Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Etherington For England? Matty Has Money On It!
Matty Etherington, it seems, is being talked about as a possibility to fill the troublesome left midfield berth in the England team - and not for the first time. I remember some wild predictions about his future when Tottenham signed him and, during that fantastic 2005-06 season, I, for one, was calling for him to be given a try in an England shirt.
The selection of Etherington for South Africa would not be without precedent - remember when Trevor Sinclair not only made it into the squad but also into the starting 11? Personally, I think Matty lacks that extra yard of pace to make it at the highest level but the fact that he is even being mentioned shows that Zola blundered when he let him go.
Matty was the first victim of Zola's misguided 4-3-3 formation. Go back to just before the start of last season and I blogged how we could challenge for a Champions League place. The idea was simple: pick Cole and Ashton and encourage Etherington and Faubert to sit "high" for all home games, whipping in crosses for the two target men at every opportunity. I compared the system to the one employed by Blackburn when Shearer and Sutton led their line, with two out and out wingers providing the ammunition. Of course, it all went awry when Ashton was crocked, but with Faubert assisting in five of our first six goals at the start of the season, the simple strategy was working. Then Curbishley flounced out, Zola arrived and 4-4-2 became 4-3-3. Etherington briefly appeared to flourish under the system but suddenly disappeared from the team, amidst rumours of gambling problems, never really to be rehabilitated.
Pullis, with the signings of Etherington and Beattie, has showed how simple football can be. Instead of asking Etherington, who is more one footed than Heather Mills-McCartney, to switch from the left flank to the right, as under Zola's crazy system, Etherington has been told to stick to what he is good at, bombing down the left hand side and pinging in crosses for Beattie to attack. It isn't sophisticated, it isn't rocket engineering, but it can be wonderfully effective. I tell you this, had Etherington been playing against Sunderland, Fulham and Hull, we would have finished all three games with maximum points because he would have helped us to exploit the extra man advantage. Zola picks Stanislas or Collison on the left but both are then crossing on their wrong foot. We lack somebody on both flanks with the confidence to attack the full back and swing over a cross and so we find ourselves always attacking through the middle, irrespective of where our opponent's weaknesses may be.
Will Matty be on the plane to South Africa? One thing's for sure, if Matty is backing himself, he doesn't stand a cat in hell's chance!
Posted by Hammersfan at 18:25