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Article:My first games in charge of England

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Last time, I became manager of England, and picked my first squad. I am in third place, here are the standings:


Place Nation P W D L F A PTS GD
1 Template:Team Scotland 6 4 2 0 13 5 14 +8
2 Template:Team Turkey 6 2 3 1 14 7 9 +7
3 Template:Team England 6 2 3 1 10 5 9 +5
4 Template:Team Slovenia 6 2 3 1 9 7 9 +2
5 Template:Team Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 2 1 3 11 12 7 -1
6 Template:Team San Marino 6 0 0 6 1 22 0 -21

So, my game against Bosnia & Herzegovina. Things started badly, as we gave away a free kick on the edge of the area, and Muslimovic's shot went through the fingers of Robinson into the net. 1-0 down after 4 minutes. Robinson looking shaky. England were still 1-0 down at half-time, and by that stage, Turkey were thumping San Marino, but Scotland were still 0-0 with Slovenia. I replaced Neville with Richards, and Wright-Phillips with Beckham. Success was instant after half-time. A Beckham cross was headed in by Owen, goal #53 for England, and England were level at 1-1. By the hour mark, it was 2-1 to England, Downing with a shot from the left edge of the penalty area that beat the Bosnian goalie. I then brought Carroll on to replace Owen, due to his fatigue. B & H through everything at England towards the end, but Wayne Rooney scored a breakaway goal in stoppage time, and England won 3-1. Scotland were held 0-0 in Slovenia (England drew 1-1 in the same fixture), but Turkey whopped San Marino 6-0.

So, Turkey had now extended their lead against me in the group, by four goals! Scotland were only three points clear at the top.

June arrived, and so did a friendly at Wembley against the USA. I picked an unchanged squad, and an unchanged team from the B & H match:

G Paul Robinson
LB Ashley Cole
CB John Terry
CB Rio Ferdinand
RB Gary Neville (c)
LM Stuart Downing
CM Steven Gerrard
CM Frank Lampard
RM Shaun Wright-Phillips
CF Michael Owen
CF Wayne Rooney

S1 David James
S2 Micah Richards
S3 Leighton Baines
S4 David Beckham
S5 Michael Johnson
S6 Andy Carroll
S7 Ashley Young
S8 Dean Ashton
S9 Joe Cole
S10 Gareth Barry
S11 Sol Campbell
S12 Jermaine Defoe

I thought you might be interested in the US team, so here it is:

G Tim Howard
LB Carlos Bocanegra
CB Jonathan Spector
CB Frankie Hejduk
RB Steve Cherundolo
LM Eddie Lewis (c)
CM Landon Donovan
CM DaMarcus Beasley
RM Bobby Convey
CF Clint Dempsey
CF Bryan McBride

S1 Marcus Hahnemann
S2 Oguchi Onyewu
S3 Danny Califf
S4 Jimmy Conrad
S5 Paulo Mastroeni
S6 Brad Davis
S7 Benny Feilhaber
S8 Michael Bradley
S9 Taylor Twellman
S10 Josh Wolff
S11 Eddie Johnson
S12 Freddy Adu


I set them to be more attacking, and pass it around more than they did against B & H, where I was more direct. Within 10 minutes, Rooney had put England 1 up. At half-time, I made five changes (allowed in friendlies, and brought on Baines, Beckham, Johnson, Caroll and Young for Cole, Wright-Phillips, Gerrard, Owen and Downing. England extended their lead to 2-0 when Caroll slipped home his first England goal. Towards the end, a pull back from Young found its way to Frank Lampard, who scored to give England a 3-0 win.

I kept the same starting lineup for the third match in a row against Turkey in the World Cup Qualifier. This was the big match, the must win fixture to stay alive in the group. Scotland would surely win in Bosnia & Herzegovina, so they looked set to pull away at the top.

Against Turkey, England played wonderfully. They were in complete control. Downing curled in a free kick to give England a 1-0 lead early on, and Rooney doubled the advantage later on. I took off Rooney at half-time in favour of Richards, and set the formation to 4-5-1, with Richards at Defensive Midfield, a position he can play. Turkey offered nothing, and England won 2-0 at a canter. Job done for the summer! I was still three points behind Scotland, but Turkey were now in fourth place in the group, behind even Slovenia!

In September, I had San Marino at home. I fancied my chances of victory! Scotland meanwhile had a home fixture against Turkey. I had to win big and hope Scotland made a mess of things. I changed my squad for the San Marino fixture, I started a few squad players such as Ashley Young, Michael Johnson, and Leighton Baines, and a hat-trick from Wayne Rooney, as well as goals from Owen, Terry somehow, and Young gave England a 6-0 win. Usefully, Scotland did slip up against Turkey, losing 2-1! Tuncay scored two goals for Turkey!

So, going into the final game at home to Slovenia, things were much improved! I was top of the group, but only three points ahead of Turkey in fourth place! A loss to Slovenia would almost certainly see me eliminated. I was tied with Scotland on points, so if we both won our games, goal difference was key. Scotland had a better head-to-head record, so I couldn't afford a goal difference tie either! I was five goals ahead of Scotland, but while I had the tricky game against Slovenia, Scotland would be routing San Marino. I reckoned that Scotland would struggle to beat San Marino more than 7-0, so if I could win 2-0 or 3-0, it ought to be enough.

As a result, I picked a very attacking side for the Slovenia game, and altered my formation accordingly. It's a sort of 4-3-3, but the wingers would drift in off their wings. If I needed goals, I planned to bring on Owen for one of my defenders and play 3-3-4. I had a plan!

G Paul Robinson
LB Ashley Cole
CB John Terry
CB Rio Ferdinand
RB Gary Neville (c)
CM Steven Gerrard
CM Michael Johnson
CM Frank Lampard
LW Stuart Downing
RW Ashley Young
CF Wayne Rooney

S1 David James
S2 Micah Richards
S3 Leighton Baines
S4 David Beckham
S5 Shaun Wright-Phillips
S6 Andy Carroll
S7 Michael Owen

In the game itself, things began badly. Neville was injured, and I brought Richards on to replace him. After early domination, we struggled after Richards came on. I then altered the formation again, switching to a 3-5-2:

G Paul Robinson
CB Ashley Cole
CB John Terry
CB Rio Ferdinand
DM Micah Richards
LM Stuart Downing
CM Michael Johnson
RM Steven Gerrard
AM Frank Lampard
CF Wayne Rooney
CF Ashley Young

The midfield was almost a plus shape. Within minutes, the floodgates opened towards the Slovenian goal. Young blasted over, and Gerrard was having success on the right side. I switched to the Latest Scores screen to find that Scotland were already 3-0 up on San Marino! Fortunately, nerves were settled when Rooney finally opened the scoring five minutes before half-time. At half-time, I brought Beckham on for Lampard who was tired, sending Gerrard to AM, and Owen on for Downing, with Young going to the left wing. Shortly afterwards, Gerrard scored from the edge of the area, and it was 2-0. I continued to push, and within moments, Owen had scored goal #54 for England, 3-0! I then settled back to a conventional 4-4-2. I coasted to a 3-0 victory. Scotland could "only" beat San Marino 4-0. I had won the group!

Here are the final group standings:

Place Nation P W D L F A PTS GD
1 Template:Team England 10 6 3 1 24 6 21 +18
2 Template:Team Scotland 10 6 3 1 21 7 21 +14
3 Template:Team Turkey 10 5 3 2 23 10 18 +13
4 Template:Team Slovenia 10 4 4 2 15 10 16 +5
5 Template:Team Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 2 1 7 12 22 7 -10
6 Template:Team San Marino 10 0 0 10 1 41 0 -40

I was 4-0 as England boss as I headed to the Intercontinental fixtures with Australia and South Korea. Fielding the same sort of teams as earlier, I was disappointed to draw 1-1 with South Korea, but I then beat Australia 3-1. This had put me up to #5 in the World Rankings, behind Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain. Meanwhile, the European playoffs were taking place, and Scotland didn't make it, losing 5-2 on aggeregate to the Dutch (despite winning 2-1 at Hampden Park... They lost the second leg 4-0). Scotland had blown it!

For Taytay 24's benefit, here's how the Australian team lined up against me (12 subs because it was a friendly):

G Mark Schwarzer
LB David Carney
CB Lucas Neill
CB Brett Emerton
RB Jade North
LM Harry Kewell (c)
CM Jason Culina
CM Tim Cahill
RM Mark Bresicano
CF Mark Viduka
CF John Aloisi

S1 Michael Petkovic
S2 Matthew Spiranovic
S3 Scott Chipperfield
S4 Nikolai Topor-Stanley
S5 Michael Beauchamp
S6 James Holland
S7 Kristian Sarkies
S8 Carl Valeri
S9 Vicenzo Grella
S10 David Williams
S11 Archie Thompson
S12 Scott McDonald

I then had to vote in the World Footballer of the Year. I was presented statistics from shortlisted players, and went for Spain's Raul (I can't vote for my own players), and indeed Raul won the title.

Coming up in 2010, the draw for the World Cup proper, and the World Cup itself!

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