The Lee Clayton Column

Holland 6 Scotland 0. See that's what happens when Christian Dailly doesn't play.

The West Ham captain remained so close to Patrick Kluivert in the first  leg, the temperamental Dutch superstar (great record, bad ego) thought  he'd contracted a nasty rash.

>Used a 'front sweeper', Dailly - stationed in a deep midfield position, ahead of the back four - offered such protection to the Scotland goal that their victory and clean sheet was a testament to Dailly's
professionalism, concentration and determination. Kluivert, Holland's record goalscorer, didn't know what had hit him. Only when Dailly was absent through a yellow card harshly collected at Hampden
Park did Scotland collapse in the most spectacular manner in the second  leg.

So the chance of another West Ham player going to Euro 2004 bites the dust. Aside of David James, who else will be getting their passport packed for Portugal next summer?

Do you do the same as me when an international squad is named? I mean flick your eyes down the list and look for the West Ham players. Let's be's never been a job that has taken that long.
Course there was the World Cup win in 1966, when West Ham won the trophy with Moore as the skipper, Hirst as the hat-trick hero and Peters as the other goalscorer, but that was before my time.

Under Ron Greenwood, T.Brooking was usually there, while A.Devonshire was an occasional addition. Then, under Bobby Robson, A.Martin got a look-in (although not enough for my liking. Still not got over Terry Fenwick being picked ahead of him in 1986... Maradona would never have scored that goal!!!)

In recent times, we've gone and got a bit greedy, what with the  production line, so brilliantly masterminded by Jimmy Hampson and Tony Carr, churning out such talent. Since Rio Ferdinand there has been a stampede. Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Frank Lampard have all won full caps.Not since Tony Cottee and Paul Ince have West Ham offered such rich talent to the England squad. In the last squad, for the Denmark game, along with James, there was  Cole, Johnson and Lampard. I know they are no longer ours, because they  are playing for them, but they are still crafted at West Ham. We still get the credit, even if they now have Chelsea in brackets after their name, on the official squad list.

Dailly, meanwhile, is still a West Ham man. More than that, he is the captain. Why can't he play as he did for Scotland for West Ham, I hear you ask? Well, Dailly gets a bit of a tough ride, I reckon. With the way the team is set up and the demands on how they play, being a West Ham defender has
never been THAT easy. Dailly has a rich pedigree. I remember watching him, then at Dundee

United, playing for Scotland's under-21 team at the Toulon tournament in the South of France. He was a centre forward then and a bloody good one too. In a game when the England team included Jamie Redknapp, Gary Flitcroft, Darren Anderton and Chris Sutton, Scotland lost 1-0, but Dailly was the best player in the pitch. Tall and strong, he led the line with real presence. I came away asking about him and predicting a bright future. Subsequent knee injuries - and serious ones too - delayed his progress and stopped him from making the rapid progress he promised. Instead, bravely, Dailly rebuilt his career, reinvented himself and moved into the back four.

That he won his 50th cap against Holland is a reward for such dedication.Some of his best performances have been for his country. Used as a man marker in the 1998 World Cup Finals, he was the man of the match in the opening game against the world champions, operating mainly at left back. Italian master coach Marcello Lippi, no less, singled him out for praise.And even named him in his team of the tournament. As Scotland came home early (again), such endorsement was, at least, something for Dailly to bring back to England with him. Mainly, at West Ham, he has been used as a central defender, in the same position where he played most of his games for Derby and Blackburn.

In total, clubs have paid almost £10million to sign him during his career.When Trevor Brooking gave him the captain's armband at the start of the season, it was a surprise..but an indication of the esteem with which he is held by the coaching staff at Upton Park. This season, albeit in the First Division, he has been commanding, the horrible mistake against West Brom notwithstanding.
So is it time to give the guy a break?

If he can play like that against Kluivert (who was so cleaned out by Dailly that he was substituted and then dropped), then he could prove a major asset in a team who had the best defensive record in the division, until West Brom struck four past David James. His role for Scotland may have been a destructive one, but isn't that  what defenders are there to do? Outstanding defending is still as much of  an art form as dynamic attacking play, even if it doesn't generate the headlines and excitement of a goal. So more of that please, Christian. No more Euro 2004 for you, but celebrating promotion might make up for it. Even if stopping Danny Webber this Saturday isn't quite as glamorous as  keeping Kluivert in his place.

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