After a year on the job Steve McLaren believes that England's attack is best served by a rusty striker and his overweight sidekick. Emile Heskey joins Michael Owen up front for the Euro qualifiers against Israel and Russia.
According to Steve McLaren, Heskey has been included in the England squad as a last minute inclusion, to make Michael Owen look good. In their 12 international starts together in attack Owen scored 11 times. Of course, the tiny detail that seems to have escaped McLaren's attention is that Owen was healthy at that time. Also, we all know about Heskey's much hyped potential but the man is not a goalscorer. 5 international goals in 43 matches. No great shakes.
McLaren is turning into a piecemeal coach. No vision, no bold strokes. As I see it England can still qualify for the Euro even though it will be an uphill struggle but McLaren does have a choice.
Young, fitter players, relatively untested but hungry to prove themselves. Or an older lot with more injuries and inconsistent performances. In Andy Johnson you have a supremely fit athlete hungry for goals. Ashley Young has been hard to stop down the left as the opposition has found out. SWP has been very assertive down the right of late. All three should start.
I think McLaren should look closely at the Aston Villa team that Martin O'Neill is building for his own efforts. The Villa win came against the best defense in the league and it all started from attacking and incisive wing play. Villa has some of the best English talent and they are coming together putting in very disciplined and consistent performances. Yes, it is different when you are a club manager but essentially when it comes to managing youthful talent, the virtue of being disciplined can be applied anywhere.
Both Paul Robinson and David James, who are mistake prone should be out as goalies. Go with Scott Carson who has looked solid in the Villa goal. I think McLaren will be better served with a 4-5-1 with no real meaningful striker duo in the picture.
England team: Scott Carson, Micah Richards, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Ashley Young, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves, SWP, Andrew Johnson.