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The times are a changin' - 06/04/2003


So much has happened at the club this season and there were more changes this week. I was informed on Monday morning that coach Ross MacLaren and physio Stuart Walker had been suspended, and that George Burley was coming in. He knows his football and did an excellent job at Ipswich Town. He has proved himself to be a more than capable manager. As players, you have to adjust to such changes and get on with the main task of trying to win matches. We have not done enough as a squad of players this season and that is why we are in the wrong half of the table. If we had been in or near the play-off places, things would have been different. We must now make the most of the remaining games to improve our position. It is important to put what has been going on out of our heads, be professional and get out there and play for the club. The supporters are understandably frustrated at what has gone on this season but we will be trying our very best to give them a lift between now and May 4.

There was some bad new for Marcus Tudgay this week, he suffered a knee ligament injury in training which is a big disappointment for him because he has been doing so well, especially since Christmas. I have got a lot of time for Marcus and I think he has a good chance as a player. His contract is up at the end of the season, as with a number of the players, but I’m sure the club is aware of what he can do and will look after him in the summer. It is important he keeps his head up and remains positive through this injury.

Sven’s men did the job they had to do in their European championship double-header against Liechtenstein and Turkey. Two wins, six points, four goals and two clean sheets. It is difficult to ask for much more. It has given England a great chance of topping the group and qualifying for the finals. Their performance in Liechtenstein was not the best but I’m not sure all the criticism was merited. Yes, we should beat them and it would be nice to score four or five goals in doing so. But that is not always possible and there is still a tendency for people to underestimate the opposition. Playing England would have been Liechtenstein’s final and they were always likely to raise their game. However, England did answer the critics with their performance against Turkey at the Stadium of Light.

There were some very good individual contributions with Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard outstanding. But the name on everybody’s lips afterwards was Wayne Rooney. The seventeen-year-old lifted the nation. As I said in last week’s column, if they are good enough then put them in whether they are 16 or 66. What impresses me most about the Everton youngster is his mental attitude. Nothing seems to bother him. As well as his marvellous ability and awareness, he is quick and has an aggressive side to his game. He appears to have everything and looks to have a fantastic future both at club and international level. There are always pitfalls along the way but he seems level-headed and focused, similar to the likes of Alan Shearer, David Beckham and Michael Owen. I can not see him changing too much or going off the rails. He is sure to be on cloud nine at the moment, but as long as he keeps his head and keeps doing the right things, everything will come to him. Rooney certainly played a big part in an excellent win against a highly-rated Turkey side. It looks like the deciding match in the group will be against the Turks in Istanbul in October. That was always likely to be the case but I’m certain England can handle such a difficult fixture. The experience gained in Europe by the Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool players in the squad will be extremely useful.

Derby Evening Telegraph

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