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Scholes beim Auftakt auf der Bank ?

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For all his gifts, the time has come to start Scholes on the bench

Richard Williams

Saturday June 5, 2004

The Guardian

As England make their final preparations for Portugal, the good thing about Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad is that we know 90% of everything there is to know about them, not least the basic content of the team sheet: the goalkeeper, the back four, the two strikers, most of the midfield. The even better thing is that 10% remains to be discovered.

A month-long tournament tends to throw up all sorts of surprises. Some of them, such as an injury to a key player, will be unwelcome. Others may provide the key to unlocking the true identity of a team, thereby lifting them to unexpected levels of performance. And that may be where England's hidden 10% comes in.

The word from the training ground yesterday was there had been a shift in the deployment of the four-man midfield. Steven Gerrard was pulled in from the left side of the diamond to partner Frank Lampard in a two-man central unit, while Paul Scholes moved out of the hole behind the two strikers and into a position wide on the left.

In theory the idea of Gerrard and Lampard working together looks highly promising. Strong men with good engines, they could emulate the successful partnership of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit at Arsenal a few years ago, when one would hold station in front of the back four while the other ventured forward. Both can pass, both can cover ground quickly, both like to have a shot from the edge of the area. Neither of them, mind you, would claim to be as effective a tackler as Vieira.

A berth for Scholes on the left is another matter and goes to the heart of the missing 10%. For one thing he has been tried there before without notable success. More important, however, is the question of whether he should be in England's starting line-up at all. As everyone knows, the man once described by Alex Ferguson as "the best finisher in the club" has failed to score for England in more than two years and two dozen matches. No one is more painfully aware of it than Scholes, a modest man who ventured to suggest during a press conference last week that he would not be surprised if Eriksson opted to start Euro 2004 with Lampard in his place.

Last Tuesday night Eriksson tried to have the best of all worlds, by picking Lampard without dropping Scholes. Not surprisingly, there turned out to be a few flaws in the diamond. Some of them were caused by Lampard's total lack of familiarity with the holding role. When he ventured upfield, as such a talented attacking player must be encouraged to do, the necessary cover was not always provided by his midfield colleagues. And Japan's attackers found it easy to create space around the edge of the England penalty area, where Lampard should have been patrolling. Between the 25th and the 30th minutes, for instance, Keiji Tamada, Shunsuke Nakamura and Junichi Inamoto all had shots from that range, with time and space to spare.

Further upfield Scholes produced nothing that stuck in the memory - nothing, that is, apart from his consistently woeful contribution to defence, its lowlight a clumsy foul on Alessandro Santos that should have produced a penalty to Japan. Attempting to link with David Beckham on the right and with Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney up front, Scholes injected neither momentum nor incisiveness into England's attacks, which time and again spluttered to a halt.

As a result Rooney seemed to have mislaid the clarity that marked his play in the vital home win against Turkey last year, when he operated in the hole and looked as if he had been born to play there. Against Japan Scholes's presence forced him to play further forward and discouraged him from using his skills to take out a defender. Nor was there room for him to develop the sort of partnership with Owen that Peter Beardsley once enjoyed with Gary Lineker.

Scholes is such a marvellous footballer in so many ways, so technically adroit and so full of admirable creative instincts, that to criticise him is invariably to put oneself in the way of a volley of outrage. Nor would his fellow professionals hear a word against him. But the time may have come for Eriksson to recognise that, at present, he is simply not productive enough to justify selection.

His presence is too peripheral, his contributions too marginal. At the moment he belongs among the substitutes, where he could prepare himself to provide a change of pace when necessary. Lampard, the runner-up to Thierry Henry as the Premiership's player of the season, has the quality, the appetite and the form to take on the challenge of providing Eriksson with a more dynamic scoring threat from midfield.

To those who fear the consequences of making such an apparently radical change at the last minute it could be pointed out that the last World Cup was won by a manager who showed himself willing to make an important tactical switch during the competition itself. After the group matches Luiz Felipe Scolari looked at his Brazil team and decided that a side already featuring Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho needed more strength and solidity in midfield. So he removed Middlesbrough's Juninho Paulista, bringing in Kleberson, a much plainer and more defensively minded player, alongside Gilberto Silva in the two-man midfield with which Brazil swept past England, Turkey and Germany.

A genuinely great playmaker makes himself the indispensable heart of a team. France, for instance, cannot function properly without Zinédine Zidane. But Scholes is England's Juninho, not their Zidane.

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Sehr guter Artikel, leider trifft der Inhalt genau zu! :madmax::(

Aber Paul könnte sicherlich auch als Wechselspieler einiges, wenn nicht sogar mehr bringen!

Zu diesem Thema wird auch HIER diskutiert :)

bearbeitet von Green Magic

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