Wenger Urges McClaren to Pack Midfield
By Chris Hatherall
Arsne Wenger has backed England to beat Croatia 2-0 in their crucial Euro 2008 qualifier tomorrow, provided Steve McClaren is brave enough to change his system.
One of the biggest decisions facing McClaren is whether to play Frank Lampard or Gareth Barry in midfield, and whether to stick by David Beckham. Wenger has studied the match as part of his role as ambassador for the Castrol Performance Index, a system which analyses the performances and effectiveness of players in the tournament, and the Arsenal manager's verdict is that England can secure a place in Austria and Switzerland next summer by playing all of them alongside Steven Gerrard in a five-man midfield.
"I believe in this kind of game, when you are a manager you are tempted to play with a little bit of security and take players who know what it means not to make a mistake," the Frenchman said. "Therefore experience has an advantage. I personally believe he will go with Gerrard, with Lampard and with Barry and Beckham.
"He will change his formation, for sure. And it's an important decision because I believe that's the best way to be tight defensively without losing too much of his potential to go forward.
"He still has players in central midfield like Gerrard and Lampard who give you hope of scoring a goal. …