A lot of media coverage today of Jamie Carragher’s decision to turn his back on playing for England having become finally pissed off being consistently played out of position or, worse, being clearly treated as no better than 5th in line for his natural position. It’s a shame I think but you kind of understand it because…..
a) as a centre half he was probably the most consistently effective and fit centre half in the Premiership last year. Whilst others were having off seasons or bad injuries he stood out really tall in the Liverpool shirt, not least in some tremendous Champions League matches.
b) he did receive some outrageously bad selection decisions from bloody McClaren at the back end of last season. He even lost out to Wes Brown in one match having just played an absolutely stunning game v Chelsea I think.
c) when he did get a selection, most of the time he was asked to play out of position – who enjoys that?
Whether Carragher would be the first choice if everyone was fit is debatable. But last year he was head and shoulders the most reliable in the CH role. Any decent manager should be able to accommodate him in the squad as an essential player. Let’s face it, of those (apparently) ahead of him, Woodgate is always going to be susceptible to injuries (when was the last time he completed an injury-free season?), King is becoming almost as injury-prone, Ferdinand had his problems too last year and can always be relied upon to do something frigging stupid to put his selection in jeopardy and Terry – normally the most consistently fit player – had his share of injury problems last season (perhaps those many seasons unscathed are catching up with him). It should be an easy sell to Carragher but of course McQuiff has allowed the player’s concerns to become a cancer which has eaten away at him.
So McClaren’s lost a key player from the squad and in the middle of the close season (!) by being quite simply a bad man manager. This is on top of making a bold decision to drop Beckham only to lose credibility by asking him back when the going got tough. I wonder what kind of a signal that gave to Carragher? This was already compounded by the ability of McClaren’s predecessor to ‘lose’ the services some time ago of perhaps the most complete midfielder last season, Paul Scholes, or if that’s too strong, the midfielder who drove Man U to the Prem title last year. How? By playing him consistently out of position in the troublesome left midfield role and by SGE’s enrapture with the Beckham circus, who, whilst playing poorly and out of condition, could not be dropped from his position. In short favouritism. You’d think McClaren might have learned the lesson. Yeh he did – how to screw it up from the master.
I may know jack shit about football management but I do know a little about man management and I also know McClaren is out of his depth in terms of his ability to lead a team of young men who are craving strong direction. I have my doubts about the wisdom of playing Lampard and Gerrard in the same team. But I can see fat Frank rapidly losing his interest in playing for the England team and he might well be next to jack it in. Now I ask you, when did you ever hear England players so openly critical of the ‘situation’ (read manager) and seemingly so ready to say stuff the England shirt, when they are in their peak playing years and long before their time is ready is step down. I’ve said this before but Alan Ball and Bobby Moore would be apopletic at the thought of it. Steve Bruce must be shaking his head and wondering ‘if only I’d had the chance to win one cap’ and there must be hundreds of players just like him.
Just go McClaren and do us all a favour.
ps if you think that I’m being opportunistic with these comments check out the earlier blogs ‘all to cock McClaren’ and ‘copaca…beckham’ to see that these aren’t newsy conclusions.