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Brian Reade Column: Macca.. from a floppy-fringed genius to flop on the fringes.

Byline: BRIAN READE Brian Reade is an award-winning writer who has two weekly opinion columns, one on sport, in the Daily Mirror. He is a left-wing republican with very outspoken views, and has interviewed many well known people, including Mohammed Ali.  

NOW that the final Spice Boy has sashayed out of Anfield it's time to put on a Kate Thornton Kate Thornton (born February 7 1973) is an English journalist and television presenter, best known in the UK as the first presenter of The X Factor and known internationally as a presenter of the VH1 coverage of the Concert for Diana.  mask, waffle See WAFL.  about why we all loved 1997, and ask where are they now?

Whatever happened to Jamie Redknapp's white-suited compadres, whose alleged Saturday-evening ritual was to wash 'n' go straight onto the Manchester-Heathrow shuttle while the Kop was still emptying?

Jason McAteer Jason Wynn McAteer (b. 18 June 1971, Birkenhead, England) is a former Irish international football player. He announced his retirement from professional football on 12 June 2007. ? On Wednesday he watched his Irish team-mates, who he will be flying off to the World Cup with, beat the USA in Dublin. David James David James may refer to:
  • David James (footballer) (born 1970), a Portsmouth and England goalkeeper
  • David James, Baron James of Blackheath, a British corporate trouble-shooter, former chairman of the Millennium Dome, and author of the Conservative Party's James Report
 and Robbie Fowler Robert Bernard 'Robbie' Fowler, (born 9 April 1975 in Liverpool) is an English footballer who currently plays for Championship side Cardiff City.

Fowler's career began with Liverpool,with whom he made his debut in 1993.
? Involved in the Paraguay game at Anfield and certs to fly with England to Japan.

Steve McManaman? Sat in his sumptuous villa on the outskirts of Madrid, refusing to watch England's under-strength midfield attempt to cope with the loss of David Beckham. Chewing over the fact that just as he reaches his peak, his England career is finished.

And probably not giving a flying Figo.

If McManaman was half as proud as he is gifted, he would have been devastated to know that when Beckham's broken foot set a nation talking, his name never once cropped up as the man whose talent and experience could fill the gap.

He would feel ashamed that with Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard the only proven international-class players in midfield, Sven Goran Eriksson hadn't asked him to lead his country out at his old stamping ground and show us why a few years ago Pele called him one of the best players in the world. But that's our Shaggy. So laid-back he's doing a permanent limbo dance.

The realisation that kids like Kieron Dyer, Owen Hargreaves, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard, decent grafters like Nicky Butt and Danny Murphy, and no-hopers like Trevor Sinclair and Matt Jansen are perceived as better midfield players than him would probably only lead to a flick of the fringe and a shrug of the shoulders.

But to many of us it's a disgrace that having perfected his craft in the white shirt of Real Madrid, McManaman should lack the desire to parade it on the highest stage, in the white of England.

At just turned 30, with 37 caps to his name, and playing regularly for the best club in the world, he should now be coming into his own.

A proven heavyweight with the potential to solve any of Eriksson's midfield dilemmas, McManaman is the creative link we have missed since Paul Gascoigne, the left-winger we are crying out for, or the deputy for a crocked Beckham.

But the wily Swede swede: see turnip.  quickly realised what we already knew. That when it comes to his club, Macca can. When it comes to his country, Macca can't be bothered.

Since his move to Madrid he has treated England games like an old school reunion. A chance to have a laugh with the lads and catch up on gossip.

When it has come to showing he is worthy of his shirt his attitude has been: "I scored in a European Cup Final for the biggest club there is and I can't see why I'm sitting on a bench behind the likes of Nick Barmby. If you throw me on as sub, I go on with nothing to prove. And if you don't like my attitude, fair enough." Nowhere did that come across more than in his 25 minutes against Albania when his apathy was so great, every time he went down the paramedics did not know whether to bring on a stretcher or sun-lounger.

He has complained that Eriksson only plays him in fits and starts and thus hasn't appreciated his true quality. But a player of his class should never have allowed that to be a problem. He should have been bursting a gut to embarrass the coach whenever he got the chance.

Look at Joe Cole against Paraguay. Here was a substitute doing everything McManaman chooses not to. Wanting the ball, beating men, playing colleagues into dangerous positions, shooting, and racing around like a blue-bummed fly to prove that there's far more to him than his reputation and that he has a burning desire to be a winner for his country.

That's why the West Ham kid will get the chance to light up the biggest stage on earth while the Real Madrid superstar sits by his Spanish swimming pool claiming his exclusion is England's loss, not his, and that winning a European Cup medal for the greatest team on earth means he's answered his critics back home. Only it doesn't.

It seems baffling baf·fle  
tr.v. baf·fled, baf·fling, baf·fles
1. To frustrate or check (a person) as by confusing or perplexing; stymie.

2. To impede the force or movement of.

 that the most successful Englishman to play abroad (medals-wise) had his international career terminated at 29 when his country was crying out for his brand of skill.

And it begs the question - have England made a blunder by discarding a world-class player? Or is the fact that he couldn't care whether he's discarded or not proof that McManaman never had the mental toughness to be a world-class player in the first-place? Like Sven, I'll plump for the latter.


IT'S A REAL SHAME: Steve McManaman could have answered his critics but, instead, proved they were right
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2002
Previous Article:Brian Reade Column: Brass neck of these awful Owlers.

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