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Time for Capello to deliver

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Phil McNulty | 10:36 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008

Fabio Capello's time for transition is over - the experimentation is at an end and the real business of the new England era begins.

It's the start of the Fifa 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign and matches against Andorra and Croatia. It's the start of the serious business and time for compelling evidence that the Italian is worth the reported £6m-a-year lavished on him by the Football Association.

The meeting with Andorra on Saturday is almost the equivalent of an open goal in international football terms - it will be against the hostility and passion of the Croatians in Zagreb on Wednesday that we will see if Capello can forge a group of winners from England's perennial under-achievers.

Capello's honeymoon period showed signs of drawing to a close when England were fortunate to fashion a 2-2 draw from a desperate performance against the Czech Republic at Wembley.

The first serious questions were raised about Capello's methods after that shapeless, muddled display - and with full justification.

Now is the time for Capello to deliver the answers and demonstrate that he has something new and fresh to offer England, not simply a rehash of failings displayed under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.


It is time for Capello - and indeed his expensively-assembled Italian back-up team - to show he is the man England thought they were getting, a ruthless seeker of results with a tactical mind who can combat the best in Europe.

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic and his gifted team out-smarted McClaren with ease twice in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, even at Wembley when England's stakes were high and a place in Austria and Switzerland their prize.

There is something that is worth underscoring, however, if there is a rush to judge Capello's early efforts in England.

Any criticism of Capello so far must be placed in its proper context. He has effectively been on a fact-finding mission since his appointment to assess the best talent available to him - with Zagreb surely at the forefront of his thinking.

If he can deliver a result on Wednesday, all the early stutters and unspectacular performances will be put in perspective. If he does not, the questions about whether England are going to simply deliver more of the same under their new coach will be posed.

I will be following England from Barcelona to Zagreb and back again next Thursday - the journey must end with a minimum of four points for a satisfactory verdict to be delivered on Capello's first forays into competitive international combat.

Capello has been calm and uncompromising despite the lack of excitement in his early games, and it is to be hoped his confidence is not misplaced.

Andorra is a given - please do not let anyone say "there are no easy games in football" because this is the definition of one.

Croatia is the key, and if our flight arrives back at Heathrow with a point at least next Thursday, Capello can consider it a job well done against one of the most talented and formidable sides in European football.

He has put pressure on himself by excluding Newcastle's Michael Owen from his squad entirely - serious error in my opinion.

Capello is a realist and knows already that he will be criticised, once again with justification, if England do not deliver goals in these two games with the country's most reliable international marksman sitting at home.

He has cast off a perceived cloak of conservatism by jettisoning Owen and giving Fulham's Jimmy Bullard his chance, but he will be relying heavily on England's old order such as Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney to transfer club form to the international stage.

And dare he risk David Beckham in Zagreb? Beckham looked off the pace against the Czech Republic, despite the occasional trademark set-piece delivery, but he may survive in the absence of a realistic alternative.

Croatia is a nation that is never short on self-confidence, and they will feel they hold the psychological supremacy over England. Capello's team must conquer any lingering demons as well as Bilic's side to claim the result.

But it is Capello who will be the central figure. He will claim the praise if England come home unscathed, but he will face close scrutiny if they lose in Croatia because that is his proving ground.


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  • 1. At 12:53pm on 04 Sep 2008, Svenalike wrote:

    Under Sven-Goran Eriksson, "The Golden Generation" lost only five competitive games 2001-2006 (a record?) before he and the squad were "rewarded" by the media hype that led to a disheartened England team fizzling out of the last W-Cup (while the Official fan organisations howled "Save our Sven" to no avail) and then crashed in flames for Euro '08.
    Far from being a potential "saviour", Capello has a lot to live up to come near Sven's record!

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  • 2. At 1:11pm on 04 Sep 2008, ToonArmy wrote:

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

  • 3. At 1:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, BomberAbe wrote:

    England weren't just outsmarted by Croatia, Croatia were technically superior to England as well. They coped much better with the bad pitch at Wembley. Why don't people admit that the current generation may be the best paid in the world but that doesn't guarantee the best quality.

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  • 4. At 1:20pm on 04 Sep 2008, OnThe7nthDay-Rooney wrote:

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

  • 5. At 1:22pm on 04 Sep 2008, Ranbir wrote:

    We're not under-achievers. We are achieving exactly what we are worth.

    The sooner the media gets this through, the less hostile and silly they'll be and the quicker we can get back to loving our national team.

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  • 6. At 1:25pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Mr Capello is a very clever football manager as was Sven. Look at what Sven has already done with Mexico, they are in the top ten now. To come back with 4 points would be an absolute achievement, not because he left Michael Owen at home but because there is a serious lack of competition for spots in this England side.
    England will beat Andorra by 2 or 3 nil but will be lucky to get a 0-0 draw in Zagreb.
    I forsee very dark days ahead for Capello, not for want of doing his best but due to the fact that England just dont have that depth to be a truely strong international force.

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  • 7. At 1:26pm on 04 Sep 2008, cmelvi wrote:

    Has it maybe ever occured to you that the english simply expect too much and think they are much better than they actually are. Just because you won a world cup back in the 60's doesnt mean your gonna win every last trophy there is. Stop whinning and go play some football, thats what its all about.

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  • 8. At 1:31pm on 04 Sep 2008, V wrote:

    Imperative that we come back with at least a point from Zagreb otherwise it's going to be a long and stressful road for all us England supporters. For me we need to score at least 5 against Andorra as the goal difference will be more important than ever for this campaign.

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  • 9. At 1:32pm on 04 Sep 2008, bobbieflowers wrote:

    i actually might be the only person left in this country who actually thinks we will both games.

    i just have one of those feelings (very scientific!) that the lads will perform when the proverbial hits the fan.

    They are, inspite of what alot of people say, good professionals who will feel that they owe croatia after they humilated them last year. If you remember the spanking we gave germany all those moons ago was preceeded by a couple of embarrassing defeats (keegans last game if i remember rightly)

    Capello is, until proven otherwise, a better manager than sven. He is in a different universe to mclaren. I have enough faith in him and the players left to be hopeful and quitely confident - he says....

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  • 10. At 1:32pm on 04 Sep 2008, RubberNutz wrote:

    ToonArmy do you not have anything constructive to say, you appear to be about as intelligent as the people running your club.

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  • 11. At 1:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, ScientificGooner wrote:

    I don't think that Croatia are any more technically gifted than our players. They just play as Bilic wants them to with a huge team ethic.

    This is the job that Capello has to do. Form a team ethic and trust within his players and get them to transfer it to the field of play. Then we will see an England team that can play good football.

    I agree that leaving Owen at home may prove to be a bad idea. Hopefully he will then learn that he has to replace him with a goal scorer before removing England's most prolific striker since Shearer.

    We must show confidence against Andorra and Croatia. Get the team to believe that they can beat these opposition at international level because they would in the premier league. England must believe in itself!

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  • 12. At 1:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, eatdrinking wrote:

    There isn't much a coach can do if he is given a squad completely dearth of technical quality, inability to adapt a different tactic and formation, doesn't have any quality strikers(bar on form Owen), a midfield devoid of creativity and a defence failed to operate as a unit accompanied with a non world class goalkeeper. I feel sorry for Capello.

    Capello has proven himself from time to time. He probably is the most qualified coach for England and should he fails, England can only blame themselves.

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  • 13. At 1:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, FreddyOfGreggs wrote:

    Come off it Phil.

    We all know that England are not a major footballing force, saved only by it's oil-funded, Murdoch lovechild the Premiership.

    Although the FIFA rankings are usually nonsense - remember when USA were 2nd? - a 15th place position is about right for a country that has done nothing in international football for 42 years.

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  • 14. At 1:36pm on 04 Sep 2008, RubberNutz wrote:

    Phil, any thoughts on who Fabio will pick for the Midfield Quartet? (If he goes for 4)

    Time for Lampard to deliver surely?

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  • 15. At 1:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    One more thing about Capello, being that he is an Italian and very probably knows Englands strengths and weakness's, i feel that he will play for a 0-0 draw in Zagreb.

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  • 16. At 1:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, goldwillsie wrote:

    I'm convinced that England are unable to play with the mental toughness that is necessary for success in international football.
    Much, if not all, of this is due to the hysterical reporting of the team, that began in the tabloid press, but now appears in the mainstream media.
    This blog is representative of a typical pre match review of England fixtures by a reporter.
    Full of hyperbole, £6m lavished on him by the FA.
    Change the name Capello to any other past England manager and the names of the opposition to past opponents of the England team and this blog could have been written about numerous former England campaigns.
    It would be interesting to run plagiarism software on the blog. I wouldn't be surprised if it scored a few hits with archived reports.
    Anyway, that's my view.

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  • 17. At 1:44pm on 04 Sep 2008, bluebarsidebob wrote:

    I love the Bullard inclusion, just a shame he nearly 30. Would love to see a more mobile and quicker midfield four built over the next few years. Big, hard running players who can kick the ball really hard just get turned around way to easily by technically good opposition.
    Owen is an intelligent striker with a sniper instinct against the top teams, dread relying on Defoe for goals against the best defences in the World, never gonna happen. Still, he can get a few against Andorra!!!

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  • 18. At 1:52pm on 04 Sep 2008, rudijay wrote:

    While I wish Capello and England well, I don't think it was a good idea to appoint a manager, who has not managed in the UK.
    I wasn't against the idea of an non-English manager, and would have considered O'Niell, Wenger or Mourhino as suitable.
    Capello, however, knows little about our English players, about the English mentality etc. and so will take him longer to settle in and make a difference. That doesn't mean to say he won't be able to bring success.
    It all goes to show how poor the FA are at getting things right the first time round.
    Look at previous appointments!!!

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  • 19. At 1:54pm on 04 Sep 2008, sensibleWildmike wrote:

    Please please give Walcott a chance out on the right, his pace would be a fear for any opposition and those balls he puts into the box just behind the defenders heals would beg for lamps to smash them!

    I feel that capello has actually wasted a lot of his friendlies.

    Lampard and gerrard together again!

    Playing Rooney as a lone striker when all season he's been the man who's dropped back and provided the link for Man U!

    I'm tired of watching a manager who tries to make the best individual 11 work, again and again and again rather than create a team with attributes suiting those around them.

    Defoe was the joint top english goal scorer in the prem last season (with Gerrard and Rooney) yet has not been given half the same chance to prove himself internationally.

    It's just wrong, all wrong!

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  • 20. At 1:55pm on 04 Sep 2008, Padmeister wrote:

    Unfortunately this has nothing to do with Capello. England is just not a great footballing nation. in the past 26 years there has been 6 teams in the world cup final.


    The closest any country came was Portugal. You cannot even compare Deco, Ronaldo, Maniche, Carvalho to their english counterparts. It would be unfair on such players.

    Someone will undoubtedly reply that Gerrard is this and Terry is that. If this case is true then the team will succeed but it's not so it won't.
    You should qualify but honestly come cup time you will never better the likes of Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Germany. These are real footballing powerhouses. England is not one. Debate over.

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  • 21. At 1:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, MarkoUK wrote:

    England have great players but are not a great team.

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  • 22. At 1:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, Bamber Boozler wrote:

    The England squad simply don't seem to be able to play with one another. Maybe too many egos? Maybe they beleive their own hype? Maybe they just aint as good as the media would lead the fans to believe?

    Everytime a young English player comes onto the scene, the media bills them as 'the next best thing', inevitably putting a hell of a lot of pressure on them. If they don't instantly produce what they are said to have the ability too, the fans get on their back and the media shoot them down. Rooney, Walcott, Lennon, Downing to name but a few.

    As a proud Welshman, I am used to years of not qualifying, I don't tend to expect too much and therefore if we do get a result it make me extremely happy...if we don't then I am none too suprised.

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  • 23. At 2:00pm on 04 Sep 2008, Dominic Chircop wrote:

    Ithinf Phil Mcnulty is too optimistis to await at least four points from the matches against Andorra and Croatia. While the three points against Andorra are easy to achieve, even hoping for a point against Croatia is more difficult.

    We foreign followers of English Premiership football can well appreciate this difficulty. It is obvious that the attacking mentality displayed in the domestic league does not give the required results against middle to top European teams. When the top England footballers play against top opposition like Croatia, England's shortcomings are there for all to see.

    I pity someone like Capello who attends domestic matches with the remote chance of discovering new English talent. There is a dearth of stars around. One has to keep in mind that most of the Premiership stars who deliver the goods are foreigners.

    I also pity the coach when he is pressurised to select players who, desite their name, are simply not delivering. To say nothing of public opinion which still views certain players as stars, even though they are past their prime.

    The fans have to get it into their heads that England's football players are not up to scratch. Lesser paid counterparts in other countries feel greatly honoured to wear the national colours. Maybe historical circumstances have imbued them with a great sense of nationalism, which helps them in their matches.

    English players, unfortunately, all seem more interested in their salaries and their extravagant lifestyles, than donning the national colours.

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  • 24. At 2:02pm on 04 Sep 2008, GickNah wrote:

    At least Phil is being realistic in demanding a point from the Croatia game - most English media will be expecting/demainding a win. The English media have to accept that their players are just not good enough.

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  • 25. At 2:08pm on 04 Sep 2008, sounesstablishment007 wrote:

    Is this the beginnings of the English media turning on another good manager because of the greed and over spending by clubs that has limited opportunity for home grown talent in favour of desperately trying to claim to having the 'best league in the world'?

    Which manager will you hound out next and will there be any English players for him to pick in the EPL?

    I hope youz get humped.

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  • 26. At 2:12pm on 04 Sep 2008, mastermassive wrote:

    Capello has already proved himself to be one of the best managers in the world. England need to prove that they can play football.

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  • 27. At 2:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, ToonArmy wrote:

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

  • 28. At 2:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, truevillain wrote:

    I'm afraid that this article sums up exactly what is wrong with English football; the vastly over-inflated opinion it has of itself.

    Look at England's record since winning in 1966. One WC semi final and one EC semi (with home advantage) in 21 tournaments, many of which we failed to even qualify for. We are NOT a genuine power so why all the hype?

    Croatia are one of Europe's top sides. Their record since becoming an independent country is very impressive and they are particularly strong at home. However, McNulty glosses over that and ludicrously states that anything other than at least a draw would be a failure on Capello's behalf. His lack of respect for the Croatians and his jingoistic, blokey patriotism betray a fundamental lack of football knowledge.

    There would be no disgrace in losing to Croatia, provided it's not some 4-0 drubbing. The issue becomes that if we DO lose then we have extra pressure on subsequent matches NOT to lose. I'm thinking of the potentially tricky trip to Ukraine, in particular. We would also almost certainly HAVE to win all our home games and goal difference could also then become a deciding factor.

    Michael Owen hasn't been 100% fit for three years or so and relying on him is not a sensible ploy. Bullard is clearly a stop-gap to cover injuries. Yes, Lampard needs to step it up a level and Rooney needs to now start moving on from being a promising international striker into a consistently threatening one.

    Ahhh, I feel better now!

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  • 29. At 2:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, FletchDaWretch wrote:

    England will qualify this time around. If they don't, they should probably just give up.
    Capello is a great coach, but has he ever worked with the English media on his back before?

    If you look at the team, where have all the strikers gone? I'n not sure who exactly is injured, I'm sure I'll be told, but no Owen? Ashton? Crouch? Agbonlahor?

    And when will Milner get a chance? Bound to be better then Beckham, who is currently in career wind down mode with the stuttering Galaxy.
    There is a dearth of serviceable widemen in the Premiership who could help the team, because at the moment, there is no real width in the England team, no deadly crosses for the likes of Crouch and Ashton to NOT get a head to, seeing as how they are not there. But you know what I mean.

    With the 'keepers, I'd tell James to do one. He is not the future. Joe Hart should be given the job, or maybe Green. In the future Foster will be up there, if VDS ever retires and he can get a game that is.

    But this is the bit I don't get. The defense. The last 4 (probably more) Premier Leagues have been won by someone in that back 4. John Terry should be the Vidic to Ferdinand, Ashley Cole is great coming forward and has bags of pace, Brown is a stop gap, but the guy has a hatful of medals, so we know he can do a job. But it doesn't work at the International level.

    Are we missing something here? Ego's aside, these guys know what it means to where their nations jersey. Or maybe it just means something different than what all you England fans think it means.

    Anyways, good luck, I hope you get the 6 points. The fans need something to cheer about to stop all the whining.

    Get it up them Trappatoni, Ireland for the World Cup :)

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  • 30. At 2:17pm on 04 Sep 2008, medialoather wrote:

    Does Capello have to prove anything? He wouldn't have the job in the first place if he did.
    Asking him to 'deliver' with what he's has, is a bit like asking Da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa with a floor mop.
    It would be better to support him and the youth team management in building for the future with the good bit's that we already have.
    However, what will happen is the reptiles in the media will prefer the muck slinging in the sewer that is British journalism.

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  • 31. At 2:20pm on 04 Sep 2008, kwekusam wrote:

    I can my last penny on Capello to deliver. Watch this space.

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  • 32. At 2:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, tinkagain wrote:

    A lot of words to say that Croatia is a big game, you don't say, and 'the honeymoon is over', what are you talking about? Capello hasn't had a serious compeitive match to preside over yet. Best to reserve judgement and criticism therefore. Owen has not been picked because he lacks match form/fitness/sharpness - hasn't Capello made it clear that this is an important selection criteria? I get the impression that Capello does his own thing, makes up his own mind based on what he sees, and knows what he wants and doesn't want from players. What's wrong with that? Punters and pundits should stop trying to pick the team based on their ignorance, bias, lack of any exprience managing football at top level, or for the sake of criticising. Let's get behind the new set up/team and be positive and optimistic. You'll be the first to crow if England do well.

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  • 33. At 2:22pm on 04 Sep 2008, Zephyryx wrote:

    Let’s not forget that Capello is without a doubt the best manager in the game. He has won seven Scudetti with three different clubs, two La Liga titles, a European Cup (twice runner-up) and presided over the greatest club side of the modern era (just ask Johan Cruyff!). I think that should earn him a little respect and with

    England are chronically short of confidence. They know that failure to qualify for Euro 2008 was unforgivable. Capello has to find a way to get that confidence back, and on top of that he has to solve the technical problems that neither SGE of SM could. Let's not make too much of SGE's record. He beat lots of vastly inferior sides but when the big boys came up we simply weren't good enough. 2-1 down against Brazil in a game that would probably decide the World Champions in 2002 and SGE simply wouldn't attack. In 2006, Portugal were without Deco and Costina but they still had too much for England.

    At the heart of the problem as we all know and are sick of hearing about is the lack of any sort of fluency in what should be a superb midfield. If Capello can solve this he'll unlock the potential of this side (at long last).

    Right now, I don't think I'm not alone in not caring about these upcoming games at all. I'll check the results, maybe go and watch them at the pub if I don't get any better offers, but the fact is this team needs to earn our respect back. England should qualify for every tournament without much fuss. When we don't, they have only themselves to blame. Andorra will be beaten heavily. As for Croatian, who knows. It depends which England turn up. Even if they lose in Zagreb, they can neutralise the result at Wembley. Let's top talking (Mr McNulty has a habit of being extremely worried all the time) and wait and see what happens. Criticise the maestro of management at your peril though, he's not familiar with failure.

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  • 34. At 2:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    I do not think it is a question of the media hounding a manager by simply expecting an improvement on what England have delivered recently.

    And, as I have stated very clearly, all criticism of Capello must be placed in the context that he has only played friendlies until now.

    And it is not a question of over-expectation either. It is not unreasonable to expect the players England have to be performing better than they have been doing.

    Couple of interesting suggestions in there. The idea of playing Theo Walcott on the right is an intriguing one - while it will also be good to see how Frank Lampard plays now Steven Gerrard is out of the squad.

    I have dealt with a lot of posts saying how England would be better off without Gerrard - and disagreed with every last one of them.

    Now we will see how they perform without Liverpool's captain.

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  • 35. At 2:34pm on 04 Sep 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    His biggest folly was not going with a new younger breed of players, getting them grounded and in the groove, but how can any manager leave out Beckham and not incur the wrath of the nation ?
    Now the pundits want Beckham's head on a block, but is it too late ?
    And will Capello be brave or will he just stick with the tired formula of individuals that are more concerned with their own personal agendas ?

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  • 36. At 2:35pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    I agree that Croatia are a great side and serioulsy believe that to take a point in Zagreb would be a great achievment.

    Mr Capello isnt under any pressure (media excluded) as he has already proven that he is a great manager. His biggest job is not to go out there and try to get points at all costs but to attempt to get an underachieving England side to play together.

    Should Capello achieve this then the points and qualification will follow. Bilic has built a team that has amazing respect in their own performance and one that can simply follow a game plan. If England can follow (and respect) Capello's game plan then there is no reason that they cant come back with a point from Zagreb.

    Capello has no honeymoon. This sort of statement is only made to generate posts on blogs and place unwanted pressure on Mr Capello.

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  • 37. At 2:35pm on 04 Sep 2008, Nessun Dorma wrote:

    I have faith that Capello can get the best out of our English players. Unfortunately, England are short of truly world class players at the moment. We need a creative midfielder to partner Gerrard and a striker as good as Owen used to be. A 5-years-younger David Beckham would come in handy too =)

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  • 38. At 2:37pm on 04 Sep 2008, 27 wrote:

    Like some others on here I don't think we underachieve, I think our results accurately reflect the teams abilities. The better sides in international football have a fluid team that interchange positions well. England do not have the flexibility to do this. Our players are infused with an inflated view of their own skill and ability... . Owen trotted out the line that not one Croat player was better than any England equivalent, shortly before they punted us out of Euro 08 at Wembley, and Terry constantly tells people he's 'a big man' when asked about Moscow's penalty miss. What kind of bloke walks around telling people he's a big man? Its ridiculous, and shows their grasp on reality is fed by Sky Sports News.

    Our better players benefit from having some of the best overseas players in the world alongside them at their clubs, that's why they are perceived to be 'world class'on super duper grand slam Sundays or whatever. Shorn of that foreign support at Wembley they look limited and somewhat clueless. Its been that way for years sadly.

    They may well nick a draw in Zagreb next week because it'll take grit and determination, and England can do that quite well, but that alone will never win the qualifying group never mind a tournament. We should re-calibrate our expectations of this team, it helps neither us or them to call them world-beaters and then castigate them for failing to live up to our unreasonable expectations.

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  • 39. At 2:38pm on 04 Sep 2008, SisterAct2 Bigger Bolder Bloodier wrote:

    I wish Capello the best of luck, i cant stand the England national team, and this stems back to when the likes of Zoe Ball and her ilk were going to England matches cos of the whole Beckham/Victoria celebrity bull-s, and it was the cool thing to do

    England are not a world class team and never have been, the problem with England, aprt from an overzealous and often moronic members of the media, is that we always play the best players available rather than playing the best team.

    Why do England managers persist with Lampard and Gerrard in the centre, or even playing Rooney who has no discipline or tactical intelligence whatsoever??

    When are the likes of Bentley and Young and Agbonlahor going to get their chances??

    Why cant this country's supporters and its media get it through their thick heads that England are NOT up there with Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Argentina and Spain, who all have the natural talent and tactical nous to succeed at international level??

    Like i said earlier i wish Capello the best of luck, he has the experince of winning matches, and if he cant qualify England to South Africa, then its about time we finally dropped these so called golden generation once and for all.

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  • 40. At 2:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, I dont want a display name wrote:

    "Any criticism of Capello so far must be placed in its proper context. He has effectively been on a fact-finding mission since his appointment to assess the best talent available to him."
    Was he on a desert island? Had he never watched international matches? Had he never watched the Champions' League?
    Surely he knew plenty about potential England players.
    Perhaps what is more telling is that he dropped Beckham at Real and then had to bring him back.
    Did England really have to get a foreign coach?
    Could 'arry have done worse than Capello?
    The FA knows FA!

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  • 41. At 2:42pm on 04 Sep 2008, Nick wrote:

    medialoather you made me laugh with that Da Vinci comment.

    I'm English and even I'm fed up with England.


    The fact that people think Sven was a bad manager proves that; I hope Sven performs miracles at Mexico and wins the World Cup with them.

    The players didn't perform for Sven, McClaren and now they're not performing for Fabio, but they know that they will be exempt from criticism.

    Only in England could you have a team that doesn't qualify for Euro 2008, and yet already they are expected to go far in the next World Cup!!

    I'm glad we didn't qualify for Euro 2008, and I hope we don't qualify for the World Cup.

    Hopefully then the arrogance that surrounds English football may then start to subside.

    But don't hold your breath.

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  • 42. At 2:44pm on 04 Sep 2008, kendo666 wrote:

    You get what you pay for...
    We have the best league in the world and by having this we sacrifice our international game. What with Man City saying today that they'll have to sacrifice the youths coming through for bigger stars in order to beat Chelsea or Man U or Carragher saying he was more upset losing for Liverpool than England, it speaks volumes...

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  • 43. At 2:48pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    There is far, far, far too much responsibility placed on Capello's shoulders.

    It is the players who win football games. Capello gets to spend two or three days with them a month.

    PLEASE! Stop focussing on the manager - he only does so much. The players nee to perform. Alas, the England team have been an uninspired bunch for years. The reasons for this are documented elsewhere but we need some players to weigh in and lift this team. I am really hoping someone like Walcott can show some class and set these games alight, lift the team and kickstart the qualifying campaign. Capello can only pick the players and give them a role - his track record suggests he is very good at that. The England players track record suggests they are not very good at their jobs! (incredibly considering their fame and fortune).

    When Capello was hired the line was (from this journalist amongst others) - we have got one of the best managers in the world the players now have no excuses and nowhere to hide. That still stands for me - the buck now stops with the players. C'mon England pull your bleeding fingers out!

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  • 44. At 2:50pm on 04 Sep 2008, jboafc wrote:

    "Beckham looked off the pace against the Czech Republic, despite the occasional trademark set-piece delivery, but he may survive in the absence of a realistic alternative."

    I'm not a Spurs fan, or indeed a Blackburn fan, but I fail to see what else David Bentley has too do to leap frog Beckham. He was outstanding for Rovers last season and from what I've seen has made a solid start to his Tottenham career.

    Beckham has been an England legend but it really is time to move on.

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  • 45. At 2:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, Panacynic wrote:

    More of the same drivel from the "correspondents". Oh, sorry. You're Chief Football Writer, aren't you? What is the difference between writer and a journalist?

    "The meeting with Andorra on Saturday is almost the equivalent of an open goal in international football terms...[versus Croatia] we will see if Capello can forge a group of winners from England's perennial under-achievers."

    Yeah, we really coasted to victory against Andorra last time. Is it any wonder the rest of the footballing world hates us when even the BBC's Chief Football Rambler comes up with this nonsense. Referring to a team of carpenters and plumbers as an open goal when we really struggled to beat them last time smacks of arrogance.

    There will be eleven Andorrans stood between the posts of that goal. We all know that if we score against them or Croatia it will be from a wide free kick or a corner rather than fluid attacking play. Not that anyone will admit that Beckham set pieces are still are only threat. If we don't score you'll bemoan the loss of Steven "50%, that's all you're getting" Gerrard and that broken midget who only scores with his head nowadays despite the fact that they failed last time.

    England didn't underachieve though. We were bettered by superior opposition. Technically and tactically. Even in that game against Andorra - you remember, the one that was a given - we were matched for 53 minutes. Every England supporter could see it all unfolding from the very start, but not the correpondents. I'm not saying we should join the likes of Scotland and throw a street party if we manage to finish top of the also-rans, but you're talking up our chances already, Chief, and England have done nothing since 1996 to warrant it.

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  • 46. At 2:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    I think England can beat Andora.

    For Croatia, I suggest it is too late to create the cohesion and team spirit among the overpaid superstars, especially those venerated as members of the "Top Four" clubs who have supposedly conquered Europe with exciting football.

    Realistically, the only hope is to follow Man U's example against Barca in last year's Champion$ League .. get ten men behind the ball at all times and hope to get a 0-0.
    But I doubt there is enough commitment for that.

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  • 47. At 2:58pm on 04 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    England were a World class team in the 1960s (incluidng the 1970 World Cup).

    But notice the difference ...

    Bobby Charlton once missed a European Cup semi-final to play in an England friendly.

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  • 48. At 3:01pm on 04 Sep 2008, Rover1987 wrote:

    I'm seriously fed up with England. Probably since Euro 96, the national side has been far too predictable and the football we've played has been completely devoid of exitement.

    The media, and quite often the players themselves, need to take a step back and realise that we actually aren't very good.

    The main problems for me are that we lack a decent goalkeeper and a decent centre forward at the moment. The back 4 and midfield, provided we pick the right players (Woodgate and King left out?!?!) and they stay fit are pretty decent. But Capello should be careful not to fall into the trap of every other England manager and pencil the big boys in as definates on every teamsheet. People have been talking for a few seasons now about Lampard not performing on an international stage. However he's in a comfort zone at Chelsea, with Essien, Makelele etc sitting behind him. In the Prem Lampard does nothing apart from take set pieces and score fantastic goals, but England require more from him and he cant/wont give it. Beckham is past it. I personally wouldn't include Owen in this squad because he's coming back from a long term injury and isn't quite fit yet. Carrick and Hargreaves (two of our better players) are both out. That leaves us struggling a little bit and highlights further the lack of depth we have in this country.

    If I was an England manager I'd look to get as much pace and enthusiasm as possible back into the side and shake it up a bit. There may not necessarily be a sharp upturn in results, but it would certainly give some established players a kick up the backside and inject a bit of passion and enthusiasm back into a national side that people are rapidly losing interest in.

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  • 49. At 3:02pm on 04 Sep 2008, k-stand wrote:

    We certainly have the players at our disposal. But do have we the camaraderie? I believe that with the intense rivalry between the "top 4" it is impossible to have a true togetherness within the international set up. And with the stakes being as high as ever in our league have the players really got the same appetite playing for their country over their club?

    As for the England coach what chance has he got against the English media? Sven did not have a bad record in competitive matches but was hounded by the press constantly. Capello is already getting stick and we havent played a "proper" match yet.

    Personally, I believe we need a coach who can motivate the team for one off matches. Having a coach who has won many league titles in various countries is all very well but every game England play is like a cup game. Having the players for 3 days beforehand is certainly not enough time to tactically prepare

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  • 50. At 3:13pm on 04 Sep 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    The period of transition should be about ten years.

    England fans who think that the current squad has any hope of competing are living in a weird fantasy world. England's FIFA ranking is about right given the quality of players available.

    Capello made an error of judgement in taking the job of England manager - I think he has already realised that.

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  • 51. At 3:14pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    "Terry constantly tells people he's 'a big man' when asked about Moscow's penalty miss. What kind of bloke walks around telling people he's a big man? Its ridiculous, and shows their grasp on reality is fed by Sky Sports News."

    Spot on - it would only be said by a total plonker with an ego the size of a super tanker.
    Alas , thats our captain... and you wonder why the supporters are having problems getting behind this team.

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  • 52. At 3:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    Frankly, appointing Capello seems to have been a complete waste of time. Personally, I'd have a clearout of the team and bring in some younger, hungrier players to revitalise what is clearly a stagnating squad. Something like..

    GK: Rob Green
    RB: Micah Richards
    CB: Rio Ferdinand (c)
    CB: Jonathan Woodgate
    LB: Ashley Cole
    DM: Owen Hargreaves
    RM: Joe Cole
    AM: Steven Gerrard
    AM: Wayne Rooney
    LM: Ashley Young
    ST: Gabby Agbonlahor

    In this formation, Rooney can push up to form a front two with Agbonlahor, but also drop back to provide more of a link through midfield. Owen Hargreaves would provide cover for the defence to allow Ashley Young to get forward, and Joe Cole would be able to cut inside, allowing Richards to overlap on the right.

    Who knows, playing that formation against Croatia might get them slaughtered 5-0, or might end up in a victory, but at least it would be an indication that someone is willing to try something different.

    Having said that, being a Welshman I'm happy with England continuing to be beaten by much better teams whom they consider themselves above. It's a refreshing slap in the face for the redtops and their armies of deluded readers who think that beating Andorra 3-0 is a surefire sign of impending World Cup glory.

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  • 53. At 3:17pm on 04 Sep 2008, alpeshcgujjar wrote:

    No Manager in this world can change England
    There is a problem that no manager can solve.
    If they fail media will blame Capello for not involving Owen,and if had chose him and yet failed to win the game the same media would have said its all Owens fouls and Capellos,how can he play who is not in form or not fit..
    there will be millions of reasons why England failed..but i dont know whether you guys are acting blind of what because the main problem is not with the Manager, but it is will the atittude of English players..they just dont have the kind of hunger for others have..
    Brazilians,Argentinians etc gives their heart and soul for the national team but English players DONT..they want to fill their bank accounts first then think about nation.
    How can Lamps perform well for Chelsea but he cant with England even if he is playing an international game in England,there is the same inviroment and atmosphere,why cant Rooney do well as he does with MANUTD,why cant Gerrard to what he does for is just clear that they dont CARE and give a DAMN

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  • 54. At 3:17pm on 04 Sep 2008, Dazz wrote:

    You can save your breath Phil. If Capello cannot save England, then no one can!!

    England would probably do better without your likes attempting to bring people down before they even start the job.

    I can just visualize you and the rest of your vulture journalists salivating in expectation of the salacious stories you'll be able to write in the event that we get beaten by Croatia again.

    Thanks to people like you stirring up uncessary emotions in the reading public , we are where we are today.

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  • 55. At 3:19pm on 04 Sep 2008, U11846789 wrote:

    We're not under-achievers. We are achieving exactly what we are worth.

    The sooner the media gets this through, the less hostile and silly they'll be and the quicker we can get back to loving our national team.



    The QF's of a competition are a GOOD result.

    England are NOT one of the best 4 or 5
    teams in the world.

    Sven WAS a success.

    What was lacking was an English stamp in his passport! And the trash media had a field day with him because of that.

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  • 56. At 3:20pm on 04 Sep 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    DazzlingDapsy - you've got it all backwards mate. It's thanks to journalists claiming England are better than they are that England are so rubbish now, not journalists claiming England are rubbish.

    A couple of years in the international wilderness will do wonders for the English preception that they somehow deserve to not only qualify for every international tournament, but win them too.

    You're deluded mate. Phil's just being realistic.

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  • 57. At 3:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, terryelston wrote:

    If every one of us is an England supporter, then everything we do gives or takes away from the team. Every comment and every thought are heard or felt so why not just try and get behind the team and manager for once?

    We hav a good tried and tested manager, we have a good squad. They may not be worldbeaters but so weren't Greece!!

    When I see these "if" comments and "last chance" etc. all it says is another depressed mind that can't get itself up (yes just like that) to the challenge of supporting well.

    If you have not somethig to conribute in an inspiring way, let the voices who have come on and sing out loud becuase that's what the team needs :) Come on England :)

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  • 58. At 3:22pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Just a side note, Does anyone actually think that John Terry is the right man to lead England? But who is there to replace him and lead this team??

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  • 59. At 3:25pm on 04 Sep 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    eirebilly - Rio Ferdinand. Yes, he missed a drug test many years ago, but that was it. He completed the test and proved that he was clean, then served his ban like a man before going on to better himself.

    Terry's just a scumbag who likes to intimidate people, and on top of that, he's not even a great defender (he's second best at his club, and third best at international level).

    Hargreaves would be a good captain if he wasn't injured so often. Gerrard seems to have wilted under the pressure in the past, but he can do it for Liverpool, so why not England.

    For me though, Rio's the only choice. McClapello wouldn't want to change anything though, would he?

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  • 60. At 3:26pm on 04 Sep 2008, Dazz wrote:

    28. At 2:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, truevillain wrote:
    I'm afraid that this article sums up exactly what is wrong with English football; the vastly over-inflated opinion it has of itself.

    Look at England's record since winning in 1966. One WC semi final and one EC semi (with home advantage) in 21 tournaments, many of which we failed to even qualify for. We are NOT a genuine power so why all the hype?

    Croatia are one of Europe's top sides. Their record since becoming an independent country is very impressive and they are particularly strong at home. However, McNulty glosses over that and ludicrously states that anything other than at least a draw would be a failure on Capello's behalf. His lack of respect for the Croatians and his jingoistic, blokey patriotism betray a fundamental lack of football knowledge.

    There would be no disgrace in losing to Croatia, provided it's not some 4-0 drubbing. The issue becomes that if we DO lose then we have extra pressure on subsequent matches NOT to lose. I'm thinking of the potentially tricky trip to Ukraine, in particular. We would also almost certainly HAVE to win all our home games and goal difference could also then become a deciding factor.

    Michael Owen hasn't been 100% fit for three years or so and relying on him is not a sensible ploy. Bullard is clearly a stop-gap to cover injuries. Yes, Lampard needs to step it up a level and Rooney needs to now start moving on from being a promising international striker into a consistently threatening one.

    Ahhh, I feel better now!


    Ah , truevillain thank you! THANK YOU!!!!

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  • 61. At 3:28pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    I actually agree with you reasoneddebate. I think that Rio would be a good leader and motivator. As a Liverpool fan i am not convinced with Gerrard. And Hargreaves would not be my choice either.
    It really just leaves Rio.

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  • 62. At 3:30pm on 04 Sep 2008, squaremonkee wrote:

    I agree with GickNah, a point against Croatia is a realistic result. I don't think the problem lies with the media overestimating England's ability though. The media are the first to jump on the bandwagon of calling the team a bunch of "flops" and "failures" when a result doesn't go England's way. Indeed when we are winning consistently or a result goes England's way they are usually described as "capable of winning the World Cup'" or "World beaters".
    This is exactly the trend that most of England's supporters follow. I think a major problem is ignorance, an under-estimation of other teams, rather than an over-estimation of England's own ability. So much attention was brought to Croatia and Russia's European campaign at the expense of England because they were classed as lesser teams than us.

    Yet Russia reached the Semi finals, something England have failed to do in a major tournament since 1996. Croatia arguably should have been there too (But take nothing away from another so-called lesser team than the English, Turkey who had an awesome tournament).

    England wouldn't have stood up against half the teams in Euro 2008 with their current form! No doubt they would have been heavily criticised for this, in contrast the Croatian and Turkish teams would have returned to their respective countries as heroes despite not returning with the trophy.

    In My opinion this has undoubtedly had a negative effect upon the England players, they have lost all their confidence and belief due to unwarranted criticism of their performances.

    Anyhow my point being, just because teams such as Croatia, Turkey and Russia didn't win the World Cup in 1966, it doesn't mean they're cr*pper than England and the current crop of English players should be riled at.

    Now then, on to Capello, personally I think McClaren was a better choice of manager. Capello should be criticised for leaving Owen out of his squad, personally I think he is still the best English striker in the Premiership and unarguably he is a proven goalscorer for England, I really don't understand such a strange decision.
    Also Gerrard should have been appointed permanent captain. Look at how he rallied Liverpool to Champions League victory in 2005, contrast that to Terry crying on the pitch in front of the whole world in 2008, enough said as far as the spirit of English football is concerned.

    Also Gerrard plays all over the pitch, I don't think Terry can influence and control the team enough playing as a defender.
    On the other hand giving Jimmy Bullard a chance to play is a brilliant choice, it shows Capello is indeed willing to try new players and is including players on basis of form and desire rather than on the merit of their name or club.

    Remember though McClaren demonstrated this by dropping Beckham. So in what way has Capello showed his brilliance and uniqeness yet? How is he different to other England managers? He is obviously a good manager for England, but I still think McClaren should have been given more of a chance, he was English for a start. English football is unique and arguably it takes an English man to fully understand and get the best out of the English game and English players. McClaren definetly had that ability, he was assistant to Alex Feguson and Sven, and guided Boro of all teams to their first trophy in 30 years as well as a Uefa cup Semi final!! Fair enough he had a drab personality, but so did Sven and so does Capello if we're been honest!

    It's going to be interesting to see if Capello will be sacked should England fail to qualify for the World Cup. Unfortunatley I would bet against it, simply because the FA with all their hype of Capello's ability don't want to look foolish and end up with egg on their face.
    Let's just all hope England regain their confidence and destroy the lesser teams of Croatia, Andorra, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

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  • 63. At 3:31pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:

    We should absolutely annihilate Andorra at leats 5-0. As for the Croatia game there is no doubt that we can beat them, its all a question of whether the players turn up or not.

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  • 64. At 3:34pm on 04 Sep 2008, FeedmeFlumps wrote:

    Maybe Sven didn't actually fail. He qualified for 3 major tournaments and got to quarter finals, maybe thats just the limit of this so called Golden Generation and Sven actually achieved what was to be expected.

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  • 65. At 3:34pm on 04 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    Phil - take truevillain's and samplatt's comments, add into it a piece about how Gerrard has been anonymous for England for years and you have yourself a really good article.

    Repeat after me:
    we are average, we are average, we are average
    our players are not world class, our players are not world class, our players are not world class

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  • 66. At 3:37pm on 04 Sep 2008, sportybored27 wrote:

    More importantly than how England play. Who is going to be able to see them. At least when Sky had the rights there were highlights on the BBC.

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  • 67. At 3:39pm on 04 Sep 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    Also, why call up Bullard instead of Young?

    Oh, look at him, the tabloids scream. He's such a cheeky chappy! And he used to play for Gravesend! Ho ho, what a hero's journey he's had.

    He'll also be 32 when the 2010 World Cup rolls around, with only 2 years of international experience. I'm sorry, but I don't see the point.

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  • 68. At 3:39pm on 04 Sep 2008, Dazz wrote:

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

  • 69. At 3:43pm on 04 Sep 2008, The_Dude42 wrote:

    Capello is making exactly the same mistakes as McClaren. We know Gerrard and Lampard can't play in the centre together. We know Gerrard can't play on the left. We know Rooney is best playing off a front man who can score goals (Owen).

    Capello, whilst being a top class manager on paper, is just not the right man for the job. After all the years of hurt we need a manager who can play attactive passing football and get the cynical british public loving England again. Capello may, in time, be able to make successful, but it will be done playing Italian style defensive football.

    We need a manager who plays with pace on the wings, and not David Beckham. David Beckham is no longer international class...he has a cracking delivery but his lack of pace forces us to play long ball. We need players like Ashley Young, especially against the weaker nations such as Andorra, who can run at defenders to transform England into an exciting team that the British public will love again...

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  • 70. At 3:44pm on 04 Sep 2008, GB74 wrote:

    The sooner bloggers like yourself and other parts of the media, stop blaming the manager the better.

    Alot of people need to wake up and smell the coffee. The players are to blame, they are on the pitch, but for some reason are seen as heros and world class, when they continuously show they are not.

    People need to realise the England players are not as good as they themselves and others think they are. When the media stops 'bigging' them up it will help also. Without the tallent and flair of foreign players around them, and due to a shocking level of 'un-adapability' that seems to run through the entire England set up, they look very average.

    The English players have only one (what could be described as) 'flair player' in Joe Cole. They lack close control, techniqie, passing ability (except Beckham), and their insight and vision on the pitch is dismal.

    The best I have seen England player was against Croatia in Euro 2004 when, after being 1-0 down, we came back to win 4-2 with some beautiful and incisive football, cutting the Croatian defence apart with Rooney at the spearhead with his strength, power, technique and finishing ability.

    Since then however, evertime England take to the field they appear to lack passion, enthusiasm for the game, attacking or defensive vision. Generally they look poor and at a level of incompitence that no manager could turn around. One of the worst and most infuriating factors being their almost universal ability to adapt to anything other than 4-4-2 and play anywhere else other than their 'prefered position'. With Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney being notorious for this, often ending in stroppy statements to the press by the players and by lack of commitment on the field. They lack the willingness and also the ability to get on with the job when they are told to play in a different position.

    In order for England to challenge for honours, there needs to be a massive technical coaching programme from grass-roots upwards, along with an attitude from the manager and coaches that if they continue to stropp around casually then they will be dropped for players who want to wear the shirt and give their all. We have too many players who see England games as a holiday or short break from what they really care about (their clubs) and too often the blame is laid elsewhere for poor performance, by the media and by the fans.

    We need to start holding the players to account and stop picking on easy targets like Beckham, because the tirade towards him from the media, when he appears to be the only England player passionate enough to deliver is shocking. Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Terry, and others must be scrutinised and held to account for poor performances for England. They should also be dropped if they continue to play badly.

    The next England squad should include players like A.Young, Walcott, Agbonlahoor, S.Taylor, Hart, Milner. Players who play with passion and are young and who can play together for England for a long time to come, Ashton must also replace Heskey as 'the big man' upfront.

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  • 71. At 3:44pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    Sorry to harp on about this point but England do have a good manager but there is only so much influence he can have whilst the players are playing in the heat of a game. What England desperately need is a proper leader on the field that can instill confidence and ensure that the team follow their managers game plan.

    England need a proper captain!!

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  • 72. At 3:46pm on 04 Sep 2008, Soojeo4England wrote:

    Its an obvious outcome for me! England minimum should be looking to offset that humiliating win in Andorra as well put up a better performance in Croatia. Even if they did lose to Croatia (which is a distinct possibility) I would expect our so called ‘world beaters’ to not just beat but crush Andorra. I fully expect Fabio Capello is the right man because he knows the tactical side better than any.

    Its just we have a team with very few world class players and who all just don’t give a damn about playing for their country. Carragher sums it up that it never hurt when England lost! I suspect this is how most players think in the England team. Why? Probably losing with your club means much more because that is the loss of a pay cheque for these overpaid, overhyped under performing stars. Losing with England to them is nothing compared with the hurt that the fans feel, which is 1000 times worse! Especially the ones who have had to pay to watch these players play so poorly, where is the comfort for them???

    So come on England, there are no more excuses you now need to start getting results, you know what to expect from Croatia and Andorra. If you cant they you have no one to blame but yourselves.

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  • 73. At 3:48pm on 04 Sep 2008, g_moe_dee wrote:

    I can't understand the observation by Phil that David Beckham looked 'off the pace' against the Czechs. What I saw was a very fit player, chasing players down and winning the ball all over the pitch. He is STILL the best crosser of a ball in the squad and he has been the provider in 2 of England's last 4 goals. Speaks for itself.

    Beckham is a model professional and continues to prove his doubters wrong. His age doesn't show at all, and he is far more effective than a lot of Premier League- based players.

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  • 74. At 3:50pm on 04 Sep 2008, Richyburger wrote:

    Fact finding mission still are you having a laugh?
    The team that played against the Czech Republic was straight out of the Sven days for pity's sake. Hardly taken him a year to come up with that one.
    We were promised someone who would come in and shake the whole thing up, what we have had so far is a manager doing the exact same thing as all the previous ones!
    Oh and for the record Owen has struggled to score against quality opposition for years, Azerbajian being the toughest he could manage (before anyone mentions Russia they were 64th in the world when he scored against them!).

    We need a completely new team out there or we will never move on. James is too old now and proved once again that he is unreliable, neither Lampard OR Gerrard can control a game and so shouldn't be starters, then there is Beckham ... the biggest LIABILITY of the lot. If any other League 2 player was in the squad the press would be all over Capello but instead we have the usual sycophantic fawning over him that we have had for years. He was good now he drifts inside and cloggs up the centre of midfield, has no pace and always tries 50 yard "hollywood" passes that NEVER come off.

    All of these should have been dropped as soon as Capello came in so that we could have a settled fresh looking side now instead of yet more from the pyrite generation!

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  • 75. At 3:51pm on 04 Sep 2008, Panacynic wrote:

    Also Gerrard should have been appointed permanent captain. Look at how he rallied Liverpool to Champions League victory in 2005, contrast that to Terry crying on the pitch in front of the whole world in 2008, enough said as far as the spirit of English football is concerned.


    I agree that Terry is a lousy captain. I met a team of kids and their coach who had the opportunity to train with Terry and he was fantastic apparently - a really top bloke who went out of his way for them - but in an England shirt he doesn't have any impact and his on the pitch conduct leaves a lot to be desired.

    However, I can't say much better for Gerrard. Against Milan he was outstanding, but the key difference is he was wearing a Liverpool shirt at the time. In the Club v Country dilemma Gerrard's firmly in the club camp. Just read his post-match interviews after we failed to qualify for evidence. England fans were distraught, players cried, but for Gerrard it was "a bit of a disappointment". Stirring stuff.

    I've often read that Gerrard's performances for England depend on Liverpool's upcoming fixtures. Champion's League fixtures often follow international matches, which isn't ideal for anyone. On those occasions Gerrard needn't bother turning up let alone wear the arm band.

    As for him playing all over the pitch - well, why was there such a fuss when he was playing four foot to the left of where he's been playing for Liverpool? When Lampard was out Gerrard had full reign of the midfield with Barry along side for several key qualifying games and he still failed to produce a performance. He's had ample opportunity to impose himself on the international front the way Liverpool fans insist he is capable of, but that Milan game was two tournaments ago and we're still waiting.

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  • 76. At 3:51pm on 04 Sep 2008, Ryushinku wrote:

    Knowing the wacky way these things go sometimes, we'll probably get a 0-0 draw at Andorra, journos will practically have Capello roasting on a spit already, then go and win at Croatia.

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  • 77. At 3:51pm on 04 Sep 2008, skyjunky wrote:

    I haven't watched England play since we capitulated against Portugal in the last World Cup. So far, no regrets - I can thankfully say I never watched a single minute of England under McClaren. Our national team is a joke made up of overpayed prima donna's who seem unable to cope with the weight of expectation placed upon them by the national fans.

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  • 78. At 3:55pm on 04 Sep 2008, starrychocmilkshake wrote:

    I don't feel that Englands recent performances have anything to do with pride, passion, salaries or clash of ego's. We witnessed individuals against the Czech Rep trying too hard to close down the opposition and as a result leave gaping holes behind them in midfield. We're not working as a unit and I believe there's an inbalance in the team. We currently seem to have a team of similar players (especially centre mid) when we could do with some dribblers / wingers who could stretch play and create more. Ashley Young is two footed, can play up front or on either wing. I think Joe Cole along with Hargreaves has been Englands most important players over recent years because of their ability to retain the ball.

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  • 79. At 3:58pm on 04 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    If I can take a few points. Firstly no-one is blaming Capello for anything, but anyone who thinks the performance of the England coach is not up for discussion is living on another planet.

    Yes, I agree, the players need to take more responsibility, but I think most people would also accept that the England we have seen under Capello is no different to the one we saw under Steve McClaren.

    Capello arrived with a massive reputation and with the job of putting things right, so England fans should at least hope for signs of improvement. The ultimate responsibilty has to be his.

    If we just say "it's the players responsibility", then why bother having a coach?

    To take post 74 from richburger, I also agree it is a bit worrying that England's current team does not look that much different from the one that has failed in recent times.

    My point about Capello's "fact-finding mission" was that he will have used the early games to assess all the talent available to him.

    Now he has done that, he can hopefully make the best informed selection decisions over these two matches.

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  • 80. At 3:59pm on 04 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    Can I change my post to a combination of truevillian's, samplatt's and Arsenal 2008/09's comments? I have said the same thing on many other threads and got a bit tired of it when met with "but we have world class players who only need to be shown the way". What utter drivel.

    And Arsenal 2008/09 - the ironic thing is none of the midfielders picked (Cole - Lampard - Gerrard - Beckham) really suit a 4-4-2. Ideally you would have 2 pacey widemen with a great cross and superb close control. The CMs would have an impeccable long and short passing game, strong in the tackle, excellent vision and awareness and chip in with the goals.

    Only Joe Cole comes close to ticking all the required boxes. Rooney also plays too loosely and too far back to play in the 2 - it leaves us pumping balls up to his striking partner whilst he's arguing with the linesman by our left hand corner flag. Unless he changes his positional awareness he needs to go - give Ashton and Agbonlahor a go.

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  • 81. At 3:59pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    What are your thoughts on the England captaincy Mr McNulty??

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  • 82. At 4:01pm on 04 Sep 2008, hukkas wrote:

    "Capello, however, knows little about our English players, about the English mentality etc"

    I'm guessing "English mentality" means one of three things;

    1) Their mentality towards games - "up and at them", pace without patience, harrying. It might work once in a blue moon (Munich away, vs Holland in '96) - but by and large, it doesn't work.

    2) The arrogant and misplaced belief that we'll win due to having self-proclaimed World class players - see Michael Owen's comments before the Croatia game.

    3) Just not really caring about England, as opposed to club games - see Carragher's recent comments.

    So Capello doesn't know the "English mentaility"? Who cares - it's not doing us any favours. I really hope he can change it, not accept it.

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  • 83. At 4:03pm on 04 Sep 2008, FormerScouser wrote:

    Two thoughts. First: Why when England were ranked No8 in the world and reached a world cup 1/4 final ie the last 8 was this deemed a failure so bad that it leads to sacking the manager. This always struck me as being the proper position. Then a little bit of luck with injuries or penalty shoot outs (as IF !) and we might have been in the semis.

    Second: Are England the Newcastle of the international scene. Always hyped up as popular with other fans, told by the media that they are good when they are pretty ordinary really, over paid, winning nothing for 50 years, sacking managers too often, lacking proper direction in the board room. Sound familiar!

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  • 84. At 4:03pm on 04 Sep 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To Eirebilly...hope you're not winding me up there!

    Steven Gerrard should be captain, as I have stated here many times and suffered some harsh comments as a result that have almost reduced me to tears.

    If you're not winding me up I apologise!

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  • 85. At 4:05pm on 04 Sep 2008, Copperconk wrote:

    H-O-N-E-Y-M-O-O-N !!!!!

    Can anyone really believe that we have an England manager that can barely string two words of English together, has already indicated that this will be his last job in football before retiring, was confused about Gerrard's position on the field of play against the 'friendly' Czech's, retains an out of sorts David Beckham who is past his sell by date, insists on keeping 'calamity' james in goal who went walk-about in the last game and has let England slip to 15 in the FIFA rankings?

    A Sunday league 'Pub Team' would be better representing our National side........

    Two thumbs up to the FA on this one

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  • 86. At 4:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, RANDAL_KEITH_ORTON wrote:

    We have enough players in this country to deliver a first class 11, after that, maybe not.

    In my opinion, it's all in the mind. Use the force!

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  • 87. At 4:09pm on 04 Sep 2008, BBL - back from the forum grave wrote:

    This debate has been done to death.

    Being a proud Welshman I just dream of having the pool of players England has to choose from - and being a supporter of British football I want all the British countries to do well...I just don't lose any sleep if England for example, don't.

    My point is that England have some of the top players in the world in the positions they are in. Yet they are sadly lacking in other areas and until this is addressed I feel they will always come unstuck.

    Not qualifying for Euro 2008 was a disaster as they should've walked the group. They too should walk this World Cup group in truth - you can't tell me Croatia are THAT superior, they clearly are not, but they have a work ethic and a formation that works for them.

    England need to find some of the same - and I think they will. They have a World Class manager, and providing they all work as a unit then they will qualify through the group.

    I also hope Capello doesn't revert to picking square pegs in round holes - if he chooses a formation that means some of his stars miss out then so be it.

    You can't tell me Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Germany etc..only have 1 star player for 1 position - they don't.

    The manager picks who he thinks will do a job and leave the others on the bench.

    Pick a balanced 11 - show some fighting spirit, play with your heads and you will qualify.

    Wales on the other hand - if we finish 3rd behind Russia and Germany, I will be over the moon - that's not pessimistic, that's being realistic!!!

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  • 88. At 4:09pm on 04 Sep 2008, andrian007 wrote:

    I am sick and tired of people having a go at Sven-Goran Eriksson. In what way has he failed? He took England to the WC Quarter-Final which is a fantastic achievement for such a mediocre team. Anything less than that in WC 2010 and we can safely say Capello has not achieved anything near what Sven has.

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  • 89. At 4:11pm on 04 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    "Second: Are England the Newcastle of the international scene. Always hyped up as popular with other fans, told by the media that they are good when they are pretty ordinary really, over paid, winning nothing for 50 years, sacking managers too often, lacking proper direction in the board room. Sound familiar!"

    Nice analogy - add to that the analogy that we are 15th in the rankings and Sunderland finished 15th last season - hey presto...we are Tyneside!

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  • 90. At 4:11pm on 04 Sep 2008, stopbyfootyfan wrote:

    i'm not sure if i agree with this theory that Capello either delivers or he's no different to Sven. can't we accept the fact that, rather than blame the coach, these players are really not as good as they're made out to be. i will take a stance here and say England only have 3 world class players right now - Gerrard, Rio and Owen. these guys are indispensable to their clubs, especially the first two, and i can't say the same for the rest of the squad. we need to stop calling them the Golden Generation, because they're not. that term is reserved for teams that really sweep all before them, like the French team in the late 1990s or the latest group of Spanish players. even the German team of recent years have reached more semis than England, yet people say they're the worst group of German players ever!
    let's stop kidding ourselves with all the hype and accept the fact that England does not have a god-given right of being at major tournaments all the time.

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  • 91. At 4:11pm on 04 Sep 2008, RANDAL_KEITH_ORTON wrote:

    I was watching England vs Holland (Euro '96) on ESPN Classics the other night. Watching Shearer and Sheringham on fire was an awesome sight to behold. You could see on the players faces it meant a lot, the passion in their eyes (especially psycho.) I don't seem to see that anymore and I certainly don't get that tingle down my spine like I used to.

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  • 92. At 4:12pm on 04 Sep 2008, Rich_Owl wrote:

    Re: Expectation.

    Is it true that England has 'average' (albeit overpaid) players and that mere qualification for a major tournament should be our aim? Several people suggest this, but I don't think its true.

    Three out of four teams in this season CL semis were English, boasting England international down their spine. Terry and Rio both colossal at the back against the best strikers in the world, and C-ashley Cole marking QUALITY wingers out of games. Gerrard running games with his drive, determination and vision, Lampard and Joe Cole getting forward to deliver goals and a threat from midfield, Rooney up front, a CL winner at 21 years of age and former European young player of the year.

    Englands spine is top quality. They perhaps lack a top class keeper, second striker (unless you count Owen, scorer of 40 international goals at a rate of one goal every two games - where is he this weekend?), and a decent wide man, although I'd argue that SWP or Bentley can provide good options on the right, with JCole on the left, and that Micah Richards has shown more than enough ability at right back to provide an eventual replacement to the solid reliability that is Gary Neville.

    On club form, we should expect to get to the later stages of tournaments along with the Spanish and Italian and French who also populate these most successful of European club sides.

    Yet we don't. Discuss.

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  • 93. At 4:13pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    No I am not winding you up Phil and as much as it does pain me (as a Liverpool fan) to say this but no i dont think that Gerrard is the man for the job.

    Maybe Rio or Gareth Barry.

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  • 94. At 4:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, weezer316 wrote:


    "The first serious questions were raised about Capello's methods after that shapeless, muddled display - and with full justification."

    You full of rubbish sunshine. Cappello's methods are proven all accross europe. its the players he has that need questioning and booting.

    Thats the worst comment I have ever read form a pundit, it is on a par with "you win nothing with kids" ......

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  • 95. At 4:19pm on 04 Sep 2008, Waaaaart wrote:

    I got about 4 paragraphs down this blog, then, after laughing at loud on quite a few occasions, had to stop.

    You call the italian a ruthless seeker of results. I agree. Yet you then say he was rightly critised for the 2-2 draw against a very very good Czech team?! The Result? A draw...a rather decent result infact however this STILL is good enough for you? So therefore being a ruthless seeker of results is not enough for some people.

    Then you go onto Svens campaign. I've honestly not spoke to one single person who didn't enjoy Svens tenure. Not only did he get us to every major tournemount he got us to the quarters of them. To be beaten by Brazil....lose on Pens.....and go out after having ten men on the pitch for half a match. So where do you get off critising him??

    The stuff thats published through the media and supossed to representive therefore couldn't be further from the mark.

    Because the media don't like reporting the news. They like to and create it.

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  • 96. At 4:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    Fairly obvious blog, Phil, but still a good discussion to have

    We will beat Andorra, that's a given - if we don't i believe that will be their first point in a few decades - we could field Cambridge U's and still take 3 points

    As for Croatia, true this will be his first real test - and no Gerrard or Owen

    but i do believe Capello will have been working out everything over the last 9 months pretty much for this one game, it's competitive, what people have to remember that under Sven we actually had a fine record in competitive matches, even tho the friendlies were constantly awful, except against really big sides like Argentina when the players actually had something to prove - and capello is from what i've seen, sven mark-2

    so I will judge Capello on wednesday, his choice of team against the Czech rep knocked my confidence in him somewhat, but he can't do it against Croatia because Gerrard is injured, so that's still going to stay in my mind until he's fit - but a solid draw or even a win on weds night and the memories of mac will be laid to rest

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  • 97. At 4:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, 1trainer1 wrote:

    im surpised noone has asked for KK to come back as England Manager?

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  • 98. At 4:22pm on 04 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    Rich Owl - a few years ago I would have believed you, and I want to, but England have just performed so badly with the players you mention for so long. What you fail to mention is the foreign players in the respective teams. For Chelsea you could say the spine/key players are Cech, Essien/Makelele, Ballack and Drogba, for United: Van Der Sar, Vidic, Scholes (yes, I know ,a retired Englishman), Ronaldo and Tevez.

    I believe, and many others agree, that we think the English players are World Class because they play with the best of international talent. However, what happens when you take these international players away? You get the team who couldn't qualify for Euro 2008, the team who bored the world to tears at WC06, scraping 1-0 wins against Paraguay and Ecuador. That's right, you get England.

    Until we see a decent performance from England, and not Chelsea and Man United reaching the CL Final again, I don't understand how anyone can claim England are a good team.

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  • 99. At 4:24pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    I'm sure the media will go bananas at Capello if he doesn't oversee a 10 nil thrashing in Zagreb - one of the strongest fortresses in football, Croatia never lose there.

    I won't. I just want to see an England performance with some passion and class. If we are losing to go down guns blazing. It seems totally beyond this so called team with or without Capello, the coach has never been the problem.

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  • 100. At 4:29pm on 04 Sep 2008, Pomonacalifornia wrote:

    Posters numer 1, 3, and 5, have hit the nail on the head. England's once mighty football team is now a faint memory in the past. The only way that English footballcan return to its past glory is to field a team of foreigners who are presently making the English Presmiership the best league in the world, 'cause it aint the english players that are great, it's the foreigners. Bring back the old English League v Any Other League matches and England will rule again. Until then...dream on England.

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  • 101. At 4:30pm on 04 Sep 2008, MootSights wrote:

    I'm so glad to see that the general mood in the comments is one of positive realism. England didn't qualify for the last major tournament and deservedly so - that's the current status quo. Achieving anything above that next time around would be marvellous.

    Phil, you simply can't declare that England should get a point at Croatia, because Croatia are favorites to win twice over - as the better team and as the home team. A point would a brilliant overachievement.

    The expectation for this trip should be three points and two good showings. Anything more is a step above this team's current worth.

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  • 102. At 4:30pm on 04 Sep 2008, Russ Wirral wrote:

    I cant help but think that England just arent 'all that' any more, and infact a team of Nicky Butts, who seemed world class when playing in amongst the quality of Unt, but then didnt quite match the form else were.

    Our england players just cant cut it when they aren't surrounded by other international quality.

    just a thought.

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  • 103. At 4:31pm on 04 Sep 2008, reaso95 wrote:

    a ball hasnt even been kicked yet and all u english do is moan and groan. the teams performances reflect the negativ support they receive. watch the matches then comment. the northern ireland football team has the best supporters in europe fact! and thats been reflected on our teams current upturn in form. stick together, fans and team. u want the same things. and remember football is there to be enjoyed. by the way i wish u all the best this week and rly hope 6pts are gained. because on their day england are world class.

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  • 104. At 4:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, sunnypompey wrote:

    Couldnt agree more with starrychocmilkshake (please get another name I cant call you that in a pub). Joe Cole, Owen Hargreaves and Gareth Barry could run our midfield. Between them they are industrious and creative with a balance of left and right footed players attacking and defensive. Has anybody counted the number of times Gerrard gives the ball away in tight spots? Captain Fantastic he may be for Liverpool and I love his energy but he certainly doesnt run games from the off. He rescues games but as for conducting the pace of a game somebody please tell me when he, or Becks or Lamps, last ran a game like a Deco, Zidane or even a Scholes?
    So stick those three in and play with two wing backs like Cole and Johnson outside them giving width. Play Terry and Woodgate as traditional centre backs and Rio covering them and the channels.
    Choose your two favourite strikers (Rooney and ? ) and you have my medicine for the ailing English Football team.

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  • 105. At 4:36pm on 04 Sep 2008, shivam_mufc wrote:

    England need to put 2 strong good solid preformances against Andorra and Croatia in their opening 2 qualifing games, and i expect them to get 6 points by winning them two games!

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  • 106. At 4:38pm on 04 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:

    Anybody who claims England to be under achievers is deluded.

    There is a big difference between the quality of individual players and how well a national team is expected to play. England have players who play well for clubs but as a country they aren’t very good, this doesn’t mean that they under achieve it means that as a national side they aren’t very good. And never will be; no matter what players England has they’ll never dominate International football in the same way as Germany, Italy and Brazil; because as a national side they aren’t good enough. They have achieved exactly what they are capable of.

    Germany have poorer individual players than Italy, France, Holland, England and Spain; but as a national team they are better, this doesn’t mean that they over-achieve, just that their national team is good. They have the right culture, mentality and approach to playing for your country which often counts for more than quality club players. England will never ever have that.

    The English fans should finally accept that the national team is not as good as percieved and it has nothing to do with individual players, Germany tend to prove that at almost every tournament.

    In the history of professional football (the last 50+ years) discounting home tournaments (a bit of an unfair advantage) England have reached 2 semi finals. Denmark on the other hand have reached 3 semi finals and 1 final which they won.

    Let us please please please forget this tosh about England being under achievers. If they were capable of winning more they'd have at least come a bit closer than usually getting to the last 16/quarter finals.

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  • 107. At 4:39pm on 04 Sep 2008, Copperconk wrote:

    When was the last time an England Manager's name was chanted from the stands ?

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  • 108. At 4:42pm on 04 Sep 2008, adam reeder wrote:

    reasonddebate - If your having a clear out of the team why would you keep the worst England player of the past six years in the squad ie Steven Gerrard? i have never seen Gerrard play well for his country since the demolotion of germany years ago, even when the man you all hate for no reason Lampard has not been in the team.
    Why drop john Terry and why make Rio Ferdinand captain - surely there would be outcry not only from the media but from football loving fans who see this as a slap in the face of sensibility. The guy missed a drugs test and embarrased not only himself, his team and his country, he is not a positive role model, however he is a world class center back, he cannot be captain tho.

    My team would be GK: Hart
    MC:Bullard/Lampard (not sure really)
    ST:Agbonlahor (sorry for the spelling)

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  • 109. At 4:45pm on 04 Sep 2008, Robert Jones wrote:

    Excuse me, but exactly how were the Sven-Goran Eriksson years such a failure? Because as far as I can tell (sorry, I speak as an outsider), these were the years of most prolongued success England have ever experienced as a national side, no?

    You reached three consecutive major quarter-finals, one of which you exited due to a freak Ronaldinho goal, and the other two on penalty shoot-outs after you had dominated the games. As a country it is time England recognized their failings - you're not as good as you think you are.

    Even Steve McClaren did okay - his biggest failing was dumping David Beckham out of the squad. A mistake which Capello also made at his last job, unless I'm much mistaken. I like Capello, as I liked your last two managers.

    The reason England are 'ailing' is because none of the players are as great as they appear - surrounded by top quality international players, any half-decent English player would shine. It's the equivalent of having Jeremy Guscott next to Will Carling - it's a lot easier to shine.

    There's also the fact that you're leading player are a bunch of money-grabbing mercenaries who care nothing for the national side, and yet with each new manager claim a new dawn will appear. The managers have not been to blame, nor the exposure of the EPL to outside venture.

    It's because both the England fans and the media are arrogant and assume much, and then turn on the team at the first sign of failure. I have no doubt you will qualify for the World Cup in Africa - I do doubt your potential to succeed there, unless attitudes change in a major way.

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  • 110. At 4:47pm on 04 Sep 2008, Daniel Jackson wrote:

    i agree with svenalike,

    sven may not have got us further than a quarter final but he was by far the best manager we have had in the past ten years, he knew the game and just needed the england 'celebrities' to have a reality check and just play good football.. rather than be happy to crash out falling short of expectations.

    As far as Beckham is concerned i am a massive fan of him but i admit that his time is coming to an end, hes not got the pace to play on the flank but one thing that keeps him in there is his heart and determination. Like i said, he's not the best we have anymore, i think Bentley is a better footballing option but Beckhams commitment and heart to England can't be questioned in my opinion, unlike some players, but i'm sure peoples opinion will differ.

    All in all it's time for Capello to prove his managerial worth and get England to its rightful place in regards to respect in the football world. Before even England fans themselves lose interest, which can't be blamed after years of hurt.

    good article.

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  • 111. At 4:50pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    England are 15th in the FIFA World Rankings. In tennis for example the 15th best player in the world would not be expected to ever reach a final let alone beat the top 2 ranked players, ever. Unlike supporting Henman to try his best to beat superior players when it comes to football England has a wildly inflated opinion of it's stature, mainly based on winning the world cup a gazillion years ago, while Germany, Italy and Brazil have won it several times each since. Until the teams results over a long span are good enough to raise the teams standing into the top 5 at least we should not have any expectation of getting past the quarter finals, but instead hope that somehow we can cause an upset. Would you expect the 15th ranked team in English football to suddenly win the League? How long did it take for events and luck to conspire for Portsmouth to win the FA cup for example.

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  • 112. At 4:51pm on 04 Sep 2008, DPanna wrote:

    If England can't start winning under Capello maybe - finally - the media might start asking questions about the players?

    Marcello Lippi, Capello, Wenger and Ferguson rolled into 1 man couldn't turn England into World Cup winners. Wrong mentality and players with no creativity or flair.

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  • 113. At 4:53pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    The players aren't stirred by playing for England.

    The supporters aren't stirred watching this team.

    One answer:
    Wholesale changes involving shipping all the glamour-pusses out the door. A new team please.

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  • 114. At 4:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, saga mix wrote:

    Our current crop of English players are a dismal bunch and Capello will do very well to match Sven's achievement of making a WC 1/4 final. Given that Sven is much the better coach, we shouldn't really be expecting to do as well as that, this time.

    Still, they say it's better to be a lucky manager than a good one and Fabio has had a massive slice of good fortune with Stevie Gerrard getting injured.

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  • 115. At 4:57pm on 04 Sep 2008, ya_dafty wrote:

    The media are such a factor when it comes to England. I truly believe that only a handful of players enjoy the experience whilst the majority can't deal with it.

    It is the media men that go on about 1966 and it is the media that get all hyped up and then come crushing down.

    In the last 20 years how many decent England performances have there been?

    Look at the last major tournaments. The England players don't play with freedom.

    England don't play to their strengths, and the management team lack the guts to take risks. And the FA hire the managers.

    For crying out loud, Englands best weapon is relyinng on a relative has been to whip in dead balls. That's pretty pathetic.

    And say the players did play with freedom - there are only two maybe three world class players there. The rest are average and yet who was it that spoke of the golden generation - the media men. Who fuelled it further - turkeys working in the media.

    When Hoddle went to the world cup he said England would win it. When they got knocked out he said England would have won it. Sven said the same, McClaren talked about the fantastic players...... crazy - they're all crazy!!!!

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  • 116. At 5:02pm on 04 Sep 2008, King_Shearer_Legend wrote:

    With the players England have they should at least have made the quarters of Euro 2008 yet they didn't even qualify. Capello needs to quickly find a system that works.
    The team should be this:

    Brown Ferdinand Terry A.Cole

    Bentley Gerrard Hargreaves J.Cole

    Owen Rooney

    And Ashley Young, Owen and Agbohlahor should definately be in the squad

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  • 117. At 5:03pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    I point out again, England are 15th in the FIFA World Rankings.

    1 Spain
    2 Italy
    3 Germany
    4 Netherlands
    5 Croatia
    6 Brazil
    7 Argentina
    8 Czech Republic
    9 Portugal
    10 Turkey
    11 France
    12 Russia
    13 Romania
    14 Cameroon
    15 England

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  • 118. At 5:05pm on 04 Sep 2008, Sirmattsway wrote:

    There's a fair few people talking about Crotia or Czech rupublic etc and saying they are better teams who outplayed us and their players individually are better technically. Now I'm not sure where these people come from weather its Crotia or foreign bias or if they come from England etc but I agree on the better "teams" and outplayed us but NO WAY are they better players sorry and no way are Portugal miles ahead. We have overall better players than Portgual, Sure they have Ronaldo whos the best player in the world, Deco and a couple of others who are either good or on the rise but the names we have is seriously off the scale and that is why we are massively underachieving even more so, not just that we invented football and have a strong country and league.

    Harry Redkanpp said the same earlier when he was guest on Setantas coverage on the England v Czech game. He said Czech and Croatia players are not better at all and he asked the question "who many would get in our team if any?" and also went on to back up his point by saying "I had Barros and no way is he better than those". So he backed it up with inside knowledge as well as his own football and managerial knowledge.

    No one seems to be able to answer the 10 million pound question of why our stars don't play well as a team. Some pundits, managers or players inside and outside of England suggest things like the PL is more important or the systems or the managers or this or that but no one really pin points it.

    What I will say is we were good in 98 and pushed Argentina and have been in a few of the Euros missing out on pens from a Semi final but other than that we have been poor. German 2006 we were shocking and I mean shocking, it was slow, boring and awful. I'm not blaiming David Beckham but for me when he's in the team it all goes set piece and he does those stupid long balls or diagonal balls all the time. He barely does any crosses from the wing these days yet he will set something up be it a free kick or corner and he comes off looking good.

    Also we still from Sven, McClown and now with Fabio put people in the wrong place just so we can get that star name in. We should not be doing that. I'd rather us put Downing, SWP, Lennon or whoever in than have a Gerrard, Scholes or Lampard on the RW or LW like we have done.

    The likes of Rio, Terry, Brown, A cole, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Lampard, J cole and Rooney have played for some of the biggest clubs in europe and in big games like rivalrys, derbies or domestic and european cup finals, they are better players than the likes of Croatia dream of so why are they playing slow horrible stuff? Sure they can in tournements be strong and defensive (unlike Euro qualifying) but they just don't create anything, shoot or have the chances like the do at Liverpool, United or Chelsea etc.

    I'm not singling any one player out as they are ALL to blame but for example of my point why does Gerrard run his heart out, shoot or score great goals from distance, set up people or even rescue his team almost on his own near the end of the game nearly every game yet we hardly ever see it for England? Same applies to the rest we only get odd glimpses if that.

    I still will watch every England game and want them to win but god its boring compared to my club team or any PL club team for that matter and I do not get as excited about the fixture and I should do.

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  • 119. At 5:06pm on 04 Sep 2008, BRAND-0 wrote:

    russwirral - allow me to elaborate. Technique. Football today is about the perfect blend of players. In the past, when tackles were allowed, a technical team would find it much harder. The advent of less contact has seen technical players thrive. These players have always existed and in fairly great numbers, but not in England due to our teachings which come from a rule book older than the bible.

    But we have had one or two who've help with the blend that has become more and more important over recent years. Beardsly, Waddle, Gazza - these players had it. I'm sure there were 1 or 2 others, but it would be 1 or 2. Why such a fuss over Barry? He has it. Along with Joe Cole they are the only English players with it. Scholes has it but won't play.

    Our other 'stars' are great players and most would get into other big team - both club and national, but only one at a time, because today's game requires just one brawler amongst the front five (in addition to the 1 or 2 brawling centre backs). We have a team of brawlers. The best brawlers, but brawlers all the same. This, and only this is the reason England will continue to struggle regardless of who mangages.

    Russia put on a fine display a month or so ago, sweeping teams aside with a technical tour de force, but they didn't have enough brawlers to help them when faced with a better blend.

    Of course, the brawler and technical player represent the two extremes, but the best teams have 1 player at the top of the game in each department, in centre-midfield. Gattuso/Pirlo, Senna/Fabregas. World and Eurochamps. Hargreaves/Scholes. Need I go on?

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  • 120. At 5:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, Arctic wrote:

    Isn't it about time we stopped blaming managers for the inadequacy of our football team?

    Are we really ready for a new scapegoat, this one has hardly had time to warm his seat?

    Who do we choose to blame next for Rooney's inability to score at international level, or half the teams inability to pass a ball to anyone not on the opposing team?

    Do you already have a chosen martyr to blame next for an over-hyped team's technical deficiencies?

    Wouldn't it be easier to just sit back and watch, shout obscenities and sigh with relief when we qualify? That's what I'm planning on doing.

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  • 121. At 5:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, ccfcjayjay wrote:

    haha love it on here. Half the people are saying, we have amazing players, we should be winning the World cup, the other half, we are completely useless, no good players at all.

    The turth is obviously some where inbetween. We by no means have a team full of world class players, but we do have enough quality that we should be at least qualifying for the major tournements.

    The problem is, and has been for a long time is we dont play as a team. Look at what greece achieved 4 years ago, they had very limited team in terms of ability, but they played well as a team!

    Untill we start picking a balanced team we will go nowhere. And that means, no Gerrard and Lampard in the middle together, No beckham on the right wing, (no left winger is fast enough to make up for beck's lack of pace!) and no rooney up fron ton his own!

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  • 122. At 5:14pm on 04 Sep 2008, ELA wrote:

    I've asked before, and I'll ask again:

    Do we really need 3 (THREE) Goalkeepers in the squad. Really?

    Can anybody tell me, statistcally, when the last time was that we actually, really, needed all 3 goalkeepers???? Please?

    So why not remove one and take Owen?

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  • 123. At 5:14pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    If Fabio gets us to the 1/4 finals of the next World Cup would that be a good result?

    Or would he be sacked?

    If he was sacked who would be deemed qualified enough to manage the team after that?


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  • 124. At 5:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, ccfcjayjay wrote:

    120. At 5:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, arcticandy wrote:
    Isn't it about time we stopped blaming managers for the inadequacy of our football team?


    Untill the managers try something different then no, it is not time to stop blaming them! If we had experimented with some different players/formations and nothing worked, then yes, blame the players. But we all know that a rigid 442 with Gerrard lampard and beckham in midfield, doesn't work. Not because any of them are bad players, (becks is passed it but the other two aren't) but because there is no balance. If you honestly think that a team with Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Owen, Rio, Terry, J Cole doesn't have enough individual quality to qualify for a major tournement yo uare deluded. Greece won euro 2004 with less quality. The problem isn't the players, its the team, and they way the playerrs are asked to play.

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  • 125. At 5:18pm on 04 Sep 2008, ya_dafty wrote:

    The buck stops with the managers and besides, the managers are always talking up their chances.

    England are average and will be average. They don't have the collective drive and passion that other nations have. I blame it on the national anthem.

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  • 126. At 5:20pm on 04 Sep 2008, labcoatlarry wrote:

    I think the whole England football player situation can be summed up by “would rather miss for England than LFC”, jamie carragher. “I couldn’t care less about England, I’m a Liverpool supporter. We are Scouse, not English!” disgusting attitude shows where these over paid idiots are thinking. And to be frank i would not want his like reresenting my country.

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  • 127. At 5:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    "If you honestly think that a team with Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Owen, Rio, Terry, J Cole doesn't have enough individual quality to qualify for a major tournement yo uare deluded."

    Er - didn't this exact same team, barring the odd injury, fail to qualify for Euro 2008?

    However - and to refer to your earlier comment - you're right, we should qualify with our average-to-good team. We're not world-class neither are we usless - somewhere in-between as you say, like a Romania or a Sweden.

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  • 128. At 5:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, ExpatAndy wrote:

    I agree with those who say we are expecting too much.

    Capello has a monumental task ahead of him with a paucity of decent players that can match the heart, soul and skills of the Croatians.

    It is the heart and soul that they bring to the game that England never seems to show.

    The England old boys are overpaid and bloated on their own egos and the press is always eager to harp on about the likes of Owen et al. Let's face the reality that the mandate for Capello should have been to build a team from scratch that will be able to compete at the top level and maybe not make the World Cup.

    Take a look at Spain. They paid a hard price over the years for playing a young and some would say immature side but it has paid off and I'm sure they would run rings around Terry et al.

    Andora should be a 10-0 miminum confidence boost and capello should be telling his team they better score as many goals as they possibly can in 90+ minutes or heads will roll.

    I would love to see England bring in the new blood and get rid of the old. Sorry Becks. Even though you may still be a great dead ball provider, England needs more than that. You need to see past the ego and hang up the boots and let someone else develop into a great player

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  • 129. At 5:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, i_love_this_game wrote:

    English fans and especially the press should come to terms with the fact that the premiership may be the richest and most watched league doesn't mean that the national team is up there with the best. The best players in the premiership are foreign players. They are week in week out the most consistent. How then can a manager assemble a team? Capello can go to all premiership games the trend remains the same. I find funny to see him at the Emirates Stadium. Which English player does he go look at? It's about time the press stop putting unrealistic expextations on the shoulder of the manager and lubs start grooming local talents. English should alos look further than the premiership and go to Europe to play in different cultures and learn various brand of football. How many english players are plying their trade outside of England? Maybe that's the real measure of their quality and notthe huge salaries they earn.

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  • 130. At 5:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, starrychocmilkshake wrote:

    I remember a young Wayne Rooney destroying Croatia in Euro 2004. He kept himself fresh up front and picked them apart with pace, touch and power. Learn from Henry in the Champs League final (Arsenal v Barca), doesn't matter how good you are, if you try to win games on your own, when the chance comes your legs will be like jelly and you'll sidefoot it straight at the keeper at snails pace! Stay up front where you're needed!

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  • 131. At 5:22pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    Jamie Carragher shouldnt be in the England squad, he is way way way too scouse.

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  • 132. At 5:26pm on 04 Sep 2008, cobblerfan wrote:

    6 million a year and we are rated 15 in the world rankings. Well that speaks for its self it is not about the manager it is about grass roots and the Manchester City deal is another nail in the coffin of the national team. 6 million a year to all the teams in Div. 1 and 2 would be much better spent.
    When will they learn that the England team means nothing to the premier league. If the bubble bursts which it will surely do what about England then.
    We need somebody from the lower divsions at the FA who knows what it takes to get it right and not waste 6 million on a manager who looks lost at the job. The FA wastes moor money than any organisation they need to get to the grass roots and do something rather than lip service

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  • 133. At 5:28pm on 04 Sep 2008, cobblerfan wrote:

    well said i love this game

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  • 134. At 5:29pm on 04 Sep 2008, squaremonkee wrote:

    Interesting to see Romania are above England in the rankings. I seem to remember the likes of Mark Lawrenson scoffing at their chances of reaching the knock out stages even after they held France to a 0-0 draw, yes France didn't bother turning up to the tournament but Romania went on to almost knock the World Champions out! They actually played some decent football along the way. Lawrenson's and other pundit's comments turned out to be accurate maybe, but there can still be no certainty in football. Greece winning in 2004 is the best example of this in the modern history of the game. Rankings do not determine everything in International football, and just because a team such as Sunderland isn't going to win the Domestic Premiership any time soon, why can't England win a major tournament despite a lowly ranking? Lack of passion and belief, that's why.
    Gerrard may fail in delivering this for England on some occasion, but he hasn't been fully given the chance of proving himself as Captain like he has at Liverpool. Yes club football is different as you all mention(so the "lack of English talent" in the Premier League shouldn't really make a difference to our national team's performance then) but Gerrard is worshipped at Liverpool, he is a legend, he is a proper scouser through and through and therefore passionate at guiding his favourite club to success, he enjoys playing for them. Perhaps if he was given that chance with England, afterall he is their best player, England could win something.
    There is no way anyone can deny Gerrard is arguably the best midfielder in the World right now. Yet alone England!

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  • 135. At 5:31pm on 04 Sep 2008, Crowthorne_Rant wrote:

    Why do people always take the friendlies so seriously? We are the only nation that do this.

    The same night we were drawing against the Czechs the Italians scraped a 2-2 draw against Austria with a last minute comedy own goal. Does anyone think that the Italians are rubbish after that?

    Argentina only managed 2-0 against Belarus. Do the Argentitians now think they will struggle in their qualifiers?

    We need to stick with Capello, it's going to take him another 6 games to teach us to keep the ball.

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  • 136. At 5:32pm on 04 Sep 2008, Sirmattsway wrote:

    The ranking of 15th is nothing to do with Capello its to do with mcClown and the Euro failure. Not onyl did we not qualify but we weren't actually IN IT to beat good teams and gain rank points.

    That would be like Murray or Federer missing Wimbledon, US open or something. Or Ronnie osullivan missing the world champs.

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  • 137. At 5:32pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    Man City et al foreign money may be a nail in the coffin of the national team but what would you rather have? A slightly better than Championship all English players league and a possibly bit better national team, or the most exciting league in the world with all the best players from all over the globe and an average national team?

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  • 138. At 5:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, ya_dafty wrote:

    LABCOATLARRY number 126.

    How many fans put their club teams ahead of the national team.

    Carra is calling it as it is.

    How would you feel if the majority of the players came out with that?

    England does not matter anywhere near as much as club football. Live with it!

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  • 139. At 5:34pm on 04 Sep 2008, bingleyperson wrote:

    Capello has already proved that he's not up to the job. We must bring someone in who will use an attacking 4-4-2.

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  • 140. At 5:34pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    We didnt miss out on Euro because of injury or illness, we didnt qualify hence 15th. Not qualifying means you will be below the teams that did, which is totally fair.

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  • 141. At 5:35pm on 04 Sep 2008, faz723 wrote:

    Very true that the current crop of players are most certainly over-paid and over-hyped. Football is played on grass and not paper and yet are these not the same players that are routinely about the best in the champions league?!

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  • 142. At 5:35pm on 04 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    I'm constantly hearing that England are a washed-up side and can't compete with the superstars of the top international side

    there is some berating of players like terry, lampard and gerrard for not being world class - how many national sides have these world class players? spain have torres, xavi and villa, but would you say alonso is better than his mate Gerrard, or fabregas is any sort of class better than the likes of Lampard? they are a good side with some stars, which is why they won the euros, but look at Germany - virtually no big names, good players - but no Klinnsmanns or Beckenbauers - they were in the final, other good sides were the netherlands, croatia and turkey - the 'big' sides italy and france were awful, buffon may have showed some quality but what were the likes of Toni and Thuram doing?

    likewise most people would say the best keepers in the premier league are Cech, Van der Saar and Reina - and yet James had the most clean sheets of the 07/08 season and was the only player outside of the top 4 to be nominated for a PFA award - yet he is derided, i know his performances for england have been suspect, but he seems to get a rough deal from people

    over half of the england side were in the last stages of the Champions' League, several are winners - you can argue that it is the likes of Ronaldo, Tevez and Drogba etc.. that produce the successes but these english blokes wouldn't be there if they weren't deemed good enough for their roles

    So when teams like Croatia, the Czech Rep, Russia and Turkey qualify is it because the English players we have aren't good enough? b***ocks is it - it's because they don't play like a team, not because Milan Baros' is a better player

    I would say England's poor performance is down to recent poor management, in the shape of mcclaren (as sven got us to the last 8 three times in a row), and relying on the biggest names we have simply because they play in the Champions' League - players who should automatically be considered 'world class' - when, like croatia, we should be building a good team, regardless of where they play - i'd rather have bullard and barry any day if they worked well together

    the weakness I would identify is not having enough english players in the premier league to pick from, and the managers' reluctance to look down at the mid-table teams for some passionate players that may well work better together

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  • 143. At 5:39pm on 04 Sep 2008, saga mix wrote:

    re #134 squaremonkee on Gerrard

    but I do, I'm afraid
    ... I do "deny it"

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  • 144. At 5:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, HibsSense wrote:

    Reading some of the comments here and elsewhere I can see Beckham getting a lot of stick, many of the view that he is past it. Can some one, perhaps Mr McNulty, provide some stats on the goals England have scored in their previous matches(particulary the competitive ones) and who provided the assist. For all the abuse Beckham gets, and as youthfull and fitter as the likes of David Bently are, no one seems able to step in and provide as many assists as Beckham has and still continues to do. It wouldn't surprise me to see that the percentage of goals scored dramatically reduces for England games in which Beckham did not play.

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  • 145. At 5:42pm on 04 Sep 2008, lesliemoss wrote:

    How anyone can think Capello is the right man amazes me! He omits Owen, Crouch and Ashton, and includes Walcott as a striker! Is he kidding? He seems to have very little imagination, but I have a feeling his reign will be short. The England lineup simply won't cut it against the top opposition. If England can't get at least 5 goals against Andorra's part timers, there will be little hope for future success.

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  • 146. At 5:43pm on 04 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:

    Not having enough English players in the Premier League to choose from is completely, totally and utterly irrelevant as an excuse for England not winning everything.

    No other nation claims that their success is based upon the strength of their league and how it supports their younger players and gives them a good choice of player. Does Croatia, Brazil, Italy, France, Holland? And what difference would it actually make?


    England are not an international force because they are not capable of dominating international football.

    Root around for excuses as much as you want about penalties being lotteries, flukey goals, too many foreigners etc etc. The fact is that if England were even close to being good enough to consistently challenge for top honours, they have done a little more often in the last 50 years.

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  • 147. At 5:43pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    RE #137.
    I'm afraid its only the 'most exciting league in the world' to people who buy the sky sports baloney.

    The most exciting league to a barca fan is la liga . For a Dortmund man its the Bundesliga.

    Players don't come because its the most 'exciting'. They come for cash.

    Its in the interest of all the people making money and marketing the league to make you think that you are really lucky to be seeing this 'exciting stuff'.

    Bolton vs Stoke on a rainy Feb? Much more exciting than watching a quality England team compete at the Euros.... or is that codswallop?

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  • 148. At 5:43pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    145, lesliemoss

    Hilarious - name a manager you think would be the right man?

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  • 149. At 5:46pm on 04 Sep 2008, Uninventivename wrote:

    Does nobody else see the irony in criticizing Capello for not including Owen and Crouch when all the talk when he took over was about how people wanted to see a team picked on form, not reputation. Now, I'm not saying Capello's necessarily done this, but if you're picking on form then, for my money, Owen and Crouch should not be in the team. (Although having said that Ashton and Woodgate should probably both be in the team and Lescott out).

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  • 150. At 5:47pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:


    fair point but there are how many matches over a League season versus 30 in a Euro every 4 years?

    I mean with Man City there are now 5 'big' clubs which will be fighting for 4 CL places, how many other leagues have such a spread?

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  • 151. At 5:48pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Brazil, Italy, France and Holland have strong leagues with less foreigners.

    On top of that their players go on to play abroad a lot of the time. Particularly Brazil. The Brazil manager gets to pick from a strong national league plus a dozen or so players playing at top clubs in Spain, a dozen in Britain, a dozen in France, Russia, Germany.

    Basically a massive pool of talent to draw from with younger players all getting the chance to learn at their home town clubs.

    Your point that this doesn't make a difference is frankly absurd.

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  • 152. At 5:49pm on 04 Sep 2008, Copperconk wrote:

    Let's face it

    England ranked 15 by FIFA - if this were the EPL they would be fighting relegation and the Manager would be for the 'chop'

    It's realistic that England will not qualify, so get over it and lets start talking about what the FA are going to do about getting us back into the Premiership while we discover ourselves in the Championship league.

    I'm rooting for Cameroon
    (they are ranked above England)

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  • 153. At 5:51pm on 04 Sep 2008, Robert Jones wrote:

    You didn't qualify because you're good and yet you don't know how to play as a team. Quit beating around the bush, and beat the over-played idiots with said bush. It's time the unsung players were given a chance. I don't want to see England do well, make no mistake, it would be too irritating.

    [First 11]

    David James

    Glen Johnson
    Rio Ferdinand
    John Terry
    Joleon Lescott

    David Bentley
    Gareth Barry
    Steven Gerrard
    Ashley Young

    Wayne Rooney
    Emile Heskey


    Scott Carson
    Phil Jagielka/Sol Campbell
    Jamie Carragher
    Frank Lampard
    Owen Hargreaves
    Gabriel Agbonlahor
    Michael Owen

    England need to quit using Wayne Rooney as a fifth midfielder, it's never worked. When Rooney was at Everton, the boy was tyrant, and he blitzed through defences. He's been conditioned to play unselfishly, which is not the way forward at international level. Emile Heskey is an underrated treasure for England, and has been for many years. Crouch can't score against any team that's actually good, so forget this absurd 'little and large' nonsense the media is so keen to push.

    Gareth Barry has been at the heart of Aston Villa's growth under Martin O'Neill, and deserves a place in the first 11. Lampard has not produced for England since Euro 2004 against France, and he's being outshone at Chelsea by Michael Ballack, a far superior player. If England were to play to their strengths, they'd be a genuine force.

    Most important to England rehabilitation is for Capello to do what he promised - to sweep away the JT, Stevie G, etc. nonsense and to pick players on merit rather than on their status within the England camp.

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  • 154. At 5:51pm on 04 Sep 2008, Arctic wrote:

    The thing I find so amusing is everyone screams and cries when the same inadequate players are picked. And then when they're dropped and the results don't change, they scream and shout and say it would have been oh so different if Owen, Beckham or whoever was in the side.

    So I stand by my original comment. Isn't it about time we stopped blaming managers for the inadequacies of our football team.

    I'm fully aware we're not totally crap. I know that 4 or 5 of the team would be picked for any international side.

    Thing is if they were eligible for those teams, they'd also be playing in leagues where hoofball isn't acceptable. So they'd learn how to pass properly, control the ball properly, not look scared crapless when they have the ball and wouldn't need to rely on an international coach to undo months of bad habits in 3 days.

    If Capello isn't good enough, who is exactly? Which scapegoat do you choose next for England?

    Like I said, it's all well and good blaming managers for picking the same old team, but look at what's going on right now.

    He's being castrated for not picking Michael Owen. If he'd dropped Beckham, who may not even get time on the pitch, it'd be the same thing.

    Owen is our best goal scorer, but he's still unfit. He's scored against Coventry and some other championship side mascarading as a Premiership team.

    In the mean time Defoe has scored twice against real opposition, and you can't drop Rooney or you might as well walk out on the job right now. Lose or win, if Rooney or Ferdinand or Terry aren't picked, the manager is hammered.

    If Rooney's role is not to score goals, what exactly is he in the team for? He talent is undeniable, but so is his appalling record at international level.

    Terry is crap, pure and simple. Error prone and headless chicken spring to mind. There are at least half a dozen better central defenders. Dunne, Taylor, Woodgate, King, Carragher and Davies are all far superior. Yet if he wasn't captain half the press would be screaming for blood.

    As England manager you can't win. You drop players you get blamed, you pick them you get blamed. You change tactics you get blamed for not choosing something the players are comfortable with. You keep 442 and you get blamed for lacking imagination.

    In the end I reckon it would be far easier to just watch the game, try to enjoy it, scream at the bad passes and sigh with relief if we get the points to qualify.

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  • 155. At 5:54pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Hay Procesion
    You could of course put that the other way round and ask how exciting is it to have the same four (not five yet) teams fighting it out for honours each year?

    I fail to get excited by the battle to claim the last Intertoto spot by mid table teams.

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  • 156. At 5:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, LukeMooreforEngland wrote:

    Calling Svens reign a failure is a tad harsh. Quater final stages reached in all major tournaments along with memories for life which include the beckham freekick; the 5.1 against germany; beckhams constant penalty misses; and the constant expectation that gerrard and lampard will play a blinder -they never did mind-.
    The more i think about it Svens reign was actually a success lets face it we're no Brazil are we!!

    + The reason why we are not successful is because England lack a creative attacking central midfielder - this must be a midfielder who first thinks to pass when he has space just outside the box and not just lump it at goal.

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  • 157. At 5:56pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    I think that every England player who scores less than 7 on The Sun player rater should be marched out onto the Wembley center circle the next day and shot by a random selection of unhappy England fans. And every time a Manager loses or draws he should be shot and replaced the next day too.

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  • 158. At 5:59pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:


    The fight for the Intertoto spot by midtables teams is not the same as the top 4 battle by the top teams is it? Also remembering how far said teams went in the CL?

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  • 159. At 5:59pm on 04 Sep 2008, YoreLore wrote:

    hardest job in the world the England job. Fans and press are pretty embarrassing when you dont win every match comfortably. You are not the best team in the world and do not have the best players...the league is only called the best because of the money and foreign talent.

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  • 160. At 6:04pm on 04 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:

    Holland and France do not have strong leagues.

    The purpose of the Dutch league is to produce talent to sell abroad at a young age. Only in recent has a slightly larger proportion of the Dutch squad come from the Dutch league and it hasn't impacted on their success.

    Fans of England are constantly looking for excuses as to why the team is so poor. Why can't it be considered that they might not be good enough?

    There weren't as many foreigners in the top division during the 70s, 80s and 90s, how successful were we during that 30 year period of not having foreigners ruin everything?

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  • 161. At 6:06pm on 04 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    146 DaveWalnut wrote:

    Not having enough English players in the Premier League to choose from is completely, totally and utterly irrelevant as an excuse for England not winning everything.

    No other nation claims that their success is based upon the strength of their league and how it supports their younger players and gives them a good choice of player. Does Croatia, Brazil, Italy, France, Holland? And what difference would it actually make?


    Apart from several countries, like Brazil and Italy

    But also the difference is the English players don't play abroad - Spain can find a lot of its team in the prem, not just its own league - there is only one place the english players play (bar beckham)

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  • 162. At 6:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    If anything for the English players playing in the English PL they should in fact benefit by being surrounded by high class international players who they can learn from.

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  • 163. At 6:09pm on 04 Sep 2008, Copperconk wrote:

    Sven this Sven that......
    McClown this McClown that......
    Carpello this Carpello that ........

    Brian Clough would be turning in his grave !!!!

    The greatest Manager England never wanted

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  • 164. At 6:10pm on 04 Sep 2008, dribbles_ wrote:

    Oh here we go again!

    How exactly are England 'under achieving'?

    Has it not occurred to anyone that perhaps England just isn't the hotbed of talent you think it is? Yes there are skillful players and a host of great passionate clubs but these are found in a many many other countries who consistently produce technically better players who know how to play on the international stage.

    Ever thought 1966 was a fluke - a one off on home soil that may never be repeated? If you put it in that context and look realistically at England's teams down through the years they have generally punched around their true weight being knocked out and beaten by more savvy skillful and technically better teams like Croatia who they haven't a snowballs chance in hell of beating.

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  • 165. At 6:10pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Hay Procession
    It is an exciting league with quality players.
    The point I was making was in response to posts commenting that international football doesn't matter because we have an exciting league.

    If you don't support one of the big four and maybe even if you do - the excitement of your country doing well at the world cup or ec whilst playing quality football is phenominal - it brings nations to standstill, sport pulling the world together.

    Saying I don't care because now my team is owned by a rich arab billionaire is pretty short sighted.

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  • 166. At 6:14pm on 04 Sep 2008, showUsYerHands wrote:

    People who say England cannot be a force in International football need only look at Germany and their relative success in the last 3 years.

    Technically the German's are similar to the best of the English players. But the major difference is that they play with great confidence and belief.

    I think most people will agree that the best England have played in the last few years was the 3-0 victory over Russia at Wembley. That game and the game before they were playing with confidence and England at last looked a decent side. Then we all know that new-found belief was shattered almost before it even began when a raft of injuries and a disastrous goalkeeping error ended our Euro 2008 campaign with defeat to Croatia.

    That was a new low for the moral of the England squad. Capello must somehow get that confidence back in the squad but the tide is against him as us fans are utterly sick and tired of failure. Winning against Andorra will enfuse the players with confidence, only winning that game is the easy part.

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  • 167. At 6:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:

    Perfectly put dribbles_.

    4 semi finals in 50 years (2 of them on home soil) doesn't wreak of brilliance really does it.

    Germany have been to 17 semi finals.

    But then they're just lucky aren't they.

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  • 168. At 6:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    bobbieflowers, you're wrong because i also think we can win both games. everyone keeps saying that we're not the under-achievers and what we're getting is what we deserve well they're wrong and that negativity isnt going to help us win anything. We have great players and they should be able to do well but they're not motivated i think. If everyone has a go at the national team they're not going to be very happy and trust me, i know what thats like because i play football in spain (im only 14 so i cant compare the pressure i get to the pressure they get from the whole country) and i know. We need to be supportive and not listen to what everyone else says about us being crap and all. We may not win the WC but we could soon because there is a lot of good young english players coming through. We can win games because our players are good but they need to play in a certain way, and thats where the manager comes in. Look at the spanish team for example, they have good players, i dont know if theyre better than the english but oh well, but its the way they play that got them to win the EURO CUP. so lets play hard and fight for every ball and get a result. COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!

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  • 169. At 6:16pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:


    I am in agreement with you. The WC and the Euro's are the most exciting platforms for football.

    It is the imagination and dreams that England will play like Brazil that makes it so exciting.

    And after a week when England have played like a pub team it is watching Brazil play that makes it exciting.

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  • 170. At 6:23pm on 04 Sep 2008, Laqlouq58 wrote:

    But German players want to play for Germany, they are motivated. There is still a level of nationalism, as there is in Croatia.

    Please don't labour under the illusion that most of the Big 4 English superstars are really committed to playing for England. Just watch a game and see.

    Most fans (or rather paying customers) are much the same. They are more interested in which new players "their" clubs should be spending millions on that they are in how England play.

    Liverpool fans identify more with Torres playing for Spain tan with Rooney or Lampard playing for England. Chel$ki fans probably support Russia.

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  • 171. At 6:23pm on 04 Sep 2008, starrychocmilkshake wrote:

    Confidence is low. When the Czech's scored their first goal did you see the looks on the England players faces. Looked like they just lost the WC final. I think I might react the same way, waiting for the impending doom which is the heckling, boo's and countless repetitive questioning from the oh so negative media.

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  • 172. At 6:23pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:


    No, germany just have the mentality.

    If you look at them over the past few tournaments

    02 - they managed to get to the final with a team that was not very good at all.
    06 - they got to the semis on home soil, but again with an average team
    08- somehow they managed to get to the final and this with a team that was pretty poor.

    As for post 164

    No croatia are not more skilful and better technically than the english players.

    They, just like Germany, have a belief and a team ethic and they probably over achieve.

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  • 173. At 6:26pm on 04 Sep 2008, jay2spain wrote:

    IF all these people are english and they're saying england are rubbish and they're just not good enough, well we're never going to win games with people like them. For god sake, try and be positive if you're english. (IF you're not, say whatever u like) i know its frustrating that we're not doing well but we do have good players and we do have good young players but we need to give them a chance. Spain havent won anything for years but they thought they could win everygame, although they didnt in the last WC. but the point is that they kept trying and trying and gave their players a chance and now they've won the euro cup and theyre a great team now. We didnt do too badly last WC (knocked out of the QFs by penalties isnt bad) and we were unlucky not to get into the euro cup. but maybe it just wasnt our year and it might not be for a long time. spain actually have been in less euro cups than england!! so it hasnt been their year for a long time. so lets wait and give them a chance and if you're english, be supportive!! COME ON!!!

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  • 174. At 6:27pm on 04 Sep 2008, Uninventivename wrote:

    # 164 + 167 -

    It's funny that you give the example of the Germans because they are an incredibly successful national team but they haven't ever had that many players who are blisteringly creative or skillful have they? As mentioned above, I am sure psychology and discipline have a lot to do with their success which, sorry to conform to the stereotypical view, is largely based on efficient and effective play.

    If you would claim that the German squad at the Euros had individuals throughout that were superior to those in the English squad then I would call you a liar, simple as. Yet they managed to qualify and get through to the quarter finals (I think). For me I think England has now built up a strong losing culture and there is a lot of pressure and negativity surrounding the team.

    I would have liked Redknapp to have been given ago as he seems passionate about England and English players and has shown at Portsmouth that he is a great motivator. Sort out the psychology of the England team and you will go a long way to sorting out the performance.

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  • 175. At 6:28pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    So it is simply over expectation by the press trying to find someone to hang that is to blame for England's under achievements?

    What are the Italian press like with their team? The German press? The Brazilian?

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  • 176. At 6:29pm on 04 Sep 2008, SummersIron wrote:

    Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard are the only England players who are even world-class on paper.

    James is a good shot-stopper but error prone; Wes Brown is average at best; Terry is used to having Cech bail him out at club level - the man makes more mistakes than Titus Bramble; Ashley Cole is quick but he loses the ball and is easily outwitted; Beckham is a great crosser of the ball, but his lack of pace is a problem; Barry is a good player who will work hard, but he is no Pirlo or Fabregas (who Spain could actually afford to play on the bench!);

    Lennon/Downing/Bentley are all competent players who disappear in games against tough opposition; Owen is still brilliant, but sadly injury riddled and if he still had his pace he would be world class like Rio and Gerrard.

    Rooney was a promising young forward in 2004, but 4 years later it's fair to say he has completely failed to live up to his early promise, and now he looks like a ten-year-old who runs wherever the ball is rather than trying to get into useful attacking positions. Alex Ferguson has changed him and Tevez from talented dribblers/goalscorers into hard-working players who pass the ball to Ronaldo at any cost. That isn't a dig at Fergie - he did what he had to do to win the league and champs league, but England need to recognise that Rooney is not the player he once had the promise to be.

    Now to Rio and Gerrard. Ferdinand, for me, with Vidic, is Man U's most important player and is clearly a world-class defender. Gerrard is Liverpool's inspiration and excels at every aspect of the sport. For England they seem to lack the same commitment and spark, meaning that even England's on-paper world-class players become merely good.

    Having said that, me being from Wales, I would love to have the likes of Rio and Gerrard leading our lines, even if they only gave 50%.

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  • 177. At 6:32pm on 04 Sep 2008, littlejklc wrote:

    I am England's fan for as long as 25 years, although myself not an English. There were a lot of disappointment but not as much as recently. Many times when England lost, they were not playing very bad, many times it was referee decision or bad luck. But recently (right after 2004 Euro), England not really played a acceptable game at all. I really don't see any hope in very near future on England national team.
    They are too behind the others, even small football nations like Crots, Turkey, etc.
    If the FA (and media) is wise enough, they should figure it out, the EPL just simply kill the national side.
    Look at the big clubs, like Manu, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, how many young Brits players they produced? almost zero. Now relatively smaller clubs, like Man C(they think they are big now) stop producing young players as well. This should be sad for English players.
    The big money spending on clubs should stop asap. FA should find a way to control the buying of clubs and have some sorts of control on the transfer market.

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  • 178. At 6:33pm on 04 Sep 2008, Alliterative hornet wrote:

    "Now is the time for Capello to deliver the answers and demonstrate that he has something new and fresh to offer England, not simply a rehash of failings displayed under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren."

    Based on the players he's picked, it looks rather like a rehash of failings displayed under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.

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  • 179. At 6:34pm on 04 Sep 2008, smashingmartinsmen wrote:

    I cant understand people giving Frank Lamoard stick. He was England's top scorer in the last world cup qualifying campaign. Gerrard hasnt scored that many goals in his entire England career. At Chelsea where Lampard has been exeptional over the last five years he has the security of Essien or previously Makalele behind him. For England he had to try and balance his game with Gerrard's.

    I do actually think that Gerrard is the better all round player but for attacking flair and goalscoring Lampard is the better option. When partnered with a defensive midfielder Lampard can frighten the best defenders in football, his consistant scoring record at all levels of football prove this.

    The mistakea lot of people make is thinking of Barry or Carrick as defensive ball winners which is not the case, they are both deep lying playmakers, like Andrea Pirlo but not as good obviously. For me the only current viable and succesful central partnership is Lampard and a fit Hargreaves. Lamps would be off the leish while Hargreaves could tidy up.

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  • 180. At 6:37pm on 04 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    If Capello fails, then thats it for the team, it would be enough evidence that no one can do anything and the team should be scaled back and run with a smaller budget like Cameroon.

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  • 181. At 6:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, Lennonisagod wrote:

    Tbf to Sven he did a terrific job and tried his best, we qualified everytime for tournements and arguably we could have won Euro2004 but we were robbed of a Sol Campbell goal against Portugal.
    MaClaren was a joke I will agree with you on that Phil, however we weren't outplayed by Croatia it was MaClaren's fault for playing Scott Carson and his fault for missing that shot. Of all the criticism of Paul Robinson, ironically dropping him effectively lost us that game.
    Croatia weren't outplaying us before that goal but then afterwards we lost all faith and struggled to get back into the game.

    In terms of the team selection I would pick-







    Maybe the team should be different against Croatia, possibly bring in another CM for a more defensive look.

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  • 182. At 6:43pm on 04 Sep 2008, liongeorge01 wrote:

    Our world rating flatters us.

    We don't have great players or a great team.

    If u think we have u r deluded or need to take more medicine.

    We will never, ever qualify or win anything with Beckham on the team

    Time to wake up and smell the cornflakes

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  • 183. At 6:44pm on 04 Sep 2008, skanko wrote:

    Over the past few years where England have declined and slipped in the rankings, Northern Ireland have made significant strides. Moving up the rankings by over 70 places being the main evidence of this rapid improvement. So, where have they succeeded where England have failed?

    1: No big ego's
    2: A genuine passion on playing for your country, which often see's the players perfrom better on the international stage rather than club level.
    3: Realistic expectations
    4: Pride
    5: Officially the best fans in Europe who are always 100% behind the team.

    these factors are not entirely influenced by the manager- it doesnt matter who is in charge of the team, England are lacking some basic fundamentals to be a successful side.

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  • 184. At 6:49pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:


    Gerrard has 13 goals in 68 games
    Lampard has 14 in 62.

    Nothing in it, and Gerrard is by far the better player.

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  • 185. At 6:53pm on 04 Sep 2008, eirebilly wrote:

    184. At 6:49pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:

    Gerrard has 13 goals in 68 games
    Lampard has 14 in 62.

    Nothing in it, and Gerrard is by far the better player.
    England should feel very lucky to have 2 MF's that have 27 goals between them.
    Not many countries can boast MF's that score 1 international in 5.

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  • 186. At 7:06pm on 04 Sep 2008, smashingmartinsmen wrote:

    Another problem with england I think is that we seem to have no genuine game plan.

    I mean what style of football do england actually play? Hardly a passing game, but we don't exactly play long ball either. It isn't a case of fast wingers getting crosses in, or a playmaker midfielder feeding the strikers.

    Perhaps one of the reasons for the chronic underachievement of the England side is because they have no coherant style of play so players are not sure what to do in possesion.

    It can't help Capello that the English players seem incapable of playing anything other than a flat 4 4 2. As we saw under Sven even a diamond is too complicated for them. This isn't what Capello is used to, in the Italian game tactics and tatical flexibility are crucial to a players education and indeed Italian players activly study new tactical workings in an attempt to better themselves as individuals. It seems that England players work hard to get there but are afterwards convinced that they cannot impove more so do not attempt to.

    The lack of technical ability and tactical felxibility means England are too easy for good quality teams to play against. You know what you get with England from an opposition view point and the english never surprise.

    Sven and McClaren tried to get England to play with different formations to miserable faliure Capello experienced the same in his friendlies. Until a new set of more tactically astute we can epect more defeats to decent national sides.

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  • 187. At 7:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, EvilMole wrote:

    It's obvious what will happen. Capello and England will qualify for the World Cup, where they will end up meeting Mexico in the quarter finals - and go out, on penalties. Sven will get the last laugh :)

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  • 188. At 7:12pm on 04 Sep 2008, Edu Gomez wrote:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else who follows any kind of football think the likes of Andorra, liechstenstein, luxembourg, most of the former soviet countries, and a few others as well should probably have a pre-qualification round to whittle down the number of teams in the proper qualification rounds? Let's be fair here, we don't see the likes of non league clubs playing premiership clubs in the first round of the FA Cup. The smaller nations clubs must go through preliminary rounds to qualify for the Champions league. Yet, for some reason, non-footballing countries with no footballing structure at all are included in the qualifying rounds of the 2 major international competitions. They have no hope at all of qualifying for a major tournament, yet all the major countries have to play those guys in a 90 minute display of mind-numbing 11 men behind the ball nonsense. We all know the best those countries can hope for is to lose by only a goal or 2, and maybe they can leave a mark on the other team's star players. Everyone knows that Andorra's main aim is going to be winding up Rooney, or having a bit of a kick at Beckham or Lampard, and it's going to get passed off to us as a World Cup Qualifying match. Don't get me wrong, it's Rooney's fault if he gets himself sent off, but do you really imagine the squad is going to be excited to play against a side that has no interest in football at all? Is Lampard really going to put in a world class performance just so some part timer can go in with a studs up tackle, and put him out for a month? It's going to be a terribly dull affair, with no football played at all. England will win, but get a bashing n the press anyway, and be expected to go bouncing off to Croatia and put in a world class performance against a decent side, despite being criticized for not being that good really. It's a waste of time to play the likes of Andorra in a world cup qualifier. We should send the U21's to that game, and let the seniors handle The Croatians. Hopefully the length of this posting isn't prohibitive.

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  • 189. At 7:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, Edu Gomez wrote:

    Further to my previous comment....I do think there is some positive to be taken from the game against the Czechs. England was awful, against a top-10 ranked team, and managed to come away with a draw, so it does show they can grind out some kind of result against a decent side, even when they are totally lost

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  • 190. At 7:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, Chizzle wrote:

    Personally, unless we ditch pretty much every member of the current International squad, I think we're doomed to forever be the team that was never quite good enough. Eleven world-class players does not equate to one world class team. In this case, the sum of the parts is clearly greater than the whole. What would be a daring, and risky, move, would be to bring in a squad consisting of Championship players, and send them out to see what they would do. And I bet you they will play with a damn sight more pride and passion than the current crop. They will play with a willingness to follow the given directions. Most of all they will play as a team, not eleven highly inflated egos. Look at Slaven Bilic and Croatia. How many world-class players were in their squad at the European Championships? Not many. But they played for each other, their team spirit was there for all to see, and they did a damn sight better than anyone predicted.

    Also Greece 4 years ago. How on earth did that team of unknowns end up European Champions? Team spirit. Team ethics. Team mentality. There was no blaming individuals if things went badly, it was a team thing.

    Football is a team sport, and unless someone teaches the meaning of team sports to our over-paid superstars, then England is destined to fail at every single major tournament. I pity whichever coach has the misfortune to be handed the poisoned chalice of England coach, but I would like to see one of them make a bold choice with selections. Let's select a team whose whole equals more than the sum of its parts. Let's build a team who aren't afraid to do the dirty work when necessary. Let's build a team that has just the slightest bit of passion. Please?

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  • 191. At 7:19pm on 04 Sep 2008, red_fab_fred wrote:

    Sorry Mr McNulty but are you refering to the same 'open goal' that we only put 3 past last time!

    Have some respect for the oppostion would you, because it is people like yourself that have caused more damage to the national team than any previous England manager.

    How good are you at football and to what level have you played at?

    I will tell you now that when you play a team that expects to lose heavily to you, they set out their stall so that you will not score. Eventually you will probably score and go one nil up but this doesn't mean the opposition will try and equalise.

    Some of England's and other top national teams best results have come when playing other quality teams (look at the dutch in Euro 08 as an example.) The reason for this is that when you have 2 teams tactical set out to win a game and one plays very poorly and the other plays to its full potential , you will a results such as ENGLAND 5 GERMANY 1 for example.

    The way you go on we have already won the game by turning up. You clearly know little about actually playing the game itself. Andorra played very well last time and if thy play better this time and England (a team not in the worlds top 10) play averagely the score will be similar to last time. Which is a good result for us right now.

    If media drones such as yourself open your eyes you may realise that the minnows such as Luxemburg, San Marino, Andorra etc. have improved. They may not win matches but they are not getting beaten 10 every time they play.

    Yes we should win on paper and win well, but as you know football is played on grass.

    Stop generating your own stories by setting unattainable levels of success. We will not beat Andorran 6 0 that i can assure you. We shouldn't be beating Andorra (or any minnow) 6 0 this is unfortunate but true.

    Give these teams the respect they deserve.

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  • 192. At 7:20pm on 04 Sep 2008, Auqakuh wrote:

    Hopefully Mr. Capello won't continue the errors of his predecessors by attempting to assemble the "best 11" available to him, and instead focus on filling each position in his desired formation/tactical setup with the best player for each role.

    Hammering square pegs into round holes has never yet worked for England or any other team; it's a simple lesson, and the fact that no head coach has actually fathomed it yet speaks volumes.

    Perhaps if we sack the entire upper echelon of the FA this situation will remedy itself?

    Teamsheet under the office door, anyone?

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  • 193. At 7:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, dribbles_ wrote:


    As for post 164

    No croatia are not more skilful and better technically than the english players.

    They, just like Germany, have a belief and a team ethic and they probably over achieve.

    On what are you basing this? The simple proof is that Croatia came up with the goods twice against England recently and then put in several performances in the Euro's that England could only dream of emulating. This again is the fantasy/delusion versus reality barrier that is so hard to penetrate with England fans. You continually fail but never seem to be able to face the cold hard facts. Croatia are a better side and proved this where it matters on the pitch twice and knocked you out of the Euro's. Simple.

    As for Germany over achieving what are you on? They do it all the time!!!! Yes this isn't their best squad by a long shot but do they have the same attitude and attributes they always bring to the big stage? You betcha. You act like this is some lucky thing they have magically accumulated but it is as much of a skill, talent or asset as being organised in defence dribbling etc etc.

    There are some things that seem to be beyond teaching - like the fact that no one comes close to be able to produce the type of national sides Brazil knock out time after time. It's in the air - it's in the blood - the genes whatever - with all of the evidence to date England simply don't have 'it' the right mix of talent attitude and character to succeed internationally and it seems no amount of managerial change will alter this.

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  • 194. At 7:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Lamps - 14 in 62 is = 1/4
    Gerrard - 13 in 68 is = 1/5

    I'm not Lamps biggest fan but the team need to get off his back. He is going to play and does try. I just feel his ability gets found out at this level.

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  • 195. At 7:27pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hands_of_Friedel wrote:

    why is the lineup so difficult to see?


    There, done and dusted. you can switch in a downing or young or swp in the winger spots; you can switch in a healthy woodgate at CB if you like; maybe johnson at RB if Richards injured; and Defoe or Ashton of Agbonlahor (sp?) can come in based on form.

    It isn't that hard, the trick is that you put wingbacks in as wingbacks, centre backs and CBs, defensive middies as DMs, etc., and you do it based on form and chemistry.

    simple as.

    and if you do it that way, England are good enough to be a top 5 squad. The talent is there, no debate.

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  • 196. At 7:28pm on 04 Sep 2008, dribbles_ wrote:


    Is it just me, or does anyone else who follows any kind of football think the likes of Andorra, liechstenstein, luxembourg, most of the former soviet countries, and a few others as well should probably have a pre-qualification round to whittle down the number of teams in the proper qualification rounds?

    That is soooooooooooo arrogant and imperialistic! Disgraceful comment!

    They and their fans have as much of a right to be there as anybody else. How on earth are they supposed to improve if they are kept out of international football? If they were left out of the qualifiers they would barely play any football therefore condemning to isolation internationally.

    Believe it or not the whole point is that football is supposed to be an inclusive sport for all that brings people together. What you are suggesting is akin to sporting segregation - a two tier sport for the have's and have not's. It's already ruined the premiership - how you can even suggest this for the last stage where there is at least a nod to having a level playing field is beyond me.

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  • 197. At 7:29pm on 04 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    In terms of long term football achievement there is:


    They have the best track records, consistent and sometimes brilliant teams, nearly all the world cups, etc.

    To be fair to England they are just about in the group behind with:

    Spain now joining.
    Nigeria should be there but under achieve.

    Teams that make QFs and the odd semi. Usually the tournament (although England are worst of the bunch in this respect).

    If you actually stand back that is pretty impressive. Football is the worlds game and the sport universally played to the highest standard. QFs are a success! I just wish we had played some better football getting to them!

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  • 198. At 7:36pm on 04 Sep 2008, littlejklc wrote:

    I don't hate Lamps either. I don't think there are not many people hate him when he plays well. We all just got frustrated for the performance and we keep seeing the same batch of under-performed players kept playing. The fact is he has given well enough chance but still not performing. Just tell me which game he was playing good since Euro 2004 against Portugal. He should be dropped. He is a little bit like John Barnes in his latter days for England.

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  • 199. At 7:39pm on 04 Sep 2008, Rosalind Mercer wrote:

    Two games, 6 points - nothing else will do. Remember how badly Mclaren did in the early Euro 2008 qualifiers. England had nothing in hand and therefore was always playing catch up in the points.
    Chizzleface has got it spot on.
    Be honest everyone, the last time England thrilled us was when they beat Germany 5-1 that was a great night. Have not seen that quality and passion since and don't expect to.

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  • 200. At 7:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:


    I am not saying that England are a better team than Croatia. What i am saying is that England's individual players are better than Croatia's, Croatia's players are not technically better.

    Croatia play as a team, England just don't turn up. The players obviously have the abillity, just look at what they have done at club level. For some reason these players just don't perform for England.

    I was talking about Germany overachieving in recent years with a more than average team. 2002 and 2008 are prime examples. It shows how far having the right mentality will get you.

    Fat Frank - 14 in 62 = .226
    Gerrard - 13 in 68 = .191

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  • 201. At 7:41pm on 04 Sep 2008, antisback wrote:

    Its time to face the facts, if a man with cappello's credentials can't deliver with the england team then the fact is, maybe its not the manager who's failing in his job.

    Owen was/is not fit atm
    Beckham is an example to the other players, a talisman if you like, so he should be included in the squad for the time being

    People need to face the facts, all international teams are very good, they are the best players in their country, they also have the advantage of usually playing together on a week to week basis, theres not many english players in a team that play with each other on a week by week basis.

    We should qualify for this world cup yes, but don't expect england to go on and win it.

    Yes they're good players, but England the best 11 players in the world? i don't think so ;)

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  • 202. At 7:42pm on 04 Sep 2008, 22 men kicking a ball wrote:


    Fight for every ball eh?? Did u watch the last friendly then....with all the players sprinting around the pitch trying to make amends for loosing the ball. The first goal conceded was due to that stupid mentality of 'fight for every ball' with beckham sprinting all the way to the left flank after giving away possesion and subsequently getting out off possition. The english are too hot headed when it comes to playing football. If u loose possesion u need to get ur act together and regroup so the shape of the team is not altered.... not sprint around like a school kid.

    If u look on the continent none of the young up and coming footballers ever do such a thing because its drilled in to them that shape and organisation is vital. There they concentrate playing on smaller pitches until they reach 15 thus putting emphasis on technique and tactics. Whereas in england there is no such training...its all about passion, grit and determination. Dont get me wrong thats not a bad thing but its not gonna teach u how to play the game properly, it is only one aspect of the game and doesnt cover the full spectrum of footballing development.

    Also due to the fact that kids in england start playing on full size pitches from as young as 12, the best young players that you get are the ones that are either fast or strong or both. And thats all because on a full size pitch they will always dominate if u hoof the ball to them, so the small technically able child doesnt get a look in because he always gets bossed by the beasts. Grass roots is the answere but there doesnt seem to be any progress in trying emulate the continental style.
    But you are only 14 so i cant blame you for your lack of understanding of how the game works, im sure in time you will learn especially now that your playing in spain

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  • 203. At 7:50pm on 04 Sep 2008, Chizzle wrote:

    I think the best way forward is to introduce futsal as a requisite part of training and coaching for all players from the moment they set foot in an academy. Playing with a smaller, less bouncy ball will force the youngsters to be creative with what they do with the ball instead of just kick-and-rush, which is the current mentality with a lot of English youth players. Never mind the one-touch and two-touch quick passing, that's entertaining and all that, but it's also high-risk, especially for players with no real control skills. It should be used in small bursts, not the whole game. English players need to adapt their game for the International way of playing, which is more Italian than anything else. The emphasis is on slow build-up, and a sudden change of gear at just the right moment. Blasting the opponents with a force-10 gale is not good, because as soon as the storm dies down, the opposition become the equivalent of looters, strolling down the other end and scoring easy goals.

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  • 204. At 8:04pm on 04 Sep 2008, scorpion19 wrote:

    I stopped reading the nonsense way before the end. Who are we kidding? Ourselves, I believe. We have the best league in the world but that league is full of foreign players. We simply are not good enough as a national team. You can put whatever spin on it you want but results tell a different story. You can pretend a manager will make a difference and that if we were luckier to win penalty shootouts that we would have won this and that, but at the end of the day we are second rate. We will never win another major tournament as long as salaries dictate players attitudes ahead of any national sentiment.
    Capello knows that and has all the excuses built in when the inevitable happens. In the meantime he will cash in like others have before him. The media will jump all over him and appoint another homeboy like Harry Redknapp and hopes will rise again. Forget it.
    If you want to make some money bet on Croatia. They will school us. 3-1 for me.

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  • 205. At 8:05pm on 04 Sep 2008, WoOd16 wrote:

    After years of reading the rubbish mentioned by most fans, I felt compelled to finally sign up and respond.

    With regards to the exlusion of Michael Owen...yes, he has been an extremely prolific striker in the past. I have total respect for how proficient Owen is at playing the "goal-poaching-striker" role. However, if anyone actually bothered to think about it for more than a couple of seconds, they would realise that this is genuinely a dead trade. It's not dying, it's dead, and it's corpse is getting swung around.

    Simply put, England, internationally, have always played 4-4-2, with a big man-little man, or shearer-sheringham type up top. **What has this ever won**
    1 world cup 42 years ago, the odd semi-final, and a smattering of last 8s. Clearly it simply doesn't work. In all honestly, i'm getting fed up of pundits, reporters and fans alike rambling on about "the traditional English way". Get real and accept it's always been poor. In Capello there is someone who can finally break the stereotypes and push forward in the direction Eriksson started. Importantly though, Capello has the minerals to drop big name players who don't fully contribute to a system, unlike Eriksson did. Hopefully we will get a top 8 finish in the world cup, who knows, possibly more.

    Got slightly off track and on a ramble, but there you go.

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  • 206. At 8:15pm on 04 Sep 2008, bridlington bob wrote:

    Mr McNulty,

    Perhaps I've missed the point........ but your article appears to tell us little or nothing other than that you will be travelling to watch both matches.

    Is this because you, too, do not have Sultana ?

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  • 207. At 8:21pm on 04 Sep 2008, Alphavillain wrote:

    I have a lot of faith in Capello, but I had more prior to the game against the Czechs. He is still a better manager than McLaren and Ericsson, but that says little. He has to prove himself by at least getting a reliable and cogent formation and a stable line-up of players. This means dropping Lampard and putting Gerrard central for starters, then putting Rooney off the main striker (Crocuh or Owen). That solution can hardly work out worse than the other week.

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  • 208. At 8:22pm on 04 Sep 2008, hero3279 wrote:

    I'm a realist Phil but surely we're going back to our normal pessimistic selves when we're asking for only four points. Surely we must be DEMANDING 6 and anything but 6 points. We're so hung up on this notion that we have to do ok. Positive thinking = Positive results.

    If you play well, beat the opposition to death, hit the post, do everything in your power but fail to pull out a result, ok, fair enough but a team as big as England, 6 points vs Croatia and Andorra (with all due respect) isn't much to ask for.

    Come on England!

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  • 209. At 8:35pm on 04 Sep 2008, dribbles_ wrote:


    If you play well, beat the opposition to death, hit the post, do everything in your power but fail to pull out a result, ok, fair enough but a team as big as England, 6 points vs Croatia and Andorra (with all due respect) isn't much to ask for.


    Once again breathtaking arrogance in the face of evidence which is now stacked high to the moon.

    What does 'big' mean anyway? I'm sure Croatia fans think they are 'big' too. It's meaningless. The facts are found in performances and results.

    You have no right whatsoever to expect 3 points against Croatia anyway. The fact that you are away and they beat you twice to take their place amongst the real elites of Europe while England stayed at home should make you grateful for a draw which I think will be a real achievement for England.

    Exactly how many beatings dire performances and generally awful showings will it take for English fans to realise they have absolutely no right whatsoever to expect anything more than maybe reaching the big tournaments and being knocked out early once they get there?

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  • 210. At 8:38pm on 04 Sep 2008, 22 men kicking a ball wrote:


    spot on there m8, nothing more to add

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  • 211. At 8:45pm on 04 Sep 2008, scorpion19 wrote:

    Yes there is. How is it that a country with a population of 4.5 million people produce a football side that can dominate a country of over 60 million? And a nation that prides itself on sporting excellence no less. Bloody pathetic that we are not producing better talent on our own soil and disgraceful in my humble opinion.

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  • 212. At 8:45pm on 04 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    we will never,ever move forward if we continue to pick Beckham-we know this.I cant quite belive weve passed through euro2008 where we all saw what sort of football England need to be looking to produce and create-YEt we return to Beckham.Id actually laugh if it wasnt quite so pathetic.

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  • 213. At 8:46pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:

    Tell me 1 player in the Croatian team who is better than their counterpart in the England team?

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  • 214. At 8:52pm on 04 Sep 2008, scorpion19 wrote:

    Modric is better than any England midfielder for starters. How can you argue results? They are better than us; just look at the scoreboard.

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  • 215. At 8:54pm on 04 Sep 2008, dribbles_ wrote:


    Tell me 1 player in the Croatian team who is better than their counterpart in the England team?

    1-11 obviously!

    This has been proven by their performances against England and their awesome showing in the Euro's where they were genuinely unlucky as opposed to English unlucky. England haven't put in a performance on a par with the Croatian's have recently on the big days - the big stage where it matters in absolutely years.

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  • 216. At 8:58pm on 04 Sep 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:

    the point i am making, which you seem to be blind to, is that Croatia do not have any players that are individually better than any we have. But they play as a team and get results. Its not because they are individually better it is because they are collectively better that they get results.

    England players have the abillity, but they just do not perform when they are in an England shirt.

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  • 217. At 9:02pm on 04 Sep 2008, furryricecrispy wrote:

    To be honest over the years I have completely lost interest in England games be they competitive or a friendly. Its the same old team playing the same old way with a change of manager thrown in every couple of years.
    Euro 2008 was a breath of fresh air not having to watch England lose on penalties or blame the ref for a disallowed goal or basically under achieve.
    Thank god its on Sentana sports so I dont have to watch any of the games..

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  • 218. At 9:07pm on 04 Sep 2008, Auqakuh wrote:

    On Lampard versus Gerrard.

    Gerrard is the superior player primarily because he has positional awareness. Lampard has none. When he plays for England he is usually out of position and in the way.

    This is why when you play Gerrard and Lampard together, Lampard tends to score more often: because he's in Gerrard's position, and Gerrard, being the better team player, drops back into a different role to accomodate him.

    If we look at club level, what precisely does Lampard achieve at Chelsea? He bangs in a few goals off of people's shins. Wow. Great.

    Meanwhile, Gerrard has lead a relatively average Liverpool side to two CL finals.


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  • 219. At 9:19pm on 04 Sep 2008, darylforengland wrote:

    cappello is just a ball less numpty the same as the rest of them. Still picks the star names like past it lampard. clearly has no clear idea of his own what to do despite being claimed as otherwise. learned absolutely nothing from all the friendlies, tried 451 and didnt stick with it. even mclaren had more balls than him.

    pretends to be a hard man, tried to make a statement at real by dropping his most commited player Beckham then realized he was an idiot. claimed he would never play for real again.

    now we're stuck with the pratt in a long term contract. fellow England fans, expect more misery...

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  • 220. At 9:29pm on 04 Sep 2008, truebluefrmbirth wrote:

    The only thing i can say about the england national team is why can't we be one of the best iternational sides in the world?!?!?!

    Ok, think about it for a minute, our regualar team generally consists of (in no particular order): Rooney, Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard, Gerrard, J. Cole, A.Cole, Barry, Richards, James and probably Beck's. (and yes i know that the likes of Bently, Defoe etc play as well but the names above are 'probably' those that most people would choose for an england xi, so just hear me out for a minute).

    Now the thing is most, if not all, of those players are immense for club level - we're talking about being key players here. Yet when they play for the national side they rarley seem to show even half the form they produce for their clubs.

    The answer is simple then. Capello just needs to somehow get the players worked up enough at international level as they are at club level. Hopefully the hurt from not going to euros will e the insperation they need.

    Oh, and Owen should definitly at least be on the bench. Theres life in his international career yet i reckon.

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  • 221. At 9:37pm on 04 Sep 2008, jelbot wrote:

    I admit that Owen should have the call up but there you go. But as long as Capello puts Barry alongside Gerrard and leaves Lampard on the bench then I will be relatively optimistic about the Croatia game.
    Come on ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 222. At 9:41pm on 04 Sep 2008, jelbot wrote:

    Opps I forgot that Gerrard is out. Ahh well thats that buggered then.

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  • 223. At 9:47pm on 04 Sep 2008, mrbeancounter wrote:

    Without wishing to be rude you are guilty of the "English disease" -i.e. underexpectation. Excuses ("gifted" Croatian team) What my old (and inspirational) maths teacher (Bob Hiller exEngland Rugby Captain) called it "The excuse factory moving onto overtime" when he moaned about our homework.
    2 games equals 6 points." Not 4." Not draws.
    Do Brazil go in expecting draws? There is a mindset disease issue amongst you as journalists leading onto players and public, to say that it is wrong to expect the 100% as the standard. There is a simple problem with English (national team) football. You do not want it enough. Not more than sleep, sex, nightclubs, exclusive magazine covers. Not more than 5 o'clock runs. Or alcohol free diets. Only the team who really wants it will win it. And as the old 10 man at half time sunday league proves, the one that wants it enough, gets it.
    Sadly, there is no hunger enough in the team for price of victory. Yeah, pride in the shirt.Yeah, "nice to have".Yeah "cry if I dont get it" but not a true hunger for victory that is necessary at the highest level.

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  • 224. At 9:49pm on 04 Sep 2008, scorpion19 wrote:

    darylforengland: you are probably 14 years old with a major case of acne. Your lack of grammar is pathetic and your abuse of a man that has had a storied career both on the pitch and on the sidelines disgusts me. Your generation of filthy little loud mouthed urchins makes me feel like vomiting. I pray the next generation of children are taught more politeness than the one you belong to. In the meantime I have to read your almost mindless stupidity. Woe is me.
    For the record Capello does not "pretend" to be a hard man, he is one. If you followed football for more than the last 5 minutes you would know that. The man has forgotten more about football than you will ever learn.
    So keep on posting nonsense and keep getting shot down by the likes of me. Idiot.

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  • 225. At 9:52pm on 04 Sep 2008, CharlesUK wrote:

    The English people have always been exagerating certain foriegners who seem -or pretend to be- remotely high. Examples?: Napoleon, Rommel, ... Now by bearing a contract as high as six million per year, we already have created a remote personage. Much higher than he actually deserves. So we had done with the Swede previously. The British chap between the two era was of no consideration, an astounding errand choice.
    Just let us calculate every win and every point of England, being started since the coming matches, would cost the taxpayers.
    Or did anybody calculate those of the Swede and that of McClaren's? Though none brilliantly by any mean.

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  • 226. At 9:55pm on 04 Sep 2008, jelbot wrote:

    We just have to hope people that it all goes well. Just have to have faith that we will be a top side again and that starts on Saturday. Come on ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 227. At 10:40pm on 04 Sep 2008, mukalai wrote:

    Let`s just admit a nations football reflects their society. Mayweather beat Hatton, but he was taking extra dancing lessons. (not too relevant) What do our boys do? Nothing. Ive lived in Spain for 22 years, played Spanish football and had a right good laugh at Brits that have tried to have a go. We have won many amateur cups...anywy, most of the guys dance or take part in other sports. A watched kettle never boils, and England are simply couch potatoes watching everything go buy. Listen carefully, its a matter of is not about money, status maybe not money. England have got the players now but some need to learn a good lesson. My eleven which i wouldnt change until we started winning;




    defenders that can defend and free minded mids with brains to support Rooney

    Im a Villa fan but i reckon we shud be begging the FA to appoint Ferguson as manager not anybody else in this world that would get England to a world cup with it we are BRITS!!!

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  • 228. At 00:40am on 05 Sep 2008, dazjoe78 wrote:

    Playing for England used to be the biggest honour in an English footballers career, and you could see the pride that the likes of Moore, Charlton, Ball, Lineker, Robson, and Adams had representing their country. Now the players seem more scared than excited, nervous than proud. I'm afraid the fans and press have to take the blame for this, the press have built England up to such an extreme that unless we hammer sides by 4 or 5 goals, playing like Brazil '70, or Holland '74 then they get on the players backs, and the fans read the press, believe what they're reading and start booing if things aren't going well (see Andorra away). We're simply not as good as people think, we have the players to be but haven't moved on, still resorting to 4 4 2 whenever we feel a little panic come on.
    No wonder the players seem to put the Champs League ahead of Internationals these days. Capello needs to get the players proud, and excited, to be representing their country again, and he may need more time for this, but , if we don't get the result we want in Zagreb then the press and fans need to look at it objectively. Croatia have NEVER been beaten at home in a competitive match, Croatia away is a very difficult game and a defeat there is not an embarrassment, indeed a draw is a good result.
    In short, get behind the team, get off players backs (like Lampard, do fans want him to refuse to play for England? Then what abuse would he get for refusing his country!?) Stop building decent players into supposed world beaters, and hope Capello can deliver.

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  • 229. At 00:59am on 05 Sep 2008, Arctic wrote:

    Actually if anyone bothered to watch some of England's games in the '66 world cup, they'd see a lot of the same issues we have now.

    They'd also see how lucky we were to get the equaliser that forced extra time in the final. Maybe it was a goal, maybe not, I don't know or care. But that was one of the very few occasions we got the benefit of the doubt and a bit of luck.

    Bottom line is if that team can do it, so can this one. However the difference is attitude and commitment. I'm not convinced of either and scapegoating another manager won't change a bloody thing.

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  • 230. At 01:01am on 05 Sep 2008, fulham1985 wrote:

    Also, why call up Bullard instead of Young?

    Oh, look at him, the tabloids scream. He's such a cheeky chappy! And he used to play for Gravesend! Ho ho, what a hero's journey he's had.

    He'll also be 32 when the 2010 World Cup rolls around, with only 2 years of international experience. I'm sorry, but I don't see the point.


    Congratulations on not knowing what you are talking about. Bullard is a central midfielder and young is a winger. They play in different positions! What you should be asking is why hasn't young been picked over Downing who has never looked like doing anything in his entire england career.

    Bullard is definitely a better player to start in the england team over lampard though!

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  • 231. At 01:09am on 05 Sep 2008, Auqakuh wrote:

    227: not a criticism, per se, but could you seriously have crammed any more cliches and mixed metaphors into your comment? :p

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  • 232. At 01:15am on 05 Sep 2008, Auqakuh wrote:

    Er, hit post comment too early because I'm a twit.

    Also @ 227: Scholes is retired from international football. And most professional footballers play other sports as well. At the very least golf, and a number of players who I can't think of offhand (but definitely exist) almost had careers in athletics or cricket.

    And seriously, Wheater?

    And Rooney on his own up front? When has that EVER worked? That's right. Never.

    Really, the only problem England have is in the heart of midfield. Someone needs to drop Lampard, permanently, and rotate between Hargreaves, Carrick and Barry as necessary, perhaps with one or two others coming in when it seems tactically required. Other than that, you can pretty much pick any damn combination of players around them and they'd still do better than we have in recent times.

    Oh, and forget Joe Cole. While the man clearly has bundles of talent, he has absolutely no idea how to actually use it, and until he does, he should be nowhere near an England shirt.

    Not convinced on Downing, either.

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  • 233. At 01:16am on 05 Sep 2008, DarioP44 wrote:

    Look, I'm Croatian, and I'm a big big fan of EPL, ever since Davor Suker was in Arsenal in 1999, Arsenal is my favourite team. Ever since we beat you in Euro qualifications I read what all of these football experts have to say about your team and teams they play against and I really don't know what to say. There is one truth about your team, it's filled with big stars but not all of them are great players. I think that you have only 3 or 4 players that can be considered great players, those players are Rooney, Terry, Gerrard and maybe Ferdinand. The rest of them are just good. And now the reason that your team isn't as good as they could/should be, watch this carefully, THEY ARE NOT A GOOD TEAM, team being the cruical word. And one more thing, you need to get of your selfs and learn to show respect to other teams cause that is what is good sportsmenship and what makes a big team.

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  • 234. At 01:42am on 05 Sep 2008, dprimora wrote:

    as a croatian fan who has many english friends and likes england i would like to add a comment with regards to the english team spirit and match attitude.

    I believe it is not that much about the tactic or the 'right players' as you have good managers but a big part of the whole story is arrogance and disrespect to opposition which results in low mental preparedness for the match. When you combine that with attacks from the press and strong national expectations you get a very dangerous state of mind for the players. And when the opposition doesn't surrender in the first half an hour and maybe even scores you start to see things fall apart.

    Arrogance in sport is not uncommon, every nation has it, croatia does as well in sports we are really good at, like handball, waterpolo or basketball (15 years ago). We would laugh when playing england in those sports as english are really bad at them. As England would have full right to be arrogant in rugby or cricket where we practically don't exist. Arrogance is absolutely not good but in these cases it is actually based on results and in almost all cases is confirmed on the pitch.

    In case of national team football english arrogance is very present but the evidence doesn't support it! Why is that so? I guess you know the answer to that better than me.

    An illustration of this is recent H.Redknapp's comment that none of croatian players could play for the english side. What this does is create the attitude in England that we are a walkover and if the team fails the backlash is huge destroying the players even more while on the other hand it motivates further the croatian players.

    So until the english team starts feeling a bit of respect it will not be beating a team like Croatia.

    Good luck to England i hope you qualify through additional qualifications as a second team in the group.

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  • 235. At 02:11am on 05 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    188: towersofdub wrote:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else who follows any kind of football think the likes of Andorra, liechstenstein, luxembourg, most of the former soviet countries, and a few others as well should probably have a pre-qualification round to whittle down the number of teams in the proper qualification rounds? Let's be fair here, we don't see the likes of non league clubs playing premiership clubs in the first round of the FA Cup. The smaller nations clubs must go through preliminary rounds to qualify for the Champions league. Yet, for some reason, non-footballing countries with no footballing structure at all are included in the qualifying rounds of the 2 major international competitions. They have no hope at all of qualifying for a major tournament.....It's a waste of time to play the likes of Andorra in a world cup qualifier. We should send the U21's to that game, and let the seniors handle The Croatians. Hopefully the length of this posting isn't prohibitive.


    very true, and i disagree with dribbles in 196 - Andorra has a population that would fit inside Old Trafford, it has virtually zero chance of finding even decent players out of that, let alone financing a large footballing system

    however as much as people (including lawro) think there should be a minnow-league, there is a slight difference between the domestic cups and national comps - there is no league set up, so we cannot say 'leagues 20-24 must play a provisional round', who then may go on to meet the mighty league 1s eventually, somebody basically has to say you aren't good enough, as a country, to play my country - you could use the rankings, but they are much bemoaned as it is, and where do you cut it off? - the whole purpose of international football is to play everyone, the qualifiers are a part of the tournament, and for countries like luxembourg their only wish is to meet the big sides like england, germany, italy and spain and play at Wembley or the Bernabeau in front of a crown of 90,000 people (ok, maybe 30,000 and some empty seats)

    I think it would be a little unfair, even if it is boring playing them, because altho we can pretty much say its just the 5 usually mentioned: andorra, san marino, lux, the faroes and lichenstein - we could also include montenegro, estonia, georgia and kazakhstan to name a few, a few years ago northern ireland could have been included - look how that turned out, those occasional shock results are great, even if germany do win 13-0 more often but still i think to deny a nation play because they aren't good enough is a bit insulting

    also logistically, just considering europe - we have 13 berths, (and 16 in the euros, soon to be more) out of 53 members - that's a lot of spots so we don't really need our top 13 sides playing each other to qualify, looking at the groups, I could easily take a couple off each group who won't stand a chance - put simply you would be basically leaving england to beat croatia and ukraine, or scotland to beat the netherlands and norway - that's basically the crux of their campaigns, maybe we could play 4 times, but I prefer the all inclusive nature of qualifying and a higher number of games (remember we need to fill nearly 2 years worth), i don't like the idea of giving the big boys bys just because they should be better, especially as they're nation-states, not clubs

    also, looking at qualification, andorra are already the lowest of the low - being the only team to have played - and lost, symbolic...

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  • 236. At 02:17am on 05 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    to 234 - i think we respect you guys these days ;P

    and to be fair to Redknapp, wasn't he pointing out that none of the Croatian players could get into the England team, with all its CL players - and yet they beat us, I thinking he was making a very insightful point

    interesting point for you - we now expect croatia to qualify easily, wonder if that puts too much pressure on them now...

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  • 237. At 02:23am on 05 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    225 - Charles UK, Just let us calculate every win and every point of England, being started since the coming matches, would cost the taxpayers.
    Or did anybody calculate those of the Swede and that of McClaren's? Though none brilliantly by any mean.


    uhh, me again, couldn't let that go - the FA are not a government organisation, or funded by tax - they're an incredibly wealthy organisation funded by tv deals

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  • 238. At 06:37am on 05 Sep 2008, jt1971 wrote:


    Just a thought - rather than expending all this time and effort 'discussing' this issue can't we all go out and do something a bit more constructive. Eg pick up a bit of litter or have a kickabout in the park..?

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  • 239. At 08:22am on 05 Sep 2008, saga mix wrote:

    Great opportunity, this, for England with Gerrard out ... perhaps we can now attempt to play some composed football in the midfield rather than running around out of position and constantly giving the ball away.

    When Stevie's back, he returns to the squad but not to the team. He'll be very effective as an "impact player" ... bring him on with 10 minutes left when everybody is tired.

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  • 240. At 08:45am on 05 Sep 2008, Mustinjo wrote:

    I must say that I'm surprised how many people here are clueless or just arrogant. Reading all those comments saying nothing less than 6 points is acceptable, I really wonder did those 2 defeats againts us(Croatia) actually happened? Saying that English team will just walk in and take 3 points in Zagreb is serious case of human ignorance and dullness. Croatia never EVER lost a competitive game on it's soil, even when we had a lot weaker squads that this is now and a lot of better teams than England came here and 1 point was maximum they could take. I really don't see any reasons for your optimism, last games you played crap and judging our performances in last games, a point for you would be like winning lottery. And that H. Redknapp statement that no Croatian players could play in English team, I'll just name some of them(that are objectively better than those in English starting 11)

    GK - Pletikosa
    (English gk's are comedy)
    RB - Corluka
    (One of best right backs in EPL)
    CM - Modric (Tehnically superior to any English player)
    LM - Rakitic (Wonderkid, only 20 but one of best midfielders in Bundesliga)
    RM - Srna (Younger and faster version of David Beckham)

    I didn't even put any striker here(I'd put Eduardo if he is healthy) and I think that you can remember Olic and Petric both scoring on Wembley...

    As Bilic already said after Wembley game: Wake up.

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  • 241. At 08:46am on 05 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:

    #172, 174

    It seems that my sarcastic comment of the Germans being simply lucky has been taken as a factual one.

    My argument is based on the fact that despite Germany having relatively poor individual players they are a very good national team.

    England have better individual players but the national team is very poor. This does not mean that England under achieve or Germany over achieve.

    We need to stop directly relating individual talent to a world beating national side. Germany have proved over and over and over again that mentality, culture, professionalism, approach and ethic all count for so much more than individual talent in international football.

    On the confidence argument it's worth noting that at the European Championships this year when Germany only had to gain at least a draw with Austria to progress, a survey carried out by a leading German newspaper claimed that 56% of those asked didn't think Germany would progress.

    A lack of confidence and support from the fans doesn't seem to have ruined Germany's success. Yet another reason England fans can't use to excuse the fact that England just aren't good enough.

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  • 242. At 09:00am on 05 Sep 2008, noblebloater wrote:

    Responding to a common belief that England are under-achievers who have done nothing in the last 42 years..
    I personally think that reaching 2 semi-finals in 1990 and 96, and deserving to win both of them as quite an achievement. I don't think I'd be stretching a point either to say that were it not for those miserable penalty shoot-outs, we would have likely won both finals too.
    Take away other penalty shoot-outs in the years since, and I believe we could have also achieved perhaps just a teeny bit more??
    That being said, I don't think England are half the squad they were even 5 years ago...

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  • 243. At 09:05am on 05 Sep 2008, PeteTheWasp wrote:

    While it is right that England fans should expect a victory every time the team step onto the pitch, it is easy to forget that in the current FIFA rankings, the Czech Republic are 7 positions above us (in 8th), and Croatia 10 positions higher than us (in 5th), neither of which team went up in the last ranking i.e. this is not a new post-Euro 2008 situation. These are, in every way that matters, teams that are better than England, and if we are to begin overcoming such quality opposition, we (the fans and commentators) must start to first of all recognise the fact that we are up against better opposition, and second of all the team needs to believe they can beat any team they are up against, otherwise the game is lost before a ball is kicked.

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  • 244. At 09:07am on 05 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    #240 Mustinjo

    I'm not sure what comments you are reading but the vast majority on here are realistic about expectations in Croatia and state a draw shouldn't be taken for granted against such strong opposition.

    There are a handful of blind optimists, no bad thing from a supporters point of view but certainly in the minority. I suggest you are just seeing what you want to see.

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  • 245. At 09:08am on 05 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:


    Are you claiming that a penalty shoot out is a lottery?

    It is my understanding that it takes a certain amount of skill, technique, talent and mindset to perform well in a penalty shoot out.

    There are players and teams who are much better at taking penalties than others; they're not lucky, they're better.

    England lost all of those games because they weren't good enough. They lost in 96 because Gareth Southgate didn't take a very good penalty and his German counterpart took a better one.

    England is probably the only country in the world that would describe penalties as being lotteries. Taking into account all of the skill and everything involved I think it's a perfect way to end a stalemate.

    It's just another excuse thrown into the mix to try and reason with the apparent unacceptable truth, that if Enlgand were any good they'd have won more.

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  • 246. At 09:17am on 05 Sep 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Winning isn't the proof of a good nation. This country is fixated with the idea that if you don't win you are a failure. Getting to the last two, four or eight is a great achievement.

    The Croatian team have never won a sausage but are absolute heroes in their country. The Turks, as passionate about football as the English were overjoyed at their teams recent success. They are now regarded as good teams.

    The idea that you have to win or you are useless is flawed.

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  • 247. At 09:27am on 05 Sep 2008, DaveWalnut wrote:


    I agree. I'm attempting to challenge expectations. The fans of England believe they are world beaters and should win against every team they play and be one of the dominating forces in World Football. They're not and never have been, I can't ever see them being as strong as Brazil, Italy or Germany.

    My final statement of the previous post may have been misleading. In recent years England have performed really quite well in my opinion (with the exception of the McClaren and Keegan tenures) and the country should be proud of their achievements.

    Realistic expectations is what we need Quarter Finals is a good, challenging aim. Semi Finals would be a fantastic achievement. Getting to a final and possibly winning is Greece 04 and Denmark 92 territory.

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  • 248. At 09:40am on 05 Sep 2008, DaveC wrote:

    arcticandy (229), whilst I wasn't born in 1966 and have never seen any game from that tournament bar the final, I do have to pick you up on the glaring factual inacccuracy you use to underpine your argument.

    In point of fact, it was Germany who scrambled a late equaliser to force extra time, and the disputed goal was England's third.

    Goals do change the nature of games, of course, but we will never know what would have happened if it had been disallowed. England might just as easily have won 5-2 spurred on by a sense of injustice.

    If the disputed goal had been a late equaliser to force ET your argument would be valid. As it is, it is irrelevant.

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  • 249. At 09:58am on 05 Sep 2008, Mutara_Nebula wrote:

    234 - dprimora
    How right and insightful - but I bet nobody English is listening!

    The problem here is illustrated beautifully by Phil McNulty - huge over-expectation. We are 15th in the world because that is as good as we are - one better than Scotland.
    If we get a point in Croatia, that will be a fantastic result - not what we "should expect".

    Expectations are completely unrealistic and, as said by our Croatian pal dprimora, that fuels the wrong attitude in the players. International sport is 99% about the gap between the ears - your mental preparedness and ability to produce what you are capable of when it counts.
    English players in England shirts too often "coast" along, in some misguided bubble of self-belief that something will happen. There are no leaders in this Engalnd team - hence the pathetic short-straw lottery this summer trying to weigh up who is the least of several evils.

    That we have ended up with Terry as skipper, a "leader" who was so consumed with his own ridiculously tearful behaviour after the Champions League final that he did not go to a single one of his team-mates, as captain, to console them and pick them up - speaks volumes about what is wrong with the attitude of this bunch of England players.

    And you can't expect Capello to change that, £6million or no £6million.

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  • 250. At 10:01am on 05 Sep 2008, Cuddycuddydumdum wrote:

    I think capello looks like Tommy Cooper

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  • 251. At 10:12am on 05 Sep 2008, collie21 wrote:

    You are looking for way too much too soon. I don't think you guys realise how bad England as a soccer team really were under McClaren. Croatia are a top team and will destroy you. IF they don't then of course the manager will take the credit, and IF you beat them it's still only one game.

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  • 252. At 10:13am on 05 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    jay2spain and Gerrard8LFC - I'm sorry boys but you are completely delusional. Jay - I'm putting it down to your age (14), and Gerrard8, I can only assume you are about the same age.

    Our players and our team are not as good as the top teams (that includes Croatia), the results and performances are staring you in the face! How many more do you need?! It's been the same since 1966 when, with home advantage and a bit of luck, we won the trophy.

    To the person who says German belief means they are better, this really only plays a small part. They have reached 13 finals, we've reached 1 on home soil!! This is all down to the fact they belive they are great?! No it is because they KNOW they are great.

    "1-11 none of them would get in the England team" What planet are you on?! Possibly Rio and Joe Cole might get in the German team as they are slightly weaker in those areas but an England player over Ballack, Frings, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Klose, Lahm even Lehmann based on club and international form. What a joke.

    Sorry for the rant.

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  • 253. At 10:14am on 05 Sep 2008, bobbyb23 wrote:

    I totally disagree the England players believe their own hype or that they are not good enough at international level.
    I believe the reason for such poor performances are through a lack of confidence (not ablility) to try anything remotely difference or innovative for the fear of failure or the inevitable slating they will receive in the media the folllowing days.

    Instead of trying an outrageous piece of skill or a long range shot, they find themselves playing the percentages everytime. This leads to dour encounters with few goals or chances with no-one stamping their personality on the game.

    It is easy to point the finger at the experienced few and conclude they dont have any heart or passion to play for England, but it is just the mindset of our players is to get through 90 minutes with as few mistakes as possible on an indivisual basis in order to relieve themselves of any flack post game.

    Provided it is not to late to salvage anything from the talented bunch we have had for the past few seasons they should be encouraged to play with freedom and without the fear of losing and express what they are capable of rather than a damage limitation attitude everytime they step onto the pitch. It is only then when we as onlookers will be able to determine their true ability.

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  • 254. At 10:18am on 05 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    European and other International players are generally intelligent, educated people who can speak at least 2 languages and project an attitude of confidence and insight. Perhaps it is this which enables them to gel and work better together as a team?

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  • 255. At 10:20am on 05 Sep 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    Oh and to any fellow londoners - get a copy of the free Sport magazine - 6/7 pages on England and their current situation.

    Insightful, still some glaring patriotic delusions (Rooney and Gerrard would get into any International team - yes, make way Fernando for the fat bloke who hasn't had a good game in 4 years), but overall some excellent notes on why we don't compete at the top level.

    Phil - suggest you read it too.

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  • 256. At 10:20am on 05 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    Sophistication is the word I was looking for, playing for your country requires a certain level of it.

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  • 257. At 10:21am on 05 Sep 2008, Zidanepirouette wrote:

    International break = a boring 2 week wait for the Premier League to start again.

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  • 258. At 11:36am on 05 Sep 2008, Arsh wrote:

    Does Phil McNulty get paid for this? It's very dull.

    The problem Capello faces, and one he's recognised, to be fair, is getting players to play without fear, without the weight of the world on their shoulders. Because they are immature and uneducated and have been molly-coddled throughout their club careers with agents, managers and parents doing everything for them, as soon as they face the expectations of a nation they tend to crumble at the first hint of an obstacle. They're incapable of taking responsibility. They look like boys against men.

    I'd like to see them go out and have a good time on the field, to enjoy playing with their mates and forget about what the Press or the boo-boys are saying and just focus on the football. Listen to the manager, play with freedom and enjoy it.

    But Capello can also help by picking a balanced team. And that means Downing on the left and giving players specific responsibilities that will benefit the team.

    Beyond that the tactical stuff is fairly simple. It's the preparation of the players' minds so they're ready to go out and perform that is the tricky bit. That's why the best managers are not coaches so much as great motivators and man managers. They do it in different ways but their aim is always to develop a winning mentality and a sense that individual performance is less important than team success.

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  • 259. At 11:47am on 05 Sep 2008, erahim wrote:

    Why would any journalist in England think that England must get at least a point against Croatia to consider it satisfactory? Can you honsestly be that pompous and arrogant Phil? Croatia are now a firm top 10 in the world team and should be given respect. There are not many teams in the top 10 that get beaten or held at home and i doubt this will be one either judging by what we have seen so far. And even if they do draw, it will only be by flooding the midfield and playing a typical Italian game to which I have no doubt both the media and the fans will still have something to moan about. Its about time everyone in this country got real. I thought the expectation had come down when Capello took over but all it took were three rubbish friendly matches for the expectaitions to rise and for everyone to think that England should be World Champions again. If you cant be a balanced journalist Phil Mcnulty then you shouldnt be one.

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  • 260. At 12:04pm on 05 Sep 2008, dceilar wrote:

    Come on everybody, we're going for the full six points. We know we are better then Croatia.

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  • 261. At 12:31pm on 05 Sep 2008, Tommo wrote:

    While i wish England all the best, i do think the person that says we are full of great players not a great team, i do not think we are full of great players, i believe without Owen Hargreaves we arent gonna be anywhere near beating anyone of any note.... he has become as important to our team as anyone.... also Owen not going is a big mistake even if we win both games i will still think Owen should have been there... so my team..
    J COLE

    BUT all these negative comments, lets get behind the bloody team, the problem for England is the fact we ALWAYS criticise so they are on a hiding to nothing anyway!

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  • 262. At 12:33pm on 05 Sep 2008, Mustinjo wrote:

    #240 Mustinjo

    I'm not sure what comments you are reading but the vast majority on here are realistic about expectations in Croatia and state a draw shouldn't be taken for granted against such strong opposition.

    There are a handful of blind optimists, no bad thing from a supporters point of view but certainly in the minority. I suggest you are just seeing what you want to see.

    post number #260 is what I'm talking about

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  • 263. At 12:46pm on 05 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    On a second reading of McNulty's report you really get the impression of just how manipulative sports journalists are. And this is the chief football writer for the BBC, whose sole purpose in this report is to whip up a frenzy of over expectation in the team and effectively build the gallows for Fabio so they are ready and waiting.

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  • 264. At 12:49pm on 05 Sep 2008, BestSpam1979 wrote:

    You can't blame the optimists. As one pundit put it last Christmas: if Capello can't turn England into winners...who can?

    Having said that, any long-term England success must depend on making sure our players have better skills for a manager to make use of, rather than getting increasingly famous managers to work with the level of skill that already exists.

    In other words: teach the sport better at a younger age and you're laughing.

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  • 265. At 1:03pm on 05 Sep 2008, dirk_1978 wrote:

    Hey Phil.

    I assume you have Setanta then?

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  • 266. At 1:09pm on 05 Sep 2008, Boonting wrote:

    If you watched Defoe play against Everton last week you can see why we shouldn't need Owen, he's never been our main striker normally just a sub so of course he's got a bad scoring record.

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  • 267. At 1:54pm on 05 Sep 2008, Tomas_W wrote:

    I can't understand the observation by Phil that David Beckham looked 'off the pace' against the Czechs. What I saw was a very fit player, chasing players down and winning the ball all over the pitch. He is STILL the best crosser of a ball in the squad and he has been the provider in 2 of England's last 4 goals. Speaks for itself.

    Beckham is a model professional and continues to prove his doubters wrong. His age doesn't show at all, and he is far more effective than a lot of Premier League- based players.


    Absolute trossocks. Beckham sets up so many goals because he takes all our set-pieces. Once in a blue moon he sets up a goal in open play against somebody mediocre (he'll probably do it against Andorra) but over the entire course of his 103 caps he's probably set up about three goals in open play against top class teams, because top class teams find it easy to defend against him, especially now his game consists of floaty, ineffective crosses from 25 yards out.

    So essentially, Beckham is in the team for his set-piece abilities. Gareth Barry and Ashley Young, between them, set up a ridiculous number of Aston Villa's goals from set-pieces, and both are better players than Beckham, so why is Beckham still in the team?

    Before I'm drowned out by blinkered Beckham-philes, I'm talking about NOW, not in 2001 when he scored 'that' free kick against Greece, or when he scored 'that' penalty against Argentina in 2002 - NOW, TODAY.

    If we're choosing players based on how good they used to be then why not bring in a strikeforce of Shearer and Lineker with Bobby Charlton just behind them? They all used to be amazing.

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  • 268. At 2:00pm on 05 Sep 2008, theghost2 wrote:

    A draw in Croatia would be a good result for England, as Croatia are one of the better sides in Europe as was highlighted by their performance at Euro 2008 where they were unlucky to get knocked out.

    I hate to think what reactions the tabloids will have if England lose in Croatia, as they already seem to be looking for an excuse to start a campaign against Capello for no particular reason. It's fair to say that England's performance in their last friendly was less than convincing, but it was only a friendly, a time to experiment and change things around before the important games come, and although it was a poor performance England still managed to get a draw against a good, well organised side.

    While it's also starting to become irritating how the tabloids and some fans (the people who probably read them) have criticised Capello for persisting on picking players based on their reputations, yet he doesn't pick an unfit Owen and he is criticised for not selecting a player who apparently deserves to be in the squad on reputation alone. If people want to criticise Capello they should at least wait until the important and meaningful games are over and be consistant in their arguments.

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  • 269. At 2:07pm on 05 Sep 2008, saga mix wrote:

    Can't wait for the Andorra game ... we're gonna hammer them!

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  • 270. At 2:15pm on 05 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    243 - pete the wasp

    bear in mind that we were 9th up until June - our ranking slid by virtue of the fact we weren't even playing in the tournament, and everybody else was - granted it's a fair punishment for not qualifying, but the slide to 15th was not based on england results

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  • 271. At 3:32pm on 05 Sep 2008, didou_sait_tout wrote:

    Gerrard_8LFC, there's no need to do a subjective comparison; just take a look at the last two games between the teams.

    If England's talent is so plentiful - then surely they can, and should have overcome, at some point, poor tactical alignment or a lack of good fortune confidence. These are some of the best paid professionals in the world.

    It's time to stop making excuses. The honus is now squarely on the shoulders of the Rooneys, the Lampards and the Gerrards to show why, or if, they should truly be considered world class talent or if they just should be considered as some of the best paid and most watched footballers in the world.

    I'm not an England fan, but I'm old school enough to believe that England should be in the top handful of footballing nations. But the world has changed and the quality of football around the globe has been steadily increasing - so, no one will bestow that priviledge, it will have to be earned.

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  • 272. At 3:53pm on 05 Sep 2008, mpowr78 wrote:

    A fine example of the press stirring up the expectation before a big game.

    "Its time for Capello to deliver"

    What if england lose in Zagreb?

    Should capello be fired?

    Phil clearly insinuates this by saying his "position will be under serious scrutiny"

    What other better manager is there outhere that would actually take the england job?

    I really think that media frenzy of expectation is to the detriment of the team.
    Lets get behind the team and the manager.

    I have my idea about who should be in the england team but i am not going to complain about capellos selection simply because i have not managed huge european clubs to domestic and champions league titles before, he has!

    Anway at this moment we CAN expect a performance where the payers show that they care, are giving 100% and playing as a team. Hopefully the result would follow.

    But we CANNOT expect results against teams that are superior. Do Hull (no disrespect) expect to beat ManU? Okay thats an exaggeration of the gap but still.

    So lets be realistic, get behind the team and hope for a good performance to build on!

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  • 273. At 4:01pm on 05 Sep 2008, wilding87 wrote:

    Can no-one take a medium stance between two such extremist definites?

    On the one side, we have the (patriotic, yes, but ignorant, definitely) crowd that are claiming that England are a dominant world power, 'proven' by the domination of English clubs in European competition, seemingly blushing over the fact that the core of these clubs could do just as good a job without the primadonnas clogging up their running space.

    And on the other we have the doom and gloom woe-merchants who feel that because Capello can't make a team of deserved failures into world-beaters in the space of 5 games, his head should be paraded around the streets.

    Why can we not accept the plain fact that yes, it is highly disappointing for us to not be considered one of the front-runners, and yes, 1966 does seem like a long time ago, but the fact of the matter is, there should be a motivated team ethic that simply is not there.

    Pride in wearing the national shirt should come as standard. If you don't have it, the give it to someone who does.
    We as a country have no right to assume other countries are fearful of us as our mis-shapen and downright clumsy appearances have shown.
    As such, no individual should just throw on the shirt as if they just 'deserve' it by virtue of the size of their paycheck.

    Take John Terry, who is loved by the media as the big man at the back who can lead England forward, and yet has shown no more leadership skills than anyone else, and compare him to David Beckham, regularly chastised and excremented on by the press and the 'positive solution' England supporters who see him as old news. He has more passion for England than the rest of the squad put together.

    When England realise that they are punching above their weight in Zagreb, then perhaps the positive team performance will help them get a worthy result.

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  • 274. At 4:03pm on 05 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    The mania about England being one of the top national sides in the world is so far removed from the actual facts - see below for 15 years of ranking positions. The average position is 11.

    Sep 2008 15
    Aug 2008 14
    Jul 2008 15
    Jun 2008 9
    May 2008 11
    Apr 2008 11
    Mar 2008 11
    Feb 2008 11
    Jan 2008 12
    2007 - 12
    2006 - 5
    2005 - 9
    2004 - 8
    2003 - 8
    2002 - 7
    2001 - 10
    2000 - 17
    1999 - 12
    1998 - 9
    1997 - 4
    1996 - 12
    1995 - 21
    1994 - 18
    1993 - 11

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  • 275. At 4:44pm on 05 Sep 2008, Chris Q wrote:

    I don't think the talent is there and I doubt the commitment.

    Some things make me laugh - one if them is this notion of "officially retiring" from International football! I think it suggests a part of the problem - the players are led to beoieve the Sun and the Moon revolve around them and start to believe it. In spite of their stellar rewards - I don't think I witness stellar improvements in commitment or entertainment these days.

    What I do witness is a "hangers-on" side-industry of pundits, experts and business men who make a lot of very predictable comments and posture in a grand way but, really, contribute nothing.

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  • 276. At 4:56pm on 05 Sep 2008, Auqakuh wrote:

    274: um, an average of 11th out of 200 nations is pretty damn good. If that's not one of the top sides in the world, I don't know what is.

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  • 277. At 4:59pm on 05 Sep 2008, Kapnag wrote:

    If Capello can't deliver success, then who can?

    Most of the current england squad are past it, and there aren't a plethora of replacements

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  • 278. At 5:06pm on 05 Sep 2008, Andy wrote:

    11th maybe good out of 200, but it is not good enough to win what is 'expected' is it? QF's stage possible, to go beyond that is stretching it.

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  • 279. At 8:29pm on 05 Sep 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    wildling87,dont confuse passion for himself and his own fame and to be loved for passion for others.Beckham revealed alot about himself in Germany in that quarter-final when he couldnt hold back the tears of disaster-yes,while england were at NIL-NIL(!) in a knockout match.It hit him HE could no longer be the "hero" hed long dreamt about being,he was less fussed whether the other players got their moment of glory or not,just that it had been denied him.To then walk amongst our players pre-shootout with a tear ravaged face of defeat was one of the most shocking episodes in national captaincy history in our sport,think about it.Its not just about "passion",thats a complete red herring.Yes you need to care but Zidane and the players that won for France in 98 and 2000 were good players well organised into a balanced team.I dont think Zidane had an overiding "passion" for the nation of Napolean and empire he was playing for,he was doing a job,which is what we have to get our players to do.

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  • 280. At 8:30pm on 05 Sep 2008, Romasempre wrote:

    Phil, why not do something useful instead of concentrating on personalities for a change. Why not provide a tactical analysis of the opposition and inform us of the various tactical systems that they use. Then you could inform us whether you think England have the players and tactical ability to combat or even overcome those systems and how they would do that.

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  • 281. At 9:07pm on 05 Sep 2008, liongeorge01 wrote:

    Wilding87- Beckham wouldn't know passion if it bit him on the nose. Its an insult to past players who had passion on the pitch to talk about Beckham in the same mould. He will be remembered for bringing the'wags' culture to our beautiful game, not delivering when we needed him, being self centred, preening and playing to the cameras.

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  • 282. At 10:31pm on 05 Sep 2008, KillieJimbo wrote:

    The mentality between Scotland and England is obvious - Scotland are playing a side ranked around 60 away from home and all of us from the manager, players, press and fans think a draw would be a very good result.

    It seems to me that England needs to grow up as a nation and accept that you are not world beaters.

    You are playing a proven side ranked 5th in the world away from home. Croatia aren't there by accident - the Fifa ranking are much, much closer to reality since the format was changed.

    3 points in Zagreb would be one of the best results in your history. 1 point will be a very good result. England as a whole needs to realise this....nobody in the world of football goes to Croatia and thinks coming away with a draw is anything other than a very good result.

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  • 283. At 11:08pm on 05 Sep 2008, TheVoiceofFootball wrote:

    Er, is it only me who has a problem with the idea that Croatia were 'superior' in their wins over England during the last Euro qualifying campaign? I'm no fan of McLaren and he certainly contributed (not least by not bringing Hargreaves on at 2-2 in the final game) but where did this idea of England being beaten by the wizrady of Bilic creep in? In Croatia England lost thanks to a bobble in the pitch. At Wembley McLaren played Carson who fumbled in the wet. Both poor/unlucky events but hardly down to Bilic's 'genius'.
    And excellent point from Svenalike about Sven's winning record. From my vantage point (now in Australia) it's clear that England's greatest problem is an ignorant crowd and a pit bull press not 'bad' players or 'bad' coaches.
    And Bilic should never be allowed to live down his disgusting antics in the 98 World Cup that led to Laurent Blanc missing the final.

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  • 284. At 09:25am on 06 Sep 2008, birdie333 wrote:

    Crouch has a goal per game ratio for England similar to Owen's. Crouch has 14 in 28 starts. Nobody has a better recent record and yet he is dropped and in comes Heskey who scoring rate is not much better than that of David James....and what has Robert green got to do to paly? He's been in the squad for 5 years! But surely Dean Ashton warrants another chance? I'm beginning to think England management has a downer on these 3 ex Canaries!

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  • 285. At 11:02am on 06 Sep 2008, telemonster wrote:

    Asking him to 'deliver' with what he's has, is a bit like asking Da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa with a floor mop.

    hahahahaha....genius! and so true!

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  • 286. At 12:20pm on 06 Sep 2008, VillainousNed wrote:

    All this claptrap about England not having good enough players, if not wrong, is certainly irrelevant. If Greece are capable of winning the European championships with the players that they had, then England are certainly capable of winning the world cup.

    The problem is one of pressure and mentality. One of two things needs to happen: the players learn to forget the pressure and just play like we see that they can, or, the tabloid press wakes up to the responsibility that it has had in our recent years of under-achievement. Anybody remember the 'fake sheikh' sting on Sven? Which other country's national newspapers would set up a sting on the international manager a matter of weeks before an international tournament? Our press truly beggars belief.

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  • 287. At 5:05pm on 06 Sep 2008, designbyvinny wrote:

    england are really bad.

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  • 288. At 9:35pm on 06 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    The time for experimentation is at an end. What do you mean?
    Capello has persisted with the same bunch of international no-hopers who have consistently let us down on every occasion it has mattered when he should have had the courage and common sense to clear out the lot of them.
    What has he actually experimented with - the notion that a washed up style icon playing for the equivalent of a sunday league side might fire us into the world cup final with a barrage of free kicks?
    That the multi-millionaires Lampard, Gerrard,Ferdinand,Downing,Terry et al might actually do something more other than produce yet another limp and aimless performance to a paying public who do not have the sense to realise that they are taken for granted and treated as idiots by everyone connected with this sorry squad?
    When the England fail to perform, the only losers are those whose hard-earned pays for their ferraris and obscene salaries.
    So much for Capello being a new broom sweeping out all of the old rubbish.

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  • 289. At 9:52pm on 06 Sep 2008, Jimi55 wrote:

    I would however just like to add how delighted I am with today's result.
    I thought they showed great commitment, technique on the ball, a real desire to win and above all a self-evident pride in the national shirt.
    This is one of the greatest results of recent times and I will revel in Macedonia's victory over the plucky and courageous but ultimately irrelevant Scotland for many weeks to come.

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