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.
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