Tuesday, November 27, 2007

dahl or francis

Last night's disastrous defeat to Croatia not only meant the end of England's Euro 2008 hopes and indeed Steve McClaren's reign, but it also made history. The 3-2 loss was the first time England had lost to the same opposition, home and away, in any qualifying campaign. This was their 24th campaign - 13 World Cups and 11 European Championships - and never before has a country beaten them in both games. Perhaps consistency was the key because just two of the starting side at Wembley on Wednesday night began that 2-0 reverse in Zagreb last October - goalscorers Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch. In contrast, nine of Croatia's starting side were in the XI for that first game. It would have been all 11 but Mladen Petric - who came on and scored in the second half - was not 100 per cent fit at Wembley and Darijo Srna, who was, missed the first meeting through injury.

Martin, I can't say I am surprised to see Steve McClaren sacked this morning, but it got me thinking. Have England managers always been given the boot on the back of a loss? Or have some of them gone with a win? Mark
MARTIN SAYS: Well Mark, Steve McClaren is only the third England manager to end his reign with a defeat, although this is a difficult point because we have to remember that on more than one occasion, the England manager's departure has been pre-ordained, either because it was the end of a campaign, tournament or simply his time. And they were not always given the boot, as you put it! Sir Bobby Robson's reign ended on the back of defeat in the third-place play-off in the 1990 World Cup finals, but it had already been decided that he would step down. I suppose the closest comparison would be Kevin Keegan, who quit of course after a home qualifying defeat to Germany in 2000 - by no means the last or even a decisive game compared to Croatia and McClaren's exit. Three England managers have bid farewell with a victory though, the first being Walter Winterbottom ending his mammoth 139-game reign with a 4-0 success over Wales in 1962. Graham Taylor's last game in charge was the 7-1 w
in over San Marino in the final qualifier for the 1994 World Cup finals - a game which turned out to be irrelevant - while Glenn Hoddle had just enjoyed a 2-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic when he was relieved of his duties for non-footballing reasons. Sven Goran Eriksson, Terry Venables and Ron Greenwood all left the job after draws had sent them out of major tournaments, the first two losing on penalties and all three of them having had their fates decided long before the final whistle.

Hi Martin, still in shock and scratching my head. I was wondering just when the last time England conceded three goals at Wembley? I can't remember it...Christopher Caton
MARTIN SAYS: It's understandable really Christopher, because you have to go back 12 years to find the last time England let in three at their famous old - and new - home. Of course while Wembley was being rebuilt, they played at different grounds for six-and-a-half years, but even so, the Croatia scoreline was a rarity. Brazil were the last side to do it, winning an Umbro Cup friendly beneath the twin towers 3-1, goals from Juninho, Ronaldo and Edmundo overturning Graeme Le Saux's opener. As I say England have been on their travels and have conceded three more recently. In fact the last time was in November 2003 at Old Trafford when Denmark won 3-2 with two goals from Martin Jorgensen and one from Jon Dahl Tomasson cancelling out Joe Cole and Wayne Rooney's goal. But Christopher I guess the most interesting stat on this is the last time England conceded three goals in a competitive, or qualifying, game at Wembley - and that was some 35 years ago. Back then, the 1972 European
Championships was a final competition of just four sides and the qualification was two-legged ties in what were effectively quarter-finals. England were drawn against West Germany and on April 29, Sir Alf Ramsey's side were beaten 3-1 at Wembley. Francis Lee was the scorer for England, but goals from Gunther Netzer, Uli Hoenss and Gerd Muller gave the West Germans a win that, coupled to a 0-0 draw in the second leg, saw them progress to the finals - where they were crowned European champions.

Dear Martin, there is a Villa fan in the office who is always bleating about how badly Gareth Barry has been treated by England. Anyway, he says Barry has played for five different managers in his England career of only 15 caps in seven years and has set me the question of who they are. Three of them are obvious - Kevin Keegan, Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren - but I can't work out the other two. He can't have played under Glenn Hoddle so what I want to know is: Is my colleague talking nonsense or can you enlighten me? Thanks, Bluenose Pete, Solihull
MARTIN SAYS: Well Pete, your colleague is correct, Gareth Barry has played under five managers, the three that you mention and two caretaker managers, Howard Wilkinson and Peter Taylor. In fact, by the time Barry made his his ninth appearance for England, as a replacement for Steven Gerrard in a 1-0 defeat to Spain under McClaren at Old Trafford, he was playing under his fifth manager. Barry made his debut under Kevin Keegan on May 31 2000 in a 2-0 win over Ukraine at Wembley, coming off the bench for Phil Neville. He played three more times for Keegan, against Malta, France and Germany, before starting under Wilkinson in a World Cup qualifier against Finland in Helsinki in October 2000. Taylor was in charge of the team for Barry's next match, when he started in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Italy in Turin in November 2000, but he had to wait until May 2003 to play for England again, when England beat South Africa 2-1 in Durban - again he replaced Gerrard as a substitute. He only
played once more for Sven, against Serbia & Montenegro in June 2003, and he then endured more than three and half years in the international wilderness before earning a recall against Spain in 2007. He has enjoyed life under McClaren, having played for him eight times up to and including the friendly win over Austria at the weekend.

Dear Martin, how does the seeding at the Euro 2008 finals work? I saw the other day that Austria, Switzerland and Greece are already top seeds. How is the other seed decided and the second seeds, so on and so on. Can you answer this one please Mr Tyler? Dipak Uddin
MARTIN SAYS: I can Dipak, although with qualification now completed, you might well have seen it elsewhere. To start with the teams that qualify for next summer's finals are the top two from each group, along with the co-hosts Austria and Switzerland, which gives us our 16 finalists. The two hosts, the reigning champions Greece (who had to qualify) and the team highest on the Uefa coefficiency rankings, then make up the seeds. The coefficiency rankings are based on results in qualifying campaigns for the 2006 World Cup and 2008 European Championships and, as Uefa explain, are calculated by the number of points gained divided by the games played by a side over those two campaigns. The long and short of it is, Holland are the other top seeds (there are four groups) and Croatia's victory over England means they make the second pot. Elsewhere Germany, who were in with a shout of that top seeding, are in the third pot, while France find themselves among the fourth ranked sides. He
re are how the sides will line


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