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International reflections

With a big lull in the domestic calender at the moment and a lack of real City news going on I thought I may as well post up some thought on the England game last night.

As a contest, England were clearly second best in all departments. Croatia looked far more comfortable on the ball, their movement was quicker and more intelligent and their passing more incisive.

There was a lot of talk about the 3-5-2 and ultimately McLaren switched back to 4-4-2 once England went 2-0 down, and despite the quality of players out there the formation didn't work in the slightest. The 4-4-2 gives far better balance to the midfield and the side missed the presence of Gerrard (albeit suspended) and balance of a left sided midfielder. The midfield trio of Parker, Carrick and Lampard were ineffectual whilst in attack Crouch offered little and Rooney's work was done in areas where he wasn't going to threaten Croatia's defence.

Defensively - particularly centrally is a worry as well as for all the high standards Terry plays to at club level, he fails to replicate this often enough at international level and Ferdinand was found wanting on more than one occasion, whilst neither Neville or Cole seemed comfortable in their wing-back role.

Paul Robinson, who ironically kept England in the game for the most part making three or four high quality saves and whilst much of the attention will be focused on the second goal (which I think a lot was made of the effect the divot had) his positioning for the first goal was suspect and allowed what was a tame header to loop over him into the net. I know I've harped on about this before but imagine the reaction if it had been David James who had committed the errors Robinson made.

Typically though, the media today is really putting the boot in today and McLaren must wish for a home fixture against Andorra to get back on track as opposed to a five month break. You do get the feeling that the press masses have been waiting for a result like this (on the back of the Macedonia draw as well) since the new guy took over.

Although there is talk of a 'crisis' England will still have enough to finish in the top two and qualify through but based on last nights showing at least McLaren has yet to provide any real answers to the questions that were also continually asked of Eriksson during his time in charge.