The Rambler :: blog

Monday, June 14, 2004


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Peeved, but definitely not gutted. Last night's result, while enormously frustrating, hasn't done any harm whatsoever to our chances in the tournament. There's absolutely no way Eriksson would have had 'beat France in the opening game' as a central pillar of his plan. The plan will have been (and remains) to beat Switzerland and Croatia, come second in the group andplay either Portugal or Spain in the next round. It's not as though one of those two teams will be a walk in the park, so coming first or second in our group will probably make little difference. So, there's yr perspective.

As it was, I think Eriksson played a blinder. Whatever instructions he'd given his players, it clearly worked: for 91 minutes, the two best players in the world - Zidane and Henry - were completely anonymous. The Owen-Vassell, and Scholes-Hargreaves substitutions were effective (especially Vassell); bringing on Heskey was predictably a mistake however, and it remains a mystery for 40 million English (minus Steve Bruce) as to why he's still anywhere near the squad. David James should not be blamed for the penalty either - that rests solely with Gerrard and that lunatic back pass. Word of advice, mate: Row Z. Probably the first time Gerrard's not hoofed the ball 70 yards up field all year.

Overall, then, I think if we can focus on the numerous positives from the game (good game from Ledley King, storming game from Rooney), then we should be able to face anyone in the competition knowing that we can beat them. And that's something we've not been able to say for some time. I'm annoyed about the game, but very positive about the tournament.

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