Finally McClaren has realised what I’ve been saying for years. That Paul Robinson is complete rubbish. I asked a few weeks ago how many goals tubby had conceded against Arsenal and the general consensus was around the 40 mark. Good job!
There’s also been a lot of talk about Beckham and whether he’ll reach 100 caps, but McClaren has dropped him too in favour of Shaun Wright Philips.
It looks like the soon-to-be-fired England manager is going with a 5 man midfield of Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Joe Cole and SWP, although you would assume the Liverpool man would play just behind Crouch like he’s done for his club so many times.
And the back four is rumoured to be Wayne Bridge, Sol Campbell, Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards.
I would feel more comfortable if David Beckham was playing tonight, because at least then Crouch would get some decent servce!
And I would feel even more comfortable if England needed to win the game. England play at their best when they have to win, and if that was the case I would predict a 2-0 or 3-0 scoreline – no question.
But knowing a draw is good enough can be a burden and if the scores are still level after an hour then we’ll end up sitting back and inviting pressure. Then one little mistake or one piece of magic could all but end England’s hopes of qualification.
So we know Croatia won’t have a better chance to win at Wembley.
Ferdinand, Terry, Rooney and Owen are all out.
And with bookies offering 7/1 odds no-one is giving Croatia a chance in hell.
But surely it’s not going to be that easy is it?
And tactically McClaren isn’t exactly the best.
Arsenal’s Eduardo Da Silva isn’t setting the Premiership on fire as yet, but for Croatia that is a completely different kettle of fish. He scored the opening goal (against Paul Robinson, who else) in the game in Croatia and he has 13 goals in 20 international appearances.
That’s impressive for any nation.
He is second in the qualifying goalscoring charts only behind Northern Ireland’s David Healy.
And when you consider the teams in the European qualifying groups, and the better service their strikers get, you start to understand how dangerous Croatia actually are.
Yes, they lost to Macedonia at the weekend, but the conditions in that game were quite frankly horrendous and it was their only defeat of their qualifying campaign so far. And you would think the prestige of playing at a stadium like Wembley would spur the Croatians on to at least have a go at England.
If Israel can beat Russia, then Croatia can beat England.
Expect fireworks tonight.
Because if England don’t score in the first half then things could get edgy!