England less than the sum of its parts


Famously, the late great Brian Clough produced teams that were always greater than the sum of its parts. Individually, Clough's sides were permeated with average talent, together with the classy ones we all know. It was as a collective that the team strode to victory. Sven Goran Eriksson, on the other hand, seems to have taken what amounts to 11 of the best English talents in a generation, and reduced them to a Sunday-league standard team. No, that's an insult to Dog and Duck F.C., who would surely have had to nous to realise that Wimbledon's era died long ago.

It's an exaggeration of course but the frustration of England's two games so far is that, Brazil aside, England arguably has the best midfield quartet at the World Cup. Yet, while those four are hardly working in unison, they have had little chance to do so, circumvented as they are, far too often. It could be argued that the inclusion of Peter Crouch in the side has increased the temptation for the side's best long passers - Beckham and Gerrard - to aim for the beanpole striker as a first option rather than look to manoeuvre an opportunity through midfield. However, it's a contention that is contradicted by the evidence of Sven's five years in charge. The Swede always wants his teams to play this way. In terms of raw talent this England side surely justifies its position as one of the top four or five favourites at the tournament. Tactically - as captain Beckham has so proudly claimed this week - the 11 are inept. This is an ignorance led by their manager.

Sven has at most five games left in charge. This is more likely to be two on the evidence of the past week's matches. Indeed, few England fans will shed a tear for the Swede when he goes; unfortunately we have mini-Sven waiting in the wings to take over. History may just record this to be a criminally wasted generation of English talent.

© Soccerphile.com

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