Mar 292007

Well that’s not going to get the press of McLaren’s back. It doesn’t even bear thinking what would’ve happened last night if Rooney had fractured Gerrard’s wrist instead of Lampard’s.

As it turned out, the win was achieved through a one-man show, and the Liverpool captain is bound to be waking up this morning revelling in all the talk of how he should revert to the centre again, which quite frankly has been obvious for years. Play your best players in their best positions, and if a player doesn’t perform (Frank), drop him.

The only blot on an otherwise superb Gerrard display was a quite pathetic dive in the box, but the rest of the team deserve a fair whack of criticism. And as if to show McLaren the value that lots of goals have, Israel actually knocked England down to fourth last night by winning 4-0 against Estonia.

Yes, that’s right, fourth. In the easiest group of the lot, we’re fourth, having played a game more than two sides above us.

Back to Arsenal, and Cesc continued his well earned rest by sitting on the Spanish bench, while Diaby again played for France so soon after his long lay-off. Bendtner scored against Germany, and Ljungberg’s Sweden went down to Northern Ireland.

On the fines front, the amounts have divided opinion. Some say they are over the top, some say they should be based upon the occasion.

I don’t buy it. Disciplinary hearings are, after all, legal occasions, and legal occasions are set by precedent. If you fine Spurs and Boro four grand for the same offence in the Premiership (hardly low profile), you cannot justify a punishment 25 times as severe in this instance. You won’t go to prison for 25 times as long for committing a crime caught on TV. It makes no sense.

To put it in even more perspective, consider that Valencia and Inter Milan were given almost identical fines in the Champions League knock out stages (an even higher profile game, if you want to argue down that route), for a serious brawl where real punches were thrown and real injuries were suffered. Comparing the incidents is futile – it was far more severe any way you look at it.

But then, quite a lot the FA do makes no sense. It’s almost as if Sky Sports News adds another grand to a fine with every report they run on the incident. And just look at the appointment of Steve McLaren.

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