England once again have mucked up in a major qualifying match. But unlike before, tonight can’t be all about it being Steve McClaren’s fault. He steered England to five consecutive 3-0 wins, was brave enough to use Gareth Barry instead of Frank Lampard, and doesn’t seem to have been too bad tactically.
Instead I think the main issue is the players. They don’t seem capable of winning some of these crucial games, even though they are billed as world class players. The first half went pretty much perfectly, but the second half was a disaster. Graham Taylor was clear on Radio Five Live that Russia deserved to win the game.
I expect McClaren to be under extreme pressure, but I think he hasn’t done too badly. instead the players as a team need to come together and take responsibility for their performance. There is only so much that the manager of a team can do once the players are on the pitch. If England don’t qualify for Euro 2008, he is pretty much guaranteed to lose his job, probably to some big-name foreign manager. That could be a pity as McClaren seems like he was beginning to do a good job.