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Capello on familiar battleground

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Phil McNulty | 16:05 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Fabio Capello's decision to summon Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to England's base ahead of Wednesday's friendly in Germany was a very obvious flexing of his managerial muscle.

Liverpool announced, with lavish detail, that Gerrard had suffered "a tear in the adductor magnus muscle in his right leg" and would not be available.

Adductor magnus or no adductor magnus, Capello decided that England's medical staff, not just Liverpool's, would be the judges of whether Gerrard would be available for the game in Berlin.

Gerrard was ultimately declared injured, but it was the familiar England battleground of club versus country - and Capello shows signs of being a more combative figure than his predecessors Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.

It is highly unlikely they would have risked raising the hackles of Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez by demanding a second opinion on Gerrard, but Capello is an entirely different animal.

He has, even in his short reign, emphasised several times the importance of the national team and how players who do not show full commitment will be left behind as the bandwagon rolls on to South Africa in 2010.

Capello had seen his squad stripped by pull-outs before Gerrard's withdrawal, but Manchester United pair Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney were not hauled down to Hertfordshire because they both missed the win against Stoke on Saturday through injury.

Gerrard, in contrast, had played a full 90 minutes at Bolton in an energetic goal-scoring performance before it was announced that he was injured.

Gerrard celebrates his goal against Bolton

It is wrong to suggest Capello doubted Liverpool's word, but his determination to seek a definitive version on Gerrard's health may have been heightened by some memories from August.

This was when Liverpool announced Gerrard needed groin surgery that would sideline him for World Cup qualifiers away to Andorra and Croatia, shortly after he had played 90 minutes and extra time against Standard Liege in the Champions League.

Capello was not happy, and it did Gerrard's case no good that England went on to win both games, especially impressively in Zagreb.

Gerrard is blameless. He is not a man to tamely accept his club withdrawing him from England duty when he is, in fact, fit.

He will also be acutely aware that this England coach may simply forget about players he feels he cannot rely on to turn up on demand. And it is a dangerous occupation to let those doubts enter Capello's head.

The club v country conundrum has been an endless cause of debate - I recall almost fainting in an airport departure lounge when I noticed Sir Alex Ferguson had actually allowed Ryan Giggs to turn up and play in a friendly for Wales. Most assumed it was an over-sight by the great man, such was the rarity of these sightings.

There is, however, a measure of sympathy for both sides in these arguments.

Capello will want to mix experimentation with continuity against a Germany side who will always be regarded as an accurate gauge of England's progress.

The Italian will not want the game to be reduced to the devalued level of non-event by effectively sending out a scratch side. There is no good news in that and the argument that England should not arrange friendlies at busy times is also unreasonable.

These games will give Capello the opportunity to shape his squad and systems away from the heat of competitive combat, where England have made a flawless start to their World Cup campaign.

The clubs, however, also have a case and Ferguson and Benitez will be safe in the knowledge they hardly risk an uprising from fans if they refuse to expose top stars to a friendly that is prestigious without being all-important.

And they will state, with some justification, that rest will benefit their players as much as another game, albeit an international. They may even ask would Capello learn anything more of significance about his established, experienced players from the game in Berlin.

The Olympic Stadium in Berlin

It is a brutal truth that most supporters would heartily back their managers for pulling players out of friendly games if it meant saving them for club battles ahead, but it is easy to understand Capello's disappointment at the level of absenteeism in his squad.

He is left with a depleted force and he has, with Gerrard and Frank Lampard both absent injured, an unwanted opportunity to escape the debate about whether these two outstanding players can function in tandem.

It also gives members of Capello's shadow squad a chance to get in on the good thing England have got going - but there is no doubt he would rather be testing a full-strength side against one of their great rivals.

Comments

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  • 1. At 3:50pm on 18 Nov 2008, Atif_10 wrote:

    My 1st ever 1st comment.

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  • 2. At 3:51pm on 18 Nov 2008, footiefan011 wrote:

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

  • 3. At 3:52pm on 18 Nov 2008, panchopuskas wrote:

    TBH I find international friendlies tedious at the best of times, and maddening when one of our best players comes back with an injury that keeps him out of the game for a month or two.
    The whole concept needs to be re-examined. Firstly, international matches should be played between seasons so as not to disrupt league schedules. Secondly, any resulting injury should be the responsibility of Blatter's FIFA who should have to pay the clubs adequate financial compensation for any injuries incurred. Thirdly, I think it would be a good idea to seed the countries so we don't have ludicrous games between Italy and Andorra or Germany and Lichstenstein.
    The coming match against Germany is simply a pain in the rear end for most fans, and a dangerous minefield for club managers. I'm not surprised at the number of top players who've jacked. I'd do the same.

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  • 4. At 3:53pm on 18 Nov 2008, Gibbo7111 wrote:

    Good blog phil. Sad thing is most players these days are loyal to their clubs first, and country second, Gerrard perhaps being a classic example. Although im not suggesting his commitment to england is not there (perish the thought lol), when push comes to shove he would probably choose the club he loves rather than his country. Not just Gerrard either, before liverpool fans moan at me, it is true of most of the current england squad.

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  • 5. At 3:57pm on 18 Nov 2008, Richard wrote:

    Does no-one ever think that maybe it's not Capello who needs to learn about his players in these friendlies? A team needs to get to know each other, and stop me if I'm wrong here, but the more they play together the better they're likely to be. Friendlies are important for the team, not just the coach. When players pull out of them for no particular reason they are jeopardising the team's potential performance in the next competitive match.

    Granted, when the manager tries out various different combinations in friendlies and so on, it doesn't give the team much chance to gel. But I just get fed up of hearing this "but what will he learn" spiel coming out of every pundit's mouth. He doesn't need to learn anything. The team just needs practice, and that's valuable.

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  • 6. At 3:59pm on 18 Nov 2008, AdStan wrote:

    Phil you mention "Capello decided that England's medical staff, not just Liverpool's, would be the judges of whether Gerrard would be available for the game in Berlin."

    Mark Waller is Liverpool's club doctor AND plays a similar role for the England U21's(also part of the British Olympic setup) if he doesn't trust his own staff or have the inclination to call him..its seems this latest situation can only be tit-for-tat.

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  • 7. At 4:00pm on 18 Nov 2008, RelaxedSteak wrote:

    #2 O'Neil is about as English as Ferguson is.

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  • 8. At 4:05pm on 18 Nov 2008, EnglandGrim wrote:

    Good article Mr McNulty.

    I would say though, regarding the clubs warning of player burnout, the England 'stars' should be fresher than most of their European counterparts, given that they had the whole summer off. The Man Utd and Chelsea players were even excused from the trip to Trinidad and Tobago! In that sense, the likes of Benitez and Ferguson really don't have a leg to stand on.

    Also, although I'm sure the likes of Gerrard and Lampard do have minor injuries of some sort, does anyone really believe that if it was a crucial Champions League fixture, they would not be available? Of course they would.

    You get the impression that these guys think that just because they have won the first few WC qualifiers, all is forgiven and they don't need to play in friendlies. I hope this isn't the case, and that Capello will keep them focused, as I'm sure the majority of England fans are still distrustful of the players after the failure to get to Euro 2008 and the disappointment of 2006.


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  • 9. At 4:05pm on 18 Nov 2008, MickS wrote:

    panchopuskas:

    What a fantastic attitude. Could you explain to me when, exactly, you'd like these games played. I'd be interested if you can find a time when one of the European leagues isn't playing outside the major championships. Hint, there isn't one.

    The clubs are aware that there are international matches. They are aware that a number of their players will be required to play in such matches. In fact its one reason they have the players in the first place, that they are good enough to play for their national sides. Their cause would be helped if they didn't demand that their players play through the injuries for their clubs prior to the internationals.

    I'm with Capello on this one. Two many times in the past England have fielded a collection of talented players that haven't gelled, partly due to lack of time playing together. I'd rather have a team made up of players that know how to play together than a collection of stars that may or may not work together.

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  • 10. At 4:08pm on 18 Nov 2008, admiraltroll wrote:

    I hate it it when one of my Telegraph Fantasy Football team players gets injured on international duty so I can see where Benitez & Liverpool are coming from :-)

    hehehe!

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  • 11. At 4:10pm on 18 Nov 2008, razorsreds1 wrote:

    I feel sorry for Capello, the club managers and the players.
    It is the fault of the FA arranging these game to ultimately cover the astrnomical costs of the New Wembley.
    The top four have critical league and champion league games coming up and I am not surprised that any niggle is used to pull players out.
    Friendlys are generally boring to watch with far to many changes to fully build on a team dynamics. Now with some internationals being on setanta we cant even watch them if we wanted.

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  • 12. At 4:10pm on 18 Nov 2008, displacedscouse wrote:

    Why is this seen as a victory for country over club?
    In my opinion, club declares player injured, country doesn't believe, and looks silly when they find out that the player is infact injured, and have wasted recovery time of said player.

    Is capello going to call up every injured england international, just to check that they're not lying?

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  • 13. At 4:12pm on 18 Nov 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    I think its about time that our national manager showed some cohones(not that we ever doubted Capello, as we all know he is a stern taskmaster who doesnt take no for an answer and inst going to be a yes man, i was referring to the previous wet whistles we've had) and told the players to report down and prove they are injured, because its been going on for too long now that players all of a sudden after playing a game get injured for the next international game, not just friendlies either?! fair play to Capello i say?!
    i agree that "it is only a friendly", but even so its part of the international set up and if you have declared yourself eligable to play for your country in the first place, then you get called up to these games?!
    anyway they should be playing wether its meaningless or not, its all about being a team, so the more they play together competitively the better they will get and the more they will understand each other

    i dont think that the answer is to play them in the closed season because that would then mean that they get no time at all off and they will be complaining even more of tiredness and fatigue?!

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  • 14. At 4:13pm on 18 Nov 2008, AdStan wrote:

    At No.8 England Grim

    "In that sense, the likes of Benitez and Ferguson really don't have a leg to stand on."

    Are you joking? Do you need reminding Spain won the tournament with 4 1st Liverpool players?

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  • 15. At 4:14pm on 18 Nov 2008, Tony Doyle wrote:

    Hmm.... Put your hands up if you really believe Rooney and Rio are injured, and Ferguson knew he wouldn't be tested on this if he dropped them for the tough task that was Stoke.

    Either way, this friendly is in the wrong week of the season, especially with the CL round next week being majorly important.

    As Mike Ingram reported on 5Live yesterday, UEFA / FIFA can't have it all ways... there has to be give and take. Utd even have to go to Japan next month for the WCC competition; which to be quite honest its getting a bit ludicrous.

    (btw. Liverpool fan)

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  • 16. At 4:14pm on 18 Nov 2008, DJL WOLF wrote:

    Panchopuskas - I think your comment about seeding for friendly games is ridiculous.

    Why shouldn't we play friendly games against low standard teams such as Andorra and Lichenstein?

    Do you not think it is important to play teams like this when we can, seeing as qualifying groups for tournaments such as the one we are in at the moment are full of teams such as these?

    They are difficult to play against as we have already seen as they try and shut out the game with ten men behind the ball.

    There is an art to breaking teams like that down and we need to learn it. In order to learn it we need to practice it!

    We coped a lot better against Croatia (a highly ranked team) but struggle to breakdown the minnows so we need to play them in friendlys.

    Apart from that i generally think your attitude towards the importance of the national team is poor and I don't think many fans would agree with you that they are a pain in the rear.

    Unfortunately many of the players seem to have the same 'pre-maradona' attitude towards the game as you.

    For the good of our English game people with this kind of attitude should just stay away from football!

    ps also your idea of playing international football in between the league seasons is also ridiculous. That would mean that the players wouldn't get a break all season and would be more likely to pick up injuries!

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  • 17. At 4:15pm on 18 Nov 2008, icybox321 wrote:

    The good old question of club vs. country will go on years to come.

    If a player is fit and does not play for his country this is the decision of the national coach to play him or not.

    Top English players can average over 50 games in a season if their club are successful. And it is there club form, which helps the national coach decide whether or not they should be selected for international duty.

    Segregation is still a key part in England matches between fans, just look at the banner around the grounds. All stating their club name over the st georges cross.

    This debate will go on forever and the only real question you must ask is if it weren't for the clubs would the people we are criticising at the moment be half the players they are today?

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  • 18. At 4:16pm on 18 Nov 2008, footiefan011 wrote:

    oh yer sorry i completly forgot oneil was scottish.
    really stupid

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  • 19. At 4:18pm on 18 Nov 2008, Pompistic wrote:

    I'll never understand why english fans of english clubs agree with managers decisions not to let key players play in friendlies.

    You should be an england supporter first, this country has no patriotism anymore!

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  • 20. At 4:18pm on 18 Nov 2008, bobbyb23 wrote:

    Is this really worth a discussion? Does it really matter that we have some players missing for a friendly!? I know its Germany but it underlines a quiet news week in the world of English Football!

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  • 21. At 4:20pm on 18 Nov 2008, Gibbo7111 wrote:

    now you see footiefan011, he isnt scottish. Kepp guessing though, only 3 more British nations to go lol

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  • 22. At 4:20pm on 18 Nov 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    displacedscouse -

    obviously your comment comes as it is your player that has been questioned here!!!

    but how many times have the players from the big teams all of a sudden "magically" got an injury just before an international??

    too many to list by my reckoning?!

    al the top teams are guilty of it, no matter what nationality the player is either, not just the english ones, all the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United have all held back their top stars from international games, even the competative ones, especially if they see they are playing against a lesser nation, like the likes of andorra, san marino(sorry to those nations to use u as an example), as they see they may get some rough treatment as the teams may play that way to try to get a result?!

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  • 23. At 4:21pm on 18 Nov 2008, awSwindonForTheTitle wrote:

    Panchopuskas

    Luckily we do not have to rely on you to play for England.

    Regardless of who we are playing and when we are playing, it is an honour to represent your country. We need players that have desire to play for England. Yes Ok, it seems as though Beckham wants to break the record number of caps for an outfield player, but at least he WANTS to play. I can understand why Capello asked Gerrard to travel. Playing for England is more important than playing for Liverpool and that is the way it should always be.

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  • 24. At 4:23pm on 18 Nov 2008, RedDevil4Life wrote:

    I personally think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion, in the same way that something is always blown out of proportion before any England international, frankly it bores me!

    The media are as much to blame as the players for past failures if you ask me. Newspapers are so topsy-turvy, on minute full of adulation for the team, stating that we are unbeatable and we are on the brink of world domination, and the next on the players and coaching staff's backs. It's pathetic and this is just another silly way of making stories.

    It's the football that matters not all of this circus-like nonsense that seems to surround every game England play, friendly or competitve!

    I think this will be a great opportunity for Capello to blood some of the younger and subsequently less experienced members of the England squad. Not only does the match against Germany give these youngsters a taste of international experience, but it also gives them a chance to make a lasting impression on Mr Capello and the fans! Let's not forget a certain Theo Walcott's impact and he is still in the senior squad, so that has to be a huge incentive and for these other youngsters.

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  • 25. At 4:23pm on 18 Nov 2008, whatbill wrote:

    Capello was just making it clear that he has the final say on whether a player is injured, not the club. And there was very little doubt Gerrard would be declared injured (despite the hopes of non-liverpoool fans). Even if he was fit, I doubt Capello would escalate things to a full scale row with Liverpool at this stage. As for what was said behind closed doors, who knows?

    This was just the latest in a number of moves to let the players and clubs know that (unlike the last 2 managers) Capello is no pushover.

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  • 26. At 4:24pm on 18 Nov 2008, RedDevil4Life wrote:

    "18. At 4:16pm on 18 Nov 2008, footiefan011 wrote:

    oh yer sorry i completly forgot oneil was scottish.
    really stupid"

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Third time's a charm mate....he's actually northern Irish... ;-)

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  • 27. At 4:28pm on 18 Nov 2008, Naveen KB wrote:

    This artical if full of trash talk. You can write what ever you want. 90% of present injury list is fake(Including SteveG). In the first place there is no commitment from English players and Club managers towards country football. That is why English football is like this.

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  • 28. At 4:31pm on 18 Nov 2008, IanH wrote:

    @ Snaggers: So you think when playing a Stoke team that beat Arsenal (whichever way you choose to look at it) Ferguson wouldn't even have included Rooney OR Ferdinand in the match day squad?

    I doubt that very much.

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  • 29. At 4:32pm on 18 Nov 2008, thetrickykid wrote:

    "It is wrong to suggest Capello doubted Liverpool's word,"

    I'm sorry Phil, but it would be perfectly correct to suggest that Capello doubted Liverpool's word. That is exactly what he did. He was also happy to do it very publicly.

    If he was looking to prove a general point he should have called up all injured players for further assessment and then claimed it was England FA policy. Even if he thought Liverpool were the only ones lying, he would have made his point to everyone.

    His current course of action has damaged his relationship with Liverpool and will cause other teams to be weary of him in the future.

    This would lead to less, not more, cooperation and could result in Capello finding it harder to get his own way with mangers of the top clubs.

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  • 30. At 4:37pm on 18 Nov 2008, LFC1968 wrote:

    A few people are having a go at Panchopuskas because of how he feels about internationals. I think that is unfair as a lot of people feel the same.

    Unfortunately, you get to feel like that when you can only see England play at Wembley nowadays. It was great when they used to go round the country. After all, it is the national team so they should play round the country like all the other big nations do. I have seen England play at Anfield and Old Trafford. and the atmosphere was fantastic (and no booing either!! :) ).

    If you want people to feel for their national team then play round the country.

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  • 31. At 4:46pm on 18 Nov 2008, displacedscouse wrote:

    Samwell2804-
    "obviously your comment comes as it is your player that has been questioned here!!!"

    good spot.

    it's not just liverpool that have tried to pull out players from meaningless friendlies. i understand the need for the manager to get to know the players, and vice versa, but if the football league deemed the friendly that important, why were league fixtures not cancelled this last weekend?

    normally for an important game they would have, and so players ran the risk, and indeed did, get injured.

    why is it ok for a player to be injured for his country, and miss vital games for his club, but heaven forbid a player get injured playing for his club and miss an international game!

    would capello have treated gerrard the same way if he had his two first choice captains available?

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  • 32. At 4:47pm on 18 Nov 2008, J-b08KOPITE wrote:

    'It is wrong to suggest Capello doubted Liverpool's word"

    Please oh please explain why it is wrong to suggest this???

    With Gerrard the only one forced to travel to prove his fitness it seems logical, and another comment also pointed out Liverpool's physio also works with the England set-up.

    In a more general sense, these friendlies are simply viewed as an unecessary risk by clubs and they have a point. If team unity needs to be created why not a week of training or something similar? A friendly with germany also has the added bite of a rivalry which increases the chance of injury.

    Seems abit of a money-spinner by the FA, not quite on par with the '39th game' idea but still. . .

    That said i would like a strong national team. I would like them to have many games/ much training togethor. I would like english players to dominate the PL. I would like to see English youngsters emerging. But i think the current situation was bound to happen when Scudamore an co decided profit was above all else.

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  • 33. At 4:49pm on 18 Nov 2008, whatbill wrote:

    #29 - Well the last 2 managers cooperated and look where that got them. You have to give the clubs some ground rules, otherwise they will walk all over you. Fair enough, they want their players fit and rested, but they also need to comply with the rules.

    Several players pulled out, Gerrard was the most suspect (as pointed out by phil) so he was invited to come in for a check-up. Simple as. I doubt the relationship between Liverpool and Capello has suffered any long term damage, they may even respect him more for it...

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  • 34. At 4:50pm on 18 Nov 2008, jameo_11 wrote:

    Any english player should be honoured to play for their country. This means that although club football is so very important as the family of the player, the step up to playing for England should be on a different plane. Where is the pride? Playing for england is more then for a player's self-esteem. When the badge is put on, you represent all the english fans, not just yourself. Anyone who has acknowleges the true honour that is playing for england must understand this and give everything they have got. In my oppinion, until this is understood, england will always underperform.

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  • 35. At 4:52pm on 18 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Surely, there is no club v country debate to be had.

    Am I correct in saying that they are members of the FA who oversee both the national and domestic game. When it is a club fixture they report to their clubs and when it is an international fixture, they report to their country, if picked. Both under the FA.

    Therefore, if the FA want to check on the fitness of a player it is perfectly entitled to do so.

    If players don't want to play for their country, they should make that clear, and therefore take them out of any future selection.

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  • 36. At 4:53pm on 18 Nov 2008, SaintOne wrote:

    England vs. Germany? Friendly?

    National Pride is at stake!

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  • 37. At 4:54pm on 18 Nov 2008, ben collins wrote:

    Good article.
    Capello is the man.

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  • 38. At 4:57pm on 18 Nov 2008, GafferBenitVez wrote:

    Phil, some of your articles are fairly sensible but this is mindless tabloid journalism. Populist in the extreme.

    Why should Capello be congratulated for forcing Gerrard into a 400 mile trip to have a scan which ultimately proved Liverpool's case to be exactly right? Its utter nonsense. "It is wrong to suggest Capello doubted Liverpool's word" - are you serious?! What else was he doing? If Liverpool, who pay the best part of 100k a week for this player think he isnt fit to play in a meaningless friendly then he isnt fit enough. End of story.

    As an Ingerland fan you are absoltuely kidding yourself if you think Gerrard would have been gutted to have been pulled out. What's his upside? He plays, Ingerland beat Germany's reserve team 10-0 and the gutter press who create the England circus wax lyrical about the boys and their WAGs on the back of The S*n. Oh and he keeps his place ahead of, erm, Jimmy Bullard in the pecking order. Do yourself a favour.

    The downside? Well the painkilling injection that he is forced to take by Fabio to get him through the 90 minutes means he is out for 2 weeks, missing games against Fulham, and West Ham for Liverpool. Liverpool get 4 points from 6 instead of the maximum they could and should get with him in the team, Chelsea take all 6 and once again his boyhood dream is slipping away from him the wrong side of Christmas.

    On top of all that, the people who "support" Ingerland actually boo their own team!!! Why on earth would gerrard want to get out of bed for that lot when he is used to the passion and adoration of fans who appreciate what he does and actually UNDERSTAND football on a weekly basis?

    The Germany game is absolutely meaningless Phil. The press have created the club versus country debate to help sell papers by trying to maintain some interest in what will inevitably be canned sooner rather than later. I'll grant it to you, its clever. But the only people you fool are the mindless idiots who fork out hard earned cash to watch England and boo their own team.

    Breifly, before I go, on the Fat Frank/ Gerrard point. Keep playing Stevie on the left, keep writing stuff about him not being good enough for the "international stage" (its tough against kazakhstan and andorra), keep booing him, keep telling us that owen hargreaves and jermaine jenas are a better option. And finally, finally, he might go the same way as Carra. Oh Carra. Who cares anyway? We've got joeleen lescott and Mancienne whats his face anyway.


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  • 39. At 4:58pm on 18 Nov 2008, footballandethics wrote:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A43649986

    please read and contribute to this:

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 42 Minutes Ago

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 38 Minutes Ago

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 26 Minutes Ago

    gone to sleep because some of the entries here defy logic and sense.
    no matter what you or I say, in all honesty will ever change opinion or who gets picked and played.
    football listens not to the ordinary man, but to the man with money.
    it knows less about honour, pride and heart and now more about profit and gain.
    we are nothing to our nation, and as bleak as that sounds, it be the ultimate truth.
    our contributions, time and passion penning our thoughts without tire here only serves as a waste of time.
    the FA care not of your opinion, just of your money and funding.

    ------------------

    mate, to be honest, what drives us here is a fusion of boredom, dissatisfaction and annoyance with elements of the game. Particularly with the drift we are seeing now with football from a sport to fundamentally a business and profit game. Footballers have lost touch with reality and sadly, us. The transition is killing the game and further to my points, it knows not of the everyday man. We know now that our opinions go unheard, ignored and most painfully, laughed at. The FA is killing the game we grew up loving. referees though they add to the entertainment are draining the game of any logic and ethical grounding it once had.
    My opinions about certain players, positions, teams are all just born out of frustration and will NEVER EVER get heard. As a journalist for a national newspaper, fortunately I am given the platform to speak opinion, but that opinion is curbed, diluted and structured by those above me. I just feel sorry for the majority of users here who spend days, weeks talking about the game and have sometimes great concepts and thoughts that go wasted.
    I repeat, the FA cares not of you. Just as long as you fund its ridiculous pathetic wage structures. No manager in the game should be paid 68000000 pounds a year after tax in todays financial climate. there is poverty, famine and people starving, not just in 3rd world countries.
    i find it quite disturbing that football squads can draw such heat, passion and debate and concern and the real matters in life don't. if we were to be rewarded for our heart, fair enough, but sadly, football today is a mugs game.

    -----------------------

    spent over four and a half grand following my country over the last four years. that money goes into crapello's pocket and funnily enough, that's how much he earns every 8-9 hours smiley

    --------------------------

    if anyone here can justify why that man should earn what he earns in todays world, then i will give up from posting anymore opinions here and also quit my job as a journalist.
    my opinion is that for that amount of money england should be winning every game and setting the footballing world alight with football that is full of style and flair and entertainment. we shouldn't have to rely upon one red card to give birth to a good scoreline.
    anyway, i have spent both heart, time and money following the country i love and after many years, have come to the conclusion that it really isn't worth it anymore.
    i can say in all honesty that the FA and football atthe highest level revolves around one thing and it isn't love for the game.

    -----------------------------
    As I said, I am one of thousands who gave everything to England and got let down completely. It only gets worse and worse. Its a raw deal being a football fan nowadays. Not qualifying for the euros was not a failure or a blip, it was near criminal. While Crapello is on near seven million pounds a year after tax, we paid McClaren near three million after tax every year to torture, hurt and dissapoint us. My father served this country and was paid near nothing. My Uncle was a war medic and lived his life in honour. You tell me what honour and heart exists today in football.
    Without sounding too adrift to the ethos of this forum, all I am saying is that your squad opinions, your thoughts, feelings on the game WILL GO WASTED unless we do something about the FA; who are killing our sport.
    Take action.

    ----------------------------

    Possibly the best post i've ever read!

    --------------------------

    guys, here is seriously an opportunity to do something about this. if we really don't do this now, we will never get a chance to change our game for the better. i fear it maybe too late, but one last push.
    i can start a petition and use all my influence as a journalist, all the contacts i have and get that list beyond the 10,000 mark, but i need everyone's support. Just how we go about changing the FA and what we propose needs to be meticulously prepared otherwise it risks being flawed and consequentley ignored.
    The ethos of my proposals is wage caps and giving more back to real fans. The commercialising of the game which has seen the ordinary man miss out. Foreign ownerships fuelling the money game. Lack of homegrown players; yes I agree with Platini and Blatter on this.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/F11818978?thread=6072192&post=71860651#p71860651

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  • 40. At 4:59pm on 18 Nov 2008, VampiricHoshi wrote:

    Personaly I think this was a disgrace from the England setup, not from Liverpool.

    Capello wasn't flexing muscles, he was out-an-out calling Liverpool, Rafa, Liverpool's medical staff and most importantly Gerrard himself a liar.

    Perhaps if the above WERE liars and the injury WAS make belief then it would have been warranted, but since the England medical staff have just re-itterated what the Liverpool staff have said, then I believe Capello owes some apologies, most notably to Gerrard himself.

    Capello's "muscle flexing" has cost Gerrard recovery time which could very easily result in an injury that would have only seen him miss 1 game turn into an injury that could force him to miss 2 or 3.

    That, imo, is simply not good enough.

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  • 41. At 5:00pm on 18 Nov 2008, Praguenaylor wrote:

    LOL @ no. 4 ... Which club are we talking about that he loves so much...? That London team he's been wanting a move to for 3 years now??

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  • 42. At 5:00pm on 18 Nov 2008, thetrickykid wrote:

    "I recall almost fainting in an airport departure lounge when I noticed Sir Alex Ferguson had actually allowed Ryan Giggs to turn up and play in a friendly for Wales. Most assumed it was an over-sight by the great man, such was the rarity of these sightings."

    Yet when a foreign manager of a domestic club team (Benitez at Liverpool) is at the centre of the controversy, he is pretty much derided on a BBC sport website as well as in the UK media in general. Why could he not be referred to as a 'Great Man' who made an oversight allowing a player to play for England in the past? Why didn't everyone make this fuss when Giggs didn't play for Wales? Why are people not questioning the decision by Ferguson to remove players from an England friendly if he has a history of doing it to Wales?

    Is it because England are perceived as more important than Wales? Or is it that the nation favours the British Ferguson over the Spanish Benitez? Are these 2 questions ultimately about the same issue?

    Interesting questions that need asking of ourselves I think.

    Now let's see if these perfectly legitimate questions get past the mods.

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  • 43. At 5:08pm on 18 Nov 2008, ronaldo_rocket wrote:

    Fair play to Capello, he goes about the manager's job in the correct business. I still don't understand why so many top flight footballers do not play in friendlies? Why wouldnt they? I see it as an honour to represent my country. I'd jump at the chance. Seems bizare, and I dont see it changing soon.

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  • 44. At 5:09pm on 18 Nov 2008, matti76 wrote:

    Capello was doing the necessary - letting the self-obsessed big clubs know he has a job to do as well, and won't them play silly-buggers with him and the England team.

    I am satisfied that Gerrard is injured, but Capello has got where he has by being like this, and the day he changes, England can kiss goodbye to the WC.

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  • 45. At 5:10pm on 18 Nov 2008, boils wrote:

    Great looking stadium.....can't see a thing.

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  • 46. At 5:13pm on 18 Nov 2008, The Fonz wrote:

    All of the injured players should have been assessed or none of them should have been assessed. Singling out Gerrard does not help anyone.

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  • 47. At 5:14pm on 18 Nov 2008, whatbill wrote:

    Here we go again. If anyone suggests that:

    a) Gerrard is not world class
    b) Gerrard decided to go to chelsea 3 years ago
    c) Gerrard dives
    d) Gerrard is not the best and most committed player in the england squad
    e) Gerrard is not perfect

    then it all kicks off.

    Phil is a Gerrard fan but still gets shot down. Don't those merseyside blinkers ever come off?

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  • 48. At 5:18pm on 18 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    , The Fonz wrote:

    All of the injured players should have been assessed or none of them should have been assessed. Singling out Gerrard does not help anyone.
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Is this mis-information, general ignorance or am I getting something wrong.

    What other players?

    Rio and Rooney did not play 90 minutes on Saturday. Gerrard did.

    Lampard turned up and was then sent home by the England doctor. Gerrard didn't turn up.

    Whatever the rights or wrongs, please understand that Gerrard's circumstances are not the same as the other absentees.

    Ok?

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  • 49. At 5:18pm on 18 Nov 2008, MikeyElmes wrote:

    I'm trying to comprehend how Gerard sitting in a car for a 400 mile journey will in anyway set back his recovery from said injury? He was sat down? Probably being driven there.

    To suggest that a car journey would prolong an injury would be absurd. What else would he have been doing? Watching TV? Playing golf?

    If the threat of random spot checks on players that are afflicited with phantom injuries just before international friendlies are there, perhaps in future we'll see fewer drop outs.

    When a club buys an international players, they know that player will have to go for international call ups, it's part and parcel of owning that player. They buy African players knowing full well that the African Cup of nations will be played mid-season, so don't act surprised when the swan off mid-season. You can't have international players and not ecpect them to play for their country.

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  • 50. At 5:25pm on 18 Nov 2008, panchopuskas wrote:

    England vs. Germany? Friendly?

    National Pride is at stake!

    ________________________

    Er......well......no, it isn't. You've been reading The Sun again. Actually, it's a game of football. Read George Orwell's "The Sporting Spirit" , it's on the net, and it sums up the crazy, overhyped and often xenophobic world of international sport.

    As for the international games being played BETWEEN seasons, it makes sense. We have from May to August and surely a month can be found to play out the games you need. It also means the players are together for a longer spell to gel with no league distractions. The way it's going, more and more players are going to get "injured" and see their loyalty more to the people who pay their wages.

    To the poster who thought that England v Lichstenstein is a valid fixture, I'm afraid it's you who's in the minority here. Some of these teams, especially Andorra, are full of "hardmen" waiting to brag to their mates at work how they put some famous star in hospital. That's about the only "breaking down" element that I can see. A total waste of time IMHO.

    Well, that's my opinion.

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  • 51. At 5:30pm on 18 Nov 2008, grossesalop wrote:

    Well, I remember when Shrewsbury played Liverpool at home in the FA Cup in about '94 that Shrewsbury fans had to collect vouchers from previous home games to qualify to be able to buy a ticket for the big one. I wonder if it would be possible to do that for England players. Wanna play the world cup final one day? Must collect stamps from Outer Mongolia (away), Uzbekistan (home) and GERMANY (away). It's GERMANY, remember? We hate them right?
    Few questions I'd like to pose to both players and fans to finish:
    1. Which is the greater honour, winning the World Cup or winning the Champions League? (sincerely hope the majority still think the former)
    2. Can we blame Setanta for Gerald Ronney and Furryhands not being fit? (they seem to get a lot of stick at the moment - rather like Sky did at the beginning I seem to recall)
    3. Do you remember what it felt like to win 5-1 away in Germany?
    4. How did a team such as Greece win the Euros? (errr...teamwork and knowing your own limitations?)

    and my biggest conundrum:
    5. Why have the last 7 world cup finals been between a combination of only 5 different teams (Bra, Ita, Fra, Arg, Ger), YET, the last 6 Euro champions have all been different, and in that time 10 different teams have appeared in the final? (Spa, Ger, Gre, Por, Ita, Fra, Cze, Den, Net, USSR)

    My view, if your interested, is the Euro's have harder groups to qualify from, meaning a larger variation, and fewer knockout games. Some teams seem much better at playing 'knockout football' than others, which is why (with the World Cup coming up) we need to focus on 'knockout football' - WIN no matter what the game or opposition and get used to winning. That's why Capello wants only players who are playing regularly, are not injury prone, and really want to be there to build the winning culture needed to even mount a reasonable effort on the WC.



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  • 52. At 5:30pm on 18 Nov 2008, comraderossclark wrote:

    21. At 4:20pm on 18 Nov 2008, Gibbo7111 wrote:

    now you see footiefan011, he isnt scottish. Kepp guessing though, only 3 more British nations to go lol
    -------------------------------------------------------


    and what would the three other (aside from england and northern ireland) british nations be then gibbo?

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  • 53. At 5:32pm on 18 Nov 2008, GafferBenitVez wrote:

    MikeyElmes - are you clever or what?

    When a professional footballer gets injured he doesnt sit there for a week eating burgers, watching Sky Sports News and waiting for his bruised ankle to get better so he can play in the big match against The Nags Head on Sunday morning. He works with this chap that some clubs hire called a physio. He does that so that he might get better a bit quicker and so that he can hopefully influence a meaningful premiership game a bit sooner than he might otherwise be able to do so. As an Ingerland fan, you might have heard of something called an oxygen tent. Sometimes, they even sit in one of those.

    so when he spends four hours sat in the back of a car to get down south, a couple of hours bantering with Fab about why he didnt just take the (professional) doctors letter from iverpool and 4 hours on the way back up, it means he loses a day of physio. Which might be the difference between being fit for fulham and not being fit for fulham. A game, which actually has something riding on it.

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  • 54. At 5:35pm on 18 Nov 2008, Obaydah Al-Namer wrote:

    Poor article, you've added nothing new!

    Being an Arab Liverpool supporter, let me say that the England team is overrated!

    You have awesome supporters(passionate and amazing that's why i love English Footy) ,who
    believed that you were able to win the Euro08, you didn't qualify and now after hiring Capello you go on to say you're going to win the World Cup(be realistic)

    How come a team that doesn't manage to reach the Euros, will win the 2010 WC, it's like when Liverpool fans said that Liverpool will win the Premier/L after hiring Rafa in 2005-2008 with a mediocre team!

    England has the best League in the world, but there is no difference between the Englan National team and The Urugay team that won 2 WCups 80 years ago, so please admit that you don't have future in the National Arena!!

    Leave it for Liverpool to win European trophies for England!

    Atleast Gerrard can win trophies with his club, can he with his country?

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  • 55. At 5:38pm on 18 Nov 2008, Anders wrote:

    Capello flexing his muscles, my forelock! And there was Rooney recovering from his chest infection by attending a concert, eh? Capello simply picked an easy target in a player whom he knew was injured and ducked those (Ferdinand and Rooney) who he knew were not. I'll believe it when he confronts Ferguson.

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  • 56. At 5:41pm on 18 Nov 2008, Obaydah Al-Namer wrote:

    47. At 5:14pm on 18 Nov 2008, whatbill wrote:
    Here we go again. If anyone suggests that:

    a) Gerrard is not world class
    b) Gerrard decided to go to chelsea 3 years ago
    c) Gerrard dives
    d) Gerrard is not the best and most committed player in the england squad
    e) Gerrard is not perfect

    then it all kicks off.

    Phil is a Gerrard fan but still gets shot down. Don't those merseyside blinkers ever come off?


    ..........................................


    SO WHAT???????????

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  • 57. At 5:42pm on 18 Nov 2008, JosephSco wrote:

    The main reason England and many other high profile international sides dont perform to the best of their abilities is that they are not given enough time to work together as a team. Sadly the only way they can do this is through qualification as friendlies are not taken seriously enough anymore.

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  • 58. At 5:46pm on 18 Nov 2008, lechampiongnat wrote:

    Liverpool (and all other major clubs in the EPL) have a large number of players of various nationalities who have been released for this match, including Torres who has only had 2 appearances as a sub since the last time he was injured playing for Spain. I think it is insulting to our club but especially to Rafa Benitez to imply that he was trying to keep Gerard out of the England squad, and does anyone really think Steven Gerrard would accept this?

    I have been impressed by Capello, but this is nonsense. Perhaps he thinks clubs should withdraw players from the last league game before a friendly in case they get injured? Fabio, get real and do yourself a favour by calling Benitez to sort this out (but I'm not holding my breath).

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  • 59. At 5:51pm on 18 Nov 2008, Obaydah Al-Namer wrote:

    57.

    The main reason England and many other high profile international sides dont perform to the best of their abilities is that they are not given enough time to work together as a team

    .........................
    How can you justify Brazil' success?
    At least the English players play in the English league,

    A poor attempt to justify your recent England woes

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  • 60. At 6:00pm on 18 Nov 2008, river21 wrote:

    club v country
    if capello wants any favours from club sides do you think he will get it after this childish tantrum.

    a players health should always come first so how is making gerrard fly to germany to prove he is really injured helping player and relations between club and country.

    if capello was here for footballing reasons and not just the huge amount of money the FA hasve paid him then he should know that if there was a 10% chance that gerrard could play he would of been there.

    but then again capello is not english so will he really care that much?? just keep taking the money

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  • 61. At 6:15pm on 18 Nov 2008, The_Chuff wrote:

    Regardless of whether it's a friendly or competitive match all requested/called-up players should report for duty. Those that are carrying knocks of varying degree should be assessed by the England medical staff, with advice from the player's club.

    On a separate note, we have a chance to see England without its Primadonnas (Gerrard & Lampard).

    My line up:

    James

    Richards Terry Lescott Bridge

    W-Phillips Carrick Barry Young

    Crouch Defoe

    Plenty of pace there..!!

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  • 62. At 6:15pm on 18 Nov 2008, whufc1985 wrote:

    IMO i think capello is right to do what he has done on several accounts.

    1. England are currently on the crest of a wave and are winning game and he wants to keep that winning streak going.
    2. We are playing germany. Remember the so called friendly against argentina a few years ago. What a great game that was, why cant this game be similar, so from that respect it is not just another friendly, although i do agree that most freidnlies these days are rather rubbish.
    3. Also gerrard played a full 90 minutes the day before and before man utd played, so is rafa not just copying fergie so his best player doesnt play. Rafa if the injury was that bad why play him for a full 90 minutes?

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  • 63. At 6:40pm on 18 Nov 2008, golum72 wrote:

    Why is it that this is such a fearsome debate? I don't understand. Doesn't anyone feel patriotic about their National Sport anymore?
    It's no suprise we've been beaten by so many countries that are supposed to be lesser than us (in Football terms), when we are so apathetic about our international representation in our own National Sport!!
    ...that we (arguably) invented and gave to the rest of the world!

    You pay the big money for the big players knowing they will have international duty. That includes training and playing friendlies! Would you stop pre-season friendlies for your clubs?

    I'm a Villa fan and proud to have 4 players called up. If they get injured i'll be gutted, but i would never complain about them playing for their country, it's an honour for them and for me as a fan of the club!

    Come on, let's get behind our National team 'fully' for once and see what Fab's can do for us. Who knows, if we actually get to the semi's or further in 2010 it might give some pride back to bruised and battered country.

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  • 64. At 7:03pm on 18 Nov 2008, Pad wrote:

    Footiefan011, Martin O'Neill is from Norn Iron you doughnut.

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  • 65. At 7:15pm on 18 Nov 2008, sirchampion wrote:

    Robbie Keane played against Bolton on Saturday too and was claimed by Liverpool to be injured and thus not released for the Republic of Ireland's friendly against Poland in Dublin.

    Is this purely a coincidence too?

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  • 66. At 7:28pm on 18 Nov 2008, ollie_the_kid wrote:

    the trouble england have is that the players all know which ide their breads buttered on.what i mean by this is that they all know who pays their wages.which is a shame as any footballer should be willing to give his right arm (legs are too important) to be pulling on that england shirt.but they all know that if they pull on that shirt and get injured, then it could actually end up having a detrimental effect on their bank accounts.i'll play if mr capello wants?

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  • 67. At 7:39pm on 18 Nov 2008, stracepipe wrote:

    It infuriates me when clubs moan about player burn out; at the fixture list being crowded; at 'meaningless' international friendlies, and field weakened teams for the FA & League Cups. If they want to reduce the number of fixtures, then scrap the Champions League and let's go back to the old European Cup, which only featured league champions. They'll have fewer games, and we can get back to watching the occasional serious European game, instead of loads of mickey mouse games against teams nobody has ever heard of, in a tournement that has destroyed our domestic competitions. It's now considered more important to finish 4th in the Premiership, than it is to win the FA Cup. Ridiculous!!

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  • 68. At 7:46pm on 18 Nov 2008, paul scarf wrote:

    You say that to suggest Capello is wrong to doubt liverpools word and that gerrard is blameless as facts written in stone. You must be very much in a minority to believe that. The evidence points to the exact opposite. Too much of a blind faith overdose tonight Phil.
    I hope Capello backs up his gut instincts and drops these uncommitted players from the next games. No need to give a reason, just don't pick them.

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  • 69. At 8:16pm on 18 Nov 2008, Chad Secksington wrote:

    Breifly, before I go, on the Fat Frank/ Gerrard point. Keep playing Stevie on the left, keep writing stuff about him not being good enough for the "international stage" (its tough against kazakhstan and andorra), keep booing him, keep telling us that owen hargreaves and jermaine jenas are a better option. And finally, finally, he might go the same way as Carra. Oh Carra. Who cares anyway? We've got joeleen lescott and Mancienne whats his face anyway

    --------------------------------------------------

    Do you really think the press give Gerrard a hard time about playing for England? are you serious?

    hahahhahahhahha that is absolutely priceless, Gerrard is the sacred cow's sacred cow. McNulty and the rest of the press would rather chop their own arms off than suggest Gerrard doesn't actually deserve his place on his form for England, no matter how painfully obvious it becomes.

    If I thought he would perform the same flounce as that other scouse legend Carra if he got booed and got bad reviews, I'd take up journalism and start supporting England again. We'll win absolutely cock all with Gerrard in the side, he may win matches for Liverpool (although to be honest I think Alonso has been better this season) but he's achieved the sum total of sod all for England in the best part of 6 years, his most memorable moment was probably throwing the game away late on against France in 2004.

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  • 70. At 8:49pm on 18 Nov 2008, Phillip wrote:

    In my opinion Gerrard has cried off playing for England too many times.

    Drop him.

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  • 71. At 8:49pm on 18 Nov 2008, Neil wrote:

    Comment #2, Footyfan011

    Since when was Martin O Neill English?? Here was little old me thinking he was from Northern Ireland...........

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  • 72. At 8:59pm on 18 Nov 2008, coolguymanutd wrote:



    Both managers have a justified reason for acting the way they do. It a diffcult a one for most of the big club coaches who may have most of their players out.

    Apart from the fact that most of these players may be faced with fatigue, hence, may not be fit for sequent march-which happens to be sensitive ones. There is no gurantee that they are not going to pickup injuries.

    Benitez is under intense pressure to win the league at all cost, with Chelsea and Man Utd clearly the favourites. Not only that, most of the English team, if not all, are still in a delicate position in the CL. It is only reasonable that some key players be dropped from the squard.

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  • 73. At 9:07pm on 18 Nov 2008, RealityStrikes wrote:

    Club v. country? Sadly, this is a pipe dream contest because our country doesn't have a team. The country of my birth, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is teamless. Constituent nations of the union have them, as do cities and towns within those nations. But not our country. It is for this simple reason that Capello is misguided to insinuate that SG or LFC were lying as a means to 'flex his muscles'. He has no muscles worth a fig.

    Ironically, Liverpool is Englands most successful team that has won everything the club game has to offer. They compete in atleast 4 competitions every year, with the potential for additional spin off trophies, thus actively seeking to add success on success. England play just 2 competitions each every 4 years, never the 2 simultaneously. Only once in anyones living memory have they won either of them. The rest of the time they've padded out with daft friendlies. It's high time the 'club' from Soho Square bought their own players to mess around with, and stopped wasting the time of successful clubs and their players.

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  • 74. At 9:24pm on 18 Nov 2008, coolguymanutd wrote:



    Is the FA not in charge of the national team and the League?

    Why fix a friendly match at such a time when results from the uncoming matches could clearly unset the present table in both the PL and the CL?

    Come on let be reasonable here. Some of these players will play 38 league matches ;13 CL matches; who knows the number of FA and Carling Cup matches and now needless friendly international matches. All these couple with WC qualifier matches.

    Capello should try players longing for the opptunity to rep. England and leave these guys alone. Afterall he was in Real Mardrid himself. Would he have released all his players if faced with the same predicatment?


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  • 75. At 9:47pm on 18 Nov 2008, Simon Harris wrote:

    Wonder if Wenger wishes he'd pulled Walcott out now? Say what you like about Liverpool and United - bottom line is they haven't just lost one of their star players because of a friendly...

    Let's face it. Its not even about football players these days, its about assets on a balance sheet. And Arsenal have just taken a financial blow as much as a footballing one.

    I hate to say it but football is now a business. And there aren't many businesses who'd be happy watching someone else walk in on a Monday morning and walk back out again with half their assets. To be returned on the Friday possibly damaged beyond use for weeks on end.

    As for Capello? Does anyone really think he'd be any different to Ferguson and Benitez if the situation were reversed? Its not about England - its about self-interest. He'll moan now about club versus country, but if Sir Alex steps down and Fabio gets the United job in a few years time he'd be pulling all the same tricks himself.

    Interntional football is now the domain of the fans whose clubs never win anything. 90% of the fans of the top four now only watch the matches to make sure their star players don't get injured. Sad but true.

    A-T

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  • 76. At 10:04pm on 18 Nov 2008, tony_parkes wrote:

    This isn't a recent development, it's been going on for years and will continue to do so.

    For those of you with good memories - why was Alan Hansen allegedly left out of Scotland's 1986 World Cup squad?

    Because supposedly Liverpool often pulled him out of frendlies at the last minute.

    The manager who didn't pick him for this World Cup because of his apparent disregard for friendlies?

    Alex Ferguson, oh the irony.

    Phil, next time you ghost Hansen's column on here why don't you do it about this? Just a thought.

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  • 77. At 10:10pm on 18 Nov 2008, tony_parkes wrote:

    Oh, one more thing re above, no 76.

    John Wark (ex Liverpool, Ipswcih and Scotland) mentioned only this morning on Alan Brazil's breakfast show about Hansen.

    To paraphrase the Walkrus, AH would cry off for an away game somewhere cold like Iceland or Norway.

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  • 78. At 10:15pm on 18 Nov 2008, panchopuskas wrote:

    An Italian and a Spaniard deciding who plays or doesn't play in our national side.

    Says it all, really.

    BTW is Messi going to play for Argentina against Scotland or is he injured?

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  • 79. At 10:18pm on 18 Nov 2008, sirfonboy wrote:

    Germany or anyone!!! World Cup qualifier, would they all be available then....think so!

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  • 80. At 10:30pm on 18 Nov 2008, Bluenoserog wrote:

    O'neil is not english

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  • 81. At 10:57pm on 18 Nov 2008, Celesteyblanco wrote:

    Has it occured to anyone that players can also get injured during training or by just tripping over in their house? Yes it is (maybe) more likely that they get injured in matches but still...I think everyone is making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

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  • 82. At 11:02pm on 18 Nov 2008, tarquin wrote:

    2 footiefan011

    O'neill is not english (as everybody has pointed out now) but I agree, he is as supportive of his players playing internationals as other english managers like redknapp

    I'm not sure about arsene and scolari tho, Wenger usually likes to comment on the international game and seems to encourage his players, he is just a bit narked right now having a long list of injuries, inconsistent results and an inconvenient friendly and scolari never seems to want to offend anyone - fergie is the only real negative one i feel

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  • 83. At 11:08pm on 18 Nov 2008, MackemBluenose wrote:

    i wonder if champions league games were in mid week if liverpool, chelsea and man utds english player who have withdrawn would be involved?

    How anyone can call england v germany a friendly i dont no, its like blues playing villa pre season and nobody caring who won. It matters whether its the first team, youth team or even just kids in the street.

    This is an important game for england what about all the fans who have paid hundreds of pounds to get to germany to see england should they be given there money back because its "just a friendly".

    These players are a disgrace to the country i think the main person we should be looking at is alex ferguson, coincedence that man u play home to stoke and england play on wednesday so rooney and rio aint fit enough to play a game they can win with out them to rule them out of the england friendly? i think not

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  • 84. At 11:30pm on 18 Nov 2008, grossesalop wrote:

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

  • 85. At 11:38pm on 18 Nov 2008, War Baby wrote:

    It cuts both ways - Arsene has now lost Walcott for several important matches.

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  • 86. At 11:59pm on 18 Nov 2008, Cameron wrote:

    Fabio Capello has shown that he will not be bullied or intimidated by the clubs from which he picks his teams.

    What can Rafa, Alex, Phil or Arsene actually do to stop him from picking whoever he pleases.

    If players are picked and then claim to be injured and then play 3 days later, the response from Mr.Capello will be to not pick them for the World Cup.

    It would appear that this guy is no soft touch and would not pick Gerrard and Lampard and other absentees to go to South Africa if he thought he was being played.

    I am 100% sure that if the clubs and/or players choose the path of being injured only when required for England friendlies, then Mr.Capello will axe them from his squad and they will miss what would probably be their last chance at a World Cup.

    He is not an Erickson or a McLaren where he toes the line of the clubs. He will draw the line and only take to South Africa those that show commitment and desire to play for their country when they are fit and able.

    And by making Gerrard report for a medical he has shown his hand and made it very easy to understand what is required to be included in his plans.

    Show up and show commitment for all games, or stay at home and watch the World Cup on TV, balls in their court.

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  • 87. At 01:31am on 19 Nov 2008, scarolinared wrote:

    Sure it is all very questionable and Capello is putting a marker in the ground - good for him.
    Sorry to you Arsenal fans about Walcott falling over in training and dislocating his shoulder, but it is a bit early for post 75 complaining about Arsenal's fate in losing Walcott when no-one else has lost anyone. Hell, the games haven't even been played yet.
    And for all you critics of Fergie pulling out Rio and Rooney, look at where Anderson, Nani & Ronaldo have had to go - Brazil for a friendly! Those are the ones he would have pulled out if he could. And to make matters worse we have got Vidic marking Berbatov in Serbia - they might injure each other - I bet Fergie has given those 2 are good talking to!

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  • 88. At 01:34am on 19 Nov 2008, julianoflavenham wrote:

    There needs to be an examination of the international football season with defined rest breaks and explicit separate windows for international and club matches. In the British case there could be defined rest breaks in the months of July and January where no matches including exhibition matches would be played.

    International matches could be played in 4 windows where no Premier league or Champions League matches would be played without the explicit permission of FIFA. In return FIFA would compensate clubs for any injuries occurred during these windows and would agree not to certify any international matches outside these window periods.

    The 4 international windows could take place in the following format.
    1) One match being played on a Wednesday in September.
    2) Three matches being played on a
    Saturday/Wednesday/Saturday basis in the first two weeks of both November and February (after the winter break).
    3) Any other international matches (approx 3-4) that needed to be played could be then be played during the month of June outside the years when International Championships such as the Euros and World Cup take place.

    Players would be expected to report for
    international duty on the Sunday prior to the first match in each of the 4 windows. This would result in only 7 matches in five weeks of disruption for clubs in an August/September to May season.

    It would also have the added benefit of forcing league bodies and their clubs to reconsider whether all their cup, league and other match commitments can be fitted in the windows outside the international windows and re-organise their annual seasons by purging extraneous match commitments.

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  • 89. At 01:36am on 19 Nov 2008, C Payne wrote:

    Of the players who pulled out at the weekend Gerrard's injury was by far the most dubious.

    Ferdinand & Rooney both missed the game to Stoke, and if either of these had been fit Fergie would have put them on the bench and given Stoke had taken 4 points from the games against the other 'Top 4' teams he wouldn't have underestimated them.

    Hart when he came off for Man City could barely walk so it is perfectly reasonable to accept a game on the following Wednesday would be out of the question.

    Gerrard on the other hand played a full 90 minutes and was given a prognosis of being out for 7-10 days which could clearly be interpreted as saying he will be on the bench against Fulham on Saturday, probably getting 30 minutes at the end before coming back for the CL game.

    For those suggesting FIFA/FA should pay compensation for injured players - they already do.

    In terms of the Messi question, Messi won't be playing because Argentina had to agree with Barcelona that for picking him for the Olympics, which the CAS deemed clubs could block, he would miss the November international. Now anyone who reads Tim Vickery's blog will know that in S America the Olympics importance is on a par to the World Cup, so for Argentina is was a no brainer to have him for the Olympics rather than a friendly against Scotland.

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  • 90. At 03:37am on 19 Nov 2008, 5andcounting wrote:

    It's all just silly posturing by Capello who thinks he is someone important but actually has no authority over this. Imagine the situation where Liverpool say Gerrard is injured, Capello says he is not and names him in the team. 15 minutes into the game Gerrard is stretchered off with a much bigger muscle tear and is out for 2 months. Liverpool now successfully sue the FA for £2million damages. Capello would not dare go against the clubs - the FA lawyers will not allow it!!

    Like it or not folks - the clubs are where all the money is generated and spent and that is therefore where the power is because that's the way things work - sorry!

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  • 91. At 04:58am on 19 Nov 2008, thefrogstar wrote:

    I love the way that the word "August" was highlighted as a hypertext link in this article.

    When I read
    "...but his determination to seek a definitive version on Gerrard's health may have been heightened by some memories from August...",
    I clicked on the link and, lo and behold, I was taken to the Wikipedia site to be told about the month of August (the month I was born).

    For crying-out-loud, BBC, please try and use technology in a helpful manner.

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  • 92. At 05:28am on 19 Nov 2008, Cameron wrote:

    It is amazing to me that any English fan would put club above country.

    It's all well and good to say that the clubs are where the money is generated and therefor they should have the final say on their players availability.

    And that if the players are selected anyway, play and get injured, the clubs can sue the FA.

    Well that's all fine but come South Africa 2010 it will be belly laughs for anyone that barracks against England once again as the England team fail yet again and everyone wants an enquiry into why they failed.

    Then everyone will want an English manager but when it comes time to play friendlies again against genuine World Cup opponents like Germany, it will be again taboo for the manager to pick players from the big four clubs.

    And so the cycle will go on, unless someone like Capello says enough is enough.

    If you want success in the international game, you have to be prepared to foot the bill, and the bill is to have the best players playing together as often as possible, regardless of which clubs the players come from.

    And that includes friendlies against the likes of potential World Cup opponents such as Germany and Spain.

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  • 93. At 07:35am on 19 Nov 2008, Parag wrote:

    I still feel Gerrard is not injured, but the England medical staff probably gave him the last lifeline to escape off the fake injury and prolong his int'l career. Although, i wouldn't say it was gerrard behind the conspiracy, it was the liverpool setup, but he has been the victim.

    Hope this kind of thing never happens again. I am a fan of gerrard, though i doubt he has the same vigour for england as he has for liverpool.

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  • 94. At 07:35am on 19 Nov 2008, Parag wrote:

    I still feel Gerrard is not injured, but the England medical staff probably gave him the last lifeline to escape off the fake injury and prolong his int'l career. Although, i wouldn't say it was gerrard behind the conspiracy, it was the liverpool setup, but he has been the victim.

    Hope this kind of thing never happens again. I am a fan of gerrard, though i doubt he has the same vigour for england as he has for liverpool.

    I doubt this will go past the mods...

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  • 95. At 07:53am on 19 Nov 2008, PragueImp wrote:

    I bought a ticket for the games weeks ago, looking forward to seeing an England international for the first time in many years.
    I was expecting at least half a game from some of the experienced players as well as the new exciting ones (such as Walcott).
    Now the only name left is John Terry, who may yet still not make it.
    Can I ask the FA for my money back?

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  • 96. At 08:28am on 19 Nov 2008, King-Dion wrote:

    I am 100% behind Fabio. He is the first England manager for many years to take his job very seriously and is trying to communicate the serious side to complacent players.

    The players are merely pawns in the world of international football and should all be desperate to play to the best of their abilities for their country.

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  • 97. At 08:43am on 19 Nov 2008, the calvinator wrote:

    I think everyone is getting a bit caught by more media histeria towards England. At the moment nothing can be really said about the football England are playing so the press have to have a go at something else. Only two of the players who pulled out actually played for there clubs at the weekend and of course Ashley Cole was bench warming. The rest were injured at the weekend. I don't think anyone can doubt the likes of Rooney, Ferdinand, Lampard and Gerrard's ambition to win with England. With these drop outs I think it will benefit England, Capello promised changes for the friendlies to test the other players and although it would be nice to play Germany with the "A Team" now Capello must use some of the fringe players and must now give them some game time rather than maybe thirty minutes at the end of the game when the usual rash of substitues kills the tempo of the game. So lets get behind the team who finally showing some great form and stop criticising when things are not perfect

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  • 98. At 09:23am on 19 Nov 2008, 5andcounting wrote:

    No 92 - I didn't say it was right or that I thought it was right - I was merely pointing out reality.

    Personally I detest the way that big money, accountants and lawyers now rule football in this country - it has lost it's soul and forgotten its roots and will pay the price with the fan's support which will eventually start to crumble as fans become disillusioned. We are seeing one part of that here with the club v country debate that wouldn't even have existed 20 years ago. The financial stupidity now engulfing Man City is accelerating the process which started with Abramovich and Chelsea (actually it really started 15-20 years ago with the stock market flotation of Man U) - I don't know where the madness will end but it doesn't look good.

    To add to the earlier "champions league vs world cup" debate - when Liverpool won the CL in 2005 it was worth around £55 million to the club - pays Gerrard's salary for his entire career at the club. How much is England winning the World Cup worth to Liverpool? Get real folks this is now just a big business and decisions are made on the basis of commercial risk. That is the monster we have created - sentimental complaints about national pride, playing for the flag etc are just a sideshow that will be ignored by the money men.

    Gerrard has an injury, Rooney has a cold, Lampard has bruised ribs etc - if each of the clubs was playing a CL semi final tonight then all three would be playing - but that would be a risk decision made by those with all the financial interests. Capello is nothing in this world of football - because he has no financial clout. I didn't say it was right and I certainly don't like it but that's the way it is - sorry!

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  • 99. At 09:32am on 19 Nov 2008, Chad Secksington wrote:

    @76 Perhaps Ferguson left Hansen out for missing friendlies because Ferguson only had the friendlies to manage before the 1986 World Cup, Jock Stein's death at Scotland's last qualifying match having led to Ferguson's appointment?

    Just a thought.

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  • 100. At 09:36am on 19 Nov 2008, Notorious Enigmatic Red Devil AKA Wookiee wrote:

    Phil you say...

    "There is no good news in that and the argument that England should not arrange friendlies at busy times is also unreasonable."

    Why is this unreasonable? I don't see the point in an England friendly at busy times during the season. Please explain why this is an unreasonable argumet? I really would like to know what you mean.

    I like Capello's new national team/style, he's slowly bringing me back into the Ing-Ur-Land fold. I also think friendlies are the best time to blood new/fringe players. And I think in Gabi Agbonlahor and Ashley Young we have two gems we can turn into world beaters. Surely these withdrawals mean this is more likely as the onus is now on these guys, and the other fringe players to perform and stake their claim.

    For the record I have no problem with players pulling out through injury no matter how slight if its is just a friendly. However if the game mattered I would expect, hell England expects every man do his duty!

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  • 101. At 09:49am on 19 Nov 2008, footballandethics wrote:

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 26 Minutes Ago

    gone to sleep because some of the entries here defy logic and sense.
    no matter what you or I say, in all honesty will ever change opinion or who gets picked and played.
    football listens not to the ordinary man, but to the man with money.
    it knows less about honour, pride and heart and now more about profit and gain.
    we are nothing to our nation, and as bleak as that sounds, it be the ultimate truth.
    our contributions, time and passion penning our thoughts without tire here only serves as a waste of time.
    the FA care not of your opinion, just of your money and funding.

    ------------------

    mate, to be honest, what drives us here is a fusion of boredom, dissatisfaction and annoyance with elements of the game. Particularly with the drift we are seeing now with football from a sport to fundamentally a business and profit game. Footballers have lost touch with reality and sadly, us. The transition is killing the game and further to my points, it knows not of the everyday man. We know now that our opinions go unheard, ignored and most painfully, laughed at. The FA is killing the game we grew up loving. referees though they add to the entertainment are draining the game of any logic and ethical grounding it once had.
    My opinions about certain players, positions, teams are all just born out of frustration and will NEVER EVER get heard. As a journalist for a national newspaper, fortunately I am given the platform to speak opinion, but that opinion is curbed, diluted and structured by those above me. I just feel sorry for the majority of users here who spend days, weeks talking about the game and have sometimes great concepts and thoughts that go wasted.
    I repeat, the FA cares not of you. Just as long as you fund its ridiculous pathetic wage structures. No manager in the game should be paid 68000000 pounds a year after tax in todays financial climate. there is poverty, famine and people starving, not just in 3rd world countries.
    i find it quite disturbing that football squads can draw such heat, passion and debate and concern and the real matters in life don't. if we were to be rewarded for our heart, fair enough, but sadly, football today is a mugs game.

    -----------------------

    spent over four and a half grand following my country over the last four years. that money goes into crapello's pocket and funnily enough, that's how much he earns every 8-9 hours smiley

    --------------------------

    if anyone here can justify why that man should earn what he earns in todays world, then i will give up from posting anymore opinions here and also quit my job as a journalist.
    my opinion is that for that amount of money england should be winning every game and setting the footballing world alight with football that is full of style and flair and entertainment. we shouldn't have to rely upon one red card to give birth to a good scoreline.
    anyway, i have spent both heart, time and money following the country i love and after many years, have come to the conclusion that it really isn't worth it anymore.
    i can say in all honesty that the FA and football atthe highest level revolves around one thing and it isn't love for the game.

    -----------------------------
    As I said, I am one of thousands who gave everything to England and got let down completely. It only gets worse and worse. Its a raw deal being a football fan nowadays. Not qualifying for the euros was not a failure or a blip, it was near criminal. While Crapello is on near seven million pounds a year after tax, we paid McClaren near three million after tax every year to torture, hurt and dissapoint us. My father served this country and was paid near nothing. My Uncle was a war medic and lived his life in honour. You tell me what honour and heart exists today in football.
    Without sounding too adrift to the ethos of this forum, all I am saying is that your squad opinions, your thoughts, feelings on the game WILL GO WASTED unless we do something about the FA; who are killing our sport.
    Take action.

    ----------------------------

    Possibly the best post i've ever read!

    --------------------------

    guys, here is seriously an opportunity to do something about this. if we really don't do this now, we will never get a chance to change our game for the better. i fear it maybe too late, but one last push.
    i can start a petition and use all my influence as a journalist, all the contacts i have and get that list beyond the 10,000 mark, but i need everyone's support. Just how we go about changing the FA and what we propose needs to be meticulously prepared otherwise it risks being flawed and consequentley ignored.
    The ethos of my proposals is wage caps and giving more back to real fans. The commercialising of the game which has seen the ordinary man miss out. Foreign ownerships fuelling the money game. Lack of homegrown players; yes I agree with Platini and Blatter on this.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/F11818978?thread=6072192&post=71860651#p71860651

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  • 102. At 09:52am on 19 Nov 2008, Len wrote:

    It is quite possible to be a "fan" without a club so easy to always side with club over country. In Rugby there are no friendlies, I see this England v Germany as a Test Match in its own right.

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  • 103. At 10:16am on 19 Nov 2008, happy_red wrote:

    Why not play the friendlies 3 or 4 days before the next competitive matches, then the manager will be assessing relevant players (with relevant tactics) rather than the bunch of nobodies who will play in tonight's meaningless farce.

    Both the England manager, the club managers, the players and the fans would be much happier as the friendly would have more significance and any negative effects of the friendly such as injuries would most effect the team that was responsible.

    Not only that, but the disruption to the league would be lessened as ultimately, there would be less days away from clubs, half the travelling time and the chance an injury picked up in the friendly could be healed before the player had another competitive match for his club.

    I can guarantee that with this system in place, there would be fewer 'withdrawals' by first team players for the friendlies.

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  • 104. At 10:20am on 19 Nov 2008, Smallgaz wrote:

    I'm an Irish Liverpool fan and couldn't give two fiddlers how England get on.

    A lot of the big clubs have fans all over the world who don't care about England and why should they?

    If the England camp are calling into question the integrity of Liverpool FC,Steven Gerrard and our club doctor (who is the U21's club doctor no less) then don't pick him.

    All these patriotic England fans saying Capello was right etc - if you have an issue and doubt the commitment to the cause, would you not be happy to see players like Gerrard dropped from the England team as you only want people who are passionate?

    I certainly would as it'd mean less chance of injuries/burnout to club players.

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  • 105. At 10:22am on 19 Nov 2008, John Fisher wrote:

    It seems to me that it is only Football that seems to differntaite between friendlys and competition matches. The same thing doesn't happen in cricket or Rugby (both of which have World Cups don't forget) when playing for your country is the highest honour available.

    But of course Rugby players and Cricketers are not a bunch of spoilt prima donnas! (Am I allowed to use such a non-English phrase these days?)

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  • 106. At 10:39am on 19 Nov 2008, SpursPenfold wrote:

    Thanks for the link explaining what August is. Very kind

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  • 107. At 10:46am on 19 Nov 2008, happy_red wrote:

    "But of course Rugby players and Cricketers are not a bunch of spoilt prima donnas!"

    When was the last time Wilkinson played in a friendly? Or for his club for that matter? Seems to turn up for the glory matches only. Mind you, so do most of the fans who can't be bothered following club rugby (or county cricket either).

    Please don't compare rugby and (especially) cricket to football. There is a reason football is far more popular worldwide.

    This particular friendly is being played completely out of context of any competitive international match and so, by definition, is a waste of time. The manager will learn nothing, the fans will be short changed and many players will pick up injuries due to different training regimes. Many clubs won't receive their players back until late Friday with a game to be played on Saturday.

    I'm sure for most people that moan, it is not whether friendlies are played or not, it is down to the timing of them and how little relation they bear to any future competitive game. Moving them to just before competitive games would solve everyone's problem.

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  • 108. At 11:15am on 19 Nov 2008, UTVSOTC wrote:

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

  • 109. At 11:39am on 19 Nov 2008, Uganda Tim wrote:

    To me it is clear that country comes before club, and I think that for most, if not all players, that is the case. Winning a World Cup is viewed as the pinnacle of any career. Of course a successful club career is likely to improve a players chances of playing for the national side. As for not playing friendlies at crucial times of the season, when exactly would that be? There is no closed season, and club managers always complain about exhausted international players returning the their clubs for the new season in July. Simply, the football season is far too long (or never ending), to the detriment of sports like cricket, where club sides now have June and July every other year not interfered with by football.

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  • 110. At 11:41am on 19 Nov 2008, Richyburger wrote:

    Poor blog again Phil,

    "Gerrard is blameless. He is not a man to tamely accept his club withdrawing him from England duty when he is, in fact, fit."

    RUBBISH, do we think that if it had been a Champions League match on Wednesday that Gerrard would have pulled out because of this so called injury.

    Before all the big matches we get Gerrard coming out and spouting about how much he loves playing for England but has no problem with his manager pulling him out of the squad at drop of a hat. If he loves Egland so much he would say to Benitez that he wants to meet up with the squad anyway in order to be part of the match even if he wasn't playing.

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  • 111. At 11:44am on 19 Nov 2008, radical_joe wrote:

    Am I the only one confused by Capello's stance here?

    On the one hand, he pulls in Gerrard for a medical (even though Liverpool's own medics had declared him unfit), with the promise that this would become the norm. But then he says that, if england players 'don't want to play for England' in friendly's, he'll pull them out of the England squad full stop. How will he determine this? If both a clubs own people AND the FA's own doctors rule a player out through injury, is he going to overrule both of their opinions?

    This seems to me like pointless postering from Capello - and a bad exercise in PR...as well as hardly helpful in fostering better relations with the top clubs.

    If he is seriously suggesting that, despite what the medics say, if he feels that a player dosen't want to play he will drop them from more important games then he is a fool. Firstly, it would completley undermine the relations between him and just about everyone else involved in the England set up, secondly, it it be cutting his nose to spite his own face.

    An example: Gerrard or Rooney are declared unfit for a friendly, but Capello feels they just can't be bothered. To show his authority, he drops them from an important qualifier. Result - England lose, dont qualify. Is this what he wants, because this could be the outcome of what he is suggesting.

    And, if he has no intention of doing this, why on Earth does he mention this? Just like his pulling in Gerrard, this is more postering on his part that will (as the Gerrard case has already shown) only end up with him having even more egg on his face.

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  • 112. At 12:15pm on 19 Nov 2008, bobbyb23 wrote:

    Gerrard plays like a headless chicken anyway! Running around everywhere getting in everybodys way (notably Lampard and Rooney)!

    This is international football, we are not trying to scramble a result to finish 4th in the league now Stephen!

    We'll be far better off suited with Carrick sat in the midddle

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  • 113. At 12:45pm on 19 Nov 2008, chafight wrote:

    It's not really about whether a player loves his club more than his country. It is about the importance of the Gerrard, Rooney, Terry and Ferdinand will expect to be rested for less important games (League Cup games for example), so would they rather not play in relatively meaningless international friendlies if they can help it. They would be queuing up to take their places if it were a Champions league game or a meaningful World Cup qualifier. It should not be seen as a club or country row for clearly patriotic and dedicated England players like the aforementioned. It's just a matter of how important individual games are in the larger context of the whole season.

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  • 114. At 12:48pm on 19 Nov 2008, RMutt-Urinal wrote:

    For a player to legitimately drop out of the International squad he should either not have been available for his Club for the preceding 7 days or should not be available for the Club for the subsequent 14 days.

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  • 115. At 1:01pm on 19 Nov 2008, fearlessBobFunkhouse wrote:

    He has, even in his short reign, emphasised several times the importance of the national team and how players who do not show full commitment will be left behind as the bandwagon rolls on to South Africa in 2010.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Arrogant English - Think you are guaranteed to qualify - this is what makes you the most hated fans in the world/

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  • 116. At 1:04pm on 19 Nov 2008, mikeeboy wrote:

    Having an international friendly between Premier League weekends and in the middle of a qualifying campaign makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for the players or the fans and I doubt a manager can learn much in the couple of days he has them either.

    Once again it's all about money. A certain number of games need to be played each year to boost the coffers, so they get rammed in when and where they can. Ridiculous.

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  • 117. At 1:16pm on 19 Nov 2008, jovialStelladave wrote:

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

  • 118. At 1:29pm on 19 Nov 2008, Smallgaz wrote:

    No 114.

    That is one of the most idiotic things I've ever read on a football blog.

    So if a player gets his leg broken on the Sunday and rules himself out of a friendly international on the Wednesday he should be forced to play?

    Can players not have any injuries that can rule them out of a match unless it's for 2 weeks then?

    Are there no injuries that last less than 2 weeks that can be considered genuine?

    End of the day, England fans care about England. Loads of English people don't even care about the national team and are more interested in club football.

    It's an unbelievably arrogant notion to think that every should care about England ahead of the football club, when let's face it the likes of Liverpool,Man Utd etc have more fans who DON'T support England than those who do!!

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  • 119. At 1:40pm on 19 Nov 2008, dannyboyespanol wrote:

    Hello all

    I would love to see England win the world cup but with the financial gains to be made in the premier league why would any manager want to risk their players if they don't have to? The players get paid by their employers( the clubs) and until there is something in it for the employer why would they want their employees(the players) risking injury and possibly the premier league because of it?

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  • 120. At 2:12pm on 19 Nov 2008, Cymru_CountingCrows wrote:

    If anyone's disenchanted with the millionaire owners and millionaire players that make up 'top flight' football, and cheat their way to their pay packets, then there's another option...

    Go and support your nearest semi-pro club and watch football played by players who probably had to leave work early to get to the ground in time for the warm-up, and don't dive or feign injury because of the micky-taking that they'd rightly endure from their team mates.

    You'll not need to take out a personal loan for season ticket either.

    Oh, and there are also semi-pro versions of the international teams too, if you want the full package of supporting a club and country...

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  • 121. At 2:46pm on 19 Nov 2008, RobO wrote:

    Isn't there a FIFA or UEFA rules that says a club cannot prevent the callup of a player to their national side without good reason?

    Just cos the club manager says the player is unfit after just playing 90 minutes, doesn't mean they have to be believed. Seems like Fabio is one of those who will not believe anything he hasn't seen for himself.

    And I don't think Gerrard went to Germany, I think he may well have been look at in this country by an FA-approved doctor...

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  • 122. At 4:56pm on 19 Nov 2008, Stretford Wife wrote:

    If club managers think friendlies are so unimportant, then perhaps they should consider what sort of form their new and expensively assembled squad will be in on the first day of the season if they were not allowed to play any games between competitive fixtures.
    If you want the best players at your club, you have to accept that they will be picked for their country. If as a manager, it concerns you that much, then sign mediocre players and lump it!

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  • 123. At 5:42pm on 19 Nov 2008, thewelshboycott wrote:

    Mr. Capello learns quickly, doesn't he?

    Why shouldn't he satisfy himself about the fitness of any potential international player?

    Until the England team becomes the top priority for English football, there can be no World Cup win or other success.

    This man could change that.

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  • 124. At 5:54pm on 19 Nov 2008, pickerill82 wrote:

    If it the case of players dont want turn up up for friendlies then i suggest that capello should not pick them for his squad in the qualifying matches and even to the extent of the tournaments.

    This is obviously their big ambition to play in the world cups and european championships.

    Examples should be made!!

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  • 125. At 6:12pm on 19 Nov 2008, OstrandH wrote:

    I still think that the performance of England is not the most important aspect of football for most English fans. All the fans of the big clubs I know would rather their club won the European Cup than England won the World Cup. And they get very annoyed when their players come back from international duty with bits hanging off them. Smaller clubs' fans tend to think otherwise, but then Grimbsy will never win the Champions League will they? As a Forest fan I'd rather relive 1979 than 1966. And if I was a Liverpool fan I'd not be troubled by Jamie Carragher's stance on England. I've long thought that top club games are better quality than internationals and games like the one tonight just get in the way.

    Incidentally, I agree with 115: there's plenty of time for the wheels to fall off this bandwagon yet (although I don't know about English fans being the most hated in the world south of Gretna).

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  • 126. At 6:14pm on 19 Nov 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    Its a perpetual catch. When the draft team comes around looking for the eligible conscripts, mothers hide their battle worthy sons behind their skirts. Don't blame the enforcers for checking out the skirts. Lets not blame the mothers either for faulting the cause.

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  • 127. At 6:17pm on 19 Nov 2008, borisandclive wrote:

    I agree with 'the welsh boycott' that "until the England team becomes a top priority for English football, there can be no World Cup win or other successes".

    The fact is, there is only so much emotional energy a footballer can exhume. With the club programme (domestic and European) so much more intense and competitive nowadays, and the money and stakes involved so much higher, players are often unable to rouse themselves emotionally (or at least to the extent required) so as to put their full effort into it.

    Carragher is a prime example (retirement at 29). As is Scholes, as much as we all like him (retired at 29), and - believe it or not - the great Alan Shearer.

    I would not be surprised if Gerrard calls it a day in a couple of years at the age of 30.

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  • 128. At 6:36pm on 19 Nov 2008, RMutt-Urinal wrote:

    118: Learn to read.

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  • 129. At 08:48am on 20 Nov 2008, okkerblocker wrote:

    I don't have the problem of misguided loyalty when it comes to club vs country because I take little interest in the over-financed antics of League football.

    Rugby Union was and is my first love as a player and of course to root for English teams and individuals at international level in any sport you'd care to name.

    One of the perennial diappointments has been to watch England soccer teams strut around the field as though they only had to go through the motions for 90 mins and if they were lucky they'd win but if not, they were gallant losers or if they'd played like a bunch of no-hopers, it was the manager's fault. Who cared ? - they'd return to their clubs and still be superheroes in the eyes of their adoring club fans.

    So yes - as an England soccer fan, I've been short-changed over the years but I sense something is changing. Now they've got an England manager who has little respect for their club reputations but judges them by how much they want to play for their country and their courage when doing so.

    In exchange, they repay his respect on the pitch with pride and confidence, their desire to perform well, stay part of his set-up and win for England is clear for all to see and the results speak for themselves.

    It's not rocket science - other countrys' teams have been showing that pride and commitment for years and playing well above their allegedly poor club standings as individuals.

    I rest my case.

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