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England must raise game in Zagreb

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Phil McNulty | 22:35 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008


England will be glad to see the back of Andorra - an aggressive irritant that exposed their limitations and raised serious anxieties ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifier in Croatia.

Fabio Capello's side got the job done eventually, but it was accomplished with little of the purpose and cohesion that might lift spirits ahead of their entry into the hothouse atmosphere of Zagreb.

Capello was more animated than at any time during his reign when he met the media on Friday - and similar terms can be applied to his agitated arm-waving in the technical area of Barcelona's sparsely-populated Olympic Stadium.

And this is because Capello, although he knows Croatia will present a contrasting and arguably more rewarding challenge, will also be acutely aware that England will suffer unless they can conjure up a serious improvement in the next four days.

Theo Walcott is surrounded by Andorran defenders

A relentlessly grim first 45 minutes, while never bad enough to make you wish you were at the Coldplay gig taking place across the road, was a witless affair as England showed none of the guile required to combat eleven defenders strung across the last third of the pitch.

Andrew Murray's progress against Rafael Nadal in the US Open semi-final did not please our Spanish hosts, and England's display offered them nothing in the way of cheer until Joe Cole appeared belatedly for the second half.

Capello, to his credit, was pro-active at the interval as England revived memories of their stumbling 3-0 win against Andorra in this stadium 18 months ago.

He sent England out to wander around alone four minutes before the scheduled start of the second period, John Terry and company looking for all the world like errant pupils who had been given a rollocking and told to stand outside.

Capello insisted this was because England's dressing room was too warm. I bet it was - and you couldn't even hear the sound of his tongue drilling a hole in his cheek when he said it.

He also replaced the disappointing Stewart Downing and Jermain Defoe with match-winner Cole and Emile Heskey, getting England's campaign off to a winning start in the process.

Watching Capello was a fascinating exercise in the second half, despite Cole scoring the two goals that eventually gave England victory.

The Italian looked almost permanently infuriated, punching his fist into his palm with open disgust during one particularly tedious and pointless passing move.

And even Cole, who should have been in the good books, joined Wayne Rooney on the receiving end of a fearful telling off for leaving Heskey too isolated when Capello wanted to rack up England's goal difference.

This was not a happy Fabio. Not happy at all.

Capello had been restored to calm by his post-match briefing, but the body language gave away vital signs of his concerns, and occasionally fury.

The Italian may be criticised for failing to better Steve McClaren's victory against Andorra, but the players must also be questioned for their lack of subtlety and invention until Cole's arrival.

It is easy to see, when watching at close quarters, why it is so difficult to navigate a way around a side even as poor as Andorra when they man the barricades in such numbers. This is the footballing equivalent of a traffic jam - but it was England's inability to conjure up any short cuts that frustrates.

Capello must hope, and it is still possible, that the higher stakes on offer in Zagreb will get the juices flowing in his big players.

Games may be raised and points may be proved, but England cannot leave it any longer.

Rooney is enigmatic in an England shirt. This may be regarded as a contentious statement, but sometimes he is barely recognisable from the gloriously untamed talent that emerged at Everton and set Euro 2004 alight.

Capello makes a point to Rooney

He is at the stage in his career where he needs to be delivering defining moments for England and Zagreb on Wednesday is the perfect place to start.

The absence of Michael Owen thrusts greater responsibility on to Rooney's shoulders and it is time for this talent to flourish for England.

And while I have no time for the anti-Frank Lampard brigade, he was anonymous here and never took control of midfield or the game in the manner in which he is so obviously capable. He joins Rooney on the "must do better" roster.

Capello all but confirmed Joe Cole would start in Croatia - indeed it must not be in doubt despite his little spat with his coach. He gives England an extra thrust and imagination which is in short supply elsewhere.

And Capello's words of praise for Heskey's quality - "big, nice movements, creates space" - suggests he will partner Rooney on Wednesday rather than Defoe.

There are still questions elsewhere, chief among them being David Beckham's potential role against Croatia.

It is a sign of England's paucity of right-wing resources that Theo Walcott took the role ahead of David Bentley - and the lingering feeling is that Beckham will be back from the start in Zagreb.

England should have moved on from Beckham, but Capello may feel his tactical discipline and experience is more suited to Wednesday's game than Walcott's pacy unpredictability.

The recovery of Rio Ferdinand is crucial, while I would be tempted to recall Wes Brown at right-back on Wednesday. Glen Johnson is gifted but his tendency to drift off could get Brown the nod.

England's performance had more of a sense of a job professionally done than it did here 18 months ago, even though the final scoreline was better on that occasion. There was also none of the poisonous back-drop that scarred that game.

Croatia, however, will be a proving ground for Capello and a group of England players who are not in the habit of getting the big results.

Capello's previous club record at least suggests he has form for delivering vital results when required, even when England do not neccesarily do likewise.

England will hope the Capello theory holds true on Wednesday, but on this evidence it is optimism based more on hope than expectation.


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  • 1. At 01:06am on 07 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    If I see another pointless long ball panic session I am going to gouge my eyes out.

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  • 2. At 01:17am on 07 Sep 2008, arconat wrote:

    Phil, and any other Lampard-lovers out there, perhaps you could answer us the question: When was the last time Lampard had a decent game for England? I don't even mean a good game, I mean just a decent, average performance?

    How much longer are we going to have to put up with Lampard? His poor, lethargic performances for our country, along with his anti-fan moaning and his "I actually think I had a great 2006 World Cup" comments make us, the real fans, sick. That is why we boo him. When we will get a manager who will realize that 'lamps' does not play well for England and spoils the whole balance of the midfield for proper players like Gerrard, Joe Cole and Gareth Barry?

    Some players can handle the pressure of playing for their country, some cannot. And some don't really seem to care anyway.

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  • 3. At 01:40am on 07 Sep 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Well I'm glad somebody is finally chewing Rooney out for his endless wandering away from the area. His ball chasing has its uses, but not nearly as much as his attacking instinct. Someone needs to keep him nicely chained to the attacking area. Hopefully Capello can drive that into him.

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  • 4. At 01:49am on 07 Sep 2008, mtirfan wrote:

    Good blog Phil.
    England main problem is the supply of good balls from the midfield to the strikers. I believe that David Beckham's inclusion will go some way in solving this problem. You are right that Rooney was hopelessly off his mark. It seemed to me that toward the end of the game Rooney was playing a little deep. I guess it was for the lack of supply of good balls.

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  • 5. At 01:54am on 07 Sep 2008, AY wrote:

    It's easy to knock Lampard and Gerrard for that matter, but we have another England manager who doesn't seem to get the Lampard/Gerrard situation. I do not know how many times I've said this...........neither one plays central midfield for their clubs. They both play attacking midfielders with the freedom to range whereever they see fit. Which is why they are amongst the goals at both Chelsea and Liverool. The central midfielders at Chelsea and Liverpool are holding midfielders, one a little more attacking than the other. Three managers have now said we must play 4-4-2 because that is how they like their teams to play. So we have players who play in different formations in their club team having to switch into different formations, and positions, when in the National team. You wonder why the players look like they do not know each other ?
    Until an English manager comes along who is willing to play to our strengths and use players to play to those strengths we will be unable to compete at the top level.

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  • 6. At 05:07am on 07 Sep 2008, khansaab1985 wrote:

    oh well wot a disaster they won 2-0 eh? lol give me a break would you and specially that presenter and the commentator on setanta sports who were panicking like its gonna be world war 3 when it was 0-0 at halftime. i mean they played some realy gd stuff in the first half and had several chances to take the lead unfortunately they didnt but you have to be patient sometimes i heard lawro saying andorra are a pub team well as far as a knw pub teams dnt play international football they had gd committment and a stubborn defence.

    england got the job done i thought glen johnson, walcott and joe cole who for me should have started all played well but downing was a bit of a let down it was almost like he runs out of ideas when he revieves the ball and crosses in panic never tried to beat his fullback.

    I knw wednesday is a totally different game but if england play with organisation and dont panic under pressure with the hostile atmosphere they ll be ok u feel sometimes that they are a bit scared to play their football on venues like these ( Moscow v russia) just be brave and not be firghtened by the occassion and they ll be arite. so i hope anyway lol.

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  • 7. At 05:35am on 07 Sep 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    It's worth noting, a draw against Croatia is as simple as not conceding. And the defense did not get tested today at all. If England is tight at the back then England is in fine shape.

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  • 8. At 09:10am on 07 Sep 2008, mersons_right_boot wrote:

    The lack of quality crossing in the game was really frustrating. It seemed the ball was being knocked into a general area with much more hope than conviction and because that was what players in wide positions do traditionally, rather than because Rooney or Defoe were likely to make anything of it. In the first half all 4 wide players were guilty.
    England will be more suited to the match on wednesday, with an emphasis more on defence than attack. They just need to re-produce an away performance from the Hoddle era and it'll be fine.

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  • 9. At 09:13am on 07 Sep 2008, Ryushinku wrote:

    All said and done, both this performance and result pales next to Wednesday's game. That will truly set the tone for England's campaign.

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  • 10. At 09:16am on 07 Sep 2008, SecretSam wrote:

    "Capello may feel his (Beckham's) tactical discipline..."

    WHAT? Whose tactical discipline? Mr "I want to play in central midfield and will drift in there as and when I see fit, and generally run round like a headless chicken"

    Great. We're doomed.

    I think Croatia would be far more wary if their left back were forced back constantly to deal with Walcott.

    Glad to see Frank have another exceptional, match winning display, as well.

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  • 11. At 09:24am on 07 Sep 2008, U11846789 wrote:

    Lampard, Walcott, Downing.

    None of them can cut it at International level.

    Drop them FFS.

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  • 12. At 09:32am on 07 Sep 2008, Mojo182 wrote:

    I spent a year living in Spain during Capello's reign at Real Madrid and went to see the man in all his managerial glory at the Bernabeu...

    Real 1-0 down after the first half, 2 second half goals from Ronaldo and Carlos after 80 minutes. he was kicking and screaming on the touchline, but he did make the changes that eventually turned the match around. the crowd were getting slightly miffed...but nowhere near the hostility that sometimes gets shown towards certain players by england fans when thing's aren't going right. Although managing a country is a lot different to managing club football, i do believe fully in Capello and his ability to change/read a game. Judge us after Wednesday, i don't know why everyone is stressing out over Andorra. Pub team? No. A 10 man wall in the goal? Yes. Hard for any team to break down? Yes.

    Give us a team on wednesday that counter-attack at speed and come at us, then we'll see what Capello's made of, and providing he balls-and-chains Rooney to the box, with our solid defense, and Capello's guile, I'm tempting returning with 6 points...

    ....oh yeah....and part of his strategy that turned the Real Match around??....he brought on Becks...who had a hand in both goals....

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  • 13. At 09:34am on 07 Sep 2008, sj53pxp wrote:

    Correct me if i'm wrong but games like Andorra should be used to boost your goal difference, not as an exercise to find your best team for the Croatia match which the manager should already know! I just don't see why against a team who didn't want to come past the half way line that we played four defenders and a defensive midfielder in Gareth Barry. However Barry is possibly our best central midfielder at the moment so that says to me that you play 3 centre backs with barry offering protection and starting the passing movements off with two wide men who will hug the touch line, you could even have started Ashley Cole wide left in stead of Downing let alone Joe Cole. That then allows you to stick Beckam or Bentley in the middle giving Lampard the freedom he requires as someone else mentions he gets at Chelsea, or you could even have played three up top with Heskey and Defoe out and out strikers and Rooney as a link between the midfield and attack. In my opinion only half the team that started was correct in terms of personel and position - James, Terry, Lescott, Barry, Walcott - possibly Rooney! It all boils down to what somebody else said that every England manager feels they must play 442 coz its the English way, but whilst we're following tradition everybody else is winning trophies! Rant finished!

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  • 14. At 09:35am on 07 Sep 2008, rudijay wrote:

    The game would have been completely different if one of those early chances had gone in.
    Rooney does not stay anywhere the location he needs to be. That's not to say he isn't a hard worker. It may have been out of frustration at the poor sevice, but when the crosses came in, he wasn't where needed.
    Thought the overlapping by Glen Johnson gave us another dimension.
    Against a team more inclined to attack England will find it easier to score, Croatia included.

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  • 15. At 09:35am on 07 Sep 2008, Blue Steve wrote:

    When did we last see a decent performance from an England team ? We should have won by at least 5 goals in thg second half.

    Hopefully Gerrard should be back after the Croatia game. He will replace Lampard who never performs in an England shirt.

    Downing and Defoe are not England standard either.

    There will soon be an obvious candidate for the right wing position.By the time the next qualifying games arrive Sean Wright-Phillips will have played a number of games and be right in form.

    If Rooney doesn't put in a decent performance against Croatia he should be replaced as well.

    I see Germany had a similar game against Liechtenstein last night and scored six ! Enough said.

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  • 16. At 09:40am on 07 Sep 2008, SecretSam wrote:

    ayoungcom - fair point, maybe Gerrard and Lampard aren't being played in the same position for England as they do for their clubs. But if they can't - or won't- adapt, then they should be left out and more appropriate players, who don't think they have a God-given right to play, should be included. Do you think a duo of Barry with Bullard could have fared worse last night? I doubt it.

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  • 17. At 09:41am on 07 Sep 2008, emoe2004 wrote:

    Good for Capello...
    It's about time an England Manager had the backbone to geive this bunch of overpaid, mediocre underacheivers the kick up the backside they need.
    They need to be picked to play for this country by passion and commitment and not reputation.
    Sit them down and make them watch a video of Stuart Pierce's greatest hits, a video of the English Rugby Team winning the World Cup, and then they'll know what Three Lions is really about.

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  • 18. At 09:42am on 07 Sep 2008, ivana1989 wrote:

    ibelive croatia will win in zagreb, ant it will be more embarasing for england the fact that we are playing without da silva and kranjcar, but the good news is that petric started scoring again.... so see you on wednesday in zagreb, i ll be there....

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  • 19. At 09:42am on 07 Sep 2008, SecretSam wrote:

    Oh, and one final point - most of the players play in a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 at club level, so why do we persist with 4-4-2 at international level?

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  • 20. At 09:47am on 07 Sep 2008, anyonebutlampard wrote:

    Nice to see a little appreciation for Joe Cole's contribution - what does he have to do to secure such confidence from an England manager? Any objective analysis of his contribution to England over recent years would conclude that he is our most creative (and effective) international player, despite regularly being substituted, overlooked or having to play regularly in a position that is considered beneath the dignity of the likes of messrs. Lampard and Gerard. How many times do we need to watch that pair individually or in combination for England before the penny drops that neither has what it takes at international level (i.e. technical quality, vision and, crucially, an ability to consistently pass the ball quickly and accurately)? As posted by others, their success in the altogether different world of Premiership football is based around club set-ups that play almost exclusively to their limited (but admittedly effective) strengths, as witness the belly-aching by and on Gerard's behalf whenever the Liverpool or England manager has the temerity to ask him to do a job for the team rather than just himself (or as honest Harry put's it, he's "been ruined").

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  • 21. At 09:49am on 07 Sep 2008, emoe2004 wrote:

    I agree with "anyonebutlampard"..Gerrard and Lampard ARE completely overrated..

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  • 22. At 09:50am on 07 Sep 2008, Giggs_deserves_to_be_knighted wrote:

    Mr Mcnulty.. do you write for a tabloid!!?? I feel your article is fantastic for provoking a reaction, if that was your aim then well done you are, in fact, a genius.

    Firstly, if the opposition has 11 people in the way of the 18 yard box, then its always going to be hard to penetrate, regardless of professional stature.. FULL STOP. There is nothing wrong with the England elevens craft, that is ridiculous. 11 people, 18 yards.. do the maths!!!!!!

    Secondly, Capello made the correct chages at half time to get a result... well done mr manager.

    Thirdly, sending out the players early... to allow them to dwell on not scoring against poor opposition, maybe a very good psycological idea?

    FOURTHLY!!! Joe cole got shouted at, as did Rooney, because they held no tactical discipline..Cole especailly had to stay out wide due to Andorras' lack of width.


    FIFTHLY!!! BLIMEY!! Beckham is far, far, far, far too old! he never had pace and now..... he cant even walk fast enough. My suggestion is... (ANYONE WITH AN * IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE TO THE NEXT BEST OPTION)




    If I may give reason for the above... Look at the potential fluidity of the midfield 4 they could all interchange. Our right-back can move to midfield easily!!!! Our attcking midfielder(AND WHO DOESNT THINK HE WOULD BE BETTER THERE -THE NEW SCHOLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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  • 23. At 09:51am on 07 Sep 2008, furryricecrispy wrote:

    on a side note but didn't Kazakhstan beat Andorra 3-0?

    2-0 against Andora is unacceptable

    England should have played an more attacking formation and laid seige on their goal

    England always seems to play cautious against "anyone"

    The old cliche there is no easy game is not true

    if you are quality team with quality players you should get a few goals in the first half and teams like Andorra will roll over.

    what you need to need to do is play like you life depends on it - the amount of grief england get these days it suprise me that they dont - if I was an England player I was would be going out playing the best I can just to prove the critics wrong..

    good luck in croatia no doubt they will scrape a draw ..

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  • 24. At 09:52am on 07 Sep 2008, Giggs_deserves_to_be_knighted wrote:

    To add to my last.. Rooney could always revert to a striker should subs dictate.


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  • 25. At 09:58am on 07 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    One big reason why england arent doing very well is because there isnt support from the fans. It doesnt help them or boost morale when they're being booed and its horrible to think that our own fans, english people, are booing them. It is frustrating but we do have a good team some really good players but they will get better but i dont think we should be criticisng their performance against andorra because we won in the end. Its not going to help the players if everyone whos english keeps saying that the players are crap or whatever else people say. Why dont we just support them and cheer for them and they'll want to do well and prove everyone wrong. COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!!

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  • 26. At 09:59am on 07 Sep 2008, RedSin wrote:

    No doubt Croatia will not be sitting 9 men behind the ball, but bringing the game to England, providing a far sterner test of our defence.

    I live in Germany, and while as an Englishman I could never bring myself to support their national team, I am always impressed with their "exchangeable lightbulb" mentality. If the star doesn't fit, go get a lesser known player who knows how to function within a team.

    For me this is Jimmy Bullard. I've been saying for months that Bullard is a team player, not a 'star', and exactly what England needs in midfield: a committed, inspirational and inventive player who sees the breaks and spreads the ball with intelligence. Fulham were for the drop last season before Jimmy returned from injury and saved them. And this is what England needs. Forget Frank Lampard, retire David Beckham, stop relying on Steven Gerrard, and bring in the form players who can shape a team and make it flow. Jimmy Bullard's name rockets to the top with these credentials.

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  • 27. At 10:03am on 07 Sep 2008, Giggs_deserves_to_be_knighted wrote:







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  • 28. At 10:05am on 07 Sep 2008, bigfluffylemon wrote:


    Why is it that in football, it's always the manager's fault when England don't perform?

    That we have one of the most widely respected managers in world football with a proven track record of results at a high level, and England are still performing like this, is surely indicative that the problem is with the same old bunch of overpaid underachievers on the pitch who don't produce the goods when wearing England colours.

    Be realistic; England's players simply aren't as good as we'd like to believe.

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  • 29. At 10:05am on 07 Sep 2008, Giggs_deserves_to_be_knighted wrote:

    *FURRYRICECRISPY* = we won 2-0 you can only judge each game on its merits! CHEER UP FRUIT, WE WON 2-0 NIL! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 30. At 10:05am on 07 Sep 2008, KingofReds wrote:

    C'mon u English... give your team a break. I was expecting McNulty to knock Capello all around but i'm happy to be disappointed.
    Anyone read the post-match comments of Rodrigo (Andorran coach) their one aim was to frustrate... get men behind the ball.. that was ALL they did... Anyone remember how bad it was to play against Big-Sam's Bolton?
    I'm not English but i follow the english game and i think one thing that hardly ever allows for progress in your game is constant attacks from the press and fans. Capello's head is wanted for not picking Owen... if he picked him but Owen is anonymous in the games, then he's a fool... gimme a break!
    It was a good result, not a great performance but a good result all the same...

    Now all they need to do is to progress... get to know themselves better, get familiar wit the manager's tactics... and finally... listen all of you... get GOOD support from the fans!

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  • 31. At 10:08am on 07 Sep 2008, thefoth wrote:

    Wingers without a target man! classic!

    Tactically he has shown himself to be totally inept. Against Andorra who he knew would defend deep he needed at least one tall guy in the box and to get the ball down the flanks, it's not difficult.

    For Croatia he needs a much more defensive/counter attacking formation which should mean Lescott in front of the back four, Barry and Lampard in the middle with 3 quick forwards, Rooney, Cole and Young.. oh wait he wasn't picked, erm Agbonhlar? Ashton? Owen? erm....

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  • 32. At 10:10am on 07 Sep 2008, Ranbir wrote:

    Joe Cole being shouted at for not doing what he was told...

    Reminds me of when Mourinho did it.

    We've got a good manager here. He is demanding discipline and players to actually do what his tactics say rather than them doing what they want - which was a problem under Erikson and McLaren - who had no real discipline.

    Look at SAF, Mourinho, Clough wouldn't matter if you're the best player of the game, if you didn't do what they asked, you'd be out.

    Time for these players to man up and not act like spoilt children.

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  • 33. At 10:18am on 07 Sep 2008, anyonebutlampard wrote:

    Re Hiddenranbir post, I don't think Joe Cole will mind how much the manager shouts at him as long as he gets a game regularly. Cole has previously said he would play in goal to represent his country - doesn't sound like a spoilt child to me ...

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  • 34. At 10:20am on 07 Sep 2008, freindleonewhocares wrote:

    A very good article Phil.
    Just so sad to have to read posts from the same old moaners,ie;the anti Lampard/Beckham brigade,would love to see what these moaners can do with a football.
    I have not had the opportunity to see anything of the match but as I understand some are complaining about the lack of decent crosses,ha! only Beckham and Bentley can cross a ball with any accuracy from what I have seen,so there.
    To all those who always look for double figure goals,I would say just this,let England win every game with 1-0 and I would be a very happy fan,cause thats all we need.

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  • 35. At 10:22am on 07 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    Bolton were a much better team than Andora.

    Joe Cole for sure Engalnd's best player - seems to be the one with zest for playing for England.

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  • 36. At 10:26am on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    In response to post 28 - I have not blamed the coach for England's performance, in fact I have made a point of suggesting that the players need to take more responsibility.

    Capello at least had the initiative to change things at half-time, although he was correcting one of his own mistakes in the instance of Joe Cole replacing Stewart Downing.

    In response to a couple of posts earlier about Wayne Rooney, I would like to go back to a point I made after the Czech Republic game.

    When Rooney first played for Everton he was a striker who occasionally dropped deep. He now drops deep and occasionally plays as a striker.

    He must revert to his original type.

    And some of the spontaneity appears to have gone out of his game. He is a great talent, but watching him play for England is frustrating.

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  • 37. At 10:28am on 07 Sep 2008, U9746596 wrote:

    What does paucity mean?

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  • 38. At 10:29am on 07 Sep 2008, AndrewD993 wrote:

    The whole England selection of the past few years has been baffling! We are reliant on aging players such as beckham, and have rarely seen a significant change to the starting line up. With such promise in the U21 squad, why not call up someone like James Milner instead of beckham or bullard?

    Why did david wheater get a full international call up after one good season in the premiership, when the captain of the U 21's Steven Taylor has has several?

    Too long have England been reliant on the same names: owen, heskey, defoe, beckham, lampard, gerrard, james, terry, ferdinand.

    I pose the question that there are other players who deserve a chance: Taylor, Milner, Agbonlahor, joe hart, Michael Johnson to name but a few.

    David Bently should not be in the squad, as he is a player who once ruled himself out of an U21 squad because he was too tired! In that same tournament, Steven Taylor played on for the rest of a game and extra time whilst injured, and scored a penalty at the end!

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  • 39. At 10:31am on 07 Sep 2008, mpwapwaman wrote:

    Same boring old England for decades. Expectations are unrealistic. The team is not good enough and management can do little about it. They virtually always are less the the sum of their parts and rarely play to that produced for their clubs.

    Management chops and changes and what is the benefit? Perhaps these overpaid and generally overrated players 'produce' for their clubs when they have good players around them?

    Perhaps international matches don't really mean much to too many of the players apart from boosting their transfer fees. Football is becoming boring with its cliche-ridden responses. How can performances such as beating Andorra 2-0 be deemed creditable? It is poor. The sport at this level is flabby and it is time that the team, rather than being lionised (!), should be seen for what it is. A mediocre team which can grind out boring wins against teams who theoretically shouldn't be able to compete.

    Forget the mitigating circumstances.

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  • 40. At 10:34am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    Phil,seriously,Beckhams "tactical discipline"???

    What has happened to you,sir?You used to have bite and the courage of your convictions,now youre putting your name to claims of Daivd Beckhams "tactical discipline".These are dark times people,dark.

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  • 41. At 10:35am on 07 Sep 2008, saga mix wrote:

    Comfortable away victory by two clear goals ... three points, job done, what on earth is the problem?

    Hey, and did you guys notice how much better we looked without Stevie Gerrard cluttering up the midfield?

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  • 42. At 10:36am on 07 Sep 2008, wondergareth101 wrote:

    Im embarrassed of the way English bad talk England, sorry but i am. the mission .. beat Andorra. we beat Andorra. not good enough. we should have won 20 0 did anyone see or hear about France or Italy. the fact is that England fans are never going to be happy.
    what will the English press and the fans say if we draw or win by one goal on Wednesday? that we didn't play like Brazil, we were lucky Fabio should be sacked blah blah blah. Im tired of us, our arrogance is known around the world that's why teams take such joy in beating us.
    The whole of Europe were so glad we weren't there during Euro 08 why? because there wrong, stupid arrogant or is it us. I think the time has come to take a long look at ourselves. The England team might be embarrassing us now but us, the fans have embarrassed our country for years. sad.

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  • 43. At 10:37am on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To poster 37...a paucity means a dearth or shortage. You make a good point though - maybe I should have just said a shortage of right-wingers.

    Apparently it comes for the Latin word "paucus", which means little.

    Yes, I definitely should have said shortage.

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  • 44. At 10:38am on 07 Sep 2008, goldenbales wrote:


    Why do managers persist wiht trying downing?

    What did capello achieve playing downing in the first half that he doesnt already know.

    No matter how many times he plays downing in england he is never gonna have a good game.
    Dont know what it is but 20 games later and not even 10 mins of a decent performance. How many of his crosses missed any sort of target? Why was he crossing for 30 yards out to the smallest man on the pitch defoe. Isnt a midfielder supposed to play up the top of the pitch when attacking the opposition and not just stand there and do nothing.


    He's a big time bottler, he might do ok in the comfort zone of boro but for england he looks like rabbit caught between headlights

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  • 45. At 10:40am on 07 Sep 2008, robzaba wrote:

    Capello now knows what he's up against: a group of players who don't think in the same way on the pitch, no matter how good they may be for their own teams...

    They seem to have psychological issue - either 'we are better then they are, so we don't really need to try' or, conversely, 'we are worried, that it won't go well' ala Terry. I used to believe the first, but it seems to hae changed over the last 3/4 years into the second of these.

    Croatia will be well up for this one. Let's hope it brings out a better side in England on Weds.

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  • 46. At 10:44am on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Stewart Downing is undoubtedly a good player, you only have to look at his performances for Middlesbrough and the interest he attracts from other clubs.

    But he has difficulty bridging the gap between club and international football. He was disappointing against Andorra and will know it.

    Downing will hope Capello keeps faith in the hope he can grow into the England side, but there was no doubt he missed a big opportunity in Barcelona.

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  • 47. At 10:44am on 07 Sep 2008, thewelshboycott wrote:

    England's result does not look too shabby, given the other home nations' results.

    As a team, England are on the slide. Scotland are at our level now in the Fifa rankings.

    Until we can get teams in the Premiership playing with a majority of home grown talent, we are going to continue to decline.

    We can't even find an English manager!

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  • 48. At 10:45am on 07 Sep 2008, respectedFrenchAl wrote:

    Sheesh...what capello needs to do is get them to play as a team and not individuals. We need creativity and the midfield had none; so keep Cole but bring in Young; Hargreaves and Carrick...yes, they are out now but Barry and cole can help...and on the wings, SWP and Young are better suited than Wallcott or the even more ineffectual Bentley. Up front, Ashton and Owen need to be int he squad, not Defoe...we need team players and not big egos who keep wanting to overdo things.
    Nuff said

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  • 49. At 10:46am on 07 Sep 2008, Leslie Melville wrote:

    To get the best from Rooney, he NEEDS a strike partner. In the absence of Owen, Heskey's the man.

    His talent is to play just behind a front man, drawing the defence and laying off passes.

    A strong front man also gives Rooney opportunities to break through and score.

    He hasn't played to his strengths at United since Van Nistelrooy left the club.


    As soon as they begin to play, I feel nervous. It must affect in the same way, those players who have been in the squad
    during the last five disappointing years.

    Let's begin a new era and:



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  • 50. At 10:46am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    Phil-Beckhams "tactical discipline".Im going to repeat this and if you dont attempt to justify yourself then it goes on your headstone in 30 years time,sir.Is that what you want?

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  • 51. At 10:49am on 07 Sep 2008, War Baby wrote:

    Careful Phil, you'll have Capello complaining that since he doesn't criticise your journalism, you shouldn't criticise his coaching :-)

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  • 52. At 10:51am on 07 Sep 2008, anyonebutlampard wrote:

    re the sycophantic friendlyonewhocares post 34, whilst not wishing to count myself amongst the legion of the "same old moaners" (damn that revealing choice of identity, but it's the name of my all-conquering fantasy football team), I must regretfully take issue with the implication that you need to be a good footballer to offer an opinion on the game. I would suggest that a more relevant requirement is to manage to watch the match in question before posting ...

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  • 53. At 10:53am on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To may get your wish about Heskey as a strike partner for Rooney in Zagreb on Wednesday.

    Fabio Capello was very positive about Heskey last night - and Liverpool fans may recally what was arguably the striker's finest performance for the club

    It came in a European game against Roma on the night Gerard Houllier returned to Anfield after heart surgery, when the Italians were coached by one Fabio Capello.

    He was outstanding and scored in front of The Kop. I think that has stuck in Capello's memory.

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  • 54. At 10:54am on 07 Sep 2008, wildtigerjazzy wrote:

    well done capello for wading into these so called stars; well done for making the tactical change that cracked open the door. listen, when i was at school we sometimes weren't accompanied by our tutor cos he trusted we had the skills to beat weaker opposition; he left us to work stuff out for ourselves in these cases; with a team like andorra they shouldn't need capello to guide wonder the guy was angry! what do you want, someone to sit passively dreaming of the next woman he can pull or a buy getting out a brolly clueless but trying to look as if he knows what he's doing; its absolutely ace to see this guy getting passionate and not afraid to argue with the big egos like cole and rooney, well done i say, cos even if england don't go through, at least it weren't for want of a manager trying to thrash the best out of them.

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  • 55. At 10:54am on 07 Sep 2008, footiefutility wrote:

    I gave up watching football years ago as I tended to go to sleep with the excitement. How about only paying the players - and this could apply to league teams too - for a win. The larger the number of goals the higher the renumeration!!!

    Take it one stage further and fine them for a poor display.

    At work, we don't get pay rises or promotion if we don't perform, so why should they?

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  • 56. At 10:54am on 07 Sep 2008, pendlerichie wrote:

    England's creativity is very much under par at the moment, but I do think some blame for this has to lie with team and tactical decisions.

    Look at the team we had out there last night and you wonder why we dont create any chances of note.

    Downing never has and never wil do it for england so why do we keep insisting on giving him a chance. He doesn't even light up the premiership. And his long balls and crosses into the box to a 5 foot 6 striker in Defoe is going to do nothing for us. Therefore, if you're gonna play him, then you need strikers with some height.

    And playing Walcott on the wing is another mistake. Again, what has he done for Arsenal? He isn't a regular there?

    If you want creativity then you need Joe Cole starting. And there is also one glaring ommission ...ASHLEY YOUNG!!! Second most number of assists in the Prem last year and he doesn't even make the squad. He's not one dimensional like Downing and surely deserves a chance.

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  • 57. At 11:00am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:


    Phil,is that your idea of a sick joke,i really desire to understand.

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  • 58. At 11:02am on 07 Sep 2008, Chelsea logic wrote:

    Again, we have all the whingers on here pointing the finger at Lampard, even though we won and Andorra didn't get a shot on goal all game. Lampard had a decent game compared to most on the pitch last night. His game was as good if not better than Barry's for example. His all round passing and linking was very good on the night and he was the closest player to scoring for England in the first half. Rooney again is taking less stick but apart from a good pass to assist a goal for J.Cole he was absolutely rubbish! His shooting was wayward and he lost the ball more times than anybody on the park. I thought the team had better balance last night without Gerrard in the team. We had better shape and kept the ball better and in all fairness we looked good throughout the pitch until the ball got into the final third and the final ball wasn't good enough for the majority of the game. That means the central midfield position was more than organised and marshalled well between Lampard and Barry and lets give them some credit for stopping Andorra mounting any form of decent counter attacks. When a team places 10 men behind the ball no matter how good they are as a team it is very difficult to break down. Quality is needed when this happens and between Rooney and J.Cole it was Cole who showed the quality on the night. Stop blaming Lampard for everything and get behind the team. The amount of stick he gets is unwarranted most of the time and he normally isn't half as bad as others on the pitch. Last night Downing and Defoe were arguably England's worst but shouldn't be singled out anyway. England won, we got 3 points, a clean sheet and a tough trip to Croatia on Wednesday. Ferdinand should be back to bolster the defence and the only advice I can give Capello is to play Heskey up front to muscle himself among their defence so that J.Cole, Rooney or even Lampard can get onto loose balls and show some quality. If he plays Defoe again the ball will be in our half more than it should which means Rooney will roam, Lampard will be unable to get forward and J.Cole will be lucky to see the ball at all. We need a big, strong player in attack to cause some trouble for Croatia's defence or our team will be run ragged like it was last time.

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  • 59. At 11:02am on 07 Sep 2008, HypnoticBear wrote:

    You're right, no matter how bad England were, or ever will be, we as a nation should always be more ashamed of Coldplay. They are a scourge on mankind.....

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  • 60. At 11:05am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    Coldplay,the Dvaid Beckham of football,only with more depth.

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  • 61. At 11:11am on 07 Sep 2008, inspector_smudger wrote:


    As mentioned by others, such as Sealey_OT_legend and KingofReds, I am continually disappointed and disheartened by the overly negative reaction of fans, fuelled by the media. This article is another example of this!

    The overriding tone of the whole article is negative and seems determined to undermine confidence. The tone is always there, in the build up to games, during and after and only serves to increase the pressure on the team. These are world cup qualifiers, there's enough pressure as it is, regardless of who the opposition is.

    I'm not disagreeing that there were aspects of the performance, which were disappointing, but as long as the media keeps producing articles, with almost threatening language, (even the title included 'must raise game'), then we will continue to get ridiculous responses from fans and commentators alike, that 2-0 isn't good enough. We won. We have 3 points. Croatia is a completely different game. I'm sure Capello will have a different game plan so let's let him do his job, and we'll do ours, i.e. get behind the team.

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  • 62. At 11:14am on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    I think it's got to the stage where Phil can simply copy + paste his post-England match blogs, change a couple of names around (i.e. the scorer if we're lucky enough to see a goal, or the latest overpaid cretin to underperform) and have the whole thing published within five minutes.

    It is so boring and so painfully predictable. England can't beat a bunch of part-timers; Rooney isn't the player he was in 2004; Lampard can't perform in an England shirt; Downing is utterly useless; England need a quality right-back; Beckham will start in the next game, despite being 207 years old and capable only of providing from set-pieces; England must perform in Zagreb; a Scottish tennis player is more interesting to watch than our own national football team.

    The whole thing is like a horrible, endless nightmare that we have to suffer over and over and over again. Each time we think we've woken up and moved on - oh look, Heskey's back in the squad! Each time a new manager comes and promises a bright new era for English football, oh how wonderful - Beckham's back on the right wing! I mean, what the hell is going on? I'm actually seriously asking myself why I bother to support the national team anymore and I think a lot of you should too. Don't tell me I should have pride, because I feel absolutely no pride watching that bunch of losers toil against some of the worst teams in the world - on an increasingly regular basis.

    I am sick of hearing the same media stories, the same selection-based "dilemmas", the same excuses and the same promises time and time again. Enough is enough.

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  • 63. At 11:19am on 07 Sep 2008, FILLIPBENNO wrote:

    It was obvious that the two short strikers were getting no joy - Crouch should have been on the pitch, or at least in the squad.
    He has never let England (or Liverpool) down - Just look at his goals per game ratio and compare it to those playing last night.
    How can he be dropped?

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  • 64. At 11:20am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    Whittingham,thats why we needed martin O`Neil.He would have used his 5 firnedlies to rid england of their mouldy Beckham-leaden past,introduced the Youngs,the Agbonlahoors,the Walcotts and freed up Gerrard to lead us into a new era.What we have with capello is like some awful crusted Sven wholl just pick the old famous names,line them up and be so self-important he believes his stature as a coach will suddenyl make them play in the way they havent over he past 7 years.

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  • 65. At 11:20am on 07 Sep 2008, chris mills wrote:

    I think a lot of people are over confident with the England team.

    Any moderately talented , fit and organised team can frustrate a better team.

    If you do not get an early goal , they get more motivated and it gets harder.

    I feel that the system Benitez used for Liverpool last season would be ideal for the players we have at present.

    4 2 3 1


    Would make us defensively stronger but release the front 4 to concentrate more on their creativity.

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  • 66. At 11:20am on 07 Sep 2008, hrezimfan wrote:

    So here's the thing! England needed something different in their attack instead of trying to dribble through the middle. What about Peter Crouch? He is such a handful with his height and touch.

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  • 67. At 11:22am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    Sir Phil Mcnulty:"im a big admirer of david Beckhams tactical discipline on a football pitch,dont you know."

    No,its still as cringeworthy as when i first read it.AM i imagining it or did he REALLY write that,we must be told.

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  • 68. At 11:23am on 07 Sep 2008, RedPharoah wrote:

    Still can't understand the idea of playing Downing, who I believe is good, with no target man 9this happened previously as well). Then replace him at half time whilst putting on Heskey...surely they should be on at the same time.

    Joe Cole didn't play 'left', he plays through the middle, ideally with the smaller forwards IMO i.e the first half set up. So play him in Rooney's position, as he just doesn't do it. I hear a lot that Rooney works hard and runs around a lot, well if we just need a runner then why not ask Paula Radcliffe to play.

    Similarly Walcott is out of position for some of the set ups so either...
    Walcott, Cole, Rooney and Defoe play forward (1 dimensional) or Bentley, Cole, Heskey, Downing play and try width with through play as well. Maybe Cole as midfielder but not v Croatia.

    The whole thing baffles me...

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  • 69. At 11:30am on 07 Sep 2008, RedPharoah wrote:

    "I feel that the system Benitez used for Liverpool last season would be ideal for the players we have at present.

    4 2 3 1

    OWEN" from Callyismagic

    Quite like this set up but still worried that without a proper target and a threat of width the opposition can just fill the central defense to stop the through the middle play. Rooney is using up a position that would allow slotting someone wide.

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  • 70. At 11:33am on 07 Sep 2008, idaandy wrote:

    Gareth Barry and Lampard are just not good enough for internationals.At the moment they would be better with owen and heskey up front as Rooney is failing to live up to all the hype for club and country.

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  • 71. At 11:42am on 07 Sep 2008, stu_ellis wrote:

    Fabio should have a look at the england cricket team. PLayers like hick and ramprakash have destroyed teams on the county circuits for years, but have been tried at international level and failed, so theyre no longer picked.
    Lampard is a fantastic player for Chelsea but for some reason, he does not perform for england. Thus he should no longer be considered for selection

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  • 72. At 11:42am on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    "Whittingham,thats why we needed martin O`Neil.He would have used his 5 firnedlies to rid england of their mouldy Beckham-leaden past,introduced the Youngs,the Agbonlahoors,the Walcotts and freed up Gerrard to lead us into a new era"

    Would he really have done that though? I'm not so sure. When Capello arrived, he was touted as this no nonsense, uncompromising manager who wouldn't put up with big egos or pick a player who was not performing. But it seems that after just a short time in the job, he's already showing many of the downfalls that led to past managers being sacked. Negative tactics, unadventurous selections, inability to openly criticise the players...

    I am not saying this is Capello's fault. I think it's just something that happens to managers when they take the England job and start hanging around with the FA too much. Makes you wonder exactly who makes the telling decisions, and who is really in control of the team. It seems that it doesn't matter who you put in charge of the team; you could select the world's greatest, most decorated manager and I would be willing to bet that he would end up looking just like Sven, McLaren and all the others who have failed (relatively speaking) before them.

    We all know the problems and that the solutions are so blindingly clear. All of us except the people who really matter, it seems.

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  • 73. At 11:44am on 07 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Capello's only option given the tools he has to work with is to shut the shop against the Croats and play for a nil nil with the hope of a counter attack break.

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  • 74. At 11:47am on 07 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    #72 you say Capello shows:
    "inability to openly criticise the players"

    I'm not sure what guide books on management you have read but rule 1 of any kind of management is never, ever, ever humiliate your team members.

    Plus - Capello doesn't seem to have a problem bawling out star names as witnessed last night.

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  • 75. At 11:49am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    whittingham,thats precisely why O`Neil was overlooked originally after Sven by the FA,because he wanted to shake it up ala Clough and they wouldnt let him.Capellos only remark on wanting the job was that how he "couldnt understand" how such "stars" couldnt perform in an england shirt.He though he and only he would be able to pick svens line-up and make them play,there was no hint of revolution and why would there be from a 62 year old dinosaur in football-terms italian tinkerman?All hes done so far is retread Svens footmarks and then thrown in the odd Walcott and expected it to work but it wont.His carcass is the same as Svens,what we needed was a completely new vision and philosophy which O`Neil would have given us.He,like MOurinho,would have engineered a real "club" atmposphere amongst his young set which couldnt be further from the way Capello is going about getting "respect" from his old timers ala Madrid.Hes the wrong man at the worng time,weve fouled it up yet again.

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  • 76. At 11:50am on 07 Sep 2008, RedPharoah wrote:

    I don't believe any of the not up too international standard remarks about a lot of the players. Andorra can not be compared to the week in week out games v opposition teams in the PL that these players are up against.

    As Frank once said "if you can make it there..."

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  • 77. At 11:51am on 07 Sep 2008, Col_Utd wrote:

    Alot has been said about when was X, Y or Z last good game for England.

    My question is, when did Joe Cole last have a bad game for England?

    He has been our best, and most consistant player for a long time. Without a doubt should be starting ahead of Downing

    Infact, if everyone had the passion for their country that Joe Cole seems to have, then I don't think we would be complaining about anything at all.

    With regards the result against Andora. We won, so who cares how we played. They are a team that puts 11 players behind the ball, and see a result as not losing by double figures.

    Croatia will actually come out and play against England; which will give us more space etc. But lets remember, Croatia are not some also ran team. They are ranked higher than us in the world, which means they are better than us; Beating them should be seen as a result; not an expectation!

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  • 78. At 11:52am on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To poster is wrong to suggest there is a hint of threat about a headline that says England must raise their game in Zagreb.

    This, in my opinion obviously, is the reality.

    Do you think England will get a good result if they play to the same level they did last night? I don't.

    Am I allowed to mention that I believe a fit Steven Gerrard would have improved England's performance?

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  • 79. At 11:55am on 07 Sep 2008, alpeshcgujjar wrote:

    It is almost impossible to make English play as they do for thier Club.You all know the reason.
    Every single players is looking for money,dont includ kids like Welcot who wants to prove themselves first and then think about wages.
    Lamps is definitely looking for money,if you pay him alot he will work hard to be the best as he does with Chelsea,same as others big name players in England.
    I dont think they will even listen to the Manager,it is just hard to manager this team of greedy individuals,they admit it or not but it is a fact which everyone is aware of.
    What I want to tell you all england fans,dont blame the Manager,he i doind what any other Manager would do to make this work but if the players themselves doesnt want to listen what can he do.
    When you have someone is doesnt care it is hard to tell him to obay something because he will not if he doesnt want to and there is not pressure if he will not play anymore,he just doesnt give a damn.
    Lamps or Rooney can not do this to their clubs,they will be jobless the next day..including other players as well.
    As long as there is no that kind of worry in Greedy English players there wont be any listening to the Manager and obaying his orders.
    As Rooney and Cole did last night.
    No Manager in this world can Manager England.

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  • 80. At 11:55am on 07 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    O'Neill that tactical mastermind... give me a break. He is not fit to polish Fabio's boots. He has done nothing at Villa except achieve a bit of stability, his purchases have been average, Young aside. His team is mediocre and plays predictably. He can man manage and motivate OK but this England team needs more than that to succeed.

    The problem is not the manager people, it's far to easy to blame him. It's the players.

    I thought last night was as expected anyway and acceptable given the circumstances

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  • 81. At 11:59am on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    no Jorgen,its about understanding englands persdonality and playing to our strengths.O` Neil would have given as an edge no other nation posesses and enabled us to punch above our weight in the way he made Celtic do.He would have made us more than the sum of our parts which could have got us somewhere.Under the likes of Capello who doesnt and can never understand our personality we will always underperform.

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  • 82. At 12:01pm on 07 Sep 2008, RedPharoah wrote:

    Re 77

    I agree Cole should start but the idea of 'ahead of Downing' is sticking with the previous formula of him on the left. He should be playing more central, all of his play last night was from the centre to centre right position.

    Drop Rooney.

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  • 83. At 12:02pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    The only think I think worth taking from this game, which is a non-event because Andorra are such a waste of time, is that Capello has common sense - he saw the long ball reversion and knew he had to bring on heskey - you would never see mcclaren bring on a striker who currently plays for wigan, and he dropped the awful downing for joe cole, who for me is one of england's most regular performers - clearly fabio wanted some width so he started downing to run down the left rather than cole who will cut inside, but that didn't work and he brought on someone who is a very consistent player for england - the first time I ever agreed with mcclaren was after he'd already ballsed up so much we were 2-0 down

    And I have to disagree with Phil, who has no time for the 'anti-Frank Lampard brigade' - you admit he was anonymous last night? so that was an unusual occurence, right? because it seems to me every single england game for the past few years he has been anonymous - i seem to remember 'he went missing' against the czechs, and i'm struggling to find a 'recent' performance where he's been useful - it seems everybody on here agrees - yes he banged in the goals at euro 2004 and the 2006 qualification campaign (tap-ins and flukey deflections or not) - but since that world cup where has he been? nowhere, that's over 2 years of poor performance - so I'd like to know why Phil insists we should keep him in the first team - simply because of his record? because he plays well for chelsea? the fact is chelsea are built around him, england aren't and are unlikely to be set up that way - especially when Gerrard consistently outperforms him for england, even if he isn't looking great he's still dragging the team along and rescuing points and getting plaudits for his efforts, just as he does with a liverpool side that often struggle

    lampard will have his chance with barry on wednesday, and if he doesn't 'reappear' then I don't know how you can justify Frank on the field, you can't blame it on Gerrard this time - when Gerrard and Barry were put there when Lamps got injured, they played some great stuff - Lampard has had two years to impress and he hasn't, I don't understand why he's still picked (ok I do, but surely england form is worth something these days) - put simply he doesn't play like he used to, he doesn't get forward, he doesn't try his heart out - maybe he's just not the old frank lampard any more, so please give me a reason why we should play a man that is almost constantly labelled 'anonymous' by the pundits, but also still regarded as an england regular by the very same pundits!

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  • 84. At 12:03pm on 07 Sep 2008, Rob wrote:

    England need a reality check. They're never going to lose to Andorra, so they should treat it as one of two things:

    1) An opportunity to practice things that they want to do in a bigger game; or
    2) A chance to go out and enjoy themselves, try new things and generally be adventurous.

    The opposition was not right for #1, so that only leaves one option.

    It's time for England to lighten up. They care too much what the fans or the press say. All they should care about is what they DO.

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  • 85. At 12:07pm on 07 Sep 2008, ewanmaynard wrote:

    I think there are a lot of fair comments, both good and bad here. England do have problems, yes, but things are improving and you can see the direction Capello is wanting to take us in. It's all very well suggesting who should or should not be in the side, who should play where etc, but the reality is, there is no perfect answer that will suddenly make us overnight world-beaters. The fact of the matter is that there are some areas of the pitch where we don't have the quality of players available to us, and i'm especially talking about up front. Yes, you could play Owen, bring in Crouch, draft in Agbonlahor or Ashton etc, but there's no Shearer-Sheringham out there, no Torres-Villa, so any success will come from organisation and getting the best out of the players he can see something in. You can see from his rants at Joe Cole and Rooney that he does know what's needed to do this, so give it time.

    The other thing that's worth noting, and that i feel is interesting is the level of discussion and fear when talking about qualification. We would've expected it before, unfairly i believe and in reality many top nations, not just us get into trouble at this stage. Just look at France's result last night. Spain also only beat Bosnia by a goal, and they're the toast of European football! It's not easy, so just enjoy the excitement. Even if we lose in Croatia, we get another go at them, and even then we should get a playoff spot so that's another opportunity. Don't panic!

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  • 86. At 12:08pm on 07 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:


    On what basis do you say O'Neill would have:
    "given as an edge no other nation posesses and enabled us to punch above our weight"

    How exactly would he have done this? With who? What players, using what techniques? What part of his track record suggests he is better equipped to do this than Capello, the most successful manager on the planet?

    Please don't tell me a couple of Scottish titles with those perennial underdogs Celtic? It might be raining but April 1st is a few months off yet mate.
    PS he isn't English either.

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  • 87. At 12:10pm on 07 Sep 2008, Cola4eva wrote:

    I personally believe that this England side lacks any creative players in the middle of the park or the wings! Long are the days when good crossers of the ball are sufficient, continental teams are now aware of that and by closing the space, you don't have the time to put in a decent cross! If you look at the premier league and the top teams in specific, there are always creative players who can break the deadlock such as Ronaldo and Scholes in Man Utd, Deco and Ballack nowadays in Chelsea, Fabregas and Nasri in Arsenal, Alonso and Keane in Liverpool. Now Lampard and Gerrard can be amongst the goals, but the issue is how are we going to create the opportunities in the first place and on a regular basis! When teams put 10 players behind the ball, you need creativity in the side and not just someone who will run to the byline and cross it. I don't think Lampard or Gerrard are the most creative players, they may have drive, score the goals, arrive at the right time in the box, but creativity I think is lacking! Other international teams struggle in that department, but if you look around there is always that creative genious in the side, Italy: Totti, France: Now NONE used to be Zidane, Spain: Everyone, Germany: Ballack, England: ?????

    Another thing to note that apart from rio and ashley, our defenders are not comfortable on the ball and you get the feeling that they want to get rid of it as soon as possible. There are has to be the confidence to play the ball out from defence comfortably or we go back to the long ball.

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  • 88. At 12:16pm on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    "I'm not sure what guide books on management you have read but rule 1 of any kind of management is never, ever, ever humiliate your team members."

    It's got nothing to do with humiliation. A good manager in my eyes is someone who motivates, gets the best out of their staff, pushes them to maintain that level and is not afraid to give them a rollicking when they're not up to scratch.

    A bit of humiliation can actually do some good from time to time. You would have thought that the crushing disappointment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008 would have really kicked the players into shape, but apart from a few apologetic interviews and a lot of rhetoric, what evidence have we seen on the pitch to suggest that the experience had any effect on them at all?

    I'd really like to know, because I'm genuinely struggling to see how the team that beat Andorra 2-0 last night was any better than the team that laboured to a 3-0 victory a year ago.

    As for Capello dropping star names - putting Beckham on the bench does not show any kind of strength at all. If he wants to prove how tough a manager he is, he has to drop Beckham and similarly obsolete from the squad completely, and slam the door shut.

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  • 89. At 12:16pm on 07 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    in the same way he did at celtic jurgen.He posesses a clough-like personality that inspires players to want to play for him and yes,though some may not like it,a direct and physical approach which suits our play.We are never going to out ITaly Italy nor out Brazil Brazil.We have to maximise our own strengths and O`Neil has just about the right mix as a manager to get the best out of our type of players and men.Mourinho would have been similar but capello is not.There is an argument that capello would have been the right sort of man back in 2001 instead of Sven but we need different things brought to the table now,a new vision,a new philosophy and no more fri ggin Beckham!

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  • 90. At 12:19pm on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    *similarly obsolete players :)

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  • 91. At 12:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mightyblooze wrote:

    Gawd that was awful, but did we expect anything else?
    As England fans we have to realise that years of foreign imports have ruined England's selection pool, and we are no longer, if indeed we ever were, a force in world footy.
    Those of you who pay Sky's exhorbitant fees and moan about not beating the likes of Andorra 8-0 should take some responsibility for the paucity of talent currently available.
    Exactly how many of England's current squad would make a World Eleven? Rooney? - not a chance, peaked at 18. Glad we sold him when we did.
    Gerrard? - may have done two or three years ago, not now.
    Joe Cole? - might get on the subs bench if there were a lot of players out with injuries.
    Nobody else is worth a mention. Remember, in the last FIFA rankings we slipped to a lowly 15th, a mere one place ahead of the jocks! There's every chance they'll be in front of us by the end of the World Cup qualifiers.
    I'm off to watch the Belgian GP, a sport where an Englishman IS actually world class!

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  • 92. At 12:24pm on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    "He posesses a clough-like personality that inspires players to want to play for him and yes,though some may not like it,a direct and physical approach which suits our play"

    But that's the point - would he be allowed to demonstrate that personality and use that physical style of play if he were the England manager? Or would he be forced by some higher power to pick certain players (you know which players I'm talking about) and be obliged to make a system to accommodate them?

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  • 93. At 12:27pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:


    i don't think there's a higher power saying which players to pick these days - in the old days the FA dominated managers, more recently they have crumbled to media outrage if they didn't pick the biggest english names out there - mcClaren was a weakling - somehow I don't see Capello being quite the same or listening to anyone he doesn't want to

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  • 94. At 12:43pm on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    "somehow I don't see Capello being quite the same or listening to anyone he doesn't want to"

    I agree with you, that's the reputation he had before he became England manager and that's what we'd really like to be seeing. But I ask again, what have we seen to suggest that he's turning words into actions? He's hardly swept through the team with a broom (the difference between his team and McLaren's is...?) and short of barking at a few players - which you would ABSOLUTELY expect ANY manager to do if a player isn't doing his job - what's he got that, say, Sven didn't have?

    Well, you don't have to answer that because it's all in the past. I just feel that the national team manager is under so much pressure, so much expectation and so many invisible constraints (i.e. influences that we don't hear about) that they are never able (allowed?) to stamp their true personality on the squad. I think we could have a League 2-standard manager in charge of the team and you wouldn't notice much difference in the players' performance.

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  • 95. At 12:47pm on 07 Sep 2008, josemorero wrote:

    Downing is definitely not good enough for England. At international level he is found out as being a one trick pony but even his crossing seems to go out the window most of the time, he clearly the doesn't have the mental game to reproduce club form at international level.
    Heartening to see Capello ringing the changes and not putting up with poor discipline and performances. Hopefully this will result in him bringing in Young and Agbonlahor who are both deserving of a place in the squad.
    I don't really understand why you wouldn't start with 3 at the back against Andorra (one CB and two FB's, say TERRY, COLE and JOHNSON) when they won't be testing your defence anyway. You then have a lot more scope for playing more creative attacking players.

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  • 96. At 12:48pm on 07 Sep 2008, whatabill wrote:

    *yawn* who cares about crosses? are we not missing the point that rooney is at his best running from 40 yards out to the edge of the box? hes not an aerial threat, nor is defoe or, particularly, owen. Also, anyone who can't see that this result bears no relevance to croatia is clearly blind...spending 90 minutes battling against a solid line and trying to find goals is a completely different ball game to playing a proper match. this result is a job well done, and zagreb will be an indicator of how good england are.

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  • 97. At 12:50pm on 07 Sep 2008, MattyGaston23 wrote:

    Last nights game was very difficult. Playing against a well organised, stubborn team who plays with all 11 men in the box is not easy. England done quite well to break them down as they did, they just lacked the quality on the final ball.

    Walcott showed glimpses of things to come, good pace and creativity, but still lacked composure when he got himself into space. Downing was poor, no real drive at the defense, was unwilling to beat his man and his delivery was shocking.
    Lampard looked for the little chip ball far to often, worked a couple of times but he seemed unwilling to mix it up. Barry was poor, lacks real pace and didnt show much composure, even with all the pace he was allowed.
    Rooney and Defoes performances cant be judged, it was 11 v 2 in the box and they never got supply to do anything. Rooney easily gets frustrated and goes ball hunting, maybe needs to be more selfish, but his reverse pass was delightful.

    People talk about formations and playing players there, well if your on 150,000 a week and your coach tells you to play a position, you overcome and adapt. However, i do agree that either lamps or gerrard need to be given a free role to roam in between a holding midfielder and a front pair.
    Carrick and Hargreaves are massive loses for England, they really play the holding role superbly for united and i think once fit, will play a role in Capellos game plan.

    Starting line up for Croatia:


    Brown - Rio - Terry - Cole

    Beckham - Barry - Cole


    Heskey - Rooney

    Rooney naturally always seems to peel to the left, so i think this will help joe cole to cut inside alittle more. Lampard needs to be given freedom to express himself, shoot from 40 yards, but then be able to use the width Cole and Beckham will provide. This isnt the best England squad by far, but the formation suits them and its one alot of teams are playing with these days. The defense is strong enough to cope with alot, and if barry can play a holding role, it should only take 1 goal to beat croatia.

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  • 98. At 12:50pm on 07 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    COME ON ENGLAND!!!! lets win in zagreb!!!
    We do have a good team so lets support them and win!!!! stop booing them if you're and english person because thats not right. not many other countries' fans would do that so lets not do it ourselves. does anyone know who the lineup will probably be? i think walcott did pretty well but i think joe cole should change with downing. and come on rooney and the other strikers!! get some goals!! come on england!!!!

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  • 99. At 12:51pm on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    "Heartening to see Capello ringing the changes and not putting up with poor discipline and performances."

    How exactly? Just because he brought off Downing and Defoe at half-time instead of waiting until the 70th minute, as we've grown accustomed to? Why didn't he just drop them from the starting eleven in the first place?

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  • 100. At 12:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, riggy wrote:

    I don't have setanta and could only listen via radio which only suggested from the commentators voices that England did ok through the first half.

    The second half had a bit more to it but overall we did win but are going to be seriously tested against the croats.

    Give it 5 years and we'll see better players come from our own national football centre!!

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  • 101. At 12:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, poshgeordie wrote:

    Mr McNulty, Hollywood passes from the aged David Beckham are not the answer to England getting a decent result on Wednesday.
    'Tactical disciple' is something the ageing model does not possess, and never has!
    Cruella Capello must perservere with Walcott/Bentley down the right as well as bringing in the young Aston Villa players
    and decide once and for all to to jettison the likes of Beckham, Lampard, Terry and more. They are all that is wrong with English football!!!

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  • 102. At 12:58pm on 07 Sep 2008, PaulAustralia wrote:

    To all those that complain about the England fans booing the players at half time, I have to ask ...... well what else do you expect?

    We're talking about basically the same team that didn't manage to qualify for euro2008 (Remember that....probably not eh?) and here they are playing their first competitive match against what is basically a Sunday "Pub" team of part timers (No offence intended Andorra, I personally think you put in a sound effort), 45 minutes gone and 0-0.

    What do you expect from fans parting with hard earned cash to watch that c**p.......a standing ovation? A thunderous round of appreciative applause in the hope that the next 45 minutes will be slightly less aimless?

    Us England fans have been doing our part for far too long, supporting England through thick and thin, all without seeing any rewards (For 42 years at least). We're spat on in foriegn countries, treated like animals, stabbed, ripped off and in some cases even murdered in our enthusiasm to watch our national team perform, and how is it repayed? By woefully poor football, played by overpaid babies that have no idea of the real world.

    Yes we can boo, we have every right too, we've earned it!

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  • 103. At 12:59pm on 07 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    how many go through in the group? i mean is it the the top 2 that qaulify or just 1 team????? please tell me!!

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  • 104. At 1:01pm on 07 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    booing isnt going to help our national team paulaustralia

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  • 105. At 1:02pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    103 jay2spain

    top place auto qualifys

    2nd place goes into playoffs, except there are 9 groups so only the best 8 2nd places go into play offs

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  • 106. At 1:02pm on 07 Sep 2008, redforever wrote:

    Don't Panic!! I noticed that France lost to Austria (one of the poorest teams in Euro 2008). Italy just managed to beat Cyprus 2-1. And Holland lost to Australia (in a friendly, and Kewell got the winner!). Those countries might want to panic...
    1. Its hard to breakdown a defense of 11 determined men- we scored twice and created other chances which might have been taken on another day, and got three points. 2. Capello made changes at half-time that made the difference. 3. He showed the players who was boss by sending "JT" and "Wasser" out for a little lonely stroll at half-time.

    The Croatia game will be very different. Croatia are at home and will commit players to attack, offering more space. Rooney and Walcott could offer some genuine pace to counter-attack, but Beckham can make defense splitting passes and crosses, so it will be interesting to see which one Capello goes for. Rooney will be removed from the game if he does'nt follow Capellos instructions, and I believe Cole will start with the same proviso. Hopefully Ferdinand will be back, because our main goal should be not to concede, since 0-0 is a good result and 0-1 a great one.

    For those of youhoping to see a 0-5 Germany-esque away win, forget it, this is international grind it out time, and it wont be pretty.

    One more point about Lampard. I would suggest that the idea of leaving out Lampard when Gerrard is not available would be suicide for Capello. Imagine the criticism he would get if we failed to get a result and he had left out the only world-class midfielder available to him. I believe he will work with them both to try to use them in the best way as time goes on.

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  • 107. At 1:04pm on 07 Sep 2008, josemorero wrote:

    "How exactly? Just because he brought off Downing and Defoe at half-time instead of waiting until the 70th minute, as we've grown accustomed to? Why didn't he just drop them from the starting eleven in the first place?"

    Fair point Whittingham, my heart drops every time I see Downing in the starting XI and Defoe is starting to look like an International Incompetent.

    The most depressing aspect of that miserable recent friendly was that Downing managed to cross successfully for a goal and you just knew that it meant it would prolong his England tenure that bit longer.

    However when did we ever see Mclaraen laying to players, especially Rooney, like this. If players show they can't listen and perform you have a feeling that he might not put up with it and actually drop them. This sort hard line approach has been lacking from England for a long time.

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  • 108. At 1:05pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    106: Don't Panic!! I noticed that France lost to Austria (one of the poorest teams in Euro 2008).

    surely you mean austria beat france (one of the poorest sides in euro 2008) :P

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  • 109. At 1:05pm on 07 Sep 2008, KingofReds wrote:

    No 87, Gerrard not creative? Would u you sir then give us your own definition of creativity... He might not be a great dribbler or excellent at show-boating but he's surely among the best passers in the game.. same reason why i guess u mentioned Alonso, Fabregas and Ballack...

    You know it gives me the laughs to read how English fans map out the best formation and line-ups for the team... showing how much better they know than a man who's been in the game professionally for 45yrs... with a record of success in virtually every place he's managed.

    He has even been (ridiculously) referred to as "tactically totally inept"(post 31).

    I'm not a Fabio Capello fan but i still believe there are not ten (10) managers in his class around the world so if he fails with the English national side, maybe the fans should finally start admitting that neither Sven nor McLaren was the problem.

    As supporters, we surely always have our opinions that may differ from the manager's as is obvious with the team i support (liverpool) but we've gotta trust in the ability of the manager... especially if he's got a record as excellent as that of a certain Capello!

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  • 110. At 1:05pm on 07 Sep 2008, BackintheEUssr wrote:


    Whats wrong with us Lampard/Gerrard haters? I have been banging on about their England performances since before the last World Cup debacle. In fact, if I was the Manager then, I would have put them on the next flight home after the first group game. Compared to their club form they were less than useless in midfield!
    Even the great Capello tried to accommodate them both in the previous match when surely he must have watched recordings of their past failures together-I bet you he would have done it again if Gerrard wasn't unavailable. Then he drops Joe Cole to the bench- the one player that can unlock modern defences. By the way, did Joe ignore the instructions to stay wide to score both goals from a more central position?
    It's so easy to shout at Cole but Lampard escapes the wrath-does that mean he is doing what Capello wants? God help us!

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  • 111. At 1:06pm on 07 Sep 2008, PaulAustralia wrote:

    Pray-do-tell Jay2spain what is going to help?

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  • 112. At 1:11pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    Let Capello have some time - this was his first competitive game, or rather Croatia will be, but he saw his players play in a real game - he shouted at them, he saw who sucked - for all those who say he isn't changing enough we may well see changes in october when he's got his own ideas about who should be in the squad, friendlies are nothing, and he was just working on the dressing room mood then I think

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  • 113. At 1:13pm on 07 Sep 2008, Vox Populi wrote:

    For once, just let the England manager manage. Let the players get on with the job and let them sort it out, without these inquests.

    They've become boring and these endless post-England game debates have always been counter-productive anyway. You can't read anything into a game where England are expected to pummel the opposition and they have all ten of their players behind the ball, with the only objective to keep the score down. You have to judge England's quality and technique when they play meaningful games against the Italys, Frances, Brazils, Argentinas and Germanys. Not against Andorra.

    The only thing that matters is getting the three points in these games. How isn't really the main issue as long as we make it into a major tournament without the team self-destructing due to media pressure. Scott Carson's mistake anyone? What do you think causes that? A perfectly capable goalkeeper making an elementary error due to hype, expectation, pressure. Let them get on with it, build up rhythm, a pattern of play and confidence.

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  • 114. At 1:15pm on 07 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    lets just support our country

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  • 115. At 1:16pm on 07 Sep 2008, kinglofthouse wrote:

    Why the players look so scared is beyond me. Having said that it reallly is difficult to score against a team with 11 men in the box. I don't care who you are. Remember in the Euro finals when Greece played like that?

    Wednesday is the test obviously and I would generally stick with the side that finished the game. I would certainly let Walcott have another crack at it but PLEASE Mr. Capello, have Wayne Rooney doing the job that is best for him. He is not a Paul Scholes type but people are trying to turn him in to that. Stick with Rooney/Heskey with Rooney playing just behind Heskey.

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  • 116. At 1:18pm on 07 Sep 2008, inspector_smudger wrote:

    To poster 78...


    I used the headline just as an example of the kind of negative terms used. There's ways of saying things and I just feel that at times, the media paints a darker picture than is necessarily the case.

    I wasn't making a personal attack on you, but you are part of a media, which, in my opinion, is overly negative.

    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion; that's the point of these forums. Not sure why you've mentioned Gerrard, although I'm a big fan of his and his ability is there for all to see. To be fair to him, when he plays for England, he must be doing what he's instructed to because he is so different than in the premiership. While he's injured though, Capello can only work with the players he's chosen and who were available.

    I agree, if England play the same on Wednesday they will struggle but I don't believe they will. Croatia are a better team than Andorra, who will attack and so the whole tactics, energy and mindset will be different. The players have it in them to raise their game. A draw would not be a disaster away from home.

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  • 117. At 1:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, josemorero wrote:

    "For once, just let the England manager manage. Let the players get on with the job and let them sort it out, without these inquests.

    They've become boring and these endless post-England game debates have always been counter-productive anyway."

    I'm sure it will make all the difference to the England squad now you're off their back Subterranean.

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  • 118. At 1:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, JJ wrote:

    "If players show they can't listen and perform you have a feeling that he might not put up with it and actually drop them. This sort hard line approach has been lacking from England for a long time."

    Yeah, I hope you're right on that one. Perhaps he's just giving these players the chance to prove the critics wrong, and will drop them if they can't repay his faith. We can but hope :)

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  • 119. At 1:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, kinglofthouse wrote:

    Capello went up several notches for me yesterday. Performance is irrelevant.

    When did you last see an English manager rollock anybody? In addition what he said was correct-"Support the front man and get the freakin ball forward quicker". That doesn't mean lumping it forward aimlessley, it means knocking it forward with pace and getting there when you've done that. What Capello clearly doesn't like is "Arsenal" type balls accross the back four and center circle WITH NO PURPOSE. Sorry Gooners-it's what annoys me about Arsenal sometimes.

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  • 120. At 1:29pm on 07 Sep 2008, josemorero wrote:

    "Yeah, I hope you're right on that one. Perhaps he's just giving these players the chance to prove the critics wrong, and will drop them if they can't repay his faith. We can but hope :)"

    Amen to that one!

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  • 121. At 1:29pm on 07 Sep 2008, RedWristband wrote:

    Don't see why theres such a worry, if Capello can get us to the World Cup it's a huge achievement for this 'golden generation'. Lampard and Gerrard should be dropped, neither of them have the nous or technical ability to do anything when the team isn't built around them.

    I just don't understand why people are worrying/frustrated, england pale into insignificance when compared to top international teams, so to come back from zagreb without a minus goal difference would be kk with me, against a team much better than us and in their own back garden?

    I think 3 points from these two games is something to be happy with, 4 points would fantastic, 6 would be a miracle

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  • 122. At 1:30pm on 07 Sep 2008, telemonster wrote:

    well, no-one can say we didn't see it coming!
    shown up for what they are, by a pub team...hahaha....

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  • 123. At 1:42pm on 07 Sep 2008, sir_barno wrote:

    I'd like to see Bullard on the bench, he may be untested at this level but at least he'd want to be playing unlike half the team. He's also used to playing with a poor quality of players around him and delivering good balls into the right areas (see the free kick that kept Fulham up last season). Worth a punt.

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  • 124. At 1:42pm on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    I don't have a problem with Capello showing public displeasure with his players - and he gave a full explanation of why he was unhappy afterwards.

    He did not "humiliate" them, as one poster suggested.

    Interesting chat this morning about the resources available to Capello.

    When Sven-Goran Eriksson took over he had Beckham, Ferdinand, Lampard and Gerrard either in their prime or coming to it, and then Rooney and Joe Cole emerged.

    England never won anything then so why should they be expected to win anything now?

    And where are those young players coming through to take over from those first four names?

    What are your thoughts on that?

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  • 125. At 1:46pm on 07 Sep 2008, Col_Utd wrote:

    Croatia Starting line up:

    What I'd do:


    Johnson, Terry, Ferdinand, A.Cole

    Barry [L], Lampard, Walcott [R],

    J.Cole, Rooney


    Centre backs obvious choices. A.cole to play like a wing back, and Johnson is good at getting forward.

    Walcotts pace will cause Croatia problems.

    Cole and Rooney play behind Heskey, who gives us the physical presence in the box. [Probably not going to be a massive goal threat, but able to hold it up well, for rooney and cole running onto it]

    What Capello Will do:


    Brown, terry, ferdinand, A.cole

    Barry, lampard beckham [R] cole [L]

    Rooney, Defoe

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  • 126. At 1:53pm on 07 Sep 2008, Rabster wrote:

    A couple of people have commented that it was 11 defenders against 2 if to justify the unimpressive margin of victory.

    Why not throw in a couple more attackers?
    Were England afraid that Andorra were playing some ingenious bluff and could suddenly transform into a well-oiled goal machine?

    It would appear that Capello had the better idea in wanting his players to press forward, the players seem unwilling or unable to follow instructions.

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  • 127. At 2:02pm on 07 Sep 2008, squonkster wrote:

    Lots of good points raised - for good it will do.
    Several years ago they talked about this particular generation of players as being potential world beaters and with that label comes a certain amount of pressure.
    Look at the biggest medal hopes we had at Beijing? The highest expectations were placed on the likes of Radcliffe, Tom Daley and Sotherton and none of them delivered. There were reasons, but there's also this cult of celebrity status that goes with being a winner.
    England footballers are massive celebrities and are becoming renowned for not being able to deliver.
    Last night's game was akin to Man Utd playing Barrow and should have yielded a higher score line - not necessarily better football, but a wider margin.
    You expect midfielders, as talented as we have, to be able dominate a game, especially against minnows, but they had no authority and were ragged and again made misplaced pass after pass.
    We have to acknowledge that we have a paucity of world class players or potential world class players that can't cut it at international level. But that doesn't mean we have to be as bad as we are.
    Two key points - The England of yesterday looked no different from the team of the last 8 years; for all of the talent on offer, we resorted to long balls within half an hour. There was no movement, no will to fight, almost an attitude of 'we're better than these so we don't have to work for it.' I'm beginning to think that the players take no particular orders from Capello, because they resort to the same tactics whenever they don't break a team down inside 20 minutes. They are continually devoid of passion and inspiration.

    Secondly, teams such as Greece, Croatia and the Czech Republic have some great players, but no real world class individuals, yet their managers have got them playing as a team, understanding what they have to do and playing with a pride that one would have expected from Englishmen.
    Beckham might be past it, but he still fights the fight, he's the Butcher, Ince, Robson or Moore of his generation and no others look like they want it.

    Croatia on Wednesday might not be a complete disaster; the team have a habit of occasionally raising their games when they play better opposition, but it has to be time for Capello to wield the axe on some players: Lampard's confidence is shot at international level, he needs to go. Downing is as accurate as Aaron Lennon at crossing, if you're going to have someone play instead of Cole, then have someone with speed. Barry only plays when Gerrard is on the pitch and since making that position his hasn't looked like he wants to hold it. Heskey is a donkey; in fact Rooney's contribution to games now is so insignificant he makes Glenn Hoddle look like a workhorse.
    In fact very few of them look comfortable and this could be the press's fault because it is they who build up expectations in the first place. Yeah, we all have them, but most fans have become more resigned to us not being a world footballing nation again.

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  • 128. At 2:03pm on 07 Sep 2008, brentfromcorby wrote:

    Decent post there Phil; but the funniest and most clueless post i have read today was:

    Re 41:- "Hey, and did you guys notice how much better we looked without Stevie Gerrard cluttering up the midfield"

    Someone buy that man a television.

    After a promising renewal of his England career even Barry is struggling in the England midfield, perhaps its something in the food?

    Until Joe Cole came on you'd be forgiven if you thought the only midfielder on the pitch was Walcott. Until they were sub'ed i didn't relise Lampard or Downing were even playing; and in all fairness Andorra aren't much better than The Dog and Duck or the Queen Vic select 11 so you really have to question the international credentials of these two players.

    If you look at the last few months, there is only one time when our central midfield looked funtional.

    Gerrard and Barry = good results

    Lampard, Gerrard and Barry = same old rubbish

    Lampard and Barry = slightly worse than the same old rubbish

    I don't want to consider myself as anti Lampard or Beckham or any other player thats not performing for that matter, more that I'm pro- England. And its obvious to me that the best thing for England is to drop the likes of Lampard, Downing, Defoe and Beckham. Give the Bullard's of the world their chance and hope they embrace it like Barry did when he was first recalled.

    Similarly, if Rooney doesn't regain his form soon, drop him and bring in an Ashton or another striker. It's not a pub team we're playing on Wednesday.

    I pray that Lamps, Defoe etc turn up for that game, but i doubt it!!!!!!!!

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  • 129. At 2:14pm on 07 Sep 2008, Medieval-Evil wrote:

    I don't understand why everyone has to qualify their praise for Walcott. Ok, so he's not Christiano Ronaldo, but his pace causes problems every time he gets a game and the quality of his passing has skyrocketed in the short time he's been at Arsenal. With Gerrard and Barry (or perhaps Carrick) do England really need another accurate passer like Bentley? I think not. What last night's performance showed was that they need more players like Walcott, who may not produce 100% of the time, but can make things happen in difficult circumstances.

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  • 130. At 2:18pm on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    It will be a test for Capello when he has Lampard, Gerrard and Barry fit for a competitive game.

    If it was a 4-4-2 formation I would go for Gerrard and Barry.

    There is great insight into Gerrard's mindset here in this Sunday Times interview published today.

    In it he makes it quite clear that he wants to play in central midfield. Nowhere else - and certainly not stuck on the margins as he was against the Czech Republic.

    Very good read.

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  • 131. At 2:22pm on 07 Sep 2008, twaddington wrote:

    What's wrong with Coldplay, they represent our country better than the football team!

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  • 132. At 2:23pm on 07 Sep 2008, AY wrote:

    Fair point to you to, I would certainly go for Barry/ Bullard or Hargreaves or Carrick or Reo Coker as long as we had two or three attacking midfielders in front of them and one or two strikers in front of them. It cannot be denied that Lampard and Gerrard are quite successful in Europe with their club teams. As I have said they play in completely different formations for them.

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  • 133. At 2:25pm on 07 Sep 2008, Cuddycuddydumdum wrote:

    oh well,come Wednesday deep down in my swinging brick I'll be wanting England to win,but in my pocket there will be a betting slip marked big fat win for Croatia.

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  • 134. At 2:32pm on 07 Sep 2008, timeowrm01 wrote:

    Capello earnt a lot of respect from me last night.

    He wasnt afraid to criticise joe cole and rooney. I remember when joe cole came off the bench and scored the winner for chelsea a few seasons ago and mourinho slammed him in the press for his lack of defensive duties. joe took it on board and really grew as a player. i hope that capello never fears telling the players what they are doing wrong.

    i think rooney is way off his best. he rarely scores and seems not to contribute what a frontman should - an option up top. i think capellos right - he should be up supporting the attack, not dropping deep.

    we have the quality midfield to deliver good balls to the strikers but it seems the strikers always drop deep and create a clustered midfield with no point to the attack.

    also 45minutes of playing terrible crosses into the box aiming at rooney and defoe is pointless. heskey, owen (!!) and crouch are the only forwards who are gonna head a cross in the old fashioned english way.

    however, good on capello, i want a manager screaming at the players from the sidelines, trying to influence the game - like every sunday league manager does.

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  • 135. At 2:35pm on 07 Sep 2008, Kevin wrote:

    Look there is no magic wand, Cappello has to start from where he is now with the players he has now.
    To me his input into this match was more obvious than any previous man in his post. He actually moved the player back to the jobs he had assigned, which should be an utter embarrassment for a professional footballer. Presumably the previous England managers were too polite to do this in public.

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  • 136. At 2:35pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mark Walter wrote:

    Is there a competition taking place between BBC journalists to see who can put the most links in their article?

    It's fair enough when linking to useful and relevant stories, but please don't overdo it otherwise it starts to seem a bit amateur-ish

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  • 137. At 2:39pm on 07 Sep 2008, dceilar wrote:

    #131. At 2:22pm on 07 Sep 2008, twaddington wrote:
    "What's wrong with Coldplay, they represent our country better than the football team!"


    Well at least they're playing to the same song sheet. ;)
    But honestly, they're awful. I'd rather listen to England's midfield sing.

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  • 138. At 2:44pm on 07 Sep 2008, StClough wrote:

    England have to do two things, in my humble opinion. Firstly, look to the future as we have many exciting young players that we should try and mould differently to the last batch so that they turn out better and stronger, and secondly we have to remember that football is a simple game which is as easy to play badly as it is difficult to play well.

    An England team should have a balance of solidity, creativity and width. Solidity should be provided by the central midfield not only being able to tackle and win the ball, but also being able to pass and keep the ball, and not wasting possession. For those two reasons I would play a central midfield of Hargreaves and Barry - Barry plays best for Villa with Reo-Coker behind him, who is a not-quite-as-good version of Hargreaves; Hargreaves can pass better and has better positioning. Equally, Hargreaves plays his best at United with a passer like Carrick, who is a not-quite-as-good version of Barry; Barry can keep the ball better and has better decision making capabilities, and greater consistency.

    Creativity and width have to be utilised by having wingers who can cut inside and shoot, go outside and cross, and have fullbacks overlapping. Also, they must be proficient enough on their wrong foot to be able to swap wings. For these reasons I would pick Joe Cole primarily on the right-wing and Ashley Young primarily on the left, with Ashley Cole (too many Ashleys and Coles for commentators to handle!) at left back and Glen Johnson at right back, both of whom are capable of going forward effectively.

    Up front we need Owen and Rooney for numerous reasons. Most importantly, their styles compliment each other, and Owen is a much underrated player in the air (so many of his goals have been from headers recently), bringing Ashley Young's crossing into play. Rooney should drop off and be given space to play in; in other words, he should be our number 10 creative second-striker, what the Italians call a "fantasista", like Totti or Del Piero.

    For these reasons I would pick this team:


    Johnson Terry Ferdinand A. Cole


    J. Cole Barry Young



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  • 139. At 2:45pm on 07 Sep 2008, brentfromcorby wrote:

    Thanks for the link Phil!!!!!!!!!

    The Times article is a good one, people should read it i think.

    According to the article; Gerrard has played his preferred position 5 times in 68 games for England.

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  • 140. At 2:45pm on 07 Sep 2008, CantonasCollar79 wrote:

    It's ridiculous to criticise Rooney for 'enigmatic' performaces, when at Manchester United he plays in a far more flexible sysgtem where the attacking 4 players are practically interchangeable. For England he is often the most advanced player, and is consistntly left isolated and unsupported - not a problem he encounters playing for the champions too often.

    I feel that a lot of the media and 6-0-6 discussion is misguided - so much of it being directed at the left-wing, right-wing, and attacking problems we face on Wednesday. To me, it's practically irrelevant - and Capello knows this. The probelms we faced against Croatia (both in the 2-0 defeat in Zagreb and the Wembley embarrassment) and Russia away last qualifying campaign was in DEFENCE, shipping 7 goals in those three fixtures. The Croats are not too impressive in defence, and even an under-par England managed to net twice against them at Webley. In Russia, Rooney's superb strike gave us the goal that should have earned us a vital away victory.

    Where we fell short was in defence. Make no mistake of my club support - it's not for biased reasons that I think we need Rio fit - desperately. Capello may have dropped him against Andorra just to preserve him for Weds in my opinion. Although Terry throws his body in the way of a ball, this simply isn't good enough against opposition as technically clever as Croatia, especially in Zagreb. We are crying out for composure at the back, and in James, Lescott and Johnson (Brown has more experience away in Europe and this is a week for experience to be called on) we are not a formidable back-line.

    Despite not exactly liking him as a person, Cashley Cole looks to be in good form, with the erratic mistakes seemingly erradicated. And Terry is worth including simply because we don't have a better alternativ in the squad. We need a fit Rio and Wes Orange back in the line-up on Weds, with James needing to have a great match rather than mistake-strewn display he has become known for.

    Can't see us winning, but if we defend well, we have the potential to nick a goal through Rooney or Walcott on the break. I'll go 1-1 with a nervy last ten minutes or so.

    Just wish we could watch it on the BBC!

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  • 141. At 2:46pm on 07 Sep 2008, English59 wrote:

    What a feeble display.If thats the best an English team can offer then the sooner we have a GB team the better. When will these clubs realise that they cannot keep on employing foreign players and edging out English players.With all the money sloshing around in the major clubs its really about time the FA looked at a different way to get a sound England team together who put country first and not the whims of the clubs.Until that happens the England shambles will go on and on.

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  • 142. At 2:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, fatkams wrote:

    I still feel the problem lies with passion and pride playing for our country. He needs players in the England team who play with pride and not just for the status and/or money.

    I still think that English players should not be paid for playing for their country, it should be a privalege, and I feel this is where the mistake is. It takes away the hunger from the players. We need pride and passion and your not gonna get that from prima donnas and over inflated egos.

    Players should be picked on form and getting the right balance in the team, not on reputation. Drop Lampard, Robinson and Becks from the starting 11, but keep them in the squad. Lets see if they're hungry enough to win their place back based on performances, not reputation.

    I dont blame Rooney because it is frustrating when you are playing up front and not getting the service, so all he is trying to do is get deeper and try to get the ball up front himself. He's wrong in trying it but at least he and Cole are playing with their hearts.

    One thing for certain at least Capello looks like he is not gonna be content with just a 1-0 win and lets all defend policy. US ENGLAND FANS DONT EXPECT US TO WIN ALL GAMES BUT WE DO EXPECT WHOLE HEARTED PERFORMANCES. And we aint getting that from some players, and that is why some fans are getting on the back of some players, in particular Frank Lampard.

    Im sorry to all you Chelsea and Lampard supporters, but be honest. If Lampard doesn'y score in the game, what else does he REALLY contribute. He doesn't run, cant pass and is too scared to tackle.

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  • 143. At 2:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    thanks for the link, Phil, Gerrard just spelled it out - he plays in the middle, end of, someone sits behind and he bombs forwards, this is probably the biggest admission that he can't play with Lampard he's ever made - Lampard is essentially the same player - they are both big names, but if ballack, fabregas and scholes were english/available would you play all of them because they're great? no - you pick the best formation, which probably means dropping most of the talent to the bench for a new dimension if needed and putting only one on, in this case gerrard should be in the middle, supported by barry, carrick or hargreaves, not lampard - now if Gerrard is admitting this openly, how can you say all the fans who've been saying this for years are wrong!!?

    we have seen what gerrard and barry can do together - Lampard can have a reprieve for the Andorra game - but frankly if he can't work with Barry against a real opponent on Wednesday, what is his purpose?

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  • 144. At 2:55pm on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    I have been disappointed by Rooney - and in fairness to him he looks disappointed with himself.

    As for the idea of the GB team - forget that.

    One major concern is that Manchester City have arguably the finest production line of young talent in the country and I fear that could be under threat because of their new billions.

    Some of the gossip this morning was splendid stuff, with City targeting Steven Gerrard and Michael Essien in January.

    No doubt they are but they have got no chance and the same applies to the likes of Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas.

    Let's hope they do not go exclusively down the line of the big Hollywood signings and forget what a fantastic job they have done in producing players like Micah Richards, Michael Johnson and all the others who won the FA Youth Cup last season.

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  • 145. At 3:10pm on 07 Sep 2008, dessyorchid wrote:

    Just been watching the paralympics and it's about time the England team showed some passion, drive and determination like them, then maybe just maybe we might get somewhere.

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  • 146. At 3:13pm on 07 Sep 2008, greyshakerman wrote:

    I get the feeling that many fans still think we have world class players - we have not.

    Capello must now realise what he has taken on having seen the technical limitations of most of our players at close hand. I fear Croatia will give us another footballing lesson in technique and movement. When some on here call for Beckham's return to sling long crossfield balls towards the far side of the area it tells you that many fans have still not grasped the problem. That is that English players are exposed at international level as being unable to do the basics of pass and move and keeping the ball. I think Capello would love to change this but he won't be given the time. The FA said his appointment was a long term project but as we know the fans and particularly the media, will not accept that because many fans still think we should turn out world beaters and the media won't have patience, because that does not sell papers. Here we go again.

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  • 147. At 3:16pm on 07 Sep 2008, dessyorchid wrote:

    Spot on greyshakerman

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  • 148. At 3:23pm on 07 Sep 2008, goalzzzz wrote:

    11. At 09:24am on 07 Sep 2008, The Midland 20 wrote:
    Lampard, Walcott, Downing.

    None of them can cut it at International level.

    Drop them FFS.

    walcott cant cut it at international level? i guess you didnt watch the match then

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  • 149. At 3:30pm on 07 Sep 2008, Chelsea logic wrote:

    we have seen what gerrard and barry can do together


    Yep! Get totally outplayed by a Russian team and Croatian team when it really, really mattered!

    Barry was carrying Gerrard for most of them games and in recent games Barry has arguably been the worst player on the pitch. He was certainly poor against the Czehs.

    Don't make out that the Barry and Gerrard partnership is any good because it isn't. I could say that the rare occasion when Lampard and Hargreaves has teamed together in central midfield it has been even better and certainly more balanced.

    Gerrard has never proved he is International class or has delivered in a major tournament or qualifying campaign. His best moments usually come in pointless friendlies.

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  • 150. At 3:32pm on 07 Sep 2008, fergaljpc wrote:

    just have a look at the image posted on this page and you'll see what Andorra's mission was. Phil you guys need to write something about it so fair dews, but there is something to be said for the psyche of the nation and the image of the national game and indeed those who pull on the shirt when players get booed off at half time.
    Motivation is clearly a problem no matter who is in the managers' hotseat. Perhaps we should offer them say £151,000 per game, would they be any different?

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  • 151. At 3:35pm on 07 Sep 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    CantonasCollar79 (140) - Yes. Rooney still has room to blossom for Man U (let's face it, he could be stronger there), but serves well because of the flexible attack that lets him chase a ball down without abandoning the goal-scoring potential of the team.

    If Capello wants to pull Joe Cole up on the wing, partner Rooney with another world class playmaker, and deploy another attacking winger on the right, with Gerrard (or Lampard) in the center then he'll have a strong attack that works well with Rooney.

    Only trouble is, step one will be for Capello to go back in time 23 years or so and see that another world class English playmaker and another good attacking winger are born.

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  • 152. At 3:37pm on 07 Sep 2008, Chelsea logic wrote:

    I dont blame Rooney because it is frustrating when you are playing up front and not getting the service


    First it is rare to find him playing up front because he has this annoying tendency to trodon player's toes in central midfield. Secondly it would be nice to see Rooney actually control the ball and so something when he is receiving the ball in a forward position.

    Rooney has got to have the worst goal ration as a striker in International football. Even Crouch in less games has scored more goals. So blaming others for lack of service is pathetic! Rooney is not as great as people think he is and certainly not as consistent as he should be.

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  • 153. At 3:40pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jacey26 wrote:

    Yes I watched the game but yep I know its persoanl preferences but I totally agree with Midland 20. Even the blog said Walcott was good for 15 minutes. All that running like a headless chicken doesn't impress us all so what about the remaining 75 minutes? A couple of goals, a new number and copy-cat celebration for Arsenal doesn't make him good enough to step up to the England seniors at all. Better keeping him in the juniors where he can shine at his level.
    I realise we can't find the Pearce's, Sheri, Shearer etc in today's game BUT surely someone has pride and passion left when they pull on that shirt? Definitely needed Owen and Gerrard out there, maybe Bentley also, Young perhaps. Whilst I'm not a Man U or Chelsea fan and don't rate Terry or Lampard I think Ferdinand does a good job and Woodgate would be great alongside him. A Cole is only there as we have no other number 3. For all the money in the world rather Capello than me, I can't see we have that much coming through the ranks here, and I've watched football for 50 years.

    PS I know its not at all important to most people but would someone teach them the National Anthem! Other nations put us to shame. Knock Becks all you like but to hear the likes of him, Adams, Pearce etc singing in years gone by helps motivate surely?might

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  • 154. At 3:43pm on 07 Sep 2008, Chelsea logic wrote:

    Gerrard and Barry = good results

    Lampard, Gerrard and Barry = same old rubbish

    Lampard and Barry = slightly worse than the same old rubbish


    Absolute tosh! Very deluded indeed....

    Gerrard and Barry = good results LOL!

    Russia and Croatia spring to mind. Important games where both players went completely missing!

    The only combination not mentioned and is more balanced and reliable is Hargreaves and Lampard.

    That should be deployed when Hargreaves is fit again.

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  • 155. At 3:43pm on 07 Sep 2008, malunited wrote:

    For the forwards to unlock defenses, the midfield has to provide the right passes. Lampard and Gerrard are quality players but they do not provide these kinds of passes to the strikers. They are more goal scoring midfielders. Since there is no one in the team to create the vision and the passing required, the strikers and the goal scoring midfielders would suffer.
    No wonder MCclaren and Capello talked about Scholes.
    I am not a big fan of Carrick but he has the ability to create the vision and the passing to unlock defenses.

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  • 156. At 3:46pm on 07 Sep 2008, ScientificGooner wrote:

    Look, 3 points against a team that played 11 behind the ball at some points is not as bad as we are making out. The game was controlled. At no point was there the usual england panic. WE KEPT THE BALL! A major plus for any england side, we didn't hit aimless balls to no one. My major point is the game was CONTROLLED. how many times can we say we have seen England play a controlled match over the last 2 years?

    Rooney is a problem.... but there could be a solution. Put him in the midfield make him our new Scholes. We then get 2 out and out strikers to play upfront. Rooney then gets to play deep and run at players but we still have our threat up front.

    I thought Walcott was good for the match and did well especially the first 20 mins. Maybe start with Bentley and bring him on for the last 20 mins when croatia are tired?

    Lampard was a bit anonymous but he never got any space to do anything so I won't have a go now. Joe Cole should start in Croatia he is a vital part of England and should play on the right if Downing plays on the left.

    OK the match wasn't the 6-0 we wanted but I was encouraged by some of the maturity that was shown. Next time at Wembley though I think we should put 5 in the midfield and only 3 at the back. GOOD LUCK LADS FOR WEDNESDAY!

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  • 157. At 3:48pm on 07 Sep 2008, Chelsea logic wrote:

    No 87, Gerrard not creative? Would u you sir then give us your own definition of creativity... He might not be a great dribbler or excellent at show-boating but he's surely among the best passers in the game..


    Best passers of the game?

    Are you blind?

    He can't even perform the simplest of back passes.

    How many 40 yard punts go to nowhere in particular?

    Gerrard has got to be the worst player for giving the ball away and you say he is one of the best passers in the world ROFL!

    That is the funniest thing I have read on here today.

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  • 158. At 3:48pm on 07 Sep 2008, gsusnose wrote:

    Lets sort this out quickly and quietly:

    1) Lampard works hard but he's not had a decent game for England for about 4 years. He doesn't have the impact or class of an attackive midfielder like Scholesey used to terrorise players with for England and his beloved Utd.

    2) Lescott looked nervy and has had an awful start to the season so how he can get into England's first team is a joke... if we are to believe Capello's 'I pick players on form' rubbish.

    3) Rooney tries too hard for the team and needs to remember that he's a striker... strikers are supposed to shoot??!! A class player who needs to listen to Capello and play closer to the main striker and not as a 5th midfield player

    4) Walcott was impressive... he's not the complete article but he plays without fear actually attacking defenders which England have not done since the times of Darren Anderton.

    5) Beckham is still a useful player but he's hardly the future.

    6) England have tried different formations such as 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 but they don't work. England have to play the English way!

    7) Is it just me or are people starting to criticise Capello for choosing the likes of Walcott and Downing (who was admittedly awful) ahead of so called stronger players? The wolly with the brolly picked England's finest players and they didn't work together...if Capello wants to try something a bit different, let him!

    8) Glen Johnson isnt defensively sound (he proved that for Portsmouth against Utd last week) and Wes Brown should get the shout in Zagreb. As a Kopite I've always slated Brown but *cough cough* I think he's progressed well and deserves his place...until Richards gets fit again of course!


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  • 159. At 3:53pm on 07 Sep 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    England got the 3 points yesterday against Andorra, and that was the key, but they should really be beating them about 5 or 6 nil. Besides Andorra are the same as about a league 2 side and all of England's players were from the premier league so that prooves that the English national side shall rarther play for club than country and have no pride. England shall have to do much better against Croatia on Wednesday.

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  • 160. At 3:53pm on 07 Sep 2008, kop_some_moo wrote:

    Crikey cant everyone wait until we know the result and performance of the game against Croatia before concluding on the team and Capello?

    Andorra was never going to be a rout. There are very few routs of the 4 - 0 5 -0 variety these days in international footy.

    Lets see what Weds night brings.

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  • 161. At 3:57pm on 07 Sep 2008, Frompton wrote:

    Yesterdays international will prove nothing when it comes to playing Croatia on Wednesday. Trying to read anything into it is like trying to determine tomorrows weather by talking to worms.

    I don't like being over-critical of England players for anything other than lack of effort. There are obviously a few in that jersey who could be accused of that. For me, Rooney is not one of these. I don't particularly rate Frank Lampard post-2004, but he doesn't strike me as being lazy (just not very good for Engand). Steven Gerrard is a different matter. How many injuries has he suffered when England duty calls? To think some people wanted the team to be built around a man who hands-down beats any other English footballer when it comes to being over-hyped (John Terry comes close though). Although its more the fault of the 'superstar makers' than his own. He can be a very good player, but sadly we don't see it in International football. I hope one day we do.

    David Beckham's role is a funny one. Here we have a guy who'll fly around the world and even play when injured when it comes to England. Yet so many people criticise him. Regardless of if he should start or not. His presence in the squad is a benefit (At the very least, he can certainly be very effective as an impact player) and if all the other squad members shared his attitude and dedication when it comes to 'putting on the three-lions', we'd be producing much better performances than we are now.

    Some final thoughts. I honestly think we're doing a good job of over-rating Croatia. Wednesday will show once and for all if the England team (or most of its squad members) really were hurt after the Wembley loss. Anything less than being a 'brave-lion' will demonstrate a lack of passion and a liking for crocodile tears... heck, they look good for the camera! Croatia should be expecting a backlash on Wednesday and their hardest game against us. But can we say we really have confidence in all the players to demonstrate that? They'll want to win, but how much?

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  • 162. At 3:57pm on 07 Sep 2008, sbennett wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 163. At 3:59pm on 07 Sep 2008, Timmy_Toerag wrote:

    England would do a bit better if they wore long sleeved shirts, no doubt.
    Mr Capello could scribble some of the answers to match problems on the cuffs and when they hoof the ball out of play they could sneak a peek, if the ref is distracted by Rooney's foul language.
    Failing that, well, the next exam at Zagreb Grammar School, they'll probably be failing that, our team of Premier Club Class Dunces.

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  • 164. At 4:00pm on 07 Sep 2008, andy_tye wrote:

    I totally agree with nearly everything written here but surely it's about time everyone got off the backs of the (yes overpaid) players and coaching stuff and actually helped support the team and let them build on this and move forward? The mass weight of expectation on this England team will never get anyone anywhere, least of all South Africa in two years time.
    I'm a United fan through and through and support them whether they win or lose. And therefore as English men and women we should be the same when it comes to our national side.

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  • 165. At 4:00pm on 07 Sep 2008, lionlol999 wrote:

    Everyone has to stop over-reacting to this. We were not as bad as everyone is making out. A free flowing performance was never going to be possible against a team who spent 99% of their time inside their own box. I admit it wasn't overly amazing. Our crossing was poor and we weren't patient enough at time. We should have finished off more chances than we did.

    But the game is going to be totally different against Croatia. There will be more space around the 18 yard box for our attacking players to work and our defenders will have plenty more work to do. But the game will be more open and it will give a chance for the players to prove whether they have improved. I don't think we can judge England on matches like that. The game against will croatia will give us a better view.

    Also if you look around Europe you will see some of the big teams didn't thrash their lowly opponents. Spain(The European Champions) managed a 1-0 win at home to Bosnia. Turkey(Euro Semi Finalists who beat Croatia) only beat Armenia 2-0.Sweden could only draw against Albania. France lost to Austria. Italy edged past Cyprus. All these teams should have been beaten convincingly but it goes to prove these games aren't as easy as they should be.

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  • 166. At 4:10pm on 07 Sep 2008, ownworstenemy wrote:

    I watched Rooney's interview before the game where he defended his lack of goals by saying his game was all about scoring goals. If he were a midfielder I'd agree, crying shame he's a striker though!

    I can't see using getting anything from Wednesdays game. The players are nervous and still struggling to translate anything like their premiership performance to their international ones.

    I'd like to see Capello drop the long-time underperforming Wayne Rooney, but I won't hold my breath.

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  • 167. At 4:12pm on 07 Sep 2008, Ozzy87 wrote:

    what has this new regime worth £6m a year actually achieved at the moment?

    i mean gerrard is still getting played out of position and england cant even properly beat andorra, a team of part-timers.

    andorra played in their half for the whole game. so what. couldn't capello put an extra foward up front by replacing a defender? it's not as if andorra would have hit them on the break and scored.

    i can only see england managing a draw in croatia. even that is optimistic.

    this whole england farce is unbearable and im not even english!

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  • 168. At 4:26pm on 07 Sep 2008, sbennett wrote:

    it's clear that if you try to write anything which makes sense on these forums then you just get censored (despite not using any bad language). Freedom of speech would be nice! Clearly the media don't want people to say how it is! Goodbye BBC, you ****.

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  • 169. At 4:26pm on 07 Sep 2008, Dave I wrote:

    England always struggle to break defensive teams down. Basically, there is only two ways. Either a big striker and good crosses, or free kicks around the penalty box. Andorra have improved quite a lot over the last few years, they now know how to block and obstruct, and throw themselves into players to get free kicks then spend ages waiting for each other to recover or take the kick/throw.
    Rooney was poor in the first half, because he needs someone to take the focus (not Defoe who anonymous until he gets the ball in front of goal), and needs someone who can play intelligent football, as with the second goal.
    I appreciate that not may will agree with this point, but I thought Walcott was rubbish. For all his speed and number of times passing the full back, he only managed one good pass. When they decided to mark him, he disappeared, as usual.

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  • 170. At 4:26pm on 07 Sep 2008, squaremonkee wrote:


    Brown Ferdinand Terry A Cole


    Wright philips J Cole
    | |
    | |
    | |
    | |
    V V

    Rooney Owen

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Cappello.

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  • 171. At 4:28pm on 07 Sep 2008, SteveRoyal wrote:

    Can I just point out to you, McNulty, that there is nothing wrong with Coldplay.

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  • 172. At 4:33pm on 07 Sep 2008, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Good blog Phil.

    England played superb football. They kept the ball on the ground, indulged in quick short passes and enjoyed high percentage of ball possession. This additional dimension appears to be a fresh element at the dawn of the Fabio Capello era.

    I thought speedy young Theo was outstanding on the right flank. He played some breathtaking football. Had there been a Michael Owen, a Peter Crouch or a Steven Gerrard lurking somewhere in the middle or in the box, some of Theo’s immaculate crosses could have been easily converted into gorgeous goals. From far or near Owen, Crouch and Gerrard show a special knack for packing adequate weight and spin to their well-directed goal-bound efforts. When in the box they are decisive with a good sense of timing, anticipation and a feel for quick infiltration.

    Andorra had a strategy in place. At any given time there were ten men protecting their goal keeper. One thought Terry and his fellow defenders could have moved a bit deeper in to the Andorra half and resorted to short bursts of periodical aerial attacks. After knocking in two goals a major shift in mode of attack could have fetched a few more goals which England thoroughly deserved for they overall supremacy, quality and long periods of ball possession.

    Watching from the bench David Beckham had read the game well and in the few minutes that he was on the field, he sprayed a few passes around and got the rival defenders to change their mode of marking. Something like this was needed a bit early on to make the defenders run in circles and provide space for strikers to have a go at the citadel.

    Congratulations to England for a fine victory against a very stubborn side. Had it not been for the superb strikes by Joe Cole, my Man of the Match would have been Andorra goaltender Koldo.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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  • 173. At 4:34pm on 07 Sep 2008, Bobby M's Barmy Army wrote:

    Oh england played last night ?

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  • 174. At 4:45pm on 07 Sep 2008, gsusnose wrote:

    I too agree with 171...Phil stick to football....Coldplay are awesome... In fact England should listen to Coldplay:

    Capello 'Don't Panic' despite the same old 'Warning Sign's' we're not in 'Trouble' if we play at a 'High Speed' then 'Everything's not Lost!'

    Sorry about that... just had a 'Rush of Blood to the Head!'

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  • 175. At 4:45pm on 07 Sep 2008, Pirlo-vision wrote:

    Phil, you're just as bad as the tabloids. You NEVER stick it in to a big name, instead opting for subtle (yet unconcivincing) digs at Rooney, Lampard and Beckham.

    You highlight David Beckham's 'tactical discipline', you note that Frank Lampard can 'do better' and that Rooney 'must do better'. Feeble excuses for criticism. How about more apt descriptions:

    - Beckham has only ever influenced TWO games for England: Argenina in 98 and Greece in 02.
    - Frank Lampard is a poor excuse for a footballer, who can't even perform against a pub-team like Andorra.
    - And Wayne Rooney thinks he's a centre-back, hence his lack of goals for England.

    Why not, for once in your life, just come out and admit that English players are NOT AS GOOD AS PEOPLE THINK.

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  • 176. At 4:47pm on 07 Sep 2008, ForEvra young wrote:

    There were some positives from last night. When we played with a high tempo we looked more dangerous. We are capable of playing this way against Croatia, i. e. playing on the counter attack.

    The important thing first is to get the formation right. Judging on last night's performance Cole should be given more of a chance.

    I said it the other day that Cole is not at his best on the left wing but doubt he will get anything more than a promotion to right wing for England. At the same time there's not much choice on the left wing for England. Downing looks good for club but just can't seem to get it right for country.

    I agree with some here that Heskey would bring out the best of Rooney. If Heskey dominates in the air and holds up the ball well it will give Rooney more chance to run onto flick ons and have a little more space himself to use his superior technical and creative ability.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see him improve at United this season, now that Berb has arrived there. Berbatov will do a similar job at United with his physical presence and Heskey might get the chance to do the same in Croatia.

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  • 177. At 4:48pm on 07 Sep 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    If England aren't on TV, except that rip-off Irish channel, then why should I give a damn about them?

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  • 178. At 4:50pm on 07 Sep 2008, Cold War Kid wrote:

    I like Capello, a lot. Great to see him lambasting Cole and Rooney from the touchline.

    What i'm slightly disappointed with is Capello's comments after the match when quized on whether Cole would be starting for the Croatia game. He should have turned around and said, yes absolutely.

    A few days ago, Terry said we were plagued by fear at international level. If you looked at their faces for the first 45mins last night, you'd be a fool to argue with him. The team need some reassurance that if they play well they will be selected for the next match.

    I just pray that Capello's mind games with JC don't backfire. He's cleary one of Englands better players at the moment, despite his lack of following orders.

    As for Rooney, Fergie blammed himself for Rooney's current form by saying he has been unfair to him. I think Fergie is being a bit harsh on himself. Rooney just wants the ball, no matter where it is. It looks more like natural instinct to me. Capello would be miracle worker if he can get him to stay in position. It's not going to happen.

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  • 179. At 4:53pm on 07 Sep 2008, sionicwmrhondda wrote:

    Nice to see Capello ignoring the status of players and giving them the hair-dryer treatment. Many of the English managers have been far too gentile in disciplining his players. That said, you can only get so much out of his current batch and there still remains the fact that England still lack quality players in certain positions. Where do they come from because he only has this campaign to identify them and get them to integrate into a team. Hopefully he will continue the hardnosed approach with his selections because so many of this team have failed time and again. When was the last time people were enthused by a passage of play, a demonstration of technique and above all footballing brains?

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  • 180. At 4:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Great points about Lampard and Rooney - for and against.

    What I think we will all agree on is that big nights are required from both of them in Zagreb on Wednesday.

    The joint will be jumping and Croatia will feel they have got England's measure after the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

    If Lampard and Rooney answer some of the questions posed about them here, England may well get the result they need.

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  • 181. At 5:04pm on 07 Sep 2008, Tim wrote:

    What's wrong with Coldplay Phil?

    On a more serious note, Joe Cole should start on the left wing ahead of Downing, far more effective in an England shirt and can change a game as shown yesterday.

    Not sure whether Beckham should start, but almost certainly be involved if things go badly and we need inspiration from a set-piece.

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  • 182. At 5:06pm on 07 Sep 2008, Parish87 wrote:

    Coldplay are awesome.

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  • 183. At 5:16pm on 07 Sep 2008, ForEvra young wrote:

    Must admit I like Coldplay and can't wait to see them in December.

    Some might even argue that at least they can perform on the international stage as well as domestically! :)

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  • 184. At 5:16pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    Chelsea logic - you're a troll but anyway - you keep saying Gerrard and Barry were awful against croatia (home) and russia (away) - for one they played with lampard against croatia, the whole point of talking about those two refers to lampard not being there

    against russia that was not a bad game - we were dominant from the first goal until Hiddink changed his team and completely outthought McClaren, gerrard didn't particularly perform - but they totally outclassed russia at wembley and the few other games while lampard was out - odd coincidence how that run of 3-0s occurred during his absence

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  • 185. At 5:18pm on 07 Sep 2008, gsusnose wrote:

    I've heard enough...official apology to Coldplay required from Mr McNulty or I advise an offical boycott of his otherwise humourous blogs! Sorry Phil its gotta be done!

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  • 186. At 5:25pm on 07 Sep 2008, liongeorge01 wrote:

    "Beckham's tactical discipline", you have got to be joking. Is this the same player who has run around like a headless chicken for years, lacks technical ability, positional sense, can't tackle or head a ball or go past a player?

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  • 187. At 5:25pm on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Nothing personal everyone...Coldplay just not my cup of tea!

    October 20 is the big day - new AC/DC album, the first for eight years. Black Ice.

    Think I've given too much away there!

    Can we get back to England. Fast.

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  • 188. At 5:37pm on 07 Sep 2008, davis wrote:

    "And while I have no time for the anti-Frank Lampard brigade, "

    It's not that anyone is anti-Lampard. They're just anti-players who look like theyre not trying when they play for England. Just about all the England players are guilty of that on some occasions, with the possible exception of Beckham (why cant the media understand that's why he is so admired by fans?)

    I dont even buy that theres a "Lampard/Gerrard" problem. That doesnt explain why Lampard consistently gives the ball away with ridiculously careless passing.

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  • 189. At 5:56pm on 07 Sep 2008, brentfromcorby wrote:

    The only combination not mentioned and is more balanced and reliable is Hargreaves and Lampard.


    LOL!!!!!!! Now whose deluded!!!!

    I'm afraid that you really must have chelsea logic to see things in such a warped manner.

    Only some of the Chelsea fans see things from this odd perspective, fans of most other teams (except maybe Scotland) want Lampard dropped.

    It's wonderful that your so loyal to one of your players, but your heart is over-riding your head. You should revert to some 'normal logic' and see the woods for the trees, which is, Lampard is useless for England and should have been dropped about 6 games ago

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  • 190. At 5:56pm on 07 Sep 2008, Pirlo-vision wrote:

    comment # 188 by david 76

    ''They're just anti-players who look like theyre not trying when they play for England. Just about all the England players are guilty of that on some occasions, with the possible exception of Beckham (why cant the media understand that's why he is so admired by fans?)''


    Mate, passion alone is nowhere near sufficient to generate success at international level.

    I couldn't care less if a player was not bothered about playing for my club/country, as long as he got the job done.

    You're deluded if you think there is room for sentiment at the top level.

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  • 191. At 6:02pm on 07 Sep 2008, theoddgoal wrote:

    Capello clued in to England's main failing whenever they take a lead in a game - they start to play deeper and deeper and stop giving support to the front. No wonder he was angry at Cole and Rooney. He specifically told them to play further up the field to give Heskey more support and they didn't. I just don't understand why Lampard was excluded from his ire. Was Lampard supposed to be playing a more defensive role? Now that seems impossible to believe.

    So far, even if England did not sparkle yesterday, I am more impressed with Capello than I ever have been with Eriksson or McClaren (McClaren? Yikes!). He changed things at half time and he definitely had a plan for how the team should play in the second half - and he clearly related that plan to the players.

    Yes, it was only Andorra but let's not ignore the fact that in these initial qualifying games strange things can happen. Yesterday Austria beat France 3-1, and Italy only scraped a 2-1 win against Cyprus.

    I'm now looking forward to the game on Wednesday - and I haven't said that about an England game for quite a few years.

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  • 192. At 6:06pm on 07 Sep 2008, liongeorge01 wrote:

    188- Tosh mate. Everyone cares about playing for their country.

    Passion on the pitch is about committment in tackles, supporting team mates, verbally and in tight situations.

    Beckham has never done this

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  • 193. At 6:06pm on 07 Sep 2008, dirtymeister wrote:

    Good blog.

    England have been a worry for some years now; internationally they are just not up to it. They need a bloody good kick up the arse.
    As for Capello; I did say when he was being touted as a possible successor to Mclown, that we should be very nervous of a man in his 60's who is clearly using Grecian 2000.

    As for Coldplay; I'd rather chew razor-blades' they are the musical equivalent of Mogadon only not as good.

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  • 194. At 6:09pm on 07 Sep 2008, Tony_D wrote:

    While we produce players in England who are good/very good/excellent in the specific position they play, we rarely produce good footballers.

    The way we train kids between about the ages of 7 and 14 kills that stone dead.

    At international level it's about being a good footballer. The England guys look lost so much of the time because they are.

    At their clubs they are used for their "English" qualities and are mostly supported by foreign players who allow them to shine in their specific position.

    Take that support away and what you get is what we mostly see from the England side.

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  • 195. At 6:15pm on 07 Sep 2008, dirtymeister wrote:

    194. At 6:09pm on 07 Sep 2008, Tony_D wrote:

    While we produce players in England who are good/very good/excellent in the specific position they play, we rarely produce good footballers.


    Top man! I've been banging on about this for a while.

    Take Wes Brown for example; great defender but not comfortable on the ball or playing football. Fer gawds sake! You are playing for your country - you should be able to play a bit of footy!!!

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  • 196. At 6:19pm on 07 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    I'm watching 'socceraid' right now - why don't our current players look like they have the confidence and competitive edge that shearer, sheringham and le saux seemed to show when they put on the 3 lions

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  • 197. At 6:20pm on 07 Sep 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    Give me a break people?

    Firstly i would want to commend Walcott on his display yesterday.

    The way everyone just seems to lambast England after almost every match explains why there weren't too many long range shots yesterday. Players are now playing not to make mistakes rather than creating special things in the field. Look at Lampard when he plays for Chelsea, He is not afraid to take apportunistic long range shots which most of the times deflect to goals.But being a top target to constant boos and criticism explains his cautious approach in yesterday's match. This attitude seems to have replicated to most old members of the team. Why can't we as England fans, for once, be supportive of our team players as we do clubwise.I admit that Lampard and Rooney(who i think are exceptional and have been unjustifiable singled out) occasionally make mistakes like all other players in the world but they did absolutely nothing wrong yesterday.

    Anyone who watched the game could testify with me that the ball just wasn't getting to Rooney in the first half,serve for the one and only scuffed short He had after Theo's assist.The question i have for those who are blaming Rooney is how do you expect him to score if he is not getting the right service. His disguised pass to Cole's second goal just shows you the kind of damage he can cause when in possession more often. Hence his hunger for ball possession forced him to drop deep.Heskey if i'm not mistaken didn't have a shot at goal because of Andorra's rigid defensive game plan and lack of incisive midfield-striker link up play.

    I'm tired of people wanting England to be Brazil. Robhino has his own unique skills so does our own Walcott. We have to be satisfied with our own players and stop chastising them all the time.

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  • 198. At 6:32pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    I don't want England to be Brazil, but I do think that for all their multi-million pound salaries we have a right to expect that the highest paid footballers in a country in which football is the national sport, and has a population of almost 70,000,000, can and will overcome a squad of part-timers from a country with a population of only 71,000 with relative ease.
    If they can't, then there is either something wrong with the the manager, the players, the system or all three.
    personally I couldn't agree more with Tony_D and his comments about the limitations of the players, surrounded and supported by good international players at club level, but failing to make the grade when playing in a side made up only of other english players.
    Let's face it, this squad is simply not good enough to deliver what the fans have a right to expect of them.

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  • 199. At 6:40pm on 07 Sep 2008, dirtymeister wrote:

    197. At 6:20pm on 07 Sep 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    Give me a break people? infinitum.
    How tedious.

    histon4europe seems to have worked it out.

    196. At 6:19pm on 07 Sep 2008, histon4europe wrote:

    I'm watching 'socceraid' right now - why don't our current players look like they have the confidence and competitive edge that shearer, sheringham and le saux seemed to show when they put on the 3 lions
    Because of oiks like John Terry. See link below.

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  • 200. At 6:41pm on 07 Sep 2008, lakey9boy09 wrote:

    i heard Mark Lawrenson comment that Walcott should not play against Andorra as he isn't experienced enough. What better opportunity to get our young players 'experienced at international level' than against a team like Andorra? I think Beckham has been great for England but the new blood has to come through sometime and this applies to other positions and players too. When are likes of Micah Richards, Ashley Young, Walcott and even players like Agbonlahor gonna get their chance? It's got to be sometime!

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  • 201. At 6:42pm on 07 Sep 2008, Auqakuh wrote:

    "while never bad enough to make you wish you were at the Coldplay gig taking place across the road", something I can agree with.

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  • 202. At 6:44pm on 07 Sep 2008, seajimmya09 wrote:

    I think Beckham is to old!
    Walcott is amazin if he plays like he did in the first ten minutes every game then we will qualify easily but if we keep Beckham we wont because he is simply to slow he dosen't want to get injured so he backs out of every challenge.
    If Ferdinand isn't back for the Crotia game we will lose he is the rock of the back for he is to strong for every1 else.
    Capello's choose of not pickin Owen was a huge mistake! He is a goal scorer and thats exactly wat England need! 2-0 against Andorra was pathetic! they are ranked something like 186th in the world! play Joe Cole every game on left wing he is class,
    Stewart downing is Awful i didn't hear his name mentioned once in that game!

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  • 203. At 6:49pm on 07 Sep 2008, Medieval-Evil wrote:

    I can't believe people are criticising Walcott's performance. They should bear in mind that he is ostensibly being played out of position and was not raised to play RM.

    On a night where Rooney, Lampard and Defoe were anonymous (or downright dreadful) at least Walcott occasionally raised the tempo. His final ball needs work, but people should bear in mind that most of the opportunities to set up a chance were created by his own endeavour.

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  • 204. At 6:53pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    Capello has had loads of time to re-build a new England squad since he took over without the pressure of having to win every match, and in doing so, give all of those players referred to by Lakey a chance to develop and grow in confidence.
    But what has he done - nothing! he has stuck with same squad that let us down in Germany in 2006, and in the Euro qualifying, and here we are hoping to qualify for another tournament with the same system and players who have consistently failed to live up to our expectations and their own self-hype.
    For god's sake, he even thinks Beckham still has a real contribution to make.
    Capello for all his record appears to say about him as a manager, is turning out like every other England manager in recent years - afraid to be bold and imaginative, and instead hoping for miracle results from a group of under-achievers.

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  • 205. At 6:56pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    there was a 606 thread on this subject where has it gone?

    this may well be the " editors blogg " but its still mainly frequented by yobs and the generally uneducated morons, but at least on 606 i am able to keep up with the debate even though its that banal its hardly worth commenting on.

    but on topic:

    england are cwap, capello is cwap and nothing has changed.

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  • 206. At 7:06pm on 07 Sep 2008, Lucas Coe wrote:

    The players we have, along with manager, we should beat Croatia. But I know it's not as easy as that.

    We have world class players, there isn't any doubt about that. But the team is lacking confidence and the manager is making some baffling decisions in my opinion.

    The inclusion of Beckham is understandable, having a dead ball specialist could be the difference in beating Croatia and Downing didn't show any signs of that. But if we have a player of Beckham's crossing ability, why isn't Michael Owen or Peter Crouch even in the squad?!

    Players like Rooney, Cole, Lampard, Gerrard are all world class. They perform for their clubs and high profile managers wouldn't have them otherwise.

    Vitally, Capello needs to decide and stick to his best TEAM and get the best out of the world class players. I think:







    I'm one of many fans frustrated by England's dissapointing performances but let's put a bit of faith in these players who perform in the Premier League and Champions League! C'mon England!

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  • 207. At 7:07pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    Let me make it bit easier for you to follow 'unbeatable..', this squad are incapable of raising their game above the mediocre heights we have already witnessed over the past few years, and so will they raise their game in Zagreb? Not a chance in hell!

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  • 208. At 7:09pm on 07 Sep 2008, the_Sluiceterer wrote:

    Get Owen back and don`t panic. The team will raise their game, as they cannot be much lower at present.
    The media have pushed people`s expectations up too much. England are well below the standard required for winning any compo at present but think we can
    expect a better performance on Weds - Good luck

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  • 209. At 7:10pm on 07 Sep 2008, The_Opinion wrote:

    Oh my God! 200 comments! Why can't people just wait till Wednesday and let the football do the talking.

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  • 210. At 7:17pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:


    well im gobsmacked

    i have it seems tapped into a brain one who's not blinkered or deluded in the extreem as most of them obviously are when talking about the ifs and butts about the england football team, its management, structure etc etc.

    to cut to the chase its utter cwap always will be utter cwap no matter how they want to dress it up.

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  • 211. At 7:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, Hot Butter wrote:

    I thought the coldplay comment was a great touch, adding a little humour. Right on phil.

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  • 212. At 7:25pm on 07 Sep 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    199. At 6:40pm on 07 Sep 2008, dirtymeister wrote:
    197. At 6:20pm on 07 Sep 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    Give me a break people? infinitum.
    How tedious.

    i hope your " infinitum" is not showing your ignorance(that is you didn't even bother reading the "blur" part of my message). What did England win in the times of shearer, sheringham and le saux(i have great respect for these players). Nothing!!!so what's your point. I don't mean to be blunt but we have to deal with the fact that those times are now simply "the good old days". Unless you give me a good footballing reason why you find it alright to single out Rooney and Lampard, i'm not convinced on your "tedious" banner.

    By the way dirtymeister which club in the EPL do you support.

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  • 213. At 7:30pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    can we talk about newcastle and keegan and alan shearer and all the other cwap and hype that is associated with the same.

    it would appear to me that 606 and the editors bloggs are nothing more than a yobs hangout who prefer to ignore the wider issues preffering instead to yap about this never ending saga about england and the fact that they are cwap, so much so, they are not taken seriously anymore as a footy nation only the fools and deluded would think otherwise.

    and yes jb should have been kicked out the game but none of you editors have the gutts to print it

    you all shame and tarnish what was once the bueatifull game you should feel very proud of yourselves. NOT!!!!

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  • 214. At 7:33pm on 07 Sep 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Jimi55 - Tons of time? He's had, what, the Switzerland game, France, USA, Trinidad and Tobago, and Czech Republic? Five games, and a few weeks of practice?

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  • 215. At 7:49pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    You make the point for me. 5 games with not a point or qualification at stake, and all there is to show for it, is the recall of Heskey, the Beckham -will he won't he pick him farce, the same old 'can Gerrard and Lampard play together'debate, Terry or Ferdinand for captain.
    If you can't take some risks and look at other players when there's nothing to lose, then when can you?
    Look at what happened to Scott Carson when he found himself thrown in at the deep end last time against Croatia, not having had any meaningful run-outs previously. Would England really have fallen back on James had Carson not been exposed that night and made a scapegoat for that defeat?
    Capello has done nothing so far which makes me believe that he will be any better than Sven.

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  • 216. At 7:51pm on 07 Sep 2008, FergiesJaw wrote:

    At the start of a Premiership season, if a club (say Man United..who did start poorly, and yes i'm a United supporter!) then the fans defend the players along with the manager, with reasons such as lack of fitness and the need for time to gel. Why then, at the start of the same season, would this reason for a "poor" England performance not be valid? If anything, the players have less time to chance, having spent only a few days together! Add to that, a new manager every year or so (bar Eriksson), it can't be far off like playing for Newcastle!
    Anyway, poor jokes aside (Newcastle point!) didn't John Terry (or Joe Cole) recentely speak about a fear of failure? And how it hinders their performance?No wonder they're scared when they're getting booed off the pitch after a 2-0 win! Alright, they might've scored a couple more goals but at the end of the day, winning is the object of the game is it not? And look how we ended up when we thrashed the same opponent last time round at the beginning of our campaign! Maybe Capello saw the Croatia game as one of greater difficulty and instructed his players to preserve their energy for that?
    And speaking of the booing "supporters", we all speak about how we believe the players should play with pride (of the nation) then why don't they try doing the same? (obviously not playing!) How about supporting your team, no matter who they are, no matter what? Get behind the players, no matter how "badly" they might be playing, because they're YOUR team! If that doesn't work for anyone, then don't go all the way to Spain...just to boo the players! Because although i'm no business man, that doesn't seem like the best way to spend your money!

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  • 217. At 7:52pm on 07 Sep 2008, FergiesJaw wrote:

    "the players would have had less time to chance"

    I meant: Less time to gel..

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  • 218. At 8:04pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 219. At 8:10pm on 07 Sep 2008, FergiesJaw wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 220. At 8:11pm on 07 Sep 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Jimi55 - The goal is semi-finals in Euro 2012 or World Cup 2010, right?

    So Capello needs to do, essentially, one game better than Sven did?

    I see no reason to believe he won't.

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  • 221. At 8:13pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    FergiesJaw :
    Are you serious about Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Rooney,Downing,Beckham and James not having had time to gel with each other?
    This group of players have practically slept together for the past two years.

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  • 222. At 8:18pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    PhilSandifer, I hope you're right, but i think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

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  • 223. At 8:18pm on 07 Sep 2008, Red_Nic wrote:

    Really stumped me that he left out Young and I think Agbonlahor should have gone as well, as the one thing Andorra couldn't cope with was pace and power, Walcott was tearing through them when he got the chance, had Agbonlahor and Young been there as well it would have stretched them more.

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  • 224. At 8:20pm on 07 Sep 2008, FergiesJaw wrote:

    I get your point but they do spend the majority of their seasons playing with other (largely foreign) players, so i'd imagine their own game is set up to play with their club team mates, which, can and often does change every year, meaning that they have to adapt then playing with again, different players (admittedly players they've known for years) may take some adapting. That's just my opinion though and i do get yours!

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  • 225. At 8:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    i see mcnulty dosent like me commenting on his thread

    tell me u prat/ do you belive in a democracy or do you just work for the bbc you pratt!

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  • 226. At 8:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jwm367t wrote:

    im just thinking, why doesnt england just drop the whole team and replace them with the u21 squad? they play well...

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  • 227. At 8:25pm on 07 Sep 2008, dessyorchid wrote:

    Shearer and Sheringham for me after watching the first half of another Mickey Mouse match lol

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  • 228. At 8:25pm on 07 Sep 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    FergiesJaw love your input. Imagine the "unimaginable" consequences last season had we(United fans)also booed Ronaldo last season. But we supported him all the way as we do for all the other team players (Though i doubt he appreciates it)

    That said,let us all try to put ourselves in Lampard's shoes,specifically. For God's sake He is a human being like all of us, how would you feel when your "so called" fellow countrymen boo you everytime.

    To be honest, i will be demotivated rather than anything else. Everyone accepts constructive criticism, i donot think booing is part of it.

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  • 229. At 8:29pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 230. At 8:29pm on 07 Sep 2008, ILoveTheNHS wrote:

    England got the job done in terms of getting three points, but didn't in terms of putting in a performance of good passing and movement, which is the biggest indication of how they'll do on Wednesday.

    We gave the ball away far too often, played to many long and direct balls, whipped to many inaccurate crosses in from the flanks and created very little in and around the box.

    Before the game, everyone was wandering how many England would score. I had a funny feeling we wouldn't pull anything spectacular off! We just aren't a side which can be that confident or indeed arrogant.

    It's really disappointing that we have to go into another game saying we need to play better than in our last game, especially considering the standard of the opposition of the last game. But, yet again, we're in the position where we have to.

    I don't think we'll win on Wednesday. I don't even think we'll come close to winning. I hope I'm wrong.

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  • 231. At 8:31pm on 07 Sep 2008, footiefutility wrote:

    What's Coldplay? Which league are they in?

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  • 232. At 8:33pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    I could clone myself 10 times and still beat andorra 5 - 0 despite the amount of drugs(legal, heheh) and alcohol I take. It's a disgrace to the people of this country how bad all the people that represent us really are. except the olympians which don't win for us they do it for themselves...

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  • 233. At 8:36pm on 07 Sep 2008, ILoveTheNHS wrote:

    A lot of people will say that thinking England wont win on Wednesday is being too negative and not getting behind the team.

    But it's just being realistic about how good we are.

    England are a poor side at the moment.......

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  • 234. At 8:39pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    ive studied well many contributors on these threads and those generated by the BBC sports writers

    i have concluded most is nothing but Bull to make some feel self important, as if they are going to make any difference by their boring team sheets etc. what i have discovered is that football in general is still in the hands of the neatherdal and moronic section of the british public and i have to say i cant wait for euthenasia to be legalised, can you imagine the sheer joy? at a stroke the country would be rid of many of the nerds who have attached themselves and tarnished a good name and sport and also of course those that gave birth to the idiots in the 1st place.

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  • 235. At 8:39pm on 07 Sep 2008, FergiesJaw wrote:

    tgbutd you're exactly right, the booing can only serve to crush the players confidence! Imagine having you're boss at work continually tell you you're awful at your job or your partner taking every opportunity to let you know you're an awful boyfriend/husband!

    And i never even thought of the point you made about Ronaldo..but again, a good one! Imagine how England might play with no pressure and everyone behind them!

    (it could be worse, look at France!)

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  • 236. At 8:42pm on 07 Sep 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Jimi55 - My point is that one game can be as simple as a matter of luck. Sven could reliably get quarterfinals. Any team that can reliably get quarterfinals can also make it to semi-finals without any significant changes.

    People are much more down on the Sven era than people think. Nobody is surprised to see Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands, Brazil, or Argentina in semi-finals. So there are already four more teams than can actually be in the semi-finals who can reliably get there. In fact, every time England makes a quarter final they're already eliminating someone that could be expected to be there.

    That they did so three tournaments in a row under Sven is a good result.

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  • 237. At 8:49pm on 07 Sep 2008, Niper1 wrote:

    While I understand that "they got the job done", "3 points on the board", etc. etc. blah blah...

    They played a postman, a butcher, a couple of plumbers and some students...and if it weren't for Joe Cole would have got NOTHING from the game except some DIY tips...they were pathetic, overpaid, under-enthused prima donas...

    Rooney - waste of space, can't play in an england shirt - drop him.
    Downing - tried to cross the ball 40 yards from goal - nuff said.
    Defoe - at least he tried
    Johnson - less time combing your hair son and more time playing football.
    Terry - you just haven't got the skill to hit the ball like beckham, so stop trying...keep it simple
    Becks - nuff said instant change in the game the second you came on the pitch
    Heskey - man mountain - excellent
    Cole - two goals, nuff said
    Lampard - please...he could still be playing now with nobody else on the pitch and still lose the ball! - Useless!

    God I'm paying we beat croatia, but I fear they will beat us...might do us some good..maybe then Capello might actually pick players who can actually play together (TOGETHER thats the key word)

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  • 238. At 8:49pm on 07 Sep 2008, IlCucchiaio wrote:

    Fair enough Lampard was poor and has never really turned domestic form onto the international arena.

    But to be honest that same accusation could be made against every single England player, bar in my opinion Joe Cole.

    The anti-Frank train is all well and good but he is not the only one at fault for England's punk form, Gerrard is hardly setting the world alight, Rooney is doing nothing and as for the right hand side don't get me started. Put Joe Cole on the right and young or Agbonlahor on the left. Downing is a muuppet.

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  • 239. At 8:50pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 240. At 8:53pm on 07 Sep 2008, John Holden-Peters wrote:

    214 comments-- blimey! Just shows what a success your blog is, Phil.

    As a Liverpool fan, I hate to say it, but England didn't really miss Stevie G. yesterday. They certainly missed someone with the ability to do what he does for Liverpool, but he has not been very effective in an England shirt for a long time.

    When he is fit again and a choice has to be made, two out of three, Gerrard, Barry and Lampard, I think I would prefer him to Lampard, who is having an even worse time.

    It's the same old argument: why is it that players who do so well for their clubs, week after week, cannot reproduce the same form for England?

    Rooney is another case in point. It seems that Capello knows what he wants him to do and will not stop shouting at him until he does. He had a very average game, but he did produce one touch of magic, the through pass to Joe Cole that saw him score the second goal. This was maybe the best moment in all the game. Penetrating the defence of a team that puts nine or ten men behind the ball and whose only hope of glory is to lose by just one or two goals is never easy.

    If Rooney had been up there all the time and not back chasing balls that someone else could and should have taken care of, maybe we would have scored a couple more.

    Roll on Wednesday!

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  • 241. At 8:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    i do indeed


    and with a screen name like yours you would be prime candidate.

    are you related to barby by any chance?

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  • 242. At 9:05pm on 07 Sep 2008, John Holden-Peters wrote:

    I forgot to add just one thing: about crowd support. It must be pretty depressing for the team to hear repeated renderings of the National Anthem.

    Yes, I know that wasn't all that was on offer, but I don't seem to recall other international teams' fans resorting to National Anthems, even though some of them (Wales, France) have really inspiring ones, much more so than ours.

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  • 243. At 9:08pm on 07 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Little help needed from Chelsea fans here. It is being suggested that Joe Cole really produced his best at Stamford Bridge after Jose Mourinho got tough with him.

    Is this true? And it could it be Capello is following his example?

    Maybe he is someone who plays better when he knows his coach is keeping an eye on him.

    Chelsea fans, can you give us an answer on that one?

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  • 244. At 9:09pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 245. At 9:11pm on 07 Sep 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    The selection from Capello has to be better for the game in Zagreb.

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  • 246. At 9:12pm on 07 Sep 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    Phil are you in Barcelona or London? Or maybe even in Zagreb?

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  • 247. At 9:12pm on 07 Sep 2008, FlexDream wrote:

    We played 4 at the back against Andorra! And the FA pay £6M a year for that inspired tactical genius? Against Andorra it should have been a conveyor belt attack.

    I've stopped watching England and recommend others do likewise. I don't miss the boredom or frustration.

    Performance matters much more than the result, as past performance predicts future results. England will be lucky to avoid defeat in Croatia, a 0-0 draw is the best result achievable.

    But an England defeat is the best hope for a move towards a more balanced team and will hopefully see the end of the Gerrard Lampard pairing.

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  • 248. At 9:13pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mel0dymaker wrote:

    I am sorry to all the England fans wishing to debate the England squad. I have been misguided by a false comment on one of the other posters. All I can say is that the way football works is changing and in ten years I will happily ignore it because it is more about money than passion and pride. 11 amateur footballers nearly held England. As much as this kills me I will still pray for a win against the croats. Maybe a good old rivalry is what the team needs.

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  • 249. At 9:14pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    PhilSandifer, I take your point, and I'm not one of those who called for Sven to be sacked.Too many people forget the dreadful state of english football when he took over after one of Kevin Keegan's regular disappearing acts, and how quickly he transformed the team.
    The point I am making however, is that I have seen nothing from Capello to make me believe that he is capable of transforming a side in much the same state as it was at the start of Sven's reign, and I certainly don't think I'm looking at a team in world cup or european champs. semi-final form.

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  • 250. At 9:15pm on 07 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:


    I agree with you.

    Its desperate times when the only song the fans know is our anthem singing the praises of the German Royal Family.

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  • 251. At 9:19pm on 07 Sep 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    Who thinks Rooney and Cole are going to be dropped?

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  • 252. At 9:21pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    to melodymaker.

    before i continue, the music magazine from which u stole your original ? name is cwap!

    it is in itself a tabloid mag that knows jack about music but likes to pretend it does. a bit like most of these sports pages. but then thats nothing new.

    and in answer to your question i would go for the latter, for indeed many do indeed sufer an " incurable disease " and alas many are to be found on the Football Threads.

    its a land of neatherdals masquerading as sportsman/woman, whos sole aim is to generate idle chat about things they have no control of or over, but it sells newspapers and keep the said morons responisble in a job.

    and although i am an advocate of euthenasia do not assume for one minute the death i have in mind would be painless, that i would reserve for those who have truly contributed to society in a grand form alas that form would not include many who comment on here or pen the bloggs.

    as they are in the main parasites offering nothing to anyone, full of self importance.

    and back on topic:

    a bit like the england football team but we dare not admit.

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  • 253. At 9:23pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    Phil, as a Chelsea fan, I think it is widely accepted that Joe Cole became a much more productive player under Jose, who brought a greater degree of discipline to his game, and appeared to change him from a skilful showpony, to a player who performed with a greater notion of team ethic and consequently became a more potent attacking force, as well as being more diligent in his defensive duties when not in possession.

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  • 254. At 9:26pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    wow!!! thats impressive!

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  • 255. At 9:27pm on 07 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    After watching Soccer Aid tonight, I reckon England should bring back Shearer and Sherringham.

    More commitment, more skill.

    Shows how far the England team has deteriorated.

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  • 256. At 9:37pm on 07 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    Against Croatia, Jimmy B of Fulham should play ...

    Johnson Ferdinand Terry Cole
    Walcott, Lampard, Barry, Jimmy B, Cole

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  • 257. At 9:41pm on 07 Sep 2008, unbeatablePinkFloyd wrote:

    can we please have a caption competition in so far as it relates to the picture which heads this blog showing rooney remonstrating with cappello. in truth we need some definate chill from this never ending tide of cwap spoken about englands
    chances in the WC.

    we all know they will qualify, the draw was made so that would be the case, its only a matter of how they will do it. will it be with style? no, will it be through open play? no
    will it be by some fluke? yes will the deserve to qualify? no is the italian cut out for the job? no will he do enough to see we will at least qualify? yes will he be in the job long? no why? coz hes cwap.

    will england win the world cup? no
    what team would u pick? who realy gives a toss.

    does this talk ease many who suffer severe depression? no/yes

    is there a new era for english foorball? no
    has barwick resigned? yes

    did keegan walk? yes

    are newcastle the laughing stock of british football? yes

    and last but no means least:

    why is there no blogg on the scandal that allows barton to play football? when any other normal ( and i use that word with caution) supporter with a record for violence in the vicintity of football grounds throughout the land s thereby banned?

    and why are the rules different for barton?

    was keegan cwap at management? yes is he a good judge of character? no

    should he manage england? yes as he needs the compensation.

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  • 258. At 9:48pm on 07 Sep 2008, aerialflipflap wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 259. At 9:51pm on 07 Sep 2008, Niper1 wrote:

    Soccer Aid - sound familiar??

    A bunch of part timers playing against professionals...

    One big difference, Soccer Aid is actually entertainment...last night I was tempted to turn over and watch X-Factor.

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  • 260. At 9:54pm on 07 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    just to add to my earlier comments on Joe Cole.
    I don't think he only plays well when he is under scrutiny from his manager, but rather was properly directed by Mourinho, made aware of what his role in the team was, and what was expected of him.
    No doubt there must have been an element of knowing that if he did not produce what was required of him his place would be in jeopardy, as it should be in any premiership or international squad.

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  • 261. At 9:56pm on 07 Sep 2008, Niper1 wrote:

    Maybe CAPELLO should be watching soccer aid...looking for some inspiration for wednesday!

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  • 262. At 9:58pm on 07 Sep 2008, icarus_mania wrote:

    Why is it that only we, the fans, can see how bad players like Lampard, Beckham, Defoe play for their country? The management, the commentators, the players themselves seem to be trapped in some sort of 'england #1 dillussion' and see things in a distorted perspective we don't. Its about time Capello broke the trend of picking the team on reputation and club form. Lampard may play well for Chelsea but he doesn't play well for England, Rooney may be a demi-god in Manchester but on the international circuit he has floundered for the last four years.

    If Capello is such the strict, well-respected manager he's supposed to be; the man who invokes discipline, respect and confidence with a nothing-but-a-win-will-do policy then its about time he became ruthless. Blood the entire team; drop everyone and bring in the kids for the games against Belarus, Kazakhstan and even Ukraine; bring in the likes of Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Jagielka, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, David Wheater, Walcott etc. Keep the likes of Gerrard, Joe Cole and Crouch who do give 110% for their country but show those poor performers they are not bulletproof, reputation or not. Walcott and Glen Johnson showed their hunger against Andorra and I believe the younger generation would be eager to prove themselves as worthy of wearing an England shirt and would do so with pride, something that very few players have demonstrated in recent years.

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  • 263. At 10:17pm on 07 Sep 2008, Mongo wrote:

    Sorry Phil, I'm confused.

    In the first half 11 players did their job and it didn't work. Second half one player knows he has it to turn the game and does so and Capello publicly shouts at him. There is no need for any manager to spend all game on the touchline as Capello does, his every action seems like a desperate attempt to justify his paycheque.

    Errr, Lampard set up the first goal and has a better goals to games ratio at club and country level than Steven Gerrard.

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  • 264. At 10:23pm on 07 Sep 2008, U9563463 wrote:

    Look the main thing is that England won. You can say all you like about playing against sub-standard opposition, but if a team gets 11 men behind the ball it is hard to score. When Premiership teams struggle against non-league teams in the FA Cup and scrape a win after a replay, we never criticise the standard of play from the Premiership team even when they include some of the best players in the world, instead the plucky non-league side gets praised. Thats life, it does not always go as expected.

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  • 265. At 10:23pm on 07 Sep 2008, Kapnag wrote:

    Jesus christ icarus_Mania, do you honestly believe people would be happy if Capello fielded that side and proceed to lose 5-0?

    It's so easy for you to say that that's what Capello should do, cos it won't be you deals with the aftermath

    What's this obsession with showing hunger? Hunger alone is not enough to win international football games - You think all it takes is a bit of running around and a few heavy tackles?

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  • 266. At 10:34pm on 07 Sep 2008, BazOfTheBoleyn wrote:

    Gerrard's comments about wishing to play only in central midfield and being so good that he is deployed elsewhere reek of egotism and the same kind of disloyalty that that other Scouser Carragher recently showed. The fact is that Gerrard cannot play well on the right, cannot play well on the left, doesn't like being the anchor man and cannot operate as a attacking midfielder behind a lone centre forward. Oh, and he also cannot operate in the same midfield as Lampard.

    Does this sound like a quality international football player to you?

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  • 267. At 11:26pm on 07 Sep 2008, icarus_mania wrote:

    Ha ha sorry to upset you Kapnag. Its just my point of view and i'm entitled to it.

    If a player under performs he needs to know there is someone to take his place. I'm sick of everyone defending Rooney, Lampard, Beckham, Defoe, James etc So Rooney had a great Euro championships...four years ago. David Beckham can deliver a cross onto someone's eyebrows with his eyes closed...he's got no pace or skill, can't tackle, can't run with the ball and needs a zimmerframe to get from one end of the pitch to the other. Lampard, wow he can score for Chelsea, oh he's so skillful and strong...but his recent record for England (i.e. the past 18-24 months) has been a shambles and Gerrard is a better midfielder, why not kick Lamps out to the left wing and see how he likes it. Defoe, what a goalscorer...but what a surprise, for England he has the accuracy of a one armed, blind archer not to mention being so greedy he denies the rest of the team their chances. John Terry is a moaning old woman and always leads with his arms, David James is already to screw up when the chance comes his way, Heskey is a donkey.

    If you don't give the kids experience when it finally comes down to the selfish guys we got now being forcefully dragged from the limelight our national team will be worse off than it is now.

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  • 268. At 11:35pm on 07 Sep 2008, RedraM wrote:

    Beckhams "tactical discipline and experience"?

    Is that what you call it, running around after the ball when he's lost it leaving the right flank hopelessy wide open?

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  • 269. At 11:55pm on 07 Sep 2008, mindsidthefish wrote:

    unfortunatly have come to the conclussion that England performances have become so dire that other than major tournaments you cannot justify 90 minutes of wasted and unfulfilling time. shame.

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  • 270. At 00:07am on 08 Sep 2008, virtuallonetraveller wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 271. At 00:08am on 08 Sep 2008, DJBoogie wrote:

    omg here we go again yet more dumb british "press" complaining about england.
    Yes they should play better, yes they NEED to play better, but andorra hardly looked a threat did they? and they basically played (andorra) with 11 men on their own half the entire game

    In perspective, lets look around the world
    Austria BATTERED france
    brazil are like 4th in their group (which never consists of any real talent!)
    and Italy were incredibly lucky to win (they should have been 4 goals down but for Buffon)

    Ok pick on usual (its really getting old the ridiculou amount of pressure hammered at the england team and coach)

    theyre no worse than the rest of the so called world super powers of football.

    in fact, at least they won and conceded no goals!!

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  • 272. At 00:11am on 08 Sep 2008, DJBoogie wrote:


    guess you didnt see the france game huh?

    and the last 3 brazil games have been utterly pathetic

    but yea go on, keep blabbing on about how crap england are.

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  • 273. At 00:22am on 08 Sep 2008, Mongo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 274. At 00:28am on 08 Sep 2008, virtuallonetraveller wrote:

    He was never proven to be involved mate , so get ya facts right

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  • 275. At 00:30am on 08 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    No I didn't see the France game, nor do I care about how poor the last 3 Brazil games were, neither of which has any bearing whatsoever on England's performance, which by any standards was distinctly average.
    You are right about one thing however. The part-time players from Andorra (a country with a population of only 71,000) did not as you say, pose a scoring threat to the multi-millionaire players from the premiership, who represented the national game of a country with a population of around 70,000,000, Now there's something about which we and Mr.Capello can all be proud!

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  • 276. At 00:31am on 08 Sep 2008, icarus_mania wrote:

    LOL i don't support France or Brazil or Italy so regardless of how bad those nations play, I couldn't care less. I'm English, I support England and want them to do well but that seems unlikely.

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  • 277. At 00:38am on 08 Sep 2008, Mongo wrote:

    virtuallonetraveller, I didn't claim he was involved (that would be libelous). I was pointing out that his recent success is tainted, so much so that officially his last two Italian League successes don't exist. When people like Mr McNulty claim Capello is a managerial great they're wrong, it's easy to make a team look great when the clubs owner is bribing the referee.

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  • 278. At 00:52am on 08 Sep 2008, Ji-Sung Parks cousin - 19 wrote:

    Since when has 22 years old been "the stage in his career where he needs to be delivering defining moments for England".


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  • 279. At 01:33am on 08 Sep 2008, John Holden-Peters wrote:

    To J?Hingsen. #250:

    Thanks for your reply but I really don't care whether the National Anthem sings the praises of the German Royal Family. My point is that it is a pretty dull piece of music, far removed from the football songs and chants that animate football teams up and down the country every Saturday. Perhaps Capello should negotiate with Liverpool for the use of "You'll never walk alone".

    Now that is an inspiring song. There are also some very impressive ditties sung at football grounds in Argentina, probably borrowed from England.

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  • 280. At 02:20am on 08 Sep 2008, John Holden-Peters wrote:

    There's a lot of sloppy use of the English language on BBC blogs, though I have never been particularly bothered by the odd spelling or grammatical error.

    What does annoy me is the use of internet slang. First because it is a mark of disrespect toward so many people who have no idea what it means and, second because the people using it also often seem to have no idea what it means. The expression LOL or lol has crept into many recent blog contributions. What do people think that means? It is used in so many different contexts that it is impossible that everyone using it has the same intention or means the same thing.

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  • 281. At 03:37am on 08 Sep 2008, Ged Sweeney wrote:

    Oldmanwillow - do you have another meaning for LOL other than "Laughing out loud"?


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  • 282. At 08:10am on 08 Sep 2008, Blutackboy wrote:

    I would like to comment on what I have seen. Unfortunately I cannot as I could only listen on Five Live. I have yet to meet anyone of my football friends who actually watched the game.
    There was an apathy creeping in towards the England team but now the games are not available on any of the major TV channels it has proved a tipping point and people are losing their interest in England. Sounds as though we didn't miss much.
    Watching Andy Murray was far better until the rain came.
    I see the Croatia game is also only on Setanta (who?) so I'll give it a miss again.
    Doesn't take long until people stop bothering with England. The FA have launched their RESPECT campaign - as a coach of a junior team I have been inundated with mail about it. It's about time the FA and England started to respect their supporters instead of ripping them off.

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  • 283. At 08:34am on 08 Sep 2008, visciousvic wrote:

    1. What has Micah Richards done wrong? He'd also provide a threat going forward - I wouldn't want to be the defender seeing him charging at me!

    2. I am amazed that Capelo is srupursed that these 'players' won;t do what they are told - they never do for anyone else anywhere else. They think they are beyond everyone elses instruction and know it all - when clearly the paucity of ability and imagination on show deomnstrates they are not.

    The sheer disbelief that Rooney and Cole sat back against a team so poor and unable as Andorra simply goes to show a lack of genuine spirit and/or intelligence.

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  • 284. At 08:47am on 08 Sep 2008, Shahamat wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 285. At 09:04am on 08 Sep 2008, EMIRATESSTROLLER wrote:

    We blame always the managers for the
    poor performances of our National Teams.

    The reality is that they are working with
    very 'limited' talent.

    Our current goalkeeper and defence is
    okay, but nothing extraordinary.

    However, when we look at our midfield
    we are light years behind the technical
    and creative abilities of lets say the
    Spanish National Side. Players like
    Gerrard,Lampard,Hargreaves and Barry
    are at best 'good club ' exponents.They
    lack real quality at international level.

    Where we are most exposed to our shortcomings are in the Forwards. We
    have not produced a single 'international
    class' striker since the time when Owen
    was in his prime. A team dependent on
    players like Defoe [brainless] and
    Heskey [a lump] for goals reveals the
    real shortcomings of our game.

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  • 286. At 09:09am on 08 Sep 2008, Nickgreg wrote:

    Why Rooney is picked at all bugs me. His track record for England is appaling, he's been sent off more times than he's scored and he is simply just not good enough, and, apart from a brief spell of skill at Everton has never been what he is pumped up to be. Fabio, here's a tip, pick the players who are on top form, its a tried and tested formula. Drop the donkeys, get the rest of them round the table give them a first class rollocking and tell them to get their act together.

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  • 287. At 09:14am on 08 Sep 2008, skanko wrote:

    Would Downing be in the England squad if he wasn't left footed?

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  • 288. At 09:58am on 08 Sep 2008, kinraddie wrote:

    What on earth do you mean when you talk about Beckham having "tactical discipline". The guy runs around like a headless chicken for goodness sake, leaving our right wing for the opposition to exploit with only someone like Brown who has a tendency to gravitate towards the central position. I despair at our England managers endless tinkering. Bring on the youth, play with width, decide what the settled team should be, stick with it and bring in like for like in the positions, as you would with a club team,get rid of celebrities. Run it lke England United.

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  • 289. At 10:06am on 08 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Are England going to Shake us all night long or are they on a highway to hell?

    I'll get my coat...

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  • 290. At 10:21am on 08 Sep 2008, ccfcjayjay wrote:

    Another below par performance from england, what a suprise! at least we got the 3 points though.

    Problem we have is not rooney, or whoever else partners him upfront. Our problem is the midfield. Walcott was exciting for the first 20 minutes, and very refreshing to see someone running up the wing, rather than beckham crossing the ball from our half of the pitch. But the other 3 midfielders were absolutely useless. Downing didn't do anything on the left, how he gets in ahead of Ashley young is baffling. Utter madness! Remind which one of those two was picked in the premiership team of the year? Thats right, it wasn't Downing!!

    Barry isn't a bad player, but he isn't really an attacking, or defensive midfielder. When he plays well for villa, he has Reo Coker doing a lot of the leg work for him. Lampard certainly doesn't offer that to him.

    Lampard is a complete luxury player. He is very good at running into the box and scoring goals, but his all round contribution is very little indeed. When he is playing for Chelsea and has Essien and Makelele/(Mikel now) running the midfield for him he looks good. In a 2 man CM he is rubbish.

    Its pretty much the same with Gerrard, although he is better in a 2 man CM than Lampard, he is better still at playing the AM of a 3 man CM.

    So why on earth we stick to a 442 when we also have a lack of decent strikers is again, very baffling. Surely a 4231 would be more suitable. When everyones fit i think the defence picks itself really, tho i dont like Lescott getting in ahead of Woodgate, King, Taylor Wheater, infact pretty much most other englaish cb's lol.

    Rest of my team would be....


    This formation is so much more adabtable, as in tough games the '3' can drop back to make a 5 man midfield. And in easier games you can push rooney and joe cole up to make it 3 attackers. In games when we need a bit more width, or as impact subs you can then brin on Young the left and Walcott/SWP on the right. And if we need someone to hold the ball up top bring in Ashton for Agbon. So much more balance in that team then the way we play at the moment.

    Sorry for ranting on, just so frustrating watching the same old england, with nothing changing whatsoever

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  • 291. At 10:30am on 08 Sep 2008, feedtheyak22 wrote:

    any fool can see that england have lacked width for a good few years, continually picking beckham does not help this fact, then when me start walcott he turns out 2 put in the best performance any1 has in an england shirt 4 a while! an why the hell is ashley young not in the squad!!!!!!! that baffles me more than y lampard continues 2 start!! england play alot better with width!! this was also evident against czech the other day, when he brought wide players on in the second half. SWP, ashley young, bentley, walcott an joe cole shud be our choices as wide men

    instead we pick downing!! beckham!! an even started gerrard on the left against czech!! why do we need 2 resort 2 playin our best midfielder out of position wen we have a choice of 5 out and out wide men!! i am continually baffled by england, i truly am, whoever the manager is

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  • 292. At 10:41am on 08 Sep 2008, Redthemadsheep2001 - LUHG wrote:

    its probably been said already, but im gonna say it again because it seems so obvious. gerrard must be allowed to play his natural game when he returns, and he should be partnered with hargreaves. we all ask why we never really see the best from gerrard, yes hes versatile, but we cant really expect fireworks from a man who has played his best position just FIVE times in 60 odd games. and hargreaves has a tremendous work rate defensively, breaking up attacks left right and centre, but always disciplined enough to protect the back for, but attack mined enough to play short simple passes to recycle possession and keep the game going. its something w seem to ignore (we keeping trying to iron in gerrard and lampard), but we all saw how effective it was with senna for spain.

    joe cole also holds the key being the only player with real flair in our side, i do believe had he not come on, we would have finished 0-0 such was the lack of creativity...

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  • 293. At 10:43am on 08 Sep 2008, TheSheriffIsNear wrote:

    England will not get beat on Wednesday.

    The players are being called, the Manager is being ridiculed, the fans are booing, the papers are on the warpath, the media are laughing at us, Bilic is spouting his usual tatt.

    We will not get beat.

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  • 294. At 10:51am on 08 Sep 2008, TheDeluded wrote:

    can somebody please tell me:
    why is Gabby Agbonlahor not playing for England? he seems to be able to do the goal scoring thing from anywhere. he looks like a natural to me ...

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  • 295. At 10:56am on 08 Sep 2008, welshsteve wrote:

    You have to question both the players and the manager.

    Players like Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Rooney are meant to be among the best in the world in their positions, and they prove why time and again for their club sides. Yet when they pull on the england shirt, they do not perform.

    Players don't suddenly become bad players overnight, so, do you blame the players for not trying hard enough? Or for taking their places in the team for granted? There's certainly an argument for this.

    At the same time, do you blame the manager? Are the manager's tactics stifling the creative abilities of Rooney, Gerrard and Lampard? If this is the case, then England are no better off with Capello than they were with Sven, or, dare I say it, McClown.

    It has to be a combination of the both.

    When Capello came in, he promised radical changes to the setup, stating he wanted a stricter regime, with less "attitude". Well, whatever he has done is clearly not working.

    Why is Steven Gerrard continually the one who gets put out of position? Love him or loathe him, Gerrard, if used correctly, is the best player England have in their armour, and he needs to be used better.

    Rooney will never fulfill his potential at international level until a manager comes along that tells him to stop chasing lost causes and getting into "barnies" with the opposition.

    I believe Capello was right to give Walcott and Downing chances on the wings. England have lacked pace going forward in recent years and this needs addressing. OK, so Downing had a stinker, but he's a good player, and proved it with an excellent season for Middlebro last year. Walcott has bags of potential, as has Aaron Lennon. Bentley is a bit of an enigma. Brilliant on his day, but drifts out of games too much.

    One thing's for sure, England have a LONG way to go before they can be considered a force in world football. It's going to be a tough campaign unless performances improve.

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  • 296. At 10:57am on 08 Sep 2008, Nick wrote:

    There shouldnt be a "Lampard-Gerrard" problem for any coach.

    Why? Quite simply Lampard isnt an international class footballer , never has been and never will be.

    His deficiences have been covered by the quality of players alongside him at Chelsea.

    Ask yourselves this, When has he dominated a Chelsea game? Ive never seen it.

    He roams about firing off potshots and hes allowed to play without discipline because Chelsea usually employ Essien and Makalele as a security blanket, he isnt afforded this luxury at England level.

    Why does he get stick from some fans? An earlier post got it spot on, its because according to Fwankie its everyone elses fault, not his.
    He deludes himself. If he had the bottle to admit when hes had a poor performance hed get a lot more respect.

    He claims to have had a good World Cup in 2006, not the one i saw he didnt.

    Why Capello doesnt employ a 4-1-3-2 system with the right personnel i dont know.

    Hargreaves or Carrick sitting behind a 3 of Cole, Gerrard and Bentley with Rooney playing off a striker.

    Its not rocket science is it?

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  • 297. At 11:00am on 08 Sep 2008, fulhamffclover wrote:

    As a Fulham supporter I cannot understand why Jimmy Bullard was not at least on the bench against Andorra. I suspect that Capello is upset by Bullard’s attitude, a footballer who loves every minutes of football life, who is not on the phone to his agent or rich friends every minute, who does not prance around the pitch like the World owes him a living, does not think it is more important to score a goal for Fulham in a League game that to play for England etc.

    It is a very private Club that he is not a member of.

    He is not the right sort of the egotistic ingrate needed to put on an England shirt.

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  • 298. At 11:09am on 08 Sep 2008, Philou05 wrote:

    I would for once like you englishmen to stop criticizing and moaning all the time against the england team.
    Well ok they haven't played great football over the past years but the results haven't been that bad. Being an englishman in france i get a lot of stick, but when i see the stick that you guys give the manager and the players your even worse than the tabloids. Why can't we just leave them alone take the pressure of them and let the manager (even if he is foreign!!!!!!!!) get on with their job.
    I remember all the crap said about erickson and look in the end his results were second to none. Ok he didn't win any thing but except by penalties what did he lose really!!!! and a part from sir alf who did better
    Picking on the same players time and time again isn't helping.
    Beckham isn't the same as a couple of years ago but still has plenty to offer. Owen needs to get fit first which he hasn't been for the past 24 months before he can be picked. As for lampard and gerard ok they don't really fit together but ask the special one he would have had them playing together. They are still rated as two of the best midfielders in the world, and i mean outside the UK!!!
    Finally it's about time we all got behind the england team and accept that the manager is the best one to have even if he isn't english, so what! The only decent english manager we had was hoddle and look what we went and did to him, at least a foreign manager doesn't have to put up with all the pressure and crap.
    So well done england on wining in barcelona in difficult conditions (just for info the french team in 2002 that went on to win the euro only won 2-0 against the same oppossition and won in the last 10 minutes) and lets hope we can get a result in zagreb, if not it's not the end of the world cappelo i am sure will qualify us for the world cup.

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  • 299. At 11:13am on 08 Sep 2008, WaltersCattanaccio wrote:

    Why don't you England fans just be happy that you got off to a winning start in the qualifiers, all be it against a so called 'minnow'. A wins a win and can be hard to come by these days...just look at France. As a Scotland fan, we got off to the worst possible start and only have 7 games to somehow turn it we are in a much worse possition. We are dissapointed to have lost but have not turned on our manager or players. We know our limitations. England fans should realise your limitations and get behind your team, because ultimately what matters is qualifying for the finals, not how pretty the football is. You have a 100% record so far and a draw in Croatia would be a great result for a struggling former footbal superpower!

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  • 300. At 11:19am on 08 Sep 2008, d_bader wrote:

    A new style of play is in order for England to accomodate our depth in midfield.

    Why not risk a 3-5-2?? The likes of Ashley Cole could be spared from the team as long as we have some cover from the midifeld.

    And with more young faces and speed to tire the opposition.

    Ferdinand Terry Lescott
    Young Gerrard Hargreaves Barry J.Cole
    Rooney Agbonlahor

    And by the way... I know Coldplay can be quite depressing at times, but their music is far greater than watching England!

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  • 301. At 11:25am on 08 Sep 2008, icarus_mania wrote:

    I suppose he thinks that Bullard isn't good enough for anything but back up in desperate circumstances. Capello picks the team based on reputation not genuine talent. I'm not saying Bullard is good or bad, he's only in the squad because of injuries. But when your national manager is blinded by the under performing 'big names' you stand very little chance.

    SWP rarely gets a look in, Michael Owen has been abandoned, Crouch had moved on from the 'Big Four' and has been dropped, even Michael Carrick has only gotten 14 caps in his ten year career despite him being a brilliant midfielder. Ashley Young and Agbonlahor are over looked, Jagielka plays brilliant for Everton but never gets a look in, Robert Green has proven himself an able keeper but never makes the squad and instead Paul Robinson get a recall despite his appalling international and club record over the past year or so. Players like Bullard, Scott Parker, Kevin Nolan and Jenas are able CMs but never get the call. Ledley King, Woodgate, Micah Richards, Wayne Bridge, Ashton, Andy Johnson etc don't even get a chance. Glen Johnson only gets called up when our right back, who isn't even a right back gets injured.

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  • 302. At 11:40am on 08 Sep 2008, The Boy Done Good wrote:

    Why are so many people disecting the game? This was not your average international! It was attack v defence and capello selected a team he thought would avheive what he wanted for the game not his 'best XI'.


    If you are playing in this sort of game you go there, be professional, take the three points, and leave with as little damage as possible. England have no new injury threats, no suspensions and most importantly three points!

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  • 303. At 11:41am on 08 Sep 2008, tommy1210uk wrote:

    What i did like about Saturday is the fact Caplleo was getting angry and like all fans watching the game can't believe, with all the talent we have in the squad, we still play so poorly!!

    "No-one is untouchable" and i believe Capello will stick to his word about will take time but i think Capello will get it right it's just wether the players are up to it or not.

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  • 304. At 11:45am on 08 Sep 2008, d_bader wrote:

    Yes i think the main problem the fans have is that our players get paid such ridiculously high wages for their clubs and that they do not seem to look bothered when representing our country!

    Most people would do anything to represent England in any sport... yet our players are evidently too money grabbing and do not care.

    A little effort and pride would be nice, so that we can at last feel proud of our players - who are good but just dont achive..

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  • 305. At 11:45am on 08 Sep 2008, ccfcjayjay wrote:

    299. At 11:13am on 08 Sep 2008, WaltersCattanaccio wrote:
    Why don't you England fans just be happy that you got off to a winning start in the qualifiers, all be it against a so called 'minnow'. A wins a win and can be hard to come by these days...just look at France. As a Scotland fan, we got off to the worst possible start and only have 7 games to somehow turn it we are in a much worse possition. We are dissapointed to have lost but have not turned on our manager or players. We know our limitations. England fans should realise your limitations and get behind your team, because ultimately what matters is qualifying for the finals, not how pretty the football is. You have a 100% record so far and a draw in Croatia would be a great result for a struggling former footbal superpower!


    I do know where your coming from, SOME england fans do seem to think we have a team full of world class players, which we dont. But we do have a couple of world class players (Gerrard and Rio IMO) and a fair few good players in Rooney, J.Cole Terry etc. With these players at our disposal, we should be acheiving much more than we are. I dont think most fans thought that Capello was going to come in and win the world cup (maybe a couple of deluded ones did) but i think omst people were expecting a big improvement over McClowns reign. Which hasn't happend at all.
    But Honestly, if you went through the Scotland team atm, who would you say honestly wouldn't get in ahead of any of the english players. Fair enough probably both your keepers would get in, but who else? As a team you guys are on about a par with us at the moment. But when you look at the individuals we have, we should be better than you. Which is why, IMO you have to look at what the manager is getting out of the team. Which at the moment is not a lot.

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  • 306. At 11:52am on 08 Sep 2008, virtuallonetraveller wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 307. At 11:53am on 08 Sep 2008, MikePSmall wrote:

    It’s outrageous what's happening to English football.

    1. Our overpaid players are losing interest in playing for national pride in favour of the financial incentives of playing for their club

    2. Their club managers are beginning to resist allowing them to play for their nation for the same club financial incentives

    3. No longer do we firstly consider English managers for vacant club positions

    4. And the most disgusting aspect of the whole English game is that even the supporters are now prevented from watching their national team unless they subscribe to yet another ‘player’ in the financial circus that once was the sporting envy of the world

    If Gordon Brown really wanted to do something to boost his popularity he should immediately put into effect a rule which protects not ‘chosen’ events from the clutches of greedy capitalists, but one which protects ALL national events, sporting or otherwise. For goodness sake, it’s so obvious it shouldn’t even need saying!!!

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  • 308. At 12:06pm on 08 Sep 2008, fraise wrote:

    In response to a couple of posts earlier about Wayne Rooney, I would like to go back to a point I made after the Czech Republic game.

    When Rooney first played for Everton he was a striker who occasionally dropped deep. He now drops deep and occasionally plays as a striker.

    He must revert to his original type.

    And some of the spontaneity appears to have gone out of his game. He is a great talent, but watching him play for England is frustrating.
    Good article Phil.

    This is without a doubt the most accurate summary of Rooneys "progression" I have ever read. It is almost as though his flair, (as you say) spontaneity and attacking instinct have all but vanished. Personally I feel his game is going backwards. I know many Utd fans say he produces plenty of goals and has an all round game, but he definitely is not the same player he was when he burst on the scene 5 years ago; he's nowhere near as good as he was then.

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  • 309. At 12:13pm on 08 Sep 2008, theleodensian wrote:

    Fully agree on Rooney. We need him the final third of the field only. I admire him chasing back and making tackles but it takes away from his forward play where he is most needed.

    Although he is not concerned by his record he should be, a player of his talent should have a consideribly better record and as a 'forward' needs to contribute more goals to both Man Utd and England.

    I think Fabio Capello will work wonders with Rooney and eventually England who are slowly starting to play with morre shape, intellegence and patience as per the winners of the last two major tournaments Spain and Italy.

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  • 310. At 12:17pm on 08 Sep 2008, Nessun Dorma wrote:

    I disagree with you, Phil. While I agree that England are nowhere near their best at the moment, I saw a decent work rate and plenty of determination during the Andorra game. That alone gives me cause for optimism.

    Croatia are favourites and rightly so; they are a decent team. However, if England work hard they can get a draw or scrape a win in Zagreb.

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  • 311. At 12:17pm on 08 Sep 2008, MeTheDaddy wrote:

    Thank goodness for post 298. We complain continually about Rooney, Gerard and Lampard in England. I would agree that the likes of Agbonlahor and Young merit a chance, as does Walcott, but why do we undermine our potential world-beaters? I spend a lot of time in Spain and Italy. Why is it that if Lampard, Gerard and Rooney are so bad, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid, Milan, etc. would love to sign them? I suspect this has far more to do with petty club rivalries, ironically not between the biggest clubs' fans, than it does footballing ability. Come on biggots, grow up, move on and get over it. If you'd ever played football to any level you'd know players need confidence, not the energy and confidence-sapping treatment that you dish out. When your club next plays Chelsea, Liverpool or Man. Utd. why don't you actually consider the harm you are doing to your national side when your bigotry means you boo and abuse the England players? Perhaps a little less selfishness and myopic chips on your shoulder on your part might not only boost the confidence of these players, but encourage the younger players to be hungry to wear the Three Lions, rather than fear the consequences of having a bad game for England. If you think players shouldn't feel this way or lack the passion to represent their country, let me assure from personal knowledge that this is not the case with those in the current squad. The desire and passion is there, but you can either hinder or help. Likewise those younger players. You can encourage or deter. I've always defended us against the "whinging pom" jibes. That's no longer possible with the attitude of some of the ill-informed, naive bigots that now follow our England side. The whole point is get behind the team and encourage!! That's how you create the right atmosphere and develop enthusiasm in the youth.

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  • 312. At 12:27pm on 08 Sep 2008, Bamber Boozler wrote:

    At least this time around, I won't have English work colleagues remarking 'Who is that haha' when I warn them of certain players that could do some damage during their Euro qualifier last time around.

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  • 313. At 12:31pm on 08 Sep 2008, stevestevesteve wrote:

    I've never seen Rooney as a centre-forward.

    He always looks dangerous with the ball at is feet, running at defenders. He looks ordinary, and frankly no better than Heskey or Crouch or even Ashton, with balls played into him, back to goal.

    Surely we're going to get the most out of Rooney by playing him in the 'Paul Scholes' role, behind the front two? He can then pick the ball up deep, as he seems deperate to do at the moment, and attack the defence with power and pace.

    This would of course means there may be no room for Lampard or Gerrard - I think we'd cope.

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  • 314. At 12:31pm on 08 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    Why bother having an England team?

    The fans and players care only about the Big 4 and trousering as much cash as possible.

    Does England have to have a national team?


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  • 315. At 12:53pm on 08 Sep 2008, gooner4eva1982 wrote:


    Same ol' problem.

    Too many big name players who are not in the team on merit but by there name.

    How can anyone leave Joe Cole out of the starting eleven???

    He's been Englands most consistant performer for years, doesn't complain when the team are booed (Frank) just get on with his job and gives 110% all the time.

    Are defoe, crouch or heskey better than Micheal Owen???
    No way in a month of sundays. He scores goals for fun at any level, against any team. Yes he may have lost a yard of pace but he's still one of the best goalscrores in world football.

    How can Frank Lampard complain about the fans booing the team? Simple answer frank play better. Yes andorra put 10 men behind the ball but these are just a bunch of postmen and butchers playing proffesionall footballers.

    England need to stop using the "10 men behind the ball" excuse I knew they were going to do that surely these overpaid premadonnas must have known!!!

    Yes these teams up there game to play against us, the answer - Up your game against them. Would a 2-0 win against a confrence side be accepted??? no way. yet they play at the same level as andorra.

    advise to capello. be a man pick the team you want to take to the world cup and stick with it.

    in my opinion it would be

    A. Cole
    J. Cole

    lets create copetion for places. let frank and stevie G play for the same spot if you dont play well he plays easy as that.

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  • 316. At 12:58pm on 08 Sep 2008, zagabria1 wrote:

    It will be great pleasure to see you guys again in are such a fun and agreat the way change that coat of arm,instead three lions put three kittens,cause that what you really are,ha,ha.

    GO CROATIA!!!!!!!!

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  • 317. At 1:01pm on 08 Sep 2008, karim1981 wrote:

    Can i just say - Stop and think what most of the media are saying.

    Andorra played with 11 men behind the ball, we had 81% possession in the first half. Its hard enough to score when its a 3 on 2 situation let alone a 4 or 5 on 11!

    Had Andorra came out and tried to attack us, we would have smashed them to pieces. Their coach isnt an idiot and stuck to their task to frustrate us.

    Rather than criticising our players, applaud them for getting 2 early goals and killing the game.

    Also, it was an away game which is always difficult, the pitch looked horrible and the grass was far too long.

    Croatia also only beat Kazakhstan 3-0 at home, who are lower ranked than Andorra i think.

    Lets judge the campaign after the qualification is done.

    We are also missing influential players - Rio at the back, Gerrard in Midfield and Owen up front. Also, Hargreaves and Carrick are out.

    Im just sick of all the negative press we are getting, these players deserve better especially when you will probably be kissing their back sides this weekend if Rooney has a blinder against Liverpool, if Terry produces a magic tackle, James keeps a clean sheet, Downing, Barry, lampard and Theo all have blinders.

    Lets give this team a chance to shine.

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  • 318. At 1:08pm on 08 Sep 2008, benc103 wrote:

    I think it's hilarious how the majority of people out there genuinely believe that they could do a better job than Capello. Do you all honestly think that he just picks players on reputation? Or that you could do a better job of getting the most out of them? Ridiculous.... Stop embarrassing yourselves.

    People like Capello don't get £millions for nothing. He has proved throughout his career that he is tactically very good, and has a real penchant for extracting the best. I agree, right now, it doesn't really seem to be working, but is that because Capello has suddenly lost of all those talents? No. It's because the England players don't play for their country with the same enthusiasm, passion and belief that they have when they play for their clubs.

    Look at Andorra. Completely inferior in every way to the England team, except for their willingness to dig deep, defend as if their lives depended on it and give it everything. Because of this they have limited a team like England to just 2-0.

    We could learn a thing or two from them.....and then we might be able to fulfil all of the potential that we so clearly have.

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  • 319. At 1:14pm on 08 Sep 2008, johnkwak wrote:

    Bigfluffylemon is right. If English players are so great why is the Premiership full of foreigners while no English players play for European clubs? Don't blame the manager for the lack of decent players.

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  • 320. At 1:14pm on 08 Sep 2008, Asbolicious wrote:

    I think the majority of these players aren't good enough. They are only successful for there clubs because the clubs have money and can buy the best (foreigners). This team is so one dimensional, they have no skill, no pace and no brains and I think this is slowly dawning on Capello and I think he's worried.

    Every England manager bar Venables has played square pegs in round holes and it will never work. I also think Capello is flogging a dead horse(s) in keeping faith with Beckham (past it) and Lampard (crap). He needs to also swallow his pride and get Owen back, he maybe the shadow of the player he was but he remains Englands best player (depressing I know).

    But England need to play to their strengths until they develop some kind of skill, this means the long ball up to a big bloke (heskey) who can knock it down to a little bloke and please please pace on the wings.

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  • 321. At 1:16pm on 08 Sep 2008, 7 8 9 19 25 wrote:

    I just do not understand what the need is to have four defenders against a team that doesn't come out of their own half.

    Play three at the back that gives us an extra midfielder/striker. Plus it allows the wing backs to go forward without the worry of having to go back and defend.

    This is the team I would have played against Andorra.


    Terry Ferdinand Lescott

    Johnson Barry A.Cole


    Rooney J.Cole


    This way If Andorra do consider coming out of their half we have Barry in front of the back four to cope. Also giving Lampard the attacking role we will see a better performance. (notice I didn't say good). The wing backs can run down the wings without the need to get back and with rooney and Joe Cole more central we have so many more attacking options.

    But you still don't see passion!

    I went to watch the England U21's on Friday against Portugal in a match which had nothing on it as England were pretty much guaranteed to finish top of the group anyway. And they still show more passion than the senior team playing in a nothing game!!!

    I say play the U21's for the next couple of qualifiers we will see more passion and spirit and will probably get a better result.

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  • 322. At 1:29pm on 08 Sep 2008, mightymarktheman wrote:

    I agree with Olly, if we want to play fast flowing permiership football as everyone keeps going on about then we need to drop that cockney donkey lampard from the side - he doesnt know how to pass the ball forward, all he does is pick up the ball (god knows why anyone passes to the donkey in the 1st place) runs backwards and passes it to a big attacking threat like bloody terry, and we all know why that is... his cockney love buddy is probably sick of him doing this anyway. If he doesnt have the chance to run backwards and finds himself within 40 yards of goal then he unleashes a poor-average shot... good in world cup 2006???he had about 50 shots and managed to score zero, no wonder he scored the odd goal when he is sooo greedy. Hes a big bottle artist who can't play against good teams, the only time ive seen him control a game was agaist macclesfield town... and we all now how shite they are (im a macc fan). Barcelona - dont make me split. On another point Ben Foster for the keeper shirt everytime

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  • 323. At 1:38pm on 08 Sep 2008, mastermassive wrote:

    Johnson, Joe Cole and Barry impressed.
    Central defense was solid.
    Walcott doesn't look ready yet.
    Ashley Cole is the most overrated player in England. What does he do exactly? Runs fast, never puts in a decent ball. His defending is questionable.
    Surely Bridge is a more reliable choice.

    Yesterday's performance proved that England seriously lack technique. Only the technical competent players stood out (Joe Cole, Johnson, Barry) while the rest were just hoof-and-hope merchants, true to English tradition.

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  • 324. At 1:53pm on 08 Sep 2008, jdthetruthisoutthere wrote:

    I dont see why england or any other team have a problem with the way andorra play. They're third from bottom in fifa rankings and as far as im concerned if they field 11 players they can play however they want. They kept england quiet for 45 minutes and i feel england were embarresed therefore blamed andorra.

    Secondly, i respect fabio capello for coming out and having a 'rant' at joe cole and wayne rooney. Any other england manager would not have the guts to do that. Capello is the first england manager who hasn't been a YES MAN and who isnt scared of these big egos in the camp. Previous managers would have thought, joe cole scored me the 2 goals ill let him off for not getting forward and back. I think capello deserves credit for what he said.

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  • 325. At 2:03pm on 08 Sep 2008, not_that_bothered wrote:

    2 - 0 Against Andorra away is not a bad scoreline. They had more chances than the scoreline suggests and I dont think James had a save to make. I really dont understand how people can say we are "doomed" after this result, if we get a 0 - 0 draw in Zagreb then Happy days. Andorra had no intention of trying to win the game, they had 11 players behind the ball at all times and were pretty well disciplined. England is a big scalp for teams like Andorra, maybe the biggest and thats why we never beat teams 5, 6, 7 nil. I think we need to get behind the team for once and trust cappello. We have a solid defence and we will always score goals so lets see Wednesday night.

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  • 326. At 2:16pm on 08 Sep 2008, MeTheDaddy wrote:

    Lots of good points about long-ball, etc. and this is where the real problem lies with English football. Best player in the premiership? Probably Ronaldo or Torres. Maybe Essien. Possibly Adebayor. Anyway, overseas player. Why? Technique and the ability to do something different, whilst being strong and competetive. So why can't an Englishman do this? Are we born with a gene that says "Launch it" when we get the ball? "Get rid of it" as if it's some hot coal or thermo-nuclear device? No. Yesterday I was scouting in an under 11 league. Having spent part of the Summer with similar aged Spanish youngsters it was a startling contrast. On a muddy pitch designed for the local non-league outfit, with adult-sized goals, I watched 25 minutes each way of parents and managers encouring boys to play long ball to a quick forward with half an eye for goal. Midfield? Do me a favour. They had neck-ache. The central defendrs. Ball-playing artistry....I think not. More like near 6 footers, some overweight, who can tonk the thing 50 yards. Anytime someone did try something a little different and it didn't quite work, plenty of supportive nurturing?
    You know the answer. Groans, moans and cries of "Get it forward." At best depressing, at worst....All this accompanied by those shouts of "Get rid of it", etc.
    The Spanish experience was somewhat different. Small, coned areas on hard surfaces, some concrete. Tringles, 3 v 1, 2 v 2 in limited space, small goals where "scoring" wasn't the main objective, praise for individuality (successful or not), coaching of technique, encouragement, expression, ball control, one and two-touch football. I know some of this goes on in our academies, but they are filling up with foreign youngsters. Why? It is so engrained in our culture that we boot the ball. It's right from the start. In one of the first games of the Capello era England retained the ball for a period. There's a shock. Reaction of the Wembley crowd? Boo the team. If I remember correctly, we scored shortly after that period of possession.
    If we want a Sergio Ramos or Torres or David Villa or a Ronaldinho in his prime, the F.A. must do as it promised and change the game. 11-a-side for under 11's? Fine, then don't complain when some 6ft6" bloke heaves it forward to a 6ft 8" fella.
    Get real FA. Develop the kids, develop the individual. Play football that allows mistakes from which young players can learn. Please let's see skills and technique developed here as they are abroad.

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  • 327. At 2:25pm on 08 Sep 2008, Rover1987 wrote:

    I don't see what people's problems are with Saturday. Yes, we hardly dazzled the world with our exiting football but what do you expect when we've got no flair in the side we're playing a team with 11 lads behind the ball? Its all about winning matches first and entertaining second (look at France, and Italy only scraped past Cyprus too, while Argentina drew with Paraguay).Capello is in a different league to McLaren, and in time this will become more and more apparent.

    England will never win anything playing in a traditional Premier League 'long ball up to a big man who can knock it down' style. And I also don't think we'll win anything with a 4-4-2. All the top sides at the moment play with a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation and I think this is the way forward for England too.

    The Gerrard/Lampard debate needs sorting and I think if he makes it into a straight competition for one place it will actually help them both. Performances will have to pick up and they'll both have a point to prove every time they pull on the shirt.

    Rooney is not an out and out centre forward. I agree 100% with post 313, he is at his best running towards goal where he can put defenders on the back foot and make things happen. He's not a target man and he never will be. Let the lad play his normal game, behind a striker - whether that be Owen or anybody else.

    This would be my team, should they all be fit:






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  • 328. At 2:32pm on 08 Sep 2008, not_that_bothered wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 329. At 2:34pm on 08 Sep 2008, Montividucci wrote:

    Surely we saw this result coming. Theres nothing in recent history to suggest otherwise. It will be difficult for any team to break down ten man defense especially trying to pass through them. Sadly we do not possess midfielders who are prepared to run at the defense and create space in the mode of Gazza at his best. I felt picking two wingers was an attempt to restore balance but our transition from defense is so cumbersome we could not turn it to our advantage. I would like to see Beckham in an advanced central midfield role and keep the wingers.

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  • 330. At 3:10pm on 08 Sep 2008, fair teh middlin wrote:

    We're slowly losing the Hello! culture (it had to go drop after 2006) -- however, we still need one my kick to kill it in the England team; like a thrashing by Croatia and, down the road, a failure to make 2010.

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  • 331. At 3:18pm on 08 Sep 2008, MidasTouch66 wrote:

    England need to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Two holding midfielders of barry with either carrick or hargreaves, three supporting strikers, rooney the central one with gerrard and jcole either side who drift out onto the wing and back in again and then a lone striker. Both a pacey striker or a target man can play in this formation.

    Also Andorra probably lost 3-0 to kazakhstan as they were trying to win the game. Against england all they wanted to do was prevent goals from being scored

    But we got a result, we got momentum, so bring on croatia!

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  • 332. At 3:19pm on 08 Sep 2008, Mellors Moobs wrote:

    My team would be:


    Richards Rio Woodgate Bridge

    Bentley M Johnson Barry J Cole

    Owen/Ashton Rooney

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  • 333. At 3:45pm on 08 Sep 2008, ccfcjayjay wrote:

    319. At 1:14pm on 08 Sep 2008, johnkwak wrote:
    Bigfluffylemon is right. If English players are so great why is the Premiership full of foreigners while no English players play for European clubs? Don't blame the manager for the lack of decent players.


    On the start of the prem, there was still about 80 english players starting to 140 foreigners, Maybe just maybe, if we stopped picking the same 11 players we might have a better chance? I know capello is know starting to drop the owens and beckhams, but he still needs to get rid of lamps, barry etc, and give other people a chance, otherwise we will never improve.

    Dont get me wrong, i'm not trying to argue english players are great, but they are a lot better than the level they perform at at the moment. And if a team is underperforming, who do you blame? The manager. If the players dont care, then its up to the manager to motivate them, or pick someone who does care, like Bullard for example.

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  • 334. At 4:34pm on 08 Sep 2008, esosaedos wrote:


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  • 335. At 5:51pm on 08 Sep 2008, LethalSuspect wrote:

    I really can't identify with those posters who are all criticising Rooney for trying to help England's ailing midfield. Do you honestly think that if he was receiving decent balls around the edge of the box that he would be dropping so deep?

    The England Midfield just needs two pacy wingers (i.e. walcott and young) who wont be afraid to take on their man. Those that complain about Rooney's ball chasing, well i'd like to see the team without Rooney in there, then you will see that although to you he's a striker and if he hasnt scored he's a failure, he helps pressurise teams when we dont have the ball which then leads to us getting the ball more. The fact that we cant do anything with it once we have it is another matter to be discussed. I personally think that Gerrard and Lampard both should go. I would bring in Carrick and Hargreaves.

    My Team for Wednesday


    Brown Terry Ferdinand A.Cole

    Walcott Barry Young

    Rooney J. Cole



    My England Team for Tournaments


    Richards Terry Ferdinand A.Cole

    Walcott Hargreaves Carrick J.Cole

    Rooney Owen

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  • 336. At 6:33pm on 08 Sep 2008, gooner4eva1982 wrote:

    when England (1966) were at there best as a squad they didn't have the "BEST" players playing.

    Charlton wasn't the greatest centre half around it was just his style complimented that of Sir Bobby. Alan Ball was a willing worker but not actually a great player. Would Cohen and Styles get anywhere near the England squad now? i dont think so...

    But Alf had a plan and stuck to it, low and behold we came back with a trophy.

    As for Capello's quality as a manager, did he not forsee Andorra's tactics?

    When was the last time they tried to attack us?

    we cant expect teams to play to ours strenghts we need to learn how to break these teams down and win, there is no rule that say you must attack teams so they have more chance of scoring against you. If we know that teams such as Andorra, Belarus and Khasakstan aren't going to try and beat us why play with 4 defenders???? we could sacrifices 1 defender and play with 3 upfront.

    I promise you the other 2 nations will do exactly the same as Andorra in both games especially away from home.

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  • 337. At 9:55pm on 08 Sep 2008, Arctic wrote:

    People might be upset about the performance on Saturday, perhaps rightly so although I didn't think it was that bad against a team hell-bent on defense.

    Croatia will play a much more open game as they'll think they have a decent chance of winning. That alone guarantees a better football match and bit more space for Cole, Rooney and Lampard.

    Having said that, it'll hardly be doom and gloom if we do lose. We've lost plenty of early qualifying games, and had a number of disappointing draws to go with them. The media always acts like it's the end of the world when that happens, but the reality is there are plenty of games left for things to change and change radically.

    Just consider this if you must be pessimistic. At least they weren't as bad as France. From being regular finalists in major competitions to losing against Austria. A team that couldn't win a match on their home turf during Euro 2008. Now that must hurt.

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  • 338. At 10:57pm on 08 Sep 2008, James Autar wrote:

    English players inherited this defensive mentaility from Eriksson who had them all back defending not only when they were leading 1-0 but also when they were losing 2-1 in the game against Brazil who were down to 10 mens.
    Rooney has this tendency to start making desperate tackles on the edge of his own penalty area and he needs stopping, and Capello is right to tell him to get back upfield where he belongs.

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  • 339. At 00:28am on 09 Sep 2008, Arctic wrote:

    We lost to Italy in the first tie at Wembley, and went on to qualify. Lost to Germany in the first tie at Wembley and went on to qualify.

    We can certainly afford to lose to Croatia, there are a ton of games to make back the difference.

    There have been draws in the first couple games that had the media killing of our chances of qualifying, only to realise that after another 11 or so games we were not only in it, but winning groups with ease.

    When we draw or lose the first match of finals it's the same. People write us off until we win the next, and then say we can win the whole thing. Sort of manic depressive if you ask me, but the other way round.

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  • 340. At 5:37pm on 09 Sep 2008, liverpoolfan_in_az wrote:

    England were poor, but let's look at some other results from the weekend:

    France loses 1-3 to Austria

    Belgium struggles to beat Estonia 3-2

    Italy beats Cyprus with a goal in the 92nd minute

    Serbia beat the Faroe Islands 2-0

    Spain and Bosnia were scoreless at half-time and got a single goal in the 57th minute to win.

    So England aren't the only ones with concerns!

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  • 341. At 03:36am on 10 Sep 2008, returningantonio2000 wrote:

    Its going to be hell of a game ............ I think England will lose, because they haven't found that team heart yet !!!....they are confused on the pitch...they still don't breath as one.....although they are all great players......but who knows what will happen...I just hope to see an excellent match........

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  • 342. At 09:13am on 10 Sep 2008, SACK-CAPELLO wrote:

    A. COLE.





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  • 343. At 09:15am on 10 Sep 2008, SACK-CAPELLO wrote:


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