Saturday, November 17, 2007

George Cohen tells it how it is

So England beat Austria 1-0 in a meaningless friendly the day before we get knocked out of the European Championship by Russia winning in Israel. I didn't see it, I'm too tight to pay for Sky and too disinterested to go down the pub. I could have stayed up until 12:45 for brief highlights on BBC2 but I don't think I really missed much.

Sir George Cohen (yes I know he isn't but he ought to be) says here on the BBC what an entire nation has been thinking.

"Qualification should have been a matter of course but what is obvious now is that we're not as good as we were. We have been awful."

"Ordinary teams give us hard work. Some of them are no better than Championship sides and the fact we can't see them off is unacceptable"

"I found the last World Cup to be abysmal and embarrassing. Our stars were dreadful."

"I can't imagine anything less passionate than the way we play now, they don't want to play badly, but you can't say they're up for it."

"[McClaren's] position becomes untenable if England fail to qualify, if they gave Sir Alf Ramsey the sack, they can get rid of this guy. He's been around the England team for several years, yet in the last four major competitions we've been outrageously poor. Morale is obviously poor and that's down to the manager. We look depressed. McClaren just has plan A - there's no plan B. I'd appoint Martin O'Neill to replace him - if he wants the job. He'd be strong enough to tell the players they're not giving enough, doing enough or maybe not even good enough."

That's all spot on as far as I'm concerned. Tonight Scotland play Italy at Hampden needing at least a point to ensure qualification. A few weeks ago I would have found it quite funny if they'd failed to qualify, but having seen that James Fadden wonder strike help beat France in Paris my view has changed. Scotland have been everything England have failed to be. Hard working, passionate and fun to watch. They deserve to be in the finals and come 5:00pm I'll be cheering them on.

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