Unpopular Mac On Borrowed Time… Again.

JUST AS the Queen must believe the whole world beyond the Buck House gates smells of fresh paint so must Steve McClaren have mounting empirical evidence that the background noise to everyday life is jeering, booing and unprovoked vitriolic comments.
The hapless England boss has got off to the worst ever start of any England manager, has seen his public image crash and burn, has alienated the supporters and has been comprehensively savaged by the entire spectrum of the press. Even mild mannered but extremely influential Henry Winter of the Telegraph has put the boot in. Mac must yearn for his cosy golden age of relative popularity, tangible success and only sporadically dodging flying Red Books and brickbats from an adoring Boro public.
Steve McClaren has been found out with England. His weaknesses have been exposed in the unforgiving spotlight that comes with the job, his uncomfortable media presence and naive attempts at self-defensive spin ruthlessly ripped apart, his tactics put under intense scrutiny and found wanting and his clumbsy man-management skills found wanting. In an unforgiving arena where every mistake can be fatal Steve McClaren has already made far too many.

Many Boro fans will have wanted McClaren to fail with England because of personal animosity stored up from years of brain numbing ultra-cautious scientific professionalism and the bitter residue from a string of foot-in-mouth public pronouncements; many will have wanted him to succeed, grateful for Cardiff and Eindhoven even if they never warmed to him and because as England fans that would mean by definition success for the national team.
But both groups knew that his unendearing, defensive and cold persona made him vulnerable to the vicious national press, that his too-clever-by-half attempts at spin would backfire and that his cloak of negativity would produce an industrious and utilitarian brand of football that would provoke an angry backlash from a short-sighted media and delusional public with overly inflated expectations of international success not borne out by history.
The appointment was a strange one. His strength is coaching – look at those badges, see that clipboard – but perversely that is the element of management required least at international level. The players he deals with are meticulously coached day in, day out by Fergie, Jose and Rafa and there is little he can do in his briefs spells to overwrite their tactical templates.
What are needed far more than indidually tailored tactics DVDs and opta printouts
anything are the man-management and motivational skills to get players who are already highly coached to unite around a vision, work to a game plan they understand and believe in and to fight with a burning passion. While they would concede he was a good coach, these are the very area most Boro fans would argue he fell down on.
McClaren has been a dead man walking from day one. He was appointed in a panic after the cack-handed public courting of Big Phil Scolari collapsed into farce, second choice Steve selected after his high profile gung-ho gambles in twice putting four up front paid off and Boro reached the UEFA Cup final. But those matches should never have been so emphatically tilted against Boro and anyone who deduced from the last gasp drama that McClaren was a master tactician needs their bumps felt. Boro got lucky and McClaren more so.
He was tainted by association with the old regime too. It is hard to believe that there may be people – some of them on the FA Council – who believed that Sven was an all powerful force within Team England and that McClaren was an enlightened dissident focus of positive play that only needed to be liberated from the Swede’s tyranical yoke for a new age to dawn. In fact McClaren was deeply enmeshed in the Sven mindset of management manuals and stifling systems. You only had to look at Boro to see what his own philosophy was. The Northern Ireland match, the Trinadad and Tobago match, the Croatia match, the Israel match…. that’s McClaren’s Boro replicated on the international stage, a seamless link.
And he alienated the press before he even took over. At Boro he devised a press strategy where he would cultivate his favourites and feed them juicy lines away from the rest of the pack. It rankled and left scores to be settled but ultimately had negligible effect on his world as, after all, it was only little Boro and the sports editors on the nationals couldn’t give a monkeys. Adopting the same strategy as England boss though has proved very damaging indeed with the excluded sharpening their knives long before he officially became the boss. That, some banal and uninspiring early press conferences and the dangerous decision to hand headline grabbing David Beckham out to dry meant the dye was cast.
It was inevitable that the accumulated bad feeling would surface with the first defeat. Croatia was the signal for hostile sniping to begin and Israel prompted the heavy artilliary to pen up. And when even a rehabilitated former victim like Graham Taylor weighs in you are deep in trouble.
Now it is only a question of time and which root vegetable the tabloids go for.


24 thoughts on “Unpopular Mac On Borrowed Time… Again.

  1. i feel sorry for the bloke. i never warmed to him here and i was one of the ones booing at the end but its not nice to see the press rubbing there hands and sharpening the knives ready for a ritual death of 1000 cuts. he will get ripped apart.
    i dont think he is clever enough to avoid it. i think the press are nastier now than when the turnip got slaughtered. when max clifford drops you then you are damaged goods big style.

  2. No disrespect AV, but the national media are a lot more ruthless and dont have to keep in the england’s good books like regional media have to with their local club.
    He is out of his depth. A lot of boro fans were telling other fans he wont make a good job and would be sacked within 12 months.
    At Boro he could ride the criticism and the spin didnt cause any problems. With England there is no where to hide. At Boro he was protected from criticism
    I dont know who is at fault more, steve mac or the FA for picking him. His league record with boro wasnt that great and not much better than robsons.
    he needed another 5 years to prove himself either by making boro consistently better in the league or stepping up to a bigger club. get more experience.
    I bet he wakes up every morning and has to pinch himself and cant believe how fast he has risen through the coaching system within 10 years. I can see why some people within the game might have a grudge against him.
    Basically, he was appointed england manager because no one else stood out and wanted it. Scolari probably just used england to get a better contract with portugal.
    **AV writes: I don’t think its so much a case of the local press “keeping in the good books” with managers (and not just at the Boro) as them caring for the political stability and long term health of the club.
    It is not about cynically protecting contacts because, to be honest, we are kept pretty much at arm’s length now with media management aimed almost entirely at satifying he who pays the piper, Sky Sports. The Gazette’s relationship with McClaren was frosty and distant to say the least, so there was actually little to protect.
    But the Gazette would not tear into a Boro manager without serious soul searching and compelling reasons because we would not want to cause lasting damage, create rifts within the club or undermine events on the pitch. It has to be justified and the times we did criticise him – and there were many – were carefully judged .
    But the national press have no such concerns and will not think twice about gleefully running damaging stories and spicing them with malice to boot.
    I agree with most of the rest of your points though.

  3. I don’t feel sorry for the man at all. I think he is arrogant, big headed, spin obsessed, and just down right rubbish at his job.
    The football that was played here was a joke, as were his tactics, as was his constant meddling with the team in which people were forever played out of position.
    We won the Carling Cup which was great, incredible. But let’s be totally honest and admit that we won a cup that no one else but the minnows wanted.
    In Europe he was saved by Maccarone.
    ” Only in England could a man with such obvious and limited abilities be made into the national coach ” WELL SAID MASSIMO…..
    Sorry, but I just don’t rate the guy and I just don’t like the guy.
    The fan who threw his season ticket in Mcclarens face is a real legend in my book.

  4. I don’t know anyone who thought MaClaren was the right man for England.
    Boro fans supported his application because we wanted rid of him (Briggsy being the exception).
    MaClaren has again surrounded himself with yes men and lives in his own insular football world.
    Only MaClaren could argue that England’s performance against Isreal was one of the best of the weekend.
    MaClaren, Round and Beswick all part of the England set up, it would be funny if it was not so tragic.
    As a Boro fan I again send my heartfelt thanks to the FA for making MaClaren the England manager.
    C’Mon Boro!
    **AV writes: NH, I’ve moved this comment onto this thread because it seems more appropriate here.

  5. Fair point AV,
    I suppose in the end it boils down to sky are pumping big money into TV so the managers have to give the interviews. With local media there is no obligation.
    I do remember in the past the club banning the local media when things were going tough and when tricky questions were asked.
    In the end, i dont think Steve Mac has helped himself. McClaren is meant to be a modern state of the art manager but his media skill are terrible. In modern football you need the media skills.
    Maybe his level is just as a number 2 who is head coach and sticks to doing stuff on the training field. With the tv amd media overkill of football these days, manager and players have to have the skills to handle it correctly.
    I see lee dixon has an article on bbc website telling him to cut out the spin..it feels just like boro all over again last season.
    Now who needs educating Mr McClaren?
    My prediction is he wont last the summer and the players will force him out and the fa will have to sack him. the FA are already sending out signals denying there are problems behind the scenes.(with venables and rooney, and a crisis meeting planned)
    Keegan left mid way through a campaign so dont see why the same wont happen again(but sacked). then he wil be left to manage a team like leicester or ipswich.
    venables to take temporary control, for a while that will settle the fans

  6. tonyblack,
    why do you have to drag massimo into every discussion. at least use a player who was a huge success at boro. massimo was a failure so not a good example to use.

  7. vinny g – i reckon tony black alsways brings in the italian waster becuase he used to be his personal trainer. i think now the italians have gone he has changed his name luigi perotta back to tony again by deed poll.
    **AV writes: TB has denied this and insists he is just a keen reader of Mr Perretti’s website.

  8. I am more than happy to defend myself.
    I have posted many times in here with reference to Maccarone and his coach and I have also posted many times with reference to neither.
    I have commented on the subjects where AV takes the lead and where I deemed it of interest I gave these examples using these as references.
    I refer to Maccarone and his coach because they are / were to do with the club and I felt that their comments were of interest to the debate.
    I have referred once again to Maccarone here as he left the club and directed 99% of his fire to Mcclaren. His comments hit the back page of every newspaper and I feel that if Mcclaren does not qualify for Europe that Maccarone’s quote will be used again.
    I have always been positive about things now where I believe things to be this way and I have given my opinion on things that I don’t agree with.
    I have not come on here to slate / continue Maccarone’s fight / cause. In fact I have praised Southgate for many things that he has done, and I have also had my say where I did not agree.
    I think that in time he will become a very good manager. He is a man who carries a very great deal of respect both inside and outside of football and he seems to be a quick learner. So it all bodes well for the future.
    In fact I agree with the comments that Mcclaren would be best off as a number 2 where he is confined to what he does best. I don’t say that he has no qualities but I do say that he is rubbish when it comes to overall management based on what I saw here.
    Sir Alex had him for years at Man UTD by his side and given that Sir Alex is one of the best managers in the world it HAS TO MEEN that Mcclaren MUST HAVE some very good qualities.
    So I never just slate for the sake of it as you would expect me to do if I were Maccarone’s coach and felt he and I had been hard done by. I give my opinion and I try to give references to back up my opinion. You may not agree with my opinion and that’s great because I am not forced to be right.
    But I am not a nodding donkey ” Yes ” fan. I actually do have an opinion and I give it.
    I am glad to see the back of Mcclaren here. I just wish the rest of his team were gone too so that Southgate can carry his vision forwards without having to battle against those who’s loyalties may well be elsewhere.
    I WOULD like to see some big names in the coaching staff and I have made it clear that THIS HAS TO BE someone who has won things at the very highest level and with different clubs and I will keep banging on about this because I believe it to be right for the club.
    We have too many people left over from the post bancrupty era and too many people from the post Mcclaren era and so I think that it’s time for a fresh start so that we can move the club into the new millenium.
    Taking a look at the ” Who’s Who ” section of the Official site might well see you agree with me.
    I am a Maccarone fan as I am half Italian, I liked him and so I wish him luck. But he has gone and my ONLY interest is in this club.
    If this isn’t enough for people then that’s hard luck as I’ve repeated myself endless times.

  9. “I am a Maccarone fan as I am half Italian, I liked him and so I wish him luck. But he has gone and my ONLY interest is in this club.”
    Would you still have been a maccarone fan if he was called bald dave from barnsley?
    Nothing wrong with sharing your opinion with us but it doesnt hold much water when you back up your opinion with using massimo who didnt really have a successful time at boro and isnt likely to do it anywhere else.
    You mention alex ferguson, one of the best managers in recent times but i can list plenty of players that he fell out with and they slagged him off. players are only human and will blame other people for their failings. If we cant do a job we like to blame it on other things

  10. ” I am a Maccarone fan as I am half Italian, I liked him and so I wish him luck. But he has gone and my ONLY interest is in this club.”
    Would you still have been a maccarone fan if he was called bald dave from barnsley? ”
    Absolutely. I am a big Morrison fan and would love to see him have the remainder of the games this season. I have said this many times here that I don’t think that he has had a fair chance and that he deserves one. I think he’s a very good player.
    To me Morrison is very much like Massimo as when he comes on he makes an immediate impact and so I think that based on this that he at least deserves his run of games to prove that he can produce over the 90 minutes.
    ” Nothing wrong with sharing your opinion with us but it doesnt hold much water when you back up your opinion with using massimo who didnt really have a successful time at boro and isnt likely to do it anywhere else. ”
    I’m sorry but I simply don’t agree with this. Massimo was not like Ravanelli or Emerson. He went out of his way to say how much he loved the fans here, the stadium, the atmosphere, the chairman and all the people of Teesside.
    This is massively important to me as living in the Boro and being proud of it I cannot stand people who just slag the place off as Ravanelli and Emerson did. This is why I personally believe in a lot of what Massimo said. It hit a chord with me and I reserve the right to believe in what I like, whether it’s true or not.
    Being a success or faiure for me is not relevant. He stayed silent for 5 years and unlike Ravanelli he never caused any internal or external problems. He always conducted himself as a pro and so this makes me personally believe in much if what he says.
    Why isn’t he likely to be a success anywhere else ? Since arriving at Siena he has won more Man Of The Match awards than any other player.
    I like to look at all aspects of football and that means not just what goes on on the pitch. For me this club is years behind the rest and I think that you will eventually see a big change in this area. It has to happen as we have changed everything else. We have the best chairman in the Premiership, we have an amazing ground with great support and we have excellent training facilities.
    The academy is producing some terrific talent and we pay big money and so can attract big name players, something that was unheard of here not that long ago. All we need now, in my opinion, is the best coach’s to go with this and complete the picture.
    ” You mention alex ferguson, one of the best managers in recent times but i can list plenty of players that he fell out with and they slagged him off. players are only human and will blame other people for their failings. If we cant do a job we like to blame it on other things ”
    Of course there is much in what you say but having actually read what Massimo had to say for myself it only confirmed to me what I hear all too often. But of course I have to accept that this is just hearsay and could well be all untrue. But when you hear things again and again and then hear a player say it as well then it makes you think and this is the conclusion I have reached.
    But as I said this is only my opinion and I am not forced to be right. You could well be right and so could a lot of other people, but this is how I see it and nothing that has been said here or in other posts by AV has changed my mind.
    I am not here to insult, cause trouble, or fight Massimo’s or anyone else’s corner. I just see things the way I do and I say what I see.
    We are no longer a small town in Europe as the chant continually goes. We have moved on from this thanks to Gibson and it’s time we adopted a mentality that embraces new ways of thinking, training and working.
    Football, like business, is global and so we need people who have done it on a global level. Employing people who were at Oxford, York, or Teesside Uni is no longer acceptable, in my opinion.
    That was great at a time when we didn’t know any better about training and nutrition and when we were skint, but now we have moved up several gears and so, in my opinion, these people are well past their sell by date. For me we now need to spend money on people who have coached at Milan, Lyon, PSV, Ajax, Barcellona and the like so that we can take the club still further on.
    This is how I see it and what Massimo said only served to confirm this for me personally. Having read his coach’s articles I agree with 99% of what he has to say as well, although I wouldn’t employ him in a million years as he hasn’t worked at top clubs and has never won a damn thing. Knowlede is one thing, but knowledge and experience at the highest level MUST go hand in hand for me.

  11. Gibbo may not be infallible – and I think, despite everything we have to thank him for, he’s made and making the sorts errors of omission and commission that being relatively benevolent despot for too long get you – but you can’t fault the business acumen of getting Eng-er-lund to pay us to take The Ex off our hands.
    If you follow that up with shipping Beswick and Round too….inspired. But in Round’s case it could have happened quicker and we’d be 5 or 6 points better off now.
    Talking about inspired I got a very funny e-mail from Ian Gill the other day with and even funnier title about that ‘Magnificent 3’ and their selection and coaching misdemeanours now that they’re re-united at Soho Square. The title:-
    “Square peg in Round’s hole”.
    Take a bow, Mr. Gill – the title for a satirical Eng-er-lund blog if ever I read one, Vic!!

  12. JP wrote, ” If you follow that up with shipping Beswick and Round too….inspired. But in Round’s case it could have happened quicker and we’d be 5 or 6 points better off now. ”
    I totally agree with this and just hope that the rest are shipped out so that GS can get on with what he sees needs and thinks is best.
    He wasn’t my choice of manager and I wouldn’t have hired Coops either, but they are here and now they must be given the time and the power to do what they want.
    ” Square peg in Round’s hole “.
    This was Mcclaren all the way. He was tactically rubbish and the football we played under his leadership was just negative, negative, negative.
    Thank God we got rid of him. GS has made mistakes and I’ve no doubt that his tactics won’t be perfect, far from it, but at least he understands what the fans want and he learns quickly. We want to see a team at least try to play attractive football and actually go out to win games from the off.
    England have some great players, all of which seem to produce for club and not for country and I honestly think that this is because of Mcclaren.
    Would things be the same if Mourhino or Wenger were on the touvhline ? I don’t think so.
    Bill Beswick ?????????????? My God !!!!!!!!!!!!! The man who told Boro players to go on the pitch and think that they were Pele’. That Sky programme he did in which all his pearls of wisdom out showed him up for what he is – very poor indeed.
    Mcclaren DID spend too much time trying to understand the media and trying to learn how to spin. Time which would have been better off working out the problems with the team which he clearly hasn’t.
    Who else have ever gone to watch Tony Blair in parliament to learn how to answer tough questions ? Personally I would have gone to speak with Lippi, or the French manager who won the World Cup then the European Championships so as to pick their brains.
    The England set up is all wrong. Just like with Cloughy they still refuse to pick the best man for the job and instead they go for Mr Compromise. When will they learn that this doesn’t work ?
    The English FA ? Yeah right, more like the English sweet FA.
    I’m not an England fan, but not have the quality of talent that they have on show at major tournaments would only serve to devalue them in my opinion.

  13. tonyblack, I think you should work in PR. Sounds like you have the talent and energy for it. Can you sell ice cubes to eskimos?

  14. Steve Mac wasn’t a popular appointment to start with. So that was him on borrowed time straight away. He was no ones favourate and probably only got picked by the FA as they had no one else lined up.
    There is a bigger problem though, where are all the quality english managers coming through. Most just swim around mid-table to bottom half in the Premier League with the occassional good season where they finish top half.
    English managers in the top flight generally have a life span of 4-5 years.eg Peter Reid, Brian Little, Smac, Bryan Robson, John Gregory to name a few.
    Why are there no top English managers about? Are ex internationals taking the easy route and going into punditry which has no pressure and a good option socially?
    Why are only a few like Southgate and Ince willing to take the chance? Maybe players are so rich these days that they feel its not worth the hassle to become a manager.
    So if Steve Mac is sacked who is the next manager? Coppell (couldnt handle the pressure at Man City), Southgate, Ince, Curbishley, Big Sam, Redknapp, Pearce .etc – hardly anyone stands out.
    Ideally you want an ex international with the reputation, respect and charisma to make big ego players sit up and listen..but there is no one.
    Maybe best long term hope is Southgate, Pearce and Ince? Provided they prove themsleves at the top level (ie really successful at club level).
    Sacking Smac will stop the symptomns for now but in the long term the cure wont be found for a few years.

  15. ..oh..don’t get me started on the lack of genuine quality of england strikers since shearer retired. Lets just hope owen gets back to his best once fit.
    Ii mean how can players like Crouch and Defoe get games for England when they cant hold down a place at club level. Perhaps the England manager should insist players must be playing regularly to get in the team.
    All the money in the Premier League and we have so few quality English managers, keepers, strikers and creative midfielders..some thing isnt right.

  16. Steve Mac has two major weaknesses: he is not honest when speaking to the media and he appears not to realise the importance of man management.
    Surely these two things should be top of the list of an England managers CV. A good coach can easily be found, in fact Mr. Mac found one in el Tel.
    Fortunatley for Boro the FA made a big mistake in employing Mac, I’m sure he has a lot of strengths after all he got Boro to a Carling Cup Final, UEFA cup final and two fa cup semis, pretty impressive given our past performances. But he does not have the right qualities for an international manager.
    Still at least he has picked a balanced team for tonight, pity he won’t be brave enough to do it against Croatia or Russia

  17. Sadly it is all as predictable as night following day, oddly I am like many. Pleased he has gone and bothered he got the England job. When all is said and done I am an England fan and want them to do well.
    I cheer them on but find it difficult when I start seeing the same mistakes taking place with the national team.
    Derby fans didnt believe me when I told them about things happening at Boro and that Mac and his circus were questionable. He was OK at Derby and ManU was the response. Yes as a number two where his innovative approach to coaching could be harnessed was my view. They all now are grumbling, some even muttering they hope we lose.
    Henry Winter is one of my favourite journalists and in his writings it has been clear for some time that he doesnt rate Mac although like many he has kept his powder dry. In the same paper, Alan Smith (ex Gooner) has a clever dig at Mac referring to his plastic nature and his acolytes.
    I am afraid the clock is ticking, taxi for beetroot (J Powls vegetable name for Mac – I will leave him to give the reasons). Personally I thought of sprout – nobody really likes them, they leave a bitter taste in the mouth and a nasty smell behind.

  18. When MaClaren was installed as England manager my first prediction was that he would have Phil (how many chances do I get to show you I am a crap footballer) Neville back in his side.
    He is an average right back, yet MaClaren has even played him as LB for England.
    Every LB in the country to pick from and he chooses PN.
    Against Isreal he chooses Lennon on the Left of midfield, a one dimensional right winger, lets play him on the left.
    Wonderful tactics from a man who is to clever for his own good.
    Isreal brought on a 17 year old who had played 50 odd minutes Carling Cup football in his first team career and played him up front on his own.
    Did Mac respond by bringing off a defender and playing an additional striker?
    No, because as Boro fans we all know that in Mac’s world not losing comes first.
    TB mentioning Beswick telling players to think they are Pele reminds me of of the story of the manager whos centre forward had been involved in a clash of heads.
    When the physio came off he asked about his well being and was told “he may be concussed he does not know who he is”
    To which the manger replied “Quick get back on and tell him that he is Pele”
    Has Beswick been a manager of a football team?

  19. Good article AV.
    As a Boro fan first, some of Macs comments in the last 18 months of his reign before he moved on were crass to say the least and killed many fans enthusiasm.
    His tactics as England boss exactly mirror what happened at the Boro. Everybody behind the ball, numerous players playing out of position,and relying on trying to score from the one or two chances which are created.
    But its worse than Macs strange tactics.
    Our so called “World Class” players,simply arent good enough !
    Yes,they earn millions of pounds a year,but when is the last time they “destroyed” an opposition ?
    Yes,some are good premiership players,but “World Class” I dont think so.
    But, lets forget S.Mac. He hardly had “a love affair” with the Boro and the fans. GS will prove far better, yes he has made some mistakes but he is learning fast, and if we can get the right players in in the summer, I think it will be a good season.
    PS. Lets encourage the club to have two more “Kids for a quid” matches before the end of the season. Its far better when the crowd is over 30,000.

  20. Just watched England’s appalling first half against mighty Andorra. Crowd reaction says it all. But my guess is that Stewy Downing, despite being England’s second best player (after Gerrard) will be the scapegoat in the media for this.
    Last time that happened, he lost all confidence. Gareth needs to get him back from England duty quickly to boost him before the Hammers. I for one hope he doesn’t get picked again while Smac’s in charge. I’d rather he just does his stuff for us. Still, after that performance Smac may not be there much longer.

  21. Clive
    Much the same view. Downing, Gerrard all kept offering movement and Lennon and an option of a pass.
    Yes, they made mistakes at times but they didnt hide. Downing missed a chance but he made the run to get there. Both he and Lennon had a go. The effort was there so wont complain.
    And I wont blame Mac for everything though both Lennon and Downing kept tucking in too much. I guess that was to give space for Cole and Richards. I suspect the players have decided they have to take some responsibility and bale out the England set up including MacClown.
    The lingering thought is that the best team we can put out beat the equivalent of Whitby Town. Downing and Woodie are best out of it because MacMoses is on borrowed time.

  22. I refuse to subscribe to rubert murdoch tv so can someone tell me how downing did and did he get any crosses on the box and what sort of quality were they?
    Read stuff that cole was further forward than downing. is something wrong with downing. you would think mclown would know how to get the best out of him

  23. When Beswick was doing his basketball stuff do you think he made all the players wear Nike trainers and tell them to think they were Michael Jordan?
    When he plays golf do you think he thinks he is Tiger Beswick?
    I have been trying it before this post, I keep telling myself – you are Stephen King, you are Stephen King, you are Stephen King.
    But it has not worked, I can not bring myself to comment on last nights horror show.

  24. Alf, Ian
    My (admittedly red-and-white jaundiced) view is that Stewy was very much involved in the game, more so than Lennon and Rooney. Made few telling crosses, but played the 1-2 that set up Gerrard for the first goal. He also put some neat passes thru to the strikers a bit like Arca’s. But he missed a sitter and didn’t get behind the defence enough. A friend (Spurs fan, so clearly of the Lennon persuasion) thinks he lacks pace.
    Sadly my prediction has come true. He’s going to bear the brunt of the criticism, very unfairly. Watch the Hammers fans exploit that on Saturday.

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