Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: It's the Boss Who Calls the Shots with England, Says Neville

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: It's the Boss Who Calls the Shots with England, Says Neville

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Curtis

GARY Neville has insisted England players have had no influence over the formation head coach Steve Mc- Claren will use in tonight's European Championship qualifier against Macedonia.

McClaren was reported to have decided to scrap the idea of playing 3-5-2 - which he has experimented with in training this week - and reverted to the more accustomed 4-4-2 system after intervention from squad members.

But Neville is adamant whatever line-up England use at Old Trafford is down to Mc- Claren and his backroom team as they search for a third successive win in their group.

The Manchester United defender said: "We haven't had any input this week on how we will play or what we will do against Macedonia. Of course, we are talking to the manager and the coaches regularly about things which occur in training sessions.

"But, regarding people saying we will influence what system we will play, that isn't happening - and hasn't happened. I don't understand where that has come from."

Neville believes it is important to experiment with different systems and McClaren did revert to 3-5-2 for the final half-hour of the win over Andorra last month.

He said: "I am comfortable with the idea of flexibility. I am comfortable with the idea of a manager who knows it is prudent to play a different system if there are difficulties tactically in a game. It's something that happened under Glenn Hoddle, Terry Venables etc. United went to Benfica last week in the Champions League and played 4-3-3 whereas most of the time we would play 4-4-2.

"It doesn't mean to say we will always play that but we know we can switch to different types of formation within matches. It is a good thing for a manager at the top level to know your players can adapt to a different formation within a game or from game to game."

The perception is that England are playing with more freedom under McClaren than his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson and his opening three games in charge have yielded 10 goals with none conceded.

But Neville refutes this as a significant reason why England did not perform better in the World Cup and believes playing as a team is a more important factor.

He said: "My belief is you should always play with a freedom. There are a number of reasons why we didn't win the World Cup. You could maybe put that down as one. But it was not an instruction I ever felt was there in the previous regime. I think you have freedom as a player on the football pitch but you have instructions from managers as well.

"The reasons for not winning the World Cup weren't because of that. I think we feel very positive. Most times we feel very positive - like before the World Cup in Germany. I felt very positive going into the last European Championships and the previous World Cup in Japan. …

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