England - Andorra
Two posts in one day, and I even tagged this one!
England as a football team were absolutely awful on Saturday when they played Israel. It was a case of watching 11 quality england players who didn't gel at all for 90 minutes all attempting to play the same way they do for their Premiership clubs. Ok, they didn't have much training time together, but it seems to me that Soccer Skills 101 should teach any coach that a team needs balance, and England completely lack it at the moment. Compounding the problem, the "brilliant" McClaren, team coach, seems to think that putting players in positions they aren't used to playing will also create some unexpected spark of football magic.
Thankfully we are told by the media that Wayne Rooney has taken matters into his own hands by striking the ball, hitting Lampard and breaking his wrist. This may be a smokescreen for the fact the McClaren has dropped Lampard from midfield, which is a difficult but essential move. It should have been tested earlier when McC had some capital for experimentation before everyone got on his back after 3 poor results. Whether he's been told not to, or just can't do it, Lampard doesn't track back to cover when other players are out of position.
So with Lampard out how should the England team line up ?
GK - Robinson
RB - Richards or Neville
CB - Ferdinand or Carragher
CB - Terry
LB - Cole
RM - Lennon
CM - Gerrard
CM - Hargreaves
LM - Downing or Barry
CF - Johnson / Defoe
CF - Rooney
This team sheet has players in their favoured positions and should balance the team enough to make them a solid proposition. Of course if Wayne Bridge was fit probably favour him at left back and move Cole forward, but for now this would be my team.
There is however no accounting for the seeming random choices our current manager chooses to make, a prematch coinflip could easily see something random like a second-choice keeper playing, with Jenas & Dyer mucking up the midfield.
Before I heard the Lampard news, my value bet of the day was going to be Andorra 1-0 England @ 200-1. The way England had been playing odds like that were worth the change of squandering a fiver. Since the Lampard news I still think the randomness of our coach makes that bet good value, but if the team sheet lines up as I've said above then I'd expect an England victory of +4 goals or more.