Angry McClaren 'looking for a reaction'
Steve McClaren is demanding a group of angry young men restore England's battered pride in Israel next month.
As coach of the underperforming national team, McClaren has been battered from all sides in the aftermath of last week's dismal friendly defeat to Spain.
Although McClaren maintains the vicious reaction to the Old Trafford reverse was 'out of hand' given the nature of the game and the loss of seven key men to injury, he acknowledges far more is expected of the men who don the famous Three Lions on their jerseys than they are presently delivering.
While the international game has gone into hibernation again until the Tel Aviv trip on March 24, McClaren has no intention of letting his players forget the full horror of their performance at Old Trafford.
His bold talk of `accountability' may initially mean nothing more than axing a few fringe men and making some senior figures squirm a bit more. But it is clear McClaren means business and expects an appropriate response.
'We have been criticised, individually and collectively,' he said. 'Now I am looking for a reaction.
'I want to see an anger and a determination to prove people wrong.
'I know these players are good enough to be contenders at Euro 2008. They are one of six or seven teams who could win it. I am not saying we expect to, just that we could. Now, we have to deliver.
'I want them to keep the feeling they had when they left Old Trafford until we meet up before the Israel game.
'The reaction after the friendly last week was totally out of hand. But we can do better, we want to do better and we have to do better.'
For all the problems associated with his short reign, McClaren really only has one totally unexpected result to make up for; the goalless draw against Macedonia on home soil in October.
Victory in Israel would certainly act as a counterbalance to that setback, given only Croatia have won in Tel Aviv in the last seven years.
McClaren insists there is total clarity about his vision for the future, which apparently includes Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in a midfield that will continue to operate without David Beckham.
The first victim of McClaren's axe, Beckham proved his durability at the weekend by making a goalscoring return to the Real Madrid side a month after being told by Fabio Capello he would never play for the Spanish giants again.
McClaren was full of admiration for Beckham's momentous comeback. But the chances of him being welcomed back into the England fold appear slim to non-existent.
'What David did at the weekend was typical of him,' said McClaren.
'He has not complained or whinged. He just got on with his work, continued to train hard and waited for his opportunity.
'A month ago, everybody would have thought it was an impossibility for him to play for Real Madrid again.
'I am delighted he is back playing again. Everybody wants to see him on the field but I have no plans to speak to him at the moment.'
Of all the players who missed the Spanish inquisition, Wayne Rooney, Owen Hargreaves and Aaron Lennon would seem to be the men McClaren would like back above the rest.
Lennon in particular offers pace and, paired with Kieron Dyer, could offer Rooney the type of support McClaren believes the Manchester United man needs if an England side who continue to badly miss the goalscoring prowess of Michael Owen are to make a success of his preferred 4-3-3 formation.
It would also appear Paul Robinson will return for the Israel encounter after McClaren caused such a stir by omitting the Tottenham man in favour of rookie Ben Foster last week.
'Paul Robinson was very good during the get-together,' he said.
'One of his most important jobs once the decision over the team was made was to support Ben Foster. He did that impeccably.'