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England's Midfield Woes

  • Thread starter SaintsFan_Webby
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Having spent this afternoon watching London Irish beat Newcastle, I believe I saw the solution to England's midfield worries developing before my eyes. It isn't a quick fix, but definately a plan for the future.

To be perfectly cynical, England should just write off this year's World Cup. Try their best obviously, but basically expect to get knocked out soon after the pool stages and forget about it. We don't have the write combinations midfield and with no time to work on it, the tournament is a write-off.

My first point may sound drastic, but I feel it's reached a stage where it's now necessary in order for England to progress - Jonny Wilkinson must move aside.

He was today overshadowed by his opposite number Shane Geraghty, a man who I now feel has a big future at international level. I wasn't too taken the first couple of times I saw him I admit. It seemed like Catt was carrying him to some extent, and his kicking could have been better. Now he has come into his own though. His kicking still needs work, but he has time to develop that. What he possesses is the raw pace to really worry and draw in defenders, which combined with an impressive range of passing give a team a lot of forward momentum.

The 12 shirt which has provided England for a number of years now, I believe should be handed to Toby Flood. He may have been on the losing side today, but behind a pack who took half the match to wake up he provided Newcastle's best attacking threat, with numerous line breaks and well timed passes. Just as Irish interchanged between Geraghty and Catt at stand-off, so Newcastle did with Wilkinson and Flood. It was Wilkinson's 'understudy' who was the catalyst for more of Newcastle's positive play though, and I firmly believe he would compliment Geraghty in attack while relieving pressure on important areas such as kicking.

As for the outside centre berth, since his startling rise to prominance last season I have been forever singing the praises of Jon Clarke. Many feel Matthew Tait should be given an extended run in this position, but I believe Clarke offers more as an all-round player. His may not be quite as quick, but his elusiveness, strength and slight of hand more than make up for this. Tait could be a good option on the wing, as I feel he is more dangerous being given space on the outside to put his head down and run at opposition players.

So to sum up, post World Cup I believe England should line-up:

10. Geraghty
12. Flood
13. Clarke

Let us see, for Wilkinson might have another tight hamstring. John Fletcher says it is just cramp but this might be Geraghty or Flood's chance next weekend.

But again, England's midfield "woes" are seriously distorted by an ageing, outclassed and under performing pack which is where much of the problems lie with England at the moment.

Let us sort out the forwards first before we start to tweak with the backs.

I suggest moving guys like Jones, Rees, Palmer, Haskell and Shaw in...maybe even bring Hill back in to replace unreliable and under performing players in the pack. I want a pack that really does do serious damage to the opposing sides chances of winning a game.

The current England pack causes cries of laughter and derision rather than fear and excitement, no silly microscopic fiddling with the backs is going to change this.

Lets get England main problem out of the way first. We can keep giving Geraghty, Flood and the other guys run outs in either the Saxons or in the last quarter of England internationals but there is no point in changing the backs around if the Pack is still a shower of sh*t.
The pack does need a kick up the arse/reshuffle, that's very true. However, that doesn't mean the issues among the backs cannot be adressed simultaneously. Even if we put 2003's pack in front of them, the current English backline is not good enough.
I disagree because against Scotland, England's back line performed rather well considering it was their first game together.

The other two games saw England's pack creak and groan against superior opposition and forcing the back line to back peddle and put in a very uncomfortable position.

If you want a revolution with just four or five internationals left until the World Cup then you are asking for trouble, leave such things until after such a set piece and high pressure tournament. Geraghty, Flood, et al have at least four years to prove themselves yet.
I meant to make clear that my plan should only be set in motion after the World Cup. I realise now I didn't make that as clear as I had meant to.
The best way to develop a team is to win games. It's not the player selection that needs tinkering with, its the game plan, the team spirit and the tactics used. There are some great forwards in England at the moment but players simply aren't playing as well for England. For example Louis Deacon. He outplayed the munster locks for Leicester (pretty impressive) but hasn't done much in the 6N. When was the last time you saw a match winnning display from a forward wearing England colours?
Good thread Webby.

From a neutral point of view, I think England still has a shot of retaining their ***le, though a long one.

But I dont think leaving Wilko out would be a good idea. He still is the main catalyst for the English backline but would be good to have someone at 12 to complement his skills. Someone like Anthony Allen.

I still think Allen is the right man for the job.
Magnus Lund v Scotland.

Fair enough. His display was good, probably the result of playing off the back of a dominant front 5. Not seen a world class performance from an England forward against a quality pack for a long time thiough.
Magnus Lund v Scotland.

Not Magnus Lund v Ireland though.

He really didn't like playing at Croke Park at all. It seemed to freak him out a bit.