In England, all the focus is on the national team this week, which faces a Euro 2008 qualifying double-header against Macedonia at home on Saturday and Croatia on Wednesday night in Zagreb. Dominic
Raynor of ESPN Soccernet points out how England coach Steve McClaren is saying and doing all the right things to distance himself from the Sven Goran Eriksson era. Says Raynor, "a dearth of passion
and a lack of plan B were both criticisms levelled at McClaren's predecessor, Sven Goran Eriksson, and it appears the current incumbent, who has called on the skills of publicist Max Clifford, wants
to declare himself the antithesis of the old regime." From a public relations perspective, distancing himself from Eriksson is exactly what McClaren needs to do to win back enthusiasm for England.
Dropping former captain David Beckham is just as much a part of that PR strategy. It must be, says Raynor, because how else can you explain the omission of Beckham from an England midfield that's
already missing Owen Hargreaves, Arron Lennon and Jermaine Jenas through injury? "Selection should surely be based on form, ability and experience, not by agenda? Or is this an age thing?" he asks. In
any event, England will welcome back Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney from suspension, although Liverpool's Peter Crouch should be the first name on the team sheet following a string of
fantastic performances in all competitions so far this season.
Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »