Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Has McClaren lost his marbles?

You're an under pressure manager of a national side. For the first time in twelve years it looks as though your team won't qualify for a major international tournament (as your fate is now in the hands of other teams). Then, through a stroke of good fortune, your side regains an opportunity to qualify through its own actions. All you need to do is win or draw at home. Yes you're playing a tough side, but you'll be at home with 90,000 fans supporting you.

What do you do? Surely anyone with any nouse would want to ensure that his team was packed with experience? Yes the odds are stacked in your favour, but it will be tough.

Well it looks to me that in the next few hours Steve McClaren is going to put himself in the "no nouse" category (believe me, that's the polite way of putting it) as the rumours that Paul Robinson is to be dropped for tonight's epic are intensifying. As I wrote here last night, dropping Robbo is not something I support. Dropping him, who has 41 international caps (including appearances at the World Cup Finals in Germany), in favour of a youngster with one cap (and that was against the lowly Austria) is surely ridiculous. Now don't get me wrong, I've nothing against Scott Carson and I believe he will become a great keeper of international repute over the next few years. But, why play him tonight?

I'd like to hope that this is just the press barking up the wrong tree, but I'm not convinced. If McClaren wants to place Robbo then I'd have thought David James would be a more sensible choice. He may be prone to a few errors, but he has nearly as many caps as Robbo and would be a safer choice.

I really don't know if McClaren is just crazy or wants to be a hero. Either way he's taking a massive gamble. And will it work for him? If Carson plays and makes mistakes then obviously McClaren will be crucified. But if Carson plays and does well, surely the outcome is inconclusive (who's to say that Robbo wouldn't have also done as well)? Robbo is a great keeper who is an incredible shot-stopper. Yes he's made some mistakes and has lacked concentration at times, but he's still pulled managed to keep pulling off great saves in between those recent errors.

So if we qualify for Euro 2008, I can't see how McClaren can come out of the goalkeeping saga with credibility. We shall see...

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