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Hoddle Must Stop Zola or Lose in Rome; ITALY V ENGLAND (SATURDAY 7.45 P.m) SKY 6.45pm, ITV 10pm

By Irwin, Mark | The Mirror (London, England), October 6, 1997 | Go to article overview

Hoddle Must Stop Zola or Lose in Rome; ITALY V ENGLAND (SATURDAY 7.45 P.m) SKY 6.45pm, ITV 10pm


Irwin, Mark, The Mirror (London, England)


Glenn Hoddle is facing his toughest balancing act since becoming England manager, and the only solution is to leave Gazza on the subs' bench in Rome.

There's no way he can go to the Olympic Stadium and play for a draw. England must go for goals. But at the same time, defensive security must be his first priority.

It is too simplistic to say that if you stop Gianfranco Zola, you stop Italy. But there's no doubt that the little man is the overwhelming threat to England's World Cup qualification.

If the Italians play well and get good movement, Zola is the man who links it all together and makes them tick. And he gets goals. If England can keep him quiet they'll have won half the battle.

What Hoddle's side most definitely can't afford is to be caught sleeping like they were at Wembley in February, when Stuart Pearce lost concentration and was left flat-footed by Zola.

The Italians don't play with width. They knock quick balls into the channels for their front men to run on to.

England have got to be vigiliant and alert for every second of Saturday's game. If Sol Campbell is marking Zola and Tony Adams is around to keep the Spurs defender on his toes, they've got a fighting chance.

We all know Hoddle will play a 3-5-2 formation in Rome, but his wing- backs have got to be defensively-minded rather than natural attackers.

I'd have Gary Neville and Graeme Le Saux doing that job, with Gareth Southgate alongside Adams and Campbell in the back three.

Paul Ince is a must to patrol the middle and protect his defence, which leaves room for just two creative players in midfield.

I don't believe Hoddle can even contemplate leaving out David Beckham or Paul Scholes. They've GOT to play after Manchester United's win over Juventus last week.

As well as Gazza played against Moldova last month, this is an entirely different proposition.

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