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Footy in mouth
Scuppered by Wayne Rooney's post-injury fitness problems and dodgy management, England's World Cup prospects look dim.
Tony Cascarino, 27 Jun 2006
It’s World Cup time again, and the expectations in England are through the roof. Having seen Paraguay off, by the time you read this getting through the first round may be a foregone conclusion – but the team will need to be performing far better than in the opening match to get past the quarter-final stage.
Without sounding too downbeat, I just can’t see England winning the tournament. I don’t think Eriksson is the right man to manage them. He does have good players at his disposal – but, while he’ll certainly feature, Wayne Rooney’s not going to make the impact on his way back after injury that he might have at full match fitness. I don’t think Sven knows how to get the best out of Stevie Gerrard either. As I see it, you need to use him in a free-roaming role at the top of a diamond, like Liverpool do, and let him get on the end of balls from twenty or thirty yards out. That said, I’m glad to see Aaron Lennon being given a chance. His pace is incredible: he goes past full-backs more often in twenty minutes than David Beckham has in the last three years. But I'm not sure that he's as effective on the left as he would be on the other wing.
Traditionally, England go out on penalties, so they’ll need to practise them. When I was at the World Cup with Ireland, we certainly did. After training most days, we’d finish with a penalty shoot-out. You have to be prepared. Watford did it at the end of this season, and there’s no doubt it gives you an edge if you’ve been doing it every day and you’re confident and you know exactly what you’re planning to do, rather than making your mind up on the spot. I hit one against Romania in an extremely high-pressure situation, and I’d decided all along to hit it low and hard. It wasn’t the greatest kick, but it got there.
You have bust-ups at every World Cup, and I thought it was France’s turn now, with Gregory Coupet walking out and then changing his mind. Then Togo produced a real surprise with their coach quitting, over money issues.