the match was Joe Cole. He looks a different player these days and I love to see people like him running at players from all areas. I've two or three players like that. Unfortunately it's those type of players who get criticised, but I stick up for them as they have to create and it is far easier to be a negative player and stop people than be a creative one.
Cole has become a team player rather than playing as an individual. His chasing back was excellent and it looks as if the penny has finally dropped. When I talk to my players I always remind them that the best teams have forwards that work hard. Liverpool had a young Ian Rush who used to close defenders down like nobody else. So I don't accept it when strikers say they can only work around the box, their contribution has to be greater than that.
Something that stood out for me against Uruguay was the ease with which Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips were allowed to cross from dangerous situations without the defender trying to stop it. I mentioned the importance of not giving silly free-kicks last week, the same applies to not letting wide players get crosses in. It's a factor at any level, but especially when you are playing a team who have a bloke who's six foot seven in the middle.
2. Stan must think management is easy
After winning 3-0 against Sweden, who are going to the World Cup, Steve Staunton, the new manager of the Republic of Ireland, must be thinking there's nothing to this management game. Well, I'm sure Sir Bobby Robson has had a quiet word to say it's not like that every game.
The Irish did seem to play with a lot more freedom, and seemed to enjoy it more than in the recent past. I spoke to Stan, as he's known in the game, last week to ask him to leave Paddy Kenny out of the squad as he's been carrying a few knocks and we had a game last night. He was understanding and full of enthusiasm. I know Paddy wants to be part of the set-up and I'm sure he will be for many years to come.
3. Even Klinsmann is pushing his luck living in America
There was one result which caught my eye among the internationals: Italy 4 Germany 1. That must have made Sven think. And I did wonder how Jürgen Klinsmann, who's not managed at any sort of level, will react to such a disappointment. But then I thought, remember when England beat them 5-1 in Munich? Everyone thought we had swum the Channel. But who was it who got to the World Cup final? None other than the Germans. And this time they are hosts so who would bet against them doing so again? That said, I can't see how it can work with Klinsmann living in California. It must be very nice out there but only someone of his status could try it. It gives people more ammunition. If you have a run of bad results, people will criticise you for not having your finger on the button.
4. There are too many ugly brutes on TV, until today
Having played last night I'm going on BBC's Final Score this afternoon. I've been telling them what an ugly set of brutes they have on and it was about time they had someone sophisticated like myself. I expect they'll get their own back by giving me a dull game to talk about.
Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to taking my daughter to a swimming gala. I'd say it gives me a chance to scream at someone different, except it is my wife who takes over the mantle when we go, I'm the quiet one while she swims every stroke
5. I need 'O' Level knots
I took William to Jujitsu this week. I had to dress him in his robe but I couldn't tie the knot. I felt very humble asking someone to tie it for me. It's so complicated you need 'O' Levels to do it, so it's no wonder I can't.
6. Giggs is a revelation
Well done to Wigan for reaching the Carling Cup final but it was Manchester United's day and my man of the match was Ryan Giggs. It looks like he has got a new lease of life in centre midfield. I never thought he was strong enough to play there but he has good vision and touch, he sees a pass and goes past people. If he starts to learn how to tackle, he'll be the complete player.Reuse content