Introductions are in in order this morning, as we search through the rubble that is the England national team looking for Steve McClaren's career as manager. Sacked hours after Croatia's devastating 3-2 win at the New Wembley, McClaren is the second casualty of the Euro 2008. The first? Well, that's the summer of 2008, of which, England football fans have been robbed.
Anyway, back to the introductions. Mr. McClaren, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Ryan, Mr. Greg Ryan.
Mr. Ryan, like you Mr. McClaren, was sacked hours after his team was eliminated from a major championship. Greg Ryan? He, of course, is the former manager of the U.S. Women's National team. He, of course, is the man who inexplicably pulled his seasoned starting keeper, the one who had been in goal for many wins in a 50-match unbeaten streak. He, of course, watched his over-managing and poor strategy cost the U.S. women in the World Cup semifinals. As a result, he, of course, watched his career go up in flames.
Mr. McClaren, the irony is thick in the room today. Yes England was devastated by injuries and suspensions, but ultimately, you, Mr. McClaren, like Mr. Ryan, were your own worst enemy. You tinkered in desperation. You pulled Paul Robinson in favor of a green Scott Carson. Less than 10 minutes in, Carson had given up a horror of a goal and the snowball was steaming down the mountainside taking dead aim at England's hopes for qualifying for Euro 2008 and your career.
You also inserted young Gareth Barry in the midfield and Shaun Wright-Phillips in an attacking position. Barry and Frank Lampard had no cohesion and no plan to attack the Croatians. Phillips, well, he's no Beckham. Beckham may be on the downside of his career, but the man understands how to play and can still execute from the wing. In an elimination game, there is no substitute for experience. Right Mr. Ryan? You see Mr. McClaren, Mr. Ryan too learned the hard way.
Down 2-0, Beckham came in and fed Peter Crouch the feed he needed to tie the game and give England hope. Ultimately, you likely got what you deserved. English football, however, did not. The Euro won't be the same next summer; all but one of the powers will be present, and for that, the tournament will be poorer. In the meantime, this should spur England to do the right thing, and hire the right manager, be he foreign or domestic and right this ship in time for South Africa, else we might be having this same conversation again in two years.