Tonight's friendly between the Netherlands and England at the Amsterdam ArenA tonight is more than meaningless filler for this week's international break-for England, that is. Friendlies are often
dismissed as irrelevant, and as far as the record books are concerned, they are, but Steve McClaren's England side isn't exactly in what you'd call a rich vein of form at the moment, after drawing
0-0 at home to Macedonia and then limply falling away to Croatia 2-0 in September. McClaren was absolutely crucified in the press for his tactics after two terrible performances-even by his assistant
Terry Venables, who wrote that you have to have offensive-minded wingers when playing a 3-5-2. Instead, McClaren conservatively played Gary Neville (a right-back) and Ashley Cole (a left-back) on the
wings against Croatia, which effectively reduced his 3-5-2 to a more defensive 5-3-2. The result? England barely managed a decent shot on goal in 90 minutes. Those dismal results mean that tonight's
friendly against quality opposition (the Netherlands is currently undefeated and top of Group G) turned into a real test of character for England. A loss, and McClaren might even be tempted to
resign. A draw would be acceptable, but a win in the imposing Amsterdam ArenA would go a long way towards dissipating the doubt that continually swirls around the McClaren administration.
Read the whole story at The Guardian »