Football: Wales coach mocks England’s ‘team sheet’ blunder

Wales coach Chris Coleman revealed a spoof Euro 2016 team that included Pele, Diego Maradona, Carlos Alberto, George Best, Socrates and Zico.
Wales coach Chris Coleman revealed a spoof Euro 2016 team that included Pele, Diego Maradona, Carlos Alberto, George Best, Socrates and Zico. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

CHANTILLY (France) • Ray Lewington risked revealing elements of England's tactical planning before Saturday's opening European Championship match against Russia when he was photographed with details of player groupings used in training on Footall Association-headed notepaper.

The England assistant manager was pictured while out for a walk with Roy Hodgson, the manager, and Terry Burton, the scout, on Tuesday carrying a clipboard with the names of 12 of the 13 midfield and attacking players in the squad separated into distinct groups.

The most interesting aspect of Lewington's sheet of paper is the presence of Wayne Rooney in the group of midfield players, with the captain listed alongside Jack Wilshere as an option on the left of a central midfield two.

 

Dele Alli and James Milner - with the Liverpool midfielder referred to as Milly - are grouped as options on the right, while the training-ground notes also emphasise the importance of Eric Dier, as there is no alternative to the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder listed in the holding role.

Another revealing element of the document is that Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are grouped together as an orthodox strike pairing, although that could simply be for the purposes of a training-ground exercise rather than Hodgson's plan for facing Russia in Marseilles.

Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford are named together as an alternative strike pairing, while bizarrely Milner's name appears again, with Ross Barkley on the right and Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson shown on the left for reasons that are not clear.

Equally noticeable is the complete absence of Adam Lallana's name from the sheet.

Chris Smalling is also not listed, although neither are any of the other defenders. So that omission is not related to the injury scare he suffered on Tuesday in England's second training session of the day.

While the precise meaning of much of Lewington's crib-sheet is unclear and merely the subject of speculation, its disclosure will irritate Hodgson and embarrass the FA, which has gone to great lengths before the tournament to keep the coaching staff's plans secret.

The FA has erected high screens around the perimeter of their training ground at the Stade des Bourgognes to prevent anyone watching training sessions, while Hodgson has told his players not to tell their family, friends and agents whether they are in the team.

Yesterday, Chris Coleman seemed to have a joke at England's expense.

The Wales coach was pictured carrying his own clipboard complete with the Wales "team" at their Dinard base in Brittany.

The Wales XI for their Euro 2016 opener with Slovakia on Saturday read: Banks, Cafu, Carlos Alberto, Beckenbauer, Moore, Best, Socrates, Charlton, Zico, Pele, Maradona.

Coleman understandably would have been delighted if he could have sent that team out in its prime. But, for now it seems, he is just happy to poke fun at his Group B rivals.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Wales coach mocks England's 'team sheet' blunder'. Print Edition | Subscribe