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Having started his career at Liverpool Steve McManaman left Anfield at the end of the 1998-99 season in a blaze of controversy.

He had been an integral part of the Reds since his youth team days and he left on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling to join Spanish giants Real Madrid.

This was a move that disappointed many supporters of Liverpool (Ammoroso for one?)for he was seen as a footballing genius by many.

In the early stages of his career he was compared to the Liverpool legend John Barnes, a combination of lightning pace and deft touch which won him many fans on the Kop.

At times he could turn a game by pulling a goal out of nothing.

Unfortunately for McManaman the praise he received was not shared around the country.
He often came under criticism if he did not set the stands alight week in week out, and those who didn't have the chance to assess his all round game fell under the illusion that he was an inconsistent performer.

In particular his England performances often came under the spotlight. He struggled to replicate the performances for Liverpool at international level, due to the system he was asked to play in and was barraged with critiscm.

In Euro '96 he managed to reproduce some of the magic he had previously displayed at grounds around the country and kept his critics quiet by turning out some brilliant performances.
Praise flooded in for Macca and the great Pele described him as a future star.

Yet just as quickly as he found his footing on the international stage he started to slip down again. A string of poor performances led to him playing a bit part during the World Cup in 1998.

At club level Liverpool were unable to emulate the success of the team in the seventies and eighties and he became continually frustrated that they failed to win many major trophies.

And so came his departure to Spain.
McManaman was able to develop his natural flair and creativity and he slotted into a side that was ready made for his talent.
Playing in the wing-back system suited him, it was a system he had played well for in both Liverpool and England.

He was able to make fantastic runs up and down the flanks and with the quality of players around him he developed his style and started to fill the potential that was seen four years ago.

For those supporters who had not seen him play since he went to Spain the Champions' League final came of a great surprise.

McManaman was one of the many shining jewels in Real's crown and he topped off an incredible performance with an equally incredible goal.
He has suddenly risen from international obscurity to the key player for England in the Championships this summer.
Although the final squad is yet to be named it is almost a certainty that he will be included - but should he feature in the starting XI?

In my eyes there is no doubt that he should be on the pitch at the beginning of every single England game. The player is currently in the best form of his career and his confidence is sky-high having has just won the most important cup in European football.

There are many who are wary that he is not an international player, but that does not worry me. I remember how he played in Euro '96 and for Liverpool and feel he will be even better this summer.

A lot depends on the other players that are selected and the role that Keegan will ask him to play. If England play a wing-back system and he is given a free role then he will be outstanding as he will have the chance to run at players and take them on.
If a more conventional 4-4-2 system is employed then McManaman will be more reliant on the players around him. He will have to work off the rest of the midfield and will be used more as a complete winger to get in the corners and cross the ball in to the box.

Either system will see McManaman having successful performances and as more and more people jump on the McManaman bandwagon - just remember that I, and pool_till_I_die are at
the front. I'm hoping for a not-so-rocky ride to the final.
What are your thoughts on McManaman?
Will he set Euro 2000 alight or do you think he will flatter to deceive?
 

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The thing is that Macca has not been given a real chance in the England shirt since the Euopean Championships in England. People tend to forget this and will criticise him way too much. The thing with Macca is that he needs time to adjust to a team. When he does adjust then he will become a greatr plaer. People expect him to go in the English side, get past three or four players and set the ball up for a player. They do not see that the ball is rarely passed to him and the fact that a lot of the time he is man marked.
You will be able to see the confidence of Macca quite easily. This happens when he comes deep to pick up the ball and tells his team mates where either he wants the ball or where he wants them to go. This is what he is doing at Real now and it seems that evey attack they have goes through him, Redondo and Raul. Then players look at him before anyone else now as they know that he will very rarely lose it. Indeeed his passing is very under-rated at times.

Razor makes an excellent point when he talked about the suprise people had when they saw Macca in the final. This was not a surprise for me or people who watched the Spanish league. He had turned his form around and his confidence was back. He was the Macca of old and was playing every game to the end.

This raises another point with the guy which is his incredible stamina. He will literatally run all night and I doubt that there was a blade of grass in the Stade de France on Wednesday that Macca did not touch. At the end of a game, when Real are holding a slender lead he will run 80 yards with the ball and win a thrown at least on the other side of the pitch (or score as he did versus Celtic). This is why he must not only start but finnish every important game that England play in the future.

I agree with Razor on every point and think that he should be given the free role and the time that he deserves. If this happens then he will emerge as an international player of genuine class.

Also I feel that one more point should be made which is how under-rated the guy is on defence. He proved on Wednesday that he has imnproved in it but it is not that drastic an improvement. I think that when he became captain of th Pool he improved on this aspect. I remember when the pool beat Arsenal 1-0 and Macca scored a screamer. He was very gritty and determined in the challenge and was man of the match when he played as a defensive midfielder.

People say that England do not have the players to play Macca in a free role but I think that this is wrong. The fact is that it would solve our left midfield problem by not playing one. The midfield would have Ince, Scholes and Beckham with Macca ahead of them and just behind Shearer and Owen. It would also mean that neither of these would have to drop back. He will link the play very well.


Macca for England for now and the future. He is a great and always will be in my eyes. He is my favourate player of all time as he is very exciting and a great guy.
 

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Hi Pool. This is the first time I came to English forum and it is nice to see familiar names. I share your sentiment about Macca, as you probably know. And although my favorite player of all time is Maradona, you might be surprised to know that Macca has been my favorite player for the last 5-6 years, although I am not big fan of English game. I came to like Liverpool because of Macca and their brilliant passing game, and I started to watch PL because of them.

Player like Macca should have always been in the starting XI, regardless the formation and the squad, because players of such a quality, work rate and attitude are very rear and you have to build the system around the best players you have. It became more obvious when Gazza left that Macca was the only real playmaker in the country. He was the only British player who was a true creative leader of the club on high level. But you were unlucky to get Hoddle as a coach, who together with British media ruined Macca’s shaky confidence and England’s midfield along with it. Hoddle was lucky that Owen came along to give some spark to the team performance and that Beckham was sent off giving people somebody to blame and distracting them from pathetic two years of boring performances covered only by brave and inspirational display against Argentina.

I believe that like in any business where it is a talent and responsibility of a leader to bring out the best out of people he leads, it is a full responsibility of the coach if a talented player does not perform the way he can. I think that all those stories of underachievers on national level are mostly coaches’ failures to bring the best out of their players. Granted, it could be difficult sometimes because of some personality difficulties and circumstances, but not in case with Macca.

Now tt seems that Keagan is the right guy. Too bad he does not have much time to work with Macca and the rest of the team and the game against Ukrain becomes make it of break it.

I have always said that Macca was England’s only hope for entertaining and attacking football, at least until somebody else comes along (maybe Joe Cole). I hope that Macca will live up to the expectations right away. He showed his quality in Liverpool before and in Real Madrid recently. But both teams suit his style very well, which it not as true with England. It might be too much to ask, because the whole team has been playing a totally different game for quite some time and players have a very different mind set. It is not entirely up to Macca to change that in one game. But I still think that in any case England with Macca will be a much better team (at least from my perspective). I just hope that Keagan has enough courage not to rush to important decisions based only on one game if it does not work out the way everybody expects.

Anyway, as I said I have not been a huge fan of England, but I will become one if they play interesting attacking football, as they should with players like Macca and Owen, and coach like Keagan. Good luck.
 

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yes, he does.
I heard the latest news that kk is going to give him a free role in the midfield, to let him continue his form i past few weeks. Which some people think it's a risky idea, england didn't play like that, and you can never have optimise other players like beckham and ince if england would have play like the way liverpool or real play.
it's either a free role or left-side, which I think it's not his natural position, and could never get the best out of him. if kk wanted to built a team around Macca, well, these are some risks he's going to take. Is he worth it? if one wants to built a team around him? I say yes, he is really that good.
He got to earn confidence from his teammates, to let his get the ball and dictate the midfield,he did this in real, and well, we all could see the result. Ironically, I think it's more difficult to earn trust from a fellow englishmen and the spanish.
ciao!
 

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After the match I am glad that the press were reational (aprt from the Sun) in saying that Macca did do ok and the fact was that the ball was not passed to him as much as it is at Real M. He needs more time to settle in to what is a new team for him. He should definately be one of the main team memebers.
Hi Shubay, nice that you ventered over.
 
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