As is routine following an England team's tournament exit, a lot has been written and said about the U21's tactics and general style of play since their elimination on Sunday. Not for the first time, it seems that a fair amount of supporters were unimpressed with England's attempts at "the passing game". However, instead of bemoaning the players' lack of technical quality or calling for better coaching at grass roots levels, a rather loud minority indicated that their dismay on this occasion was because England had strayed too far from their roots; that the ol' kick-and-rush, for all its flaws, at least showed respect for national tradition.
With that in mind, I've put together a new setup for the senior team which recalls those good old days: no-nonsense, hard as nails centre-backs with real passion; no-nonsense, hard-as-nails full-backs with real passion; no-nonsense, hard-as-nails midfielders with... you get the drift.
Essentially, there's a keeper that can kick the ball into the opponents' box from his, eight hatchet men and two wingers.This way, the next time England get eliminated from a tournament their fans can say that they at least went out their way: with a pass completion rate below 50%, and with Johnny Foreigner bloodied and bruised, ruing the day he stepped onto the same pitch as England's brave boys.
The starting eleven:
GK - Paul Robinson
DR - Andy Wilkinson DL - Paul Robinson DC - Ryan Shawcross DC - Phil Jagielka MR - Jermaine Pennant ML - Matthew Etherington MC - Kevin Nolan (as the XI's most inspirational player, he gets the armband) MC - Joey Barton ST - Kevin Davies ST - Andy Carroll
Joe Hart, Zat Knight, Leighton Baines, Karl Henry, Dean Whitehead, Matt Jarvis, Jermain Defoe.
Assistants: Baddiel and Skinner.
Doesn't that fill you with pride? I'm bursting with patriotism just thinking about it. ...or perhaps "the passing game" wasn't so bad after all.