SOME people are hard to satisfy. Leo Beenhakker had just watched his team coast to a 2-0 victory over Iceland, but the Trinidad & Tobago head coach was far from happy. Most observers at Loftus Road on Tuesday were impressed with the way that the former Holland and Real Madrid manager had transformed the fortunes of the Caribbean islands side since he was appointed 12 months ago, but for Beenhakker winning is never enough.
“My players come from all over the world — the English leagues, Scotland, America and Japan — and one of the things I don’t like is when we play the long ball,” Beenhakker said. “The best thing for us to do is to play from the back and use the midfield, but if you come from another culture and you are playing every week in another way, then it is difficult to make the change.”
On the pitch the template may be the total football of the Holland sides of the 1970s, but off it Beenhakker is proud to follow in the footsteps of Jack Charlton and his overachieving Ireland sides of the 1980s and 1990s. Beenhakker has spent the past three months watching as many English and Scottish league games as possible, looking for talent with a Trinidadian connection.
Among the England-based players certain to make the cut are Shaka Hislop, the West Ham United goalkeeper, Dennis Lawrence, the Wrexham defender, Carlos Edwards, the Luton Town winger, Chris Birchall, the Port Vale midfield player, and Stern John, the Coventry City forward.
All started against Iceland and did enough to suggest that they can pose England problems when they meet on June 15, but the player who is likely to be the centre of attention in Nuremberg is Dwight Yorke. The 34-year-old former Manchester United and Aston Villa forward still has the guile to trouble England’s defence, but with the Australian season ending this weekend, the Sydney FC striker needs to find a new club until May so that he can stay match-fit for the finals.
“He is a great player,” Beenhakker said, “but I have told my players that if they want to be in the 23 they have to be fit and play matches.”