McClaren happy with progress
26 Jun 2006 - 14:20:33
Steve McClaren is happy with England's performances at the World Cup and believes the team is improving all the time.
England have progressed to the last eight of the tournament despite not playing particularly well and that trend continued on Sunday with an unimpressive 1-0 victory against Ecuador in Stuttgart.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's side now play Portugal in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday and McClaren is already looking forward to the game against a team that beat England on penalties at Euro 2004.
"Progression is the key," England's assistant coach told Sky Sports News. "We're getting better and better and we're in the quarter-finals, which is where we want to be.
"For England now, for the players, for the staff, everybody involved who's worked so hard to get to this stage, for us the World Cup begins now.
"There are certain things you can't control. Who can control that Michael Owen has a serious knee injury and we're missing from the World Cup one of our top strikers and our main goalscorer?
"Who can say that Rooney for the first three games wasn't going to play, or was he going to play in the World Cup? Now, he's playing and what a bonus that is and you have to look at opponents and your own strengths.
"As we've seen with other teams, there are great examples of other teams changing formation and tactics to their opponents' strengths and weaknesses. That's what we have to look at.
"In a World Cup, one of the things we really stress is, with seven games in 28 days, detail, preparation, rest and recovery are all key because you are always planning for the unexpected - for injuries, suspensions and we've had quite a few of those incidents to deal with.
"We knew the team (to play Ecuador) on Wednesday evening. Sven gave us that and we never tried any other formation. 4-5-1 was what we went with and we worked on that very hard.
"There were certain aspects from the Sweden game we needed to work on - set-pieces, certain defending, we did that. We wanted to nullify Ecuador and win the game and we achieved that."