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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
McClaren shoulders blame for loss
Steve McClaren
England's next qualifying game is against Israel in March
Steve McClaren blamed England's 2-0 defeat to Croatia on his tactical plan to try to stifle Slaven Bilic's side.

"We lost the game so obviously the tactics didn't work," said England coach McClaren as he reflected on his decision to deploy a 3-5-2 formation.

"We'll look at it more thoroughly and I always believe we do need to change systems and we do need another one.

"It was my decision to change and we lost the game so it's my responsibility," added McClaren.

The England boss admitted he is bracing himself for a media mauling after the embarrassing Euro 2008 Group E qualifying defeat, his first since he succeeded Sven-Goran Eriksson.

"I knew that was part of the job when I took over," McClaren told BBC Radio Five Live. "I've seen it for the last five years.

"I have to accept that criticism, because it is my responsibility. I pick the players and I pick the system.

"If we win I accept the plaudits, but if we lose I accept the criticism. I'm not going to shy away from it."

It was a freak goal

Paul Robinson

McClaren added: "But it just makes me and the players more determined to turn it around."

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic believed England's tactics helped rather than hindered his side.

"I hoped they'd play 3-5-2 as it would give us more room to attack on the wings," said Bilic.

"I knew if we could switch the play quickly we'd be two-on-one.

"I expected England to come out and pressurise us but it was more a question of whether we'd get a third."

England have picked up just one point in their last two Group E games, but McClaren remained bullish over his side's chances of reaching the Euro 2008 finals.

"There are enough points to play for so we'll be okay.

"It's going to be difficult. Everyone has opinions, but I've said to the players we've got to stick together.

"Their attitude has been magnificent and we'll turn it around."

Croatia's second goal summed up England's lacklustre performance.

Gary Neville's back-pass struck a divot as goalkeeper Paul Robinson went to clear, with the ball rolling over the line.

"It was a freak goal," said Robinson. "It happened where the Croatian goalkeeper was taking his kicks and it left divots in the pitch.

"He had been taking goal-kicks in the first half and there were huge holes in the pitch.

"I went to kick Gary's pass, there was a bobble and then the ball wasn't there. It was an absolute freak and there was nothing I could do about it."

SEE ALSO
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