29th March 2007, 08:39 PM
29th March 2007, 08:41 PM
Re: Outside EPL
Updated: March 29, 2007
McClaren defiant as supporters turn nasty
Under-fire England coach Steve McClaren emerged from 90 minutes of personal hell to hail the 'guts and character' of his players in Barcelona last night.
The 3-0 Euro 2008 qualifying win over Andorra would ordinarily have been regarded as just about acceptable against a team boasting a single full-time player.
But the victory, achieved thanks to a second-half double from inspirational midfielder Steven Gerrard and a late effort from debutant David Nugent, was completely overshadowed by the sustained abuse directed at McClaren and his team from their own fans.
The vast majority of the 12,000-strong England contingent joined in choruses of 'You'll be sacked in the morning' and `What a load of rubbish' during the tepid, goalless opening period.
Even when the match was won, the attacks continued, `Still want McClaren out' was the pay-off line.
In a post-match briefing lasting less than two minutes and cut short by McClaren's abrupt departure, the England coach spoke of his admiration for a team who eventually proved their hunger.
'I said at half-time they had to show real guts and character to come through this. They did that. Each and everyone of them,' he said.
'I am proud of the players. It was a very difficult situation for them.
'There is no concern for me. Nothing concerns me about what people write or say. What matters is what is on the inside. There is a great determination to prove people wrong and a few of those players have probably grown up tonight.'
Stripping away the antagonism of the fans, if it is possible, there are a few more straightforward issues for McClaren to ponder.
Having shunted Gerrard onto the right of his midfield for most of his brief time in charge, McClaren switched the Liverpool skipper back to the centre in the absence of Frank Lampard, whose fractured wrist was not risked.
McClaren was rewarded with a decisive display as Gerrard grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, breaking the deadlock eight minutes after the interval with a fine volley before charging onto Jermain Defoe's return pass to net England's second.
Gerrard's role allowed Aaron Lennon to start on the right, where he too looked far more effective than he did in Israel at the weekend.
The question for McClaren now is whether to bring Lampard back for the next qualifier in Estonia on June 6, where a win would put England back in the hunt for a qualifying berth.
'We have won the game and we move on. That puts us in a better position in the group. We have to make sure we beat Estonia in June. Then we are on the run-in. It is down to us. It is still in our hands.'
Although the desire within the FA remains for McClaren to continue, Soho Square chiefs are facing the unpalatable prospect opening the 'new' Wembley on May 31 to a crescendo of jeers and catcalls.
FA chief executive Brian Barwick, who appointed McClaren and would have the job of firing him if that course of action was taken, left the Olympic Stadium without a word.
However, McClaren's players rallied to his cause, with skipper John Terry particularly forceful in his assessment of the fans' reaction.
'(Jeering) during the game isn't nice for the players,' he said. 'They (the fans) are entitled to their opinion. But I think for the players' sake, and England's sake, it is best if they keep their opinions until after the game.
'The booing or McClaren shouts are not helping. The players have stood up and taken responsibility for underachieving in recent games and we take that, not the manager.'
29th March 2007, 09:07 PM
Re: Outside EPL
Hargreaves: McClaren was an inspiration
Owen Hargreaves has leapt to the defence of under-pressure England boss Steve McClaren and insisted his half-time team talk inspired victory over minnows Andorra.
McClaren came in for a torrent of abuse from England fans during the goalless first half of the European Championship qualifier in the rain-soaked Olympic Stadium.
But Hargreaves claimed it was McClaren's positive vibes during the interval which helped to lift the players and two goals from Steven Gerrard, as well as one from substitute David Nugent, wrapped up victory.
The Bayern Munich midfielder said: 'The manager did a great job at half-time. He found the right words to motivate the team and make sure we did a great job in winning the game.
'He found the right message to get the lads going. He said `keep going, we will get goals and create chances.' and he was very positive.
'That's what we needed to here from him and we responded in the right way and did a very good job in the second half. Should he stay? Definitely.'
Hargreaves was critical of the overly physical tactics employed by Andorra in an effort to stop England at all costs.
He said: 'In the second half we kept our cool and even allowing for some of the tackles they put in, did the job we needed to do.
'We ultimately did ourselves justice. Some of the challenges were shocking and I don't think the referee protected the players enough at times. I told him numerous times.'
People could have got injured and you don't want to see that and it was a shame something like that could happen at this level and it's good we got the job done and kept a clean sheet.'
England are still in the hunt for qualification for Euro 2008 and victory against Estonia in June will set them up for a series of games at the new Wembley next autumn.
Hargreaves said: 'We won 3-0 away in difficult conditions. We have done the job.
'We set out to get six points from these two games with Israel and Andorra. We've got four points and kept two clean sheets and those are the things you need to take from it and build on.'
Gerrard opened the scoring with a fierce shot from the edge of the box after a neat flick from Wayne Rooney and he exchanged passes with Jermain Defoe before netting the second.
Substitute David Nugent, on his debut, added the third in the closing minutes after becoming the first Preston player for nearly 50 years since Sir Tom Finney to represent England.
29th March 2007, 09:09 PM
Re: Outside EPL
Maradona admitted to Buenos Aires hospital
Argentina legend Diego Maradona has been admitted to the Sanatorio Guemes hospital in Buenos Aires for tests after falling ill, according to a statement released by the hospital.
Maradona, who has a history of heart and breathing problems, has previously battled with cocaine addiction but a short statement read: 'Patient Diego Armando Maradona has entered the hospital to undergo complimentary studies due to a general sickness he suffered today.
'The sickness is not related to drug addiction.'
In 2000 he was hospitalised with a severe heart problem while on holiday in Uruguay and four years later he spent 10 days in intensive care with heart and breathing problems.
Most recently, he underwent a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 and consequently lost nearly 66lbs in weight.
The 46-year-old played in four World Cups for Argentina, leading them to the coveted title in the 1986.
Maradona's personal physician Alfredo Cahe is in attendance, along with his daughters Dalma and Giannina, and further updates are expected later today.
29th March 2007, 11:49 PM
2nd April 2007, 11:22 AM
Re: Outside EPL
3rd April 2007, 03:17 PM
Last edited by melvin; 3rd April 2007 at 03:22 PM.