Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sven Goes Barmy

It appears that Sven has finally lost his marbles. In tonight's friendly with Hungary he is going to play Jamie Carragher in midfield in a holding role, despite the fact he's never played there for Liverpool. Quite what Michael Carrick has done to deserve being edged out of the role is a complete mystery. With Peter Crouch playing up front on his own I have a great feeling of foreboding. Mind you, as the only non 17 year old fit striker, I suppose there's not a lot of choice. With the players we have at our disposal we ought to be one of the favourites for the World Cup, but I fear that Sven's lack of leadership and bizarre choice of teams will mean we won't past the quarter finals. I'm reading Robbie Fowler's autobiography at the moment and his experience of Sven is almost as bad as his time with Houllier. Great book, though.


Anonymous said...

Well he may as well play Crouch in goal and Robinson and David James up front to cause the defenders problems by throwing their weight around. What about Downing at left back and Walcott and Lennon in the centre of defence (nobody will beat them for pace!).

Seriously, if Hargreaves is good enough to play the holding role for Bayern Munich, and Caragher has never really played it, then give the lad a go in his actual position.

I think we might be lucky to get to the quarters.

Anonymous said...

The decision to play Carragher instead of Carrick is a bizarre one, quite typical of Sven. Although Carragher will break the play up well, his distribution doesn’t compare to Carrick’s, and so when the ball is won we’ll be stuck in our defensive third of the field, trying to push out with short passes. Sven and his sidekick will lose us this world cup, the sooner the FA wakes up to Maclaren’s deficiencies the better. In the meantime we must play to our creative strengths, and start Michael Carrick.

Paul Linford said...

I disagree with very little of this. In fact your views on football are much more in accord with my own than your views on politics!

Carrick did little wrong against Belarus and was excellent against Uruguay, but I think it's a case of Sven deciding which 11 players he wants in the team and then constructing a formation around that. He clearly likes Carragher and would play him as a central defender if he could, but since he can't leave out Terry or Ferdinand then Carrick is the one who gets sacrificed instead. This approach is almost the diametric opposite of Sir Alf Ramsey's, who picked players to fit a certain formation even if (Stiles, Hunt, J. Charlton)
they weren't necessarily the best available.

Your mention of Robbie Fowler and his relations with Sven is interesting. I personally think - and it's a fairly lone view amongst my friends and colleagues - that Fowler should be going to the World Cup. In the likely absense of Rooney and possibly even Owen, there is a crying need for an experienced forward, He also finished the season in top form for Liverpool and would have played in the Cup Final had he not been cup-tied.

Anonymous said...

Carragher did play the holding midfield role for Liverpool in the days when Hyypia and Henchoz were the definitive central defensive pairing and although that was a few years ago it's wrong to say that he's "never" played that role.

I haven't seen enough of Carrick or Hargreaves to judge, but if neither of them have done enough to guarantee a first-team spot then I think Carragher deserves a chance. He's a solid player and unlikely to let anyone down.

Anonymous said...

Thought you were currently reading 'The Orange Book'?

Anonymous said...

Bizarre - last time this sort of square-peg-into-round-hole thing happened was when Kevin Keegan picked Gareth Southgate to do a holding role in a certain match at Wembley (remember those?). The rest is history...

Iain Dale said...

I am - but it's possible to read 2 books at once! I have 3 or 4 on the go at any one time.

Anonymous said...

Carragher has become the John Reid of the England side - sent in to fill in roles another man has made a mess of.
Except poor Carragher never bloody played there. Agree we need an anchor and Scott Parker's would have been my choice.

Praguetory said...

Killer argument in any Sven debate- refer to page 241 of Fowler's book re Brazil half-time.

"He said NOTHING in the changing room at half time ... just stood there with a startled look on his face like he too believed we were ******."

Those moments are what the FA pay £5m p/a for. Are the FA there to make Labour look good?

Anonymous said...

Michael Carrick isn't a good enough tackler. He's no Keane/Vieira/Makalele. I think you showing Carrick in a Hammers shirt in your blog shows your bias Iain ;) Carragher's proved he can perform at the top level and easily adapts to situations. Your criticism of Crouch is unwarranted - he's done nothing wrong in an England shirt and the team enjoy playing with him.

I find this endless criticism of Sven in the media rather tiresome given that he's been the best England manager certainly since Robson and perhaps since Ramsay. People complain about how much he's paid - let me remind you we had to offer him that much since he was in great demand! Plenty of clubs wanted him so England had to offer him the money. His results speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I have to strongly disagree with Paul Linford here. Fowler's NEVER performed well for England even when he was at the top of his game. He's one of those players who plays well in a team he's used to but struggles to do well in extraordinary circumstances ie. internationals.

This is why Crouch is a good choice - he's performed well time and time again for England and has never looked nervous or incapable.

I would, however, have given Darren Bent, Dean Ashton and, in midfield, Kevin Nolan, games for England if I were Sven to give them a chance to show what they can do. I think Ashton could have done a job for us.

Iain Dale said...

Better than Venables? You're havin' a giraffe...! Venables knew how to create team spirit and to to lead. Sven is incapable of either, as he so amply demonstrated during the last World Cup during the Brazil match.

Praguetory said...


Sven's key strength is his negotiating ability thus allowing him to play the FA like a fiddle with the Chelsea discussions. Even Carragher thinks Sven's decision to play him as a holding midfielder is a poor one. I would prefer to have Parker there, too, but given the squad Carrick is entitled to feel aggrieved (what was he picked for?). Crouch is not good enough - Beattie or Ashton would be better target men.

Anonymous said...

I would feel a lot more confident with El Tel in charge. Best manager we have had since Sir Alf.

Anonymous said...

Look at our record with Sven and tell me he's not done well. He may lack great motivational skills, but he's clearly an extremely talented manager who's done better than El Tel in my opinion.

Witheshaw - provide some evidence that Crouch isn't good enough. He's proven that he's at international standard which neither Beattie nor Ashton have done, though admittedly perhaps Sven should have given these players a chance (we can forgive him here - Beattie had an awful start to the season and Ashton started the season in the Championship thus neither merited a call-up). Crouch offers something very different to any of our other strikers as he proved against Uruguay - the technically gifted Uruguayan defence couldn't cope with Crouch the way they had with Bent and, by extension, would have coped with Ashton or Beattie.

Someone's mentioned Hargreaves - as far as I'm aware he's now second choice for the CDM position at Bayern to Martín Demichelis.

If I were to choose any of the defence to step forward into a holding role personally I would pick Rio - a more gifted passer as well as athletic and a good tackler - and play Terry and Carra at the back.

Praguetory said...

Anon - Ashton ended last season in better form than Crouch. Crouch got the big move and failed to score in 19 games. Sven always picks almost exclusively from the big name teams. I'd prefer if players were picked based on what they can do not who they play for. I watched Crouch play enough for Villa - and whilst I'm not going to slag him off how has he proven that he is international class? - next you'll be telling me Heskey was. Picking Walcott (without ever seeing him play) was a kick in the teeth for all Premiership strikers. What changed in the last 4 months? Why wasn't Sven playing this boy in our earlier friendlies?

Anonymous said...

Sven and the FA are now paying the price for poor selection, sloppy preparation and greed.

As soon as Rooney get crocked at the Bridge they should have accepted that his World Cup chances had been terminated there and then and picked a SENSIBLE replacement (am I the only one wondering what on earth Jermaine Defoe has done to upset Sven?).

Next they should have packed the squad off for altitude training (like Brazil and France have done). The benefits of this, particularly for endurance events, are long established. I cannot see how warm weather training in Portugal has any relevance to the Ruhr Valley.

Finally, all this should have been done without interruption. Instead, some very tired and injury prone players are being asked to compete in as many as three high profile friendlies to help the FA pay for their man made disaster aka The New Wembley.

The FA's incompetence in all of this simply beggars belief. We only have a small nucleus of players that can compete at the highest level. Sven and co seem to be doing their level best to lead us down the path of premature elimination once again.

Anonymous said...

It's a little difficult, Iain, to argue with results. Sven's been one of the most successful managers in England's footballing history and, even without Rooney, England are one of the favourites for this World Cup. It's difficult to argue with results: 3-1 tonight suggests your worries were misplaced. But then I have the benefit of 20:20 hindsight.

Anonymous said...

Can't argue with results... but that doesn't excuse only taking two fully fit strikers, one who has never played in the Premiership, to the World Cup. We're light on strikers as it is.

My personal choice for the holding role would be Hargreaves, not Carragher, but our Jamie is a lot better than the hapless figure he once cut alongside Calamity James in the old Liverpool teams.

I also believe we need a fit Owen more than a fit Rooney - and not just as a Newcastle fan. Rooney is, or certainly will be, a better player overall, but if we're only going to have one fit world-class striker, we need someone with experience, who's been there, to lead the line.

If that happens, then we can win the World Cup. We're not favourites, but one of 6 or 7 teams who could go the distance. Our midfield - Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard and Cole - has to be one of the world's very best.

Anonymous said...

Sven has so far guided England to qualification to three major tournaments - a similar record to Bobby Robson.

He has yet to secure a semi final berth at a major tournament -something that Ramsey, Robson and Venables all achieved.

The only squad that compares in quality to the one currently at Sven's disposal is the 1990 World Cup squad - it will be interesting to see how he fares with the present talent crop in Germany 2006.

Up until the Walcott 'surprise' Sven has always been cautious in his selection policy. Interesting that his gamble coincides with his loss of tenure.

It is no secret either that the senior players often dictate systems and tactics.

Sven is never to be seen in the technical area exhorting or cajoling his players.

We were told when Sven was appointed that we would see big changes in the way the national side was organised and coached and the way it would play.

What we have is a national coach who defers to Tord Grip (and the media) over selection. Who defers to David Beckham (and the media)over tactics. And who defers to David Dein (and The Sun) over organisation.

The one big difference he has made at the FA is to their overdraft...

Anonymous said...

Well I think last night proved Crouchinho can cut it and that Hargreaves is certainly no where near good enough for the CDM role. Carrick should be given a chance though. If Sven was really brave he could start with one of Gerrard or Lampard and if necessary bring the other one on later as an impact sub. We should learn from Brazil - they have a lot of talent but they don't try to play everyone at once! But if Kaka's having a bad game, there's Juninho Pernambucano or if Ronaldo's looking immobile Fred can come on for him.

Why not take Defoe? I think Sven worries he's too much like Owen - if Rooney is still injured (everyone but Sven accepts this now) Owen and Crouch should start, not necessarily because Crouch is better than Defoe or Ashton but because it's been proven several times that Owen and Crouch play well together. You can't play two channel runners together - Owen is the first choice striker and Crouch plays well off him - holding the ball up, providing assists and offering an aerial threat. He's also got his celebration worked out now!

Mike Wood said...

Of the three players who have done the holding midfielder job in the last two games, Carragher has looked the best in that position.
Carrick was the weakest of the West Ham players and former West Ham players on display against Belarus and Hargreaves still doesn't look convincing in any position he has played in for England.
England are likely to play a variant on the 4-4-2 system in most of their early games are are only likely to play a holding midfielder if they get far enough to play a very strong attacking team like Brazil or France. In that case, a more defensive holding midfielder, like Carragher, makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Afraid you are wrong on this one Iain. Carrick was quite poor against Belarus - his passing in the first half hour was hopeless - and the assembled hacks noted Eriksson`s unusually strong criticism. The smart money is that the boy Carrick won't get much game time in Germany unless we get a spate of injuries. Carragher may not be spectacular but he is dependable and versatile.