And the dust has settled on England's ignominious exit from the European Championships – just in time for them to be drawn against Croatia again in the forthcoming World Cup campaign.
My abiding memory of the match last week was right at the end. As a dejected, and shortly to be unemployed, Steve McClaren walked towards the tunnel, the camera followed him and then swung around to show the England substitutes coming down from the stand to commiserate with their defeated colleagues.
There was John Terry, first choice centre-back along with his friend, and co-centre-back, Rio Ferdinand nicely wrapped up against the cold. They were injured. So, apparently was most of the first choice team. Poor McClaren must have thought the entire, proverbial latrine composed of layers of compressed and fired clay had fallen on top of him - to have lost – and to have lost because almost his entire first-choice team was unavailable.
Has anyone noticed these players made a swift recovery and were playing for their clubs within a week?
The club v. country argument is the crux of this failure. McClaren couldn't say so and jeopardise his massive payout from the FA, but he must have thought it. As long as England allow the clubs to manage their best players they will never manage to qualify for anything.
Rocket science it ain't!
Imagine this scenario – McClaren takes his players for training three weeks before the crunch match. This does not, of course, guarantee that no-one will be injured in training, but it does, at least, give him a fighting chance!
Makes sense? Good, but it is unlikely ever to happen. As long as the Premier League run English football they will put their interests first. Don't forget it was the FA, who supposedly are in charge, who allowed the Premier League to break away from the rest of football in the first place! Shame on them for abrogating their responsibility. Now, they are stuck – they can neither influence significantly the monster they have allowed in their midst nor get rid of it. They are doomed to institutionally facile snipings around the edges whist the clubs merrily do whatever suits them best.
Since most of the successful managers, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, are all foreigners, what makes anyone think they will spend time and effort insuring that their England players remain injury free and match ready for the important occasions!
For all we know, Abraovich's puppet at Chelsea might be told to declare key players unfit so Russia has a better chance to qualify. Did it happen? Who know, but it can't be ruled out!!
Mr Barwick may entice another manager – but unless the FA really want to take control of English football, nothing will change,
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