James blasts Mac over keepers treatment

November 25, 2007

David James has blasted Steve McClaren's 'ludicrous' treatment of his goalkeepers during his ill-fated England reign.

After sticking with Paul Robinson as his number one for the entire Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, a series of errors prompted the England boss to call on Scott Carson for his competitive debut in last Wednesday's decider against Croatia.

But Carson was guilty of a disastrous early mistake which handed the Croatians their first goal in a 3-2 victory which sent England out - and cost McClaren his job.

James, who was sat on the bench at Wembley, was bemused by McClaren's decision and claimed he should have blooded new talent far earlier.

'At the last hurdle we switched goalkeepers and heaped pressure on ourselves. But we needn't have done. Over the past 17 months there were many opportunities to try out a variety of England goalkeepers. So why didn't we?,' James said in his column for The Observer.

Time and again different goalkeepers were brought into the squad - Chris Kirkland and Ben Foster were selected in the early stages, then Scott Carson and Robert Green and finally myself.

'But until the Austria game, and other than Paul Robinson, only Ben Foster - in the friendly against Spain - started a match.

'In the meantime the number-two goalkeeper sitting on the bench rotated between five of us. It's ludicrous.'

James added: 'Did sitting on the bench prepare Scotty for being in goal against Croatia, five days after his senior England debut, with the fate of the nation resting on his shoulders?

'Gianluigi Buffon made his debut as a 19-year-old in Italy's 1998 World Cup play-off qualifier against Russia and handled the pressure to keep a clean sheet for Italy to reach the finals.

'Scotty is a great keeper and will undoubtedly become England's number one in the future, but he didn't need to be put in that position, he should never have reached the Croatia game so poorly equipped in terms of experience.'

James has also warned that there is no quick fix to England's problems as they look towards qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

'Whatever we do now is not going to solve the problem of qualification for 2010,' he added.

'With the new Fifa rankings placing us as second-string seeds in the European qualifying groups, the situation is a serious wake-up call.

'We're not going to grow a team in time for the World Cup - we will have to use what we've already got.'