Golan saves McClaren to set England up for another fall

November 18, 2007

Golan celebrates after scoring a late winner for Israel

The odds are shortening on Omer Golan being named Britain’s sports personality of the year next week and the unlikely hero of Israel’s win over Russia can probably count on a few votes from England manager Steve McClaren.

Golan came off the bench to score the stoppage-time winner in Saturday’s 2-1 victory that left England needing only a point against Croatia on Wednesday and with no other stand-out contenders you never know.

It would have been very different had Dmitri Sychev’s 90th-minute shot gone two inches to the right, giving Russia a win that would have just about ended England’s interest in the competition. Such a result would have made Wednesday’s Wembley occasion a virtual dead rubber and a barometer of the fans’ opinion of their manager.

If the showpiece stadium were to feature a full-scale repeat of the boos and abuse he received on the road earlier in the campaign then the embarrassment for his employers at the FA would surely have been too much to bear.

That still might be the case if England somehow contrive to lose to Croatia and allow Russia to leapfrog them by beating Andorra but they will probably get the point they need against the already-qualified guests.

The worry is that it will just be setting England up for another fall.

McClaren will talk again about how getting out of a tough group was always likely to come down to the last game, about how this batch of “quality” players can go to England’s sixth successive European Championship with a real chance of at least matching their previous best effort of the semi-finals on home soil in 1996.

Away defeats in Croatia and Russia and dropped points against Israel and Macedonia will be forgotten as the Brasso comes out again for one final polish of the “Golden Generation.”

David Beckham can look forward to joining England’s elite group of cap centurions, Rio Ferdinand can restore his belief that he is the best defender in the world and Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard can once again cancel out each other’s talent in midfield.

I suspect it would have been saving everybody a lot of painful deja vu if Sychev had been marginally more accurate with his late effort for Russia. Mind you, with goalkeeper Paul Robinson likely to get a recall, England are not home and hosed just yet.

Mitch Phillips is head of Reuters UK sports reporting

PHOTO: Israel’s Omer Golan celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal against Russia during their Euro 2008 Group E qualifying soccer match at Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv November 17, 2007. REUTERS/Oleg Popov

7 comments

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OK,, speaking of Beckham, can you name the England players who have already won 100 caps? (without using google…)

Posted by Kev | Report as abusive

David Gower and Graham Gooch for a start.

Posted by London | Report as abusive

It’s about time the country woke up to the fact that the current England squad haven’t got what it takes to achieve anything particularly special and actually making it out of the group would actually be an achievement for the Country at the minute.
I for one hope England qualify but I also believe that if McClaren was shown the door before Euro 2008, there probably wouldn’t be a hint of dissaproval from the common fan.

Posted by Online Betting King | Report as abusive

please wake up brits, you are gonna get beat by croats on wednesday and russia will go to euro 08, your football is so booring. go croats

Posted by croat | Report as abusive

England will draw with Croatia but it will probably be a score draw which isn’t good enough by far. Why on earth did we have a friendly so close to the final games of the qualifiers? totaly stupid and pointless!!! whichever way it goes we should still get behind them on Saturday..

Posted by alan | Report as abusive

Anyone else have this (sort of horrible) feeling that England are going to get through and then win the bloody thing? Imagine the look on Steve’s smug face. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

Posted by London | Report as abusive

I predict a draw too although I think it could go one of two ways with either posing the same eventuality.
If England manage to grab an early goal, I belive that the team will continue to attack for the next 15 minutes before resorting to defending for the remainder of the match. If the hosts fail to score before half-time however, it is more than likely that we will continue to defend after the break, so look forward to another anti-climatic England performance tonight.
Still let’s get behind the team though hey?

Posted by Online Betting King | Report as abusive