Sports Letters: England in needof an overhaul
Wednesday 17 February 1999
We need a clear-out of the old mind-set and the older players, and a radical new approach. We should no longer think in terms of who partners Shearer, who is probably the best-ever old-fashioned English forward, but that is simply not good enough any more at international level. It is no longer about holding it up until help arrives - two touches is one too many. France and Nicolas Anelka showed how these days a striker's first touch has to be a cushioned pass or a flick that keeps the tempo going.
In midfield, Ince is long past his sell-by date and Redknapp is a clever, classy player, but unable to impose himself as a playmaker; Batty will never really hack it (or perhaps will always hack!) and Anderton is too inconsistent. We should set our benchmark by Zidane and Petit.
At the back, the post-booze Adams has been superb, but Anelka ran him ragged in the second half - if the ball is at the feet of quick clever players, he ain't in the game. Benchmark - Desailly or Leboeuf. Le Saux is a disaster defensively. Seaman is as slow and sluggish now as we realised Shilton was, all too late in 1990, as that deflected German free-kick flew over his head.
I suggest we throw Joe Cole, Matt Jansen, Gareth Barry and Darren Huckerby in with Beckham, Scholes, Ferdinand, Owen et al for the next 18 months and let them mature.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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