Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Panic at Set-Pieces Gives Eriksson Back Problems; Michael Hart Hears from Former England Defender Terry Butcher Why the Current Side Can't Keep Teams out and How They Can Address the Problem

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Panic at Set-Pieces Gives Eriksson Back Problems; Michael Hart Hears from Former England Defender Terry Butcher Why the Current Side Can't Keep Teams out and How They Can Address the Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

TERRY BUTCHER today urged Sven-Goran Eriksson to rethink his defensive strategy at set-pieces. The former England centre-half fears Portugal might capitalise tonight on the defensive uncertainty that cost goals against France and Croatia.

Three of the four goals England have conceded here were the results of set-piece deliveries. The only other goal to beat David James was Zinedine Zidane's penalty in the opening match against France.

Butcher, the former England and Ipswich captain now manager of Motherwell, played 77 times for his country and was in the side beaten 1-0 by Portugal in the opening World Cup match in Mexico in 1986.

"Until recently we were always noted for the way we defended at corners and free-kicks," he said. "But in the last couple of years we've conceded a number of goals this way.

You've got to give the opposition some of the credit for this because the delivery of the ball these days is superb.

"But I also feel we're putting too many players in the penalty area when we defend at set-pieces.

Against Croatia there were so many players in our penalty area panic was almost inevitable when the ball wasn't cleared immediately.

"David James initially made a great save from the ball that flew off Ashley Cole, but basically that was a sloppy goal to concede.

"I'm not being critical of the individuals concerned. Our defence is organised and disciplined and James has made some great saves.

"But I watched Portugal play Spain the other night and Scolari put three Portuguese players on the halfway line when defending against corners.

This meant Spain had to withdraw four players to mark them.

"I know it's not the same at Motherwell but I always have two players on the halfway line when we're defending a corner. This means your opponents have to cover them with three men. …

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