Peter Taylor can beat Spain

By Myles Palmer

England improved more in three days with Peter Taylor than they did in 18 months with Kevin Keegan.

Taylor added 25% to England’s performance in one game. If he adds another 10% against Spain at Villa Park, we will win.

However, England cannot score at the moment. In the last three games against Germany,Finland and Italy the attack has kept a clean sheet.

One reason was that Taylor put square pegs in round holes : Gareth Barry and Ray Parlour.If he does that again I will have a word with him.

But I enjoyed the game. First time in my life that I’ve enjoyed a really sterile game.

Italy were rubbish. They were dull under Sacchi and Maldini, excellent under Zoff,and now they are dreary again.

A 61- year old conservative coach,working in a conservative culture,will always pick a negative team, even for a friendly.

Why? Because he is so scared of losing.

Latin culture is a world of pride and fear. Di Livio? Give us a break,Trap!

Trap is a millionaire pressure-addict,an obsessive-compulsive who never took up golf. I bet you a zillion lire Trap doesn’t play golf!

He would rather stand on the touchline with a migraine and enjoy his hyper-tension. If Trap could transfer his obsessiveness to something else he could retire happy.

So Italy v England in Turin was dull for 89 minutes.But the 59th minute was exciting.

An implausible penalty shout at one end,when Gattuso accepted Beckham’s invitation to collide with him,and a Gattuso goal at the other end when he accepted Beckham’s invitation to shoot. The Milan hatchet-man obliged by smashing a 25-yard cannonball in off the underside.

Friends said the game was boring and meaningless but I thought it was fun. It was hugely satisfying to see that I was right about almost everything.

The captaincy made Beckham worse.Some of his corners and free-kicks were pitiful.

Dyer is a quick,nimble,promising inside forward who should develop into the new Alan Ball.

But he won’t.Those in the know say that praise and publicity made Dyer ridiculously big-headed at Ipswich. He might grow up but I’m not holding my breath.

Butt is a one-dimensional up-and-downer with less craft than Parlour,who had the worst 78 minutes of his career as a wingback.

Parlour hit a blue shirt with every cross. The watching Sven-Goran will have noted that he is a tenacious tackler of opponents he has just lost the ball to.

Gary Neville is not England player in any formation .I knew that.I’ve always known it.

In case you’ve forgotten it, Peter Taylor’s Turin team was

David James in goal, a back three of Neville,Ferdinand & Southgate,and a midfield firm of Parlour, Butt,Beckham, Dyer & Barry Ltd.Up front it was Heskey with Barmby.

The good news was that Dyer and Barmby zipped around linking play and creating passing options.

England had that under Venables and Hoddle,but not with Keegan.

So an intelligent game-plan that was interrupted 19 matches ago has been put in place again.

The really bad news is that Taylor made the composed Gareth Barry look like a bad player. Taylor will now regret not playing Barry in Southgate’s position and Derby’s Seth Johnson on the left.

The interesting news is that Rio Ferdinand showed just enough to convince me that he could be as good as Mark Wright if he joined a serious club. I’m with Di Canio on this one. I expect Rio be sold to Leeds or Liverpool as soon as West Ham are safe.

Heskey is a raw talent with potential. His power gave Nesta and Maldini problems. My pal Hugh says Turin marked the moment where Heskey’s brain finally caught up with his body

Heskey’s movement is not as good as Andy Cole’s because he is 22 and Cole is 29.

If England play one up/one behind in Spain in February it should be Cole at number 9, maybe with Barmby off him.

The biggest selection problem is that England lack a No.4 to follow Ince and Batty. Carrick is too young and Gerrard is always injured and Carragher is a B-international.

That being the case, leave Beckham where he is for now.Doing a Ronald Koeman/Jan Molby job deep in front of his centrebacks,a quarterback role.

The first five names on the team sheet for Spain in February should be Keown (captain) Scholes, Beckham,Barmby and Anderton.

The line-up, in 3-5-1-1 formation,should be :


Keown Brown Barry/

Anderton Dyer Beckham Scholes Johnson/



Subs should include James, Rio Ferdinand, Owen, Heskey and Phillips.

Watching this game will have been highly educational for Sven-Goran Eriksson.Sitting there,next to his Lazio buddy Dino Zoff,Sven-Goran was in a better position to judge the England team than Peter Taylor was.

He had a better view of the game. And he knew exactly what England were up against. He knows every Italian player inside out, so he could evaluate the performance of each England player better than anyone in the Delle Alpi Stadium.

16th November 2000.