England 0 – 1 Spain

When, oh when, will Steve McClaren, or whoever else is managing England, learn?

Square pegs, round holes. Square pegs, round holes. Square pegs, ro… you get the picture.

Picking Ben Foster and Jonathan Woodgate was good.

Picking Phil Neville at left back was very bad – we know he can’t cut it in that position (or, probably, any position) at this level. Was there no U21 left back who could have been brought in for some experience? Why bother picking older players to play out of position in internatial friendlies? What’s the point?

The midfield of Wright-Phillips, Gerrard, Carrick and Lampard was absurd. Pundits bag on about having Lampard and Gerrard in the same team, and whether or not it is possible. Of course it is, and McClaren has proved it himself – you play Lampard in the middle and Gerrard on the right. Stick a holding midfielder next to Lampard and then choose a left sided player to, guess what? Play on the left hand side.

What on earth was the point in asking Lampard to play on the left? We knew he couldn’t do it before the game, and we were proved right. Barry should have started from the off, because that’s his position – it’s what he does!

The problem for the England midfield is lack of consistency. The players should know what their role is in the team. The first choice midfield is fairly obvious: Gerrard on the right, Lampard and Hargreaves in the centre, Joe Cole on the left.

Now, if any of these players are unavailable, then replacements, who can play in that position, should be brought in. The others should stay in their regular role. If Gerrard can’t play, then Lennon should, or Wright-Phillips. If Cole doesn’t play, then Downing or Barry should step up. Hargreaves can be replaced by Carrick or Parker. Lampard is the only problem here – if he can’t play, and I don’t think Jenas, Barton or Dyer are good enough, then Gerrard should probably come across and then Lennon or whoever brought in on the right.

But this insistence of selecting players out of position – especially in matches designed for giving experience to younger players – can’t continue if England are to be anything other than a dull, distinctively average side.

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