Newsletter #1240

Congratulazioni to Dario, Renato, Vanes and the other Italian Blues as Zizou bows out in disgrace and we can put 4 weeks of disappointment for the majority behind us.

Meanwhile, back in Manchester the squad have returned for pre-season training and we’re still analysing the World Cup and the kits.

Next game: Wrexham, away (Friendly), 7.45pm 19 July 2006


I’ll let you in on a little secret that I learnt messing about as a youngster. I’m amused that the talking heads on the box haven’t clued in on it but then none is an ex-goalkeeper. When a player is taking a penalty watch the direction of the foot of his plant leg. Generally the penalty will go in that direction and you’ll notice Ricardo dives once the player has placed the foot of his plant leg but before the ball is kicked. There’s a reason he “seems to know which way the kick is going” as one of the talking heads said. He does.

Re England and World Cup. Taking Bridge, Jenas and Walcott was a joke: Richardson, Beattie or Ashton and Defoe should have been taken. I’m sorry but tactically Sven is an idiot. I’ve been a fan of Frank Lampard from his West Ham days and thought the England team should have been constructed around him but given his form or lack thereof the past 6 months and what seems to be irrefutable evidence that he and Gerrard can’t play in the same midfield then Lampard should have been dropped.

For tactics to work you have to marry correct tactics with correct players. 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 4-3-3 or Venables’ 4-3-2-1 doesn’t matter. What is important is that you play the correct player for the correct tactical formation. If you are going to play either a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3 then David Beckham can’t play on the right wing. He has neither the speed nor the dribble ability to do so. Now Beckham is and has been a quality performer for England. You can play him in a 4-5-1 but he has to play inside; essentially the inside right position. His accurate sweeping passes and dead ball skills are an asset but not if he plays out on the right.

Gerrard and Lampard play the exact same position. List the top 30 players in the world and on form they are both on that list but one has to be on the bench. It isn’t about putting the best players on the field, it’s about putting the best team. Similarly, Owen Hargreaves has never made sense being picked for England in any of the positions that he’s been asked to play. But put him in the correct position and the guy was a revelation. A midfield five of Cole, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Beckham and Lennon (and it would have been SWP if he’d stayed) works as a cohesive unit. Two quality wingers, midfield ball winner, strong passer and dead ball specialist and midfielder coming through in support.

That being said, given England’s current crop of players you either play Chelsea’s 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. Take Chelsea’s 4-3-3. You are looking at a Lampard, Ballack and Makalele or Essian midfield. A holder, a playmaker and an attacking midfielder. England could replicate that with the players they have. Or 4-4-2. Sven took 4 forwards, and Rooney, Crouch and Owen have not played the 4-5-1 at club level.

This really is a golden generation for English football. I count 6 players who could be called true world class, not just very good. They are young enough to have a shot in 2010 but this was their year. This group of players should have won the World Cup. And Sven can prattle all he wants about 3 straight tournament QF but…

And Steve McClaren? Forget his contract length. England have to star in the European Championships or he’s gone.

Oh and City? Same problem. If you go out and get a Paul Mariner clone then you are playing a 4-4-2 but you have to have wingers who can cross accurately. I’ve seen no evidence that this is the plan. I don’t have a problem with Dickov or any other experienced players that get brought in. They provide a layer of quality and professionalism that is required in the Premiership. But currently it seems to me that the defence is pretty solid both from a regular and youngster standpoint. The issue remains that it doesn’t matter whether the plan is to play 4-5-2, 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, the team does not have the outside players to do any of them well.

Wallace Poulter <wpoulter(at)>


Can anyone tell me the reason why we have a new away kit as well as a home kit this year?

This may have been covered in other articles or asked before, but I can’t think of any reason, nor have I seen any explanation. Have the club offered any reasons?

Are we also keeping the dayglo yellow 3rd kit this year?

Bit of a worry that we’re starting to do things we criticised the Rags for doing.

Saw the kit in the flesh this weekend and it still doesn’t blow me away. The shorts look like the cotton material old rugby kits were made from, but they have a softer feel when touched and the shirt blue looks different from last year’s blue.

Tony Ward <anthony.ward(at)>



Wayne Rooney is driving in a car at a constant speed. On his left side is a valley and on his right side is a fire engine travelling at the same speed as him. In front of him is a galloping pig, which is the same size as his car and he cannot overtake it. Behind him is a helicopter flying at ground level.

Both the giant pig and the helicopter are also travelling at the same speed as him. How does Rooney get out of this situation?

A. The fairground manager switches off the merry-go-round and tells him to F@&* Off


Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>

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Newsletter #1240