Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Myths Explode at Old Trafford; TUESDAY Commentary

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Myths Explode at Old Trafford; TUESDAY Commentary

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

IT does not bode well for a marriage when the honeymoon only manages to go 270 minutes before rows and recriminations break out and major doubts start to creep in.

England's 0-0 draw against Macedonia has rapidly dispelled the myth that Steve McClaren's appointment as England manager would instantly solve all the problems of the Sven-GUran Eriksson era.

Like the performances against other minnows Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador, like England's entire World Cup campaign, Saturday's display from our nation's finest was insipid and humiliating.

There are those who still cling to the belief that our national team is packed with world class talent who only need the right guidance and a little tactical tinkering to be able to take on the global best. Think again.

This was not an isolated humbling, a rare blip or a freak result which can be nonchalantly dismissed with a flick of McClaren's quiff or a gag from his assistant Terry Venables - this has become England's norm.

To his credit - and this was not always the case when he was at Middlesbrough when his positive thinking sports psychology sometimes turned press conferences into farces when, even after a 4-0 home defeat, he would doggedly claim he was happy with the performance - McClaren was brutally honest in his appraisal of Saturday's display.

Poor passing, poor tackling, poor shooting, poor crossing and poor decision-making equals a dreadful afternoon for the 72,000 inside Old Trafford and the millions more watching on television at home.

After the walkovers against Andorra and Greece and the fortunate 1-0 win in Macedonia, this was the realisation that England's problems run deep.

Is McClaren the man to sort them out, or does the PR bluster of Venables' appointment, the dropping of David Beckham and some clever use of the media merely hide a man who was part of the problem under Eriksson?

Only time will tell, but the next two days and the match in Croatia will certainly give us a better indication of the suitability of the union between manager and national team. …

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