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Capello shows the Midas touch

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Phil McNulty | 23:17 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Fabio Capello is the man with the Midas touch - and his gold reserves delivered a resounding message to England's established order with an outstanding win in Germany.

If Capello spent the build-up to this friendly wrestling with selection problems caused by untimely withdrawals of first-choice stars, he left Berlin contemplating a dilemma of a different kind as England's second string recorded a deserved victory.

Capello dismissed the absence of a previous "Golden Generation" to insist he could still learn much from a friendly against a nation England will always be measured against.

And, to his undoubted delight, he discovered England's resources have a strength in depth that will only add to the growing optimism surrounding Capello's reign.

It is almost a year to the day since defeat at home to Croatia killed off England's bid to reach Euro 2008 and Steve McClaren's reign as coach.

The mood under Capello could not be in sharper contrast to that rain-soaked night at Wembley, a wretched experience that capped an era of under-achievement under McClaren and his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson.

This victory, which marked Germany's first defeat in Berlin since 1973, must be placed in its proper context. The home side missed influential stars of their own in Michael Ballack, Philipp Lahm and Torsten Frings.

But to downplay the nature and style of England's win would be churlish on a night that delivered a virtually unbroken string of positives for Capello.

If this was a supposedly meaningless friendly, no-one told the players who performed so impressively in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Capello has had a satisfying week on and off the pitch.

He exerted his authority on the Premier League's elite by making it clear he will have the final word on any pull-outs from his selections - then his shadow squad helped him turn up the pressure a notch on any players lingering in England's comfort zone.

Capello marshalled his depleted resources to send out an England side that was perfectly balanced, well-organised and had the all-important threat of pace in attacking areas that troubled Germany all night.

England players celebrate win

And they played with the fearless confidence Capello has been demanding from his charges from the first whistle.

It was a night for enhancing reputations while England's big names were away, and very few missed their chance.

In the absence of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard - and consequently the debate about whether they can play together - Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick were outstanding in central midfield.

They controlled affairs at the heart of the game and Carrick, in particular, was economy itself as he rarely wasted a pass and was a reassuring presence throughout.

Matthew Upson not only scored England's opener, but performed with a composure he has rarely displayed on international duty.

And Capello's decision to compensate for Theo Walcott's unfortunate late absence by using Gabriel Agbonlahor was inspired. Aston Villa's in-form youngster was tireless and carried a genuine hint of menace.

Shaun Wright-Phillips looked rejuvenated on the right flank, but the biggest revelation of all may just have been the much-maligned Stewart Downing.

Previous sightings of Downing on England duty have shown a player shorn of self-confidence and a target for the taunts of fans. He has looked like a man unconvinced of his own worth on the international stage.

This was a different Downing, as if fuelled by a neat injection of self-confidence from Capello. He was direct, dangerous and only too willing to test the German keepers Rene Adler and Tim Wiese.

There was only one downside to England's display, coming just after the hour and leaving goalkeeper Scott Carson and striker Darren Bent with uneasy feelings about their own England ambitions.

Bent wasted a glorious chance after rounding Wiese, then Carson was involved in a horrible mix-up with captain John Terry that gifted Germany a leveller they barely deserved.

Terry should have dealt with an aimless long ball and took full responsibility later, but Carson was indecisive and failed to command the situation, allowing Patrick Helmes to score.

England's captain made amends by heading the late winner and justice was done.

Capello reflected on the renewed claims made by players on England's periphery and said: "I am very happy to have these problems."

You bet he is.

No-one would be foolish enough to suggest Capello will usher England's big names towards the exit on the basis of a victory in a friendly, but make no mistake he will use this performance to his advantage.

Those England players who were not in Berlin will already by grimly aware that Capello represents a sentiment-free zone. Performance is everything, no matter who you are.

And players like Lampard and Gerrard will know there are players pressing them for their places - while Michael Owen and David Beckham will also have food for thought about their long-term futures because of the emergence of Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and the rejuvenation of Wright-Phillips.

The traditional message from Capello and all surrounding the England camp is to keep feet on the ground at all times and refuse to get carried away.

But this is now an impressive sequence of five successive wins that is worthy of the growing confidence surrounding England.

Capello can reflect on a job well done - on and off the pitch.


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  • 1. At 00:00am on 20 Nov 2008, machinemessiah wrote:

    Why do you lump Eriksson in with McLaren. I wouldn't call three successive QFs an 'under achievement' by England's standards. You must have been watching a different England team to me for the last 35 years?

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  • 2. At 00:05am on 20 Nov 2008, Count Berbatov wrote:

    Its Great to see England has players to fall back on and now it might make the 1st team fight for there places better.
    Well done capello

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  • 3. At 00:05am on 20 Nov 2008, Jayp91 wrote:

    Michael Carrick was absolutely magnificent. He was terrific all night didn't put one step wrong.How could Capello have left him out in various England squads when he was fit and playing week in week out For United. He has been United unsong hero this season when played. Carrick reads the game so well and plays simple football in the centre mid, this is what England needs.

    Top performances from Downing, SWP, Agbonlahor and Matthew Upson.

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  • 4. At 00:08am on 20 Nov 2008, ianwarncken wrote:

    Don't all get carried away again please, but you have to say we were really good last night.

    Still just as we always dismiss any friendly defeat as meaningless, so this result and performance can not be the basis for another period of mindless optimism.

    Lets though maintain the momentum. Cappello has definetly got us on the right track.

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  • 5. At 00:23am on 20 Nov 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    I haven't seen the match, but I am glad the friendly served its purpose eminently for England. It should give some food for thought to debaters who keep running down the very need for having friendlies. It gives the manager more confidence and options. It also gives immense opportunity to some peripheral talent that otherwise may not have got such an early look in. Most of all it would have put some of the snooty ones in their place who should now be able to find more fire in their innards to turn up for the country and not go looking for subterfuge to sabotage the manager.

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  • 6. At 00:41am on 20 Nov 2008, Ian Bittiner wrote:

    I am glad to see England perform so well! Hopefully this can turn these farcical friendlies - where no-one bothers showing up - into genuine matches as the players who were always sure of a place will now not be and will need to prove themselves!

    I am not, of course, suggesting England would be better without players such as Gerrard and Lampard, but let's hope this spells the beginning of the end of their big egos holding back the England team!

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  • 7. At 01:51am on 20 Nov 2008, blue4ever wrote:

    whats the big fuss about? we played against a bunch of kids!

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  • 8. At 01:54am on 20 Nov 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

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

  • 9. At 01:59am on 20 Nov 2008, aflickering wrote:

    i think first and foremost what was different about tonight's performance is EFFORT. they were charging around for every ball, pressing and never letting the germans settle.

    helps of course that there were none of the big shots strutting around the middle of the pitch, trying to look like they can own the game without even trying. this was honest, passionate football instead of the egotistical prancing i'm used to seeing. ability is irrelevant without the right attitude, but with that attitude ability can really show through, as downing and co. have proven tonight.

    capello has worked wonders in some respects. i just wonder if he'll ever manage to work that magic on the biggest egos of the lot.

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  • 10. At 02:20am on 20 Nov 2008, War Baby wrote:

    So now the so-called "Golden Generation" can be pensioned off and we just about have time to mould the youngsters into a super outfit for the W C Finals (by which time the GG will be almost geriatrics !).
    Well done Capello - go for it.

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  • 11. At 02:31am on 20 Nov 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    JT should be renamed Mr. Commitment. No wonder Capello picked him for captaincy. That he so promptly absolved Scottie of letting in the German equiliser and shouldered the blame himself is the footprint of a good leader.

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  • 12. At 02:34am on 20 Nov 2008, douala wrote:

    Im Portuguese having been living in England for over 8 years now,and i must say im well impressed with the English national team,in Capello England has a world class manager that has clear ideas and will no doubt take England to even better levels that they are already showing.Great show from the so called 2nd string England players they showed maturity and class so now there will be real competition for places which is a real bonus for the Country.No more Wags nosense the players can concentrate on what they suppose to do play football. Well done England and well done Capello

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  • 13. At 02:45am on 20 Nov 2008, sonic_assassin wrote:

    I would agree with all of this... apart from lumping Eriksson in with McClaren. I believe I'm right in saying Sven's management stats rank him second only to Capello!

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  • 14. At 03:11am on 20 Nov 2008, The_curdmeister wrote:

    We all knew you could do it Fabio. Admitedly it's come from an Italian man, but you have produced a touch of class. You have managed to bring players together from across english football. You've managed to create a strong team from something fragmented and confused. Englands squad now appears to be a team well worth watching even from a neutral point of view. I believe they can be a team that can pull of any kind of result. Could they have the depth of Brazil...... it will be interesting to watch over Cappello's era as manager.

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  • 15. At 03:47am on 20 Nov 2008, DoctorBoroLove wrote:

    Ericsson was a disaster for England: he played the big names irrespective of performance and McLaren only continued the same.

    Quite right to lump the pair together.

    Capello is totally unfazed by reputation or the press and he selects entirely on merit. Even the prima donnas have realised this.

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  • 16. At 03:47am on 20 Nov 2008, winston wrote:

    Thus far, Capello is justifying his salary. This is good.

    I hope the FA take this opportunity to get some English managers to worship at the feet of the great one. Maybe one day we can have an English manager who can lead us to glory.

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  • 17. At 04:06am on 20 Nov 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    My previous attempt to add to this blog has been blocked, presumably because I criticised BBC journos, it didn’t include any bad language or insults. Well here goes again leaving out the criticism of the BBC;

    Good to see the fringe players take their chance. Competition for places in a representative team is very healthy and probably easier to manage than at club level.

    I agree with #3, harsh on Eriksson. He achieved a better result than Capello beating Germany 1-5, and it was in a competitive match, not a friendly.

    My point here was that this was a generalisation by the author of the blog. Hopefully that is not too strong for the moderators.

    I would like to run an experiment where you bring together a group of football journalists and split them into two groups.

    Group 1 – they watch the first 85 minutes of a game, then write their report. Hopefully there are some last minute incidents or goals.

    Group 2 – they watch the entire game then write their match report as normal.

    Comparing the reports would reveal, I suspect, that a last minute goal can unfairly taint the journos view of the whole game, and the ‘performance’ of some players. In some cases their ‘analysis’ just wouldn’t stand up. Repeating the experiment a number of times would probably result in some journos looking for a new way of making a living.

    #3 You must have missed the recent Arsenal vs Man Utd game, Carrick was awful. Good to see he pulled his socks up for his country.

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  • 18. At 05:39am on 20 Nov 2008, EaStMiDz wrote:

    It's noticeable that all the best players were current or ex-West Ham players! What a suprise....

    Technique = West Ham.

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  • 19. At 06:18am on 20 Nov 2008, davehibbertis God wrote:

    It makes a bit of a nonsense of the idea that England's lack of success in recent years has been due to the numbers of foreign players here especially in the PL. We have shown that we have strength in depth and it has really been about poor management. English players benefit from playing alongside some of the world's best week in week out. I agree with the view that Erikson's record was very good but maybe he had a too-laid back approach e.g. about the Wags and the celebrity stuff. At last we have a tough professional manager who is not a million miles away from Sir Alf Ramsey.

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  • 20. At 07:23am on 20 Nov 2008, back_to_oblivion wrote:

    I've noticed that most messages are over optimistic!! but i have my own reservations, it was one of that silly insignificant freindly match so i would say its toooo early to get tooo excited about the future of england team,let us keep the our praise for later and let these players make winning as an habit and let them win some thing really meaningful, let these players concentrate on thier own game, dont spoil these prima donas with undeserved compliments which could force them to take thier eyes off the ball!!

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  • 21. At 07:29am on 20 Nov 2008, carpog wrote:

    I think Eriksson underachieved with the players he had at his disposal. The 2002 WC was there for the taking if he'd been more of an inspirational figure instead of bowing to the whims of the so-called big name players.

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  • 22. At 07:34am on 20 Nov 2008, DannyF wrote:

    Definitely a big improvement, just lacked that cutting edge in front of goal a top striker gives you, but definitely on the right track.
    I have slated Stuart Downing for every England game so far but last night was by far his best performance. Long may it continue.
    Carson was a little hesitant for the goal but Terry should have dealt with it. As I defender myself you know that if there is any risk, get rid, Terry didn't.
    We went back to the big hoofing game of old for a while and that is when Germany put pressure on us, ball on ground and pass it up the field.

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  • 23. At 07:41am on 20 Nov 2008, mighty_jubbo wrote:

    A fine performance from Capello and the team. Downing was excellent and he and Bridge gave balance rarely seen on the England left.

    Wright-Phillips was also exciting and offers so much more than the ageing legs of Beckham.

    Scott Carson will never be England number one. His confidence is shot to pieces and maybe it is time to give Green a chance in the next friendly?

    Good performance and this bodes well.

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  • 24. At 07:48am on 20 Nov 2008, mistyevita wrote:

    Comparing Capello to Midas isn't a good thing. Read up on what happens to him Phil.

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  • 25. At 07:54am on 20 Nov 2008, jonnyboy1104 wrote:


    I would like to conduct my own experiment and split people's comments into two groups: those that comment on the game and those that write utter tosh making a laughable attemp to discredit the blogger. I wonder which group you're in.

    Good performance from England; Carrick was MoM. Hopefully these games will be taken more seriously now.

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  • 26. At 08:00am on 20 Nov 2008, Razmond wrote:

    Capello has claimed back the England friendly and made a proper game of it. If that game had had all 6 changes (or more if allowed) would have ruined the whole match.

    It was a great game to watch, especially as an england fan, and especially as a middlesbrough fan... Come on Downing!!

    I thought ITV did well with the game... Shame on you beeb for giving these England games up.

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  • 27. At 08:11am on 20 Nov 2008, mikeyjkelly wrote:

    Nice to see you back on song Phil with your usual dose of hyperbole. I will never understand how Sven gets accused of underachievement when he took a team in the top twenty in the world to successive quarter finals. Even the traditional powerhouses of Italy, France and Holland didn’t manage that over the past 8 years. Sentences such as "an era of under-achievement under McClaren and his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson" is jingoistic nonsense.

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  • 28. At 08:15am on 20 Nov 2008, fernando999 wrote:

    I've literally given up on England but I've got to give it to them, they played rather well yesterday!

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  • 29. At 08:17am on 20 Nov 2008, FreeSpeech wrote:

    Just the mere presence of these so called 'B' team players sitting on the sub benches should now be enough to motivate the normal first team players to up their commitment, attitude, work rate and performance.
    They now know that Capello has options for every position on the park (except the goal keeper .. doh!).
    Maybe not wholesale replacements in a NON friendly match but a threat to each position individually (if you understand).

    First time I've watched a whole England game on TV and genuinely believed we would win rather than hang on desperately.

    Well done all the players.

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  • 30. At 08:18am on 20 Nov 2008, KeepitReal wrote:

    Eriksson was a fine manager until he allowed the big name players to dominate him and he was no longer his own man

    This truly leaves me in a dilemma as I am a big Capello fan and certainly not an England fan and to then spend last night wanting England to win is a bit of a shocker for me

    Oh well, hopefully I will get over it unlike old Terry Butcher

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  • 31. At 08:21am on 20 Nov 2008, collie21 wrote:

    I agree with the first guy, England haven't under achieved. This is only a friendly, crying out loud. Even Ireland beat the Germans in Germany in a friendly then got hammered in qualifying by them. Delighted you feel you have something to celebrate, dissappointed I have to listen to you lot thinking you are going to win it again till 2010.

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  • 32. At 08:22am on 20 Nov 2008, King-Dion wrote:

    This performance explodes the myth that coaching achieves very little. Fabio Capello has taken a second string of players (with a couple of exceptions) and coached and encouraged them to play like a confident quality international side. What a brilliant manager. The F.A. certainly got the appointment right this time.

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  • 33. At 08:37am on 20 Nov 2008, coolguymanutd wrote:

    Phil !

    I think your comparism of Eriksson with McClaren was grossly unfair.Eriksson single-handedly build the England national team from medocrity into stardom.

    Agreed Eriksson may not have won any trophies for England, neither has Capello yet. Eriksson took England to the world cup only to lost to Brasil who became the winners of the competition.

    Infact Eriksson sat so that Capello can walk: The mere fact that 60% of Capello's squad where discovered by Eriksson will attest to this. He first took Walcolt to the WC.Remember?

    Ironically with this victory, Capello will be more confused knowing fully well that the regulars can not be left out in big competions; and there are others who clearly deserve their place in the squad who will sadly not make it. There is no way a Carrick will replace Lampard and the likes- making the selection of England squad more probematic. There are some players who deserved their places,there are others whose selection will be based on politics and their experience - Owen and Beckham.

    All the same, congrats England !
    You deserved it.

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  • 34. At 08:40am on 20 Nov 2008, englandcomeon wrote:

    and this on a night where the Scots had nothing better to do than try and remind the English of 1986, well done our nothern friends!

    This is the manager England have been waiting for, for the last ten years or more.

    Tactical discipline and off-pitch discipline, treating internationals as a serious issue not an excuse for a beano and nous.

    Not wanting to go over the top but this is needed, long may it continue!

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  • 35. At 08:47am on 20 Nov 2008, steviep1 wrote:

    I thought we did well under Eriksson with the exception of the 2006 World Cup. Despite reaching the Quarter Finals we were poor throughout and the squad he took with him baffled many.
    Only taking 4 strikers 2 of which were not fit (Owen and Rooney) and one who was still a child (Walcott).
    So extremely unfair to compare Erkisson to McLaren.

    Anyway, after a shaky start to his management campaign Capello really seems to have them playing the way Capello teams do...pressing and chasing balls and a solid defence (apart from the madness of the Germany Goal).
    Glen Johnson and Matthew Upson looked different players to past performances!
    There were many other individual performances such as Agbonlahor, Carrick and Wright-Phillips.

    He won't be afraid to drop big names when it comes to qualifying as he has already shown with Owen and Beckham excluded.
    Gerrard, Lampard, Ferdinand and both Coles better pull their fingers out or they will find themselves on the bench.

    Well done England!

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  • 36. At 08:50am on 20 Nov 2008, Brian R Pepper wrote:

    Established stars? maybe they should be less complacent after seeing the passion and determination of the 3 lions shirt wearing England team - so often missing in the past.

    Perhaps Fabio should think about leaving the 'stars' out more often.

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  • 37. At 08:55am on 20 Nov 2008, global_citizen wrote:

    You calling Eriksson an under achiever is a joke.

    3 consecutive QFs is our most consistent ever run - he also had one of the best ever qualifying records as an england manager.

    He took over when we were in the doldrums (remember Kevin Keegan...) and built a team that had some fantastic results:

    Germany 1 England 5
    Argentina 0 England 1

    to name just a few.

    So he got too cosy and relaxed with the players in the last WC, even then - we were only knocked out on pens...

    Phil... you have a selective memory when it comes to Eriksson = obviously McLaren was a disaster...

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  • 38. At 08:55am on 20 Nov 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    Firslty - Well done England, the boys did good?! Nice to see that we have talented youngsters chomping at the bit to get in and play in the national team?!

    Secondly - I dont know how long now or how many times ive said it, but last night i was proved right, in these so called 'meaningless friendlies', we should be playing the younger/fringe players who are eager to play and make a name and get themselves in the international frame, because at the end of the day we all know what the big stars can do and what the big names give us, but by putting the younger/fringe players in you know that you are going to get an actual game, rather than an exibition that the big names see it as, like we did last night?! A game that was full of commitment, passion, pride and energy?!

    and sorry to say this but........

    who was the one player who messd up, by taking it rather easy, the only real big name star Engalnd regular in the squad.....YES John Terry?! as he poss knows his place is safe?! I know he made up for it with the goal, which is nothing less than you'd expect from a man of his calibre and the Captain of the country, but it sould never of been needed as the Germans never threatend us?!
    In Conclusion
    More Fringe players who are up for it in the friendlies please Fabio and England will be exciting to watch again?! As proved last night!

    and to the person who commented about the fact that we were playing the "German Kiddies", wernt the Germans also playing the England Kiddies.......seen as we only had 2 regulars, James and Terry, plus an only very recent England first teamer in Barry.
    didnt Germany have Klose, Gomez, Podolski, Schweinstieger, Mertesacker, Lahm, all of whom were and are first teamers

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  • 39. At 08:56am on 20 Nov 2008, brettstephens wrote:

    very impressive display about time those villa wippets got their chance! dont normally comment but hearing someone say erikson was a disaster makes me laugh! he didnt lose 1 qualifier and the players had faith in him much the same as they do in capello, just because mcclaren tried/failed to emulate his teams shouldnt make people forget he actually got us believing we could win a major tournament even though england simply didnt have the quality or experience to win, in south africa, if capello gets his squad right it could be different

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  • 40. At 09:04am on 20 Nov 2008, rikkirokkit wrote:

    Well done team and well done Capello. I must admit I had given up on Downing and was unconvinced by Upson. But good to see both rise to the occasion.

    What I think is great is that Capello has organised the team so well. They are playing like a team and with purpose and confidence. I think the criticism on Erikson is sometimes a bit harsh and cannot to compare to Maclaren who failed miserably. Erikson did manage a good record of results. We couldn´t get past 1/4´s but not many managers done better.

    But now however we look like a real team with a strong manager pulling the strings and the performances out of everyone. I love watching him during the game. He is so passionate and furious when things aren´t happening right or players don´t do as he told. And its so good to see we have a "boss" to get these youngsters performing how they need to. And not some wet blanket writing notes in a little book when things go wrong. He is the best manager we have had in a long time. Maybe the FA finally did something right in getting him in. I wanted O´Neil but I´m very happy now...

    We are still work in progress and until we win something lets never get carried away! But its much better watching England now. Keep it up everyone!

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  • 41. At 09:14am on 20 Nov 2008, jamminben13 wrote:

    I don't think we should get carried away but I think we will win the World Cup and then retain it 4 years later and then again in England in 2018, allowing us to keep the trophy.
    Also, I'm quite sure we will win the Euros quite easily, several times on the trot in fact, and become the greatest team of all time.
    Please Gordon - give Capello citizenship and make him King.

    Of course it could all go breasts upwards.

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  • 42. At 09:18am on 20 Nov 2008, grahambb3 wrote:

    I hate being an England fan – not one single player can pass a ball, it’s so frustrating to watch when you see the likes of Xavi for Spain, just the way they shape when receiving a pass to create the space to play a quick short simple but effective pass to keep a move swiftly moving along is beyond of realms of possibility with any man born within the costal borders of this football inept kingdom doomed with failure….

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  • 43. At 09:22am on 20 Nov 2008, Noallegiance wrote:

    Steven who? Frank Who? Michael who? David who? I wouldn't care if they never played again if England perform like that all the time.

    You've had your day old-timers. Make way for the younger, hungrier and all-together better England team.

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  • 44. At 09:24am on 20 Nov 2008, My Brazilname is "Seiano". wrote:

    This game only proves that England have a promising future, if the players keep on improving.
    Remember that the last time we beat the Germans, we turned out worse in the following years, while they have reached the final and semi final of world cups and the final of a Euro.

    Keep on improving lads, thats all that we need

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  • 45. At 09:25am on 20 Nov 2008, Score101 wrote:

    Just food for thought, but didn't last nights' game push forward an argument for bringing back International A and B team games?
    A lot was to be learned from the 'Second String', so why not play B-team friendlies at the same time on a regular basis as well??

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  • 46. At 09:26am on 20 Nov 2008, barca4ever wrote:

    What happened to that notion that foreigners where the ones killing the English game?

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  • 47. At 09:32am on 20 Nov 2008, tommypembers wrote:

    I thought last night was a good performance, not amazing, but professional enough to get the job done.

    I just would liked to have seen Ashley Young get 45 minutes on the left wing. Downing was poor and not for the first time, his bumbling runs resulted in poor crosses and his shots were either wide of the mark or weak.

    Ashley has more pace, better technique when crossing and is an overall bigger threat than Downing.

    Please Capello, give Ashley a decent run out.

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  • 48. At 09:33am on 20 Nov 2008, 355gts wrote:

    Sorry, but rejuvenation of Wright-Philips?


    The man is too poor for England. He runs at players, granted, but he runs AT players, as in straight at them. Someone ought to tell him he can't defy physics and run through other people. His "control" of the ball is based on luck and his delivery is also on the poor side of completely useless. Three corners from the left last night, and not one got over the first defnder. He can't get it through his head that a cross needs to beat the first man. That's one of the first things they teach a winger at junior school, let alone international level. People like him because he's related to Ian Wright, but Shaun should be jettisoned ASAP. He had countless chances to deliver good balls into the box last night and did not take one.

    Also, as a Villa fan I know that Agbonlahor does not have good enough finishing for international football. His pace is menacing, but that's about it.

    I know this is critical, but Capello will know no to listen to the hype. Yes, Germany have been beaten in Berlin for the first time since 1973, but haven't they played internationals in Munich for 25 years or more. What a pointless statistic!

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  • 49. At 09:34am on 20 Nov 2008, michaeltherover wrote:

    I can quite honestly say I've never seen 2 England Central Midfielders boss a game like last night in the way that Barry and Carrick did for many, many years. I hope this has solved the Lampard Vs Gerrard debate once and for all: Neither. Lampard and Gerrard have achieved nothing for England, they don't seem overly bothered about England and haven't even performed particulary well for England under Capello. As I've said, the sort of assured performance from Barry and Carrick had everything; tackling, passion, committment, awareness, mutual understanding to a degree I have never seen England with either Lampard or Gerrard. Barry and Carrick have to be first choice CM pairing from now on. How many chances have Gerrard and Lampard had to prove they can fail? hundreds. How many have Carrick and Barry had to prove themselves? One, and they took it.

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  • 50. At 09:35am on 20 Nov 2008, gooner4eva1982 wrote:

    Last nights performance showed that England don't need to rely on messers Rooney, Fredinand, Lampard and Gerrard anymore. Whilst they are all players of a high calibre we don't need to depend as heavily as we do. Please Capello leave them out of the next squad, i promise you they will turn up for every squad after that.
    What a great leader JT is taking the blame for the goal, SD was fantastic down the left and showed the advantage of having a proper left winger in the side. It's about time we realised football is a team game and the more competition for places there are the better our chances of doing well in a big competition.

    my England team



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  • 51. At 09:39am on 20 Nov 2008, ashenfacedsupremo wrote:

    What a performance! Brilliant! Almost faultless!

    I refer, of course, to Fabio Capello's rapidly improving command of the English lingo, as demonstrated in a post-match interview. Already he is easier to understand than gaffers such as Fergie, 'arry 'oudini and Bleeper Kinnear. I await his first useage of "I'm over the moon" with eager anticipation.

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  • 52. At 09:42am on 20 Nov 2008, rosey05 wrote:

    score101 i don't even think we need to have A and B team matches because firstly if that was our B team for example we would play other B teams nowhere near the quality of the German side they faced last night. Also i just think its a case of in friendlies giving the fringe players a chance. He knows what the big hitters can do as it is.

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  • 53. At 09:43am on 20 Nov 2008, Richyburger wrote:

    First up can people please not praise Terry for accepting responsibility for the goal, it was HIS mistake NOT Carson's so why should Carson take any of the blame. It was nothing more than a clever PR stunt so that now everybody is saying Terry's a great captain for protecting Carson's (shame he didn't do that in the MATCH!). It's fantastic really nobody mentions that he messed up, he looks great and at the same time plants seeds in people's minds that it actually was Carson's fault and he's just taking the blame.

    Overall a good game but one or two things I must mention.
    1. Imagine how potent we would have been had SWP or Downing the ability to put a decent cross into the box at the end of all of their runs. SWP is guilty of this more than Downing but please when you get a corner let Barry take it as he can actually cross the ball SWP corners were atrocious.
    2. Jermaine Defoe is USELESS, his goalscoring record at internationals is appalling, look at who he has scored against Poland, Andora, Trinidad & Tobago and Kazakhstan. Frankly I don't see what he brings to the team, Rooney hits the ball better and Agbonlahor is far faster.

    But that's enough of the negatives for me the biggest positives were:
    1.No Lampard OR Gerrard. My word what a difference, our midfield actually moved the ball forward with pace rather than passing it backwards and forwards looking for the chance to punt a 40 yard "movie" pass to no-one. So well done Carrick and Barry.
    2. Agbonlahor. Lightning fast pace and as he has shown at Villa this season can really strike the ball well.
    3. Downing. While I criticised his crossing a lot of the time having someone on the left who actually stuck to the wing opened up space in the center. This is why Gerrard should Never play left wing.
    4. Johnson and Bridge. Looked solid all night and supported the attacks well.

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  • 54. At 09:44am on 20 Nov 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Sorry. You will not be seeing any back-tracking from me about Eriksson.

    He did a decent job up to a point, but no more.

    I watched at close quarters how he performed at three major tournaments and he did not excel at any of them.

    He picked an utterly bizarre, unbalanced squad for Germany in 2006 - including the selection of an untried (unseen!) Theo Walcott - and too many central midfield players.

    England's performances got worse as the tournament went on, and when we look back at Japan in 2002 and Portugal two years later, he did not get the best out of his players and picked some who were clearly unfit.

    Eriksson was a better England coach than McClaren, but still did not achieve what he should have done with the players at his disposal.

    I will not be shifted from that opinion.

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  • 55. At 09:45am on 20 Nov 2008, Whiteoutloud wrote:

    This was the first England match I have enjoyed watching since Munich, well done to the lads, pure effort and entertainment.

    The one thing that was glaring throughout though with this team was balance. Due to the absence of some, so called, key players, Fabio was able to go back to a traditional 4-4-2 system with left footed players on the left and right footed players on the right. The midfield looked very solid with a more simplistic way of playing the ball rather than constantly seeking the 25-30 yard crossfield punt.

    For once, England looked like a compact, quality outfit that played as a team instead of waiting for individuals to impress individually.

    And in reply to #7
    Germanys kids were beaten by English kids!

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  • 56. At 09:45am on 20 Nov 2008, Jimmy wrote:

    number 18 - i dont think it is fair to say that "all" the best players last night were current or ex West Ham players. I count 4 of the starting 11 - and Carrick i think has improved immensely since leaving WestHam, especially since joining Man Utd.

    Also i suspect Charlton fans would take most credit for Defoe, before you stole him off them.........

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  • 57. At 09:47am on 20 Nov 2008, alfiehalford wrote:

    You can see that Fabello has faith in the youngsters and NOT afraid to use them.
    I can see a completely new team at the start of the next world cup with Walcott leading the way.

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  • 58. At 09:51am on 20 Nov 2008, Jimmy wrote:

    i love this blog - i bet most of the people on here were slating Eriksson when he was in charge, for many things, some of which you mention McNulty - picking unfit players, definitely showing favouritism (much more than the Dutchman McClaren) and generally allowing too much hype and hangers-on (WAGS) to surround the England players.

    Now, as soon as you slate him a little bit they are all out defending him. I think sometimes you just cant win with these blogs........!!

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  • 59. At 09:52am on 20 Nov 2008, U11846789 wrote:

    How can you say that England under-achieved under Eriksson?

    We reached THREE QF's. (WC 02 and 06 and Euro 04)

    What do you expect?

    That England have an automatic right to do better than that?

    That kind of attitude means we ALWAYS underachieve. Poor journalism.

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  • 60. At 09:53am on 20 Nov 2008, Score101 wrote:

    I see your point Rosey05, but can you think of a better way for Capello (or any other international manger) to see if and how players who are members of different league teams can actually play together? It would be good to know which combination of forwards to use in case of injury to Rooney, Owen, Heskey etc. The last thing you want in that scenario is to 'guess' which two forwards to play up front together to get the best results.

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  • 61. At 09:55am on 20 Nov 2008, shevabk2milan wrote:

    Having seen the teams on display last night this looked like Germany B vs England B.

    So it takes the gloss off the result, i feel

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  • 62. At 10:00am on 20 Nov 2008, U7161659 wrote:

    Why no mention of the troubles with some supporters before the match? No wonder people think the hooliganism problem has been solved.

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  • 63. At 10:02am on 20 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    On a side note first (!) it's interesting all the naysayers going on about how people weren't interested in friendlies. It was a friendly, people have no money AND it was on terrestrial tv and still the pub I was in was pretty packed.

    Anyway, it looked an enjoyable game, though lacking a little quality at times. The team looked comfortable with each other and mostly kept the ball well, though SWP continues to infuriate with his lack of vision.

    Well done but only 6/10 I think.

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  • 64. At 10:05am on 20 Nov 2008, Cold War Kid wrote:

    The problem with Phil's verdict on Eriksson, like the majority of English press, is that it's based around a deluded fantasy that with a different manager we had good enough players to win the WC. All of which is of course complete nonsense.

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  • 65. At 10:05am on 20 Nov 2008, williewandsworth wrote:

    John Terry, footballer, oxymoron? the shortcomings of the traditional english stopper were all too apparent again last night, its inconceivable that any other european defender would have tried so laughably to shepherd the ball back to his keeper under such circumstances, rather he would have controlled and played the ball away, finding a team mate to make an effective pass to. Terry is the lastest in a long line of clodhoppers in this position, think Adams, think Butcher and yet we continue to applaud their mock heroism for an ability to play up play up and play the game though bloodied and bowed. isnt it time we bred and encouraged a more skilful cultured breed of defender, one who is at ease and is comfortable on the ball and who's first and last resort is never the mindless hoof to the stands?

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  • 66. At 10:06am on 20 Nov 2008, MrT wrote:

    I thought it was a superb performance and there were a few key reasons why

    1. Pace - our team was full of it, with SWP, Agbonlahor and later Bent and Young exceptionally quick, Downing, Johnson and Bridge aren't pedestrian either.

    2. Workrate / commitment - Possibly because we had so many people trying to prove their worth, but it was top notch last night in terms of tracking back and hustling

    3. Balance - it was great last night, the joy of having a left footed left back and a left footed left midfielder just gave us so much more. Actually not having wide midfielders out wide who'd spent the match cutting into the middle getting in the way of the centre midfielders and forwards made such a difference

    4. Positional sense - part related to the above, but also Barry and Carrick did their jobs perfectly, both sitting in the midfield, winning balls, dictating play and always making themselves available for a pass, which meant the two strikers and 2 wide players could go forward whenever.

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  • 67. At 10:06am on 20 Nov 2008, marklv wrote:

    This German team was extremely poor. Virtually every pass they made was inaccurate, and every tackle a failure. This is a shadow of the famous German teams of the 1970s and 80s - German football seems to be in terminal decline. I don't see much fun in beating such a dire team.

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  • 68. At 10:07am on 20 Nov 2008, carefree wrote:

    It was a fantastic performance by everyone involved, capello gets each individual player doing what he is good at .
    downing n wright-phillips were excellent both going forward n back especially.
    carrick n barry dominted midifield, it was an injustice that Germany scored luckilyit dint matter, lets b honest there's no friendlies between ENGLAND & GERMANY!

    Terry must b praised for taking the blame both him n Upson gave a strong display at the back, Upson really did look on his game he was dominant, that was great in the first half when Terry was on the floor n tackled someone with his HEAD!
    I think he did an excellent captains job, both before the game in the game and after, and luckily managed to redeem himself which im delighted for us and terry that he did, cos in would of bin an injustice if we dint win that game 4-1 would of been a fairer reflection.

    its easy to critisise when it goes wrong with England, its also great to praise, everyone of them played well last night, im delighted to of beaten the enemy friendly or no friendly its GERMANY!

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  • 69. At 10:09am on 20 Nov 2008, James wrote:

    Great performance by England - they controlled the game for huge periods and the passing + tackling was top quality. I still have reservations about Agbonlahor though - like someone else said, he can run at people, but his decision making isn't good enough at this level. Bent was unlucky - if you watch the replay you see he slips at the worst possible moment when he had the chance to put the ball into an open net. Still deserves a chance imo - certainly a better player than Gabby.
    My pick for MotM was Downing - really impressive, and all down to Fabio's management skills. Also much deserved praise for Bridge - I still think he's our best left back even when Cole is fit - more disciplined in defence, less wasteful going forward. He needs to move somewhere to get regular 1st team football, wasted at Chelsea.

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  • 70. At 10:11am on 20 Nov 2008, tarquin wrote:

    Hang on a sec - many of us have been bleating for ages that Capello should try Gabby, ashley young, Carrick et all - this is the first time in a number of frustrating games (from that point of view) and he only did it because most regulars got injured

    I'm not yet convinced Capello picks solely on merit, I'm not slagging him off as a manager but given the chance we still would've seen Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, joe cole and Rooney on that pitch - we've been asking for the likes of Young and Bullard all year, and he's only put them in the squad through withdrawals I feel

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  • 71. At 10:11am on 20 Nov 2008, Steve Thomas wrote:

    I think "underachievement" is the wrong word to describe SGE's reign. On paper, the achievements look pretty good. However, the scorelines don't to justice to the miserable, frustrating performances that generated them. I actually stopped watching England under SGE, because even when we won, the victories seemed empty. Under McClaren I watched a single match before realising that he was taking it downhill.

    Capello has finally got some of the England players to sparkle again. That alone is worth a thousand flukey, injury-time winners and a million scrappy draws.

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  • 72. At 10:12am on 20 Nov 2008, Leviticus wrote:

    Fine performance England in all departments save one - Scott Carson. I fail to see the justification for his selection in the squad. Two enormous howlers. What does Robert Green have to do? Currently best English goalkeeper in the league.
    A great pity about some of the negative comments posted. Would they have rather England lost to justify their prejudices? Terry and Upson magnificent. Terry a real leader. Downing a vast improvement and Carrick superb. Not a fan of SWP but he too was up there.

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  • 73. At 10:12am on 20 Nov 2008, nibs wrote:

    One goal foul on the keeper and one goal offside. Congratulations!

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  • 74. At 10:14am on 20 Nov 2008, Frodo_MUFC wrote:

    Very impressed with Carrick last night, hopefully Capello can now see what us United fans have for a while.

    I also feel sorry for Carson, yes it was mainly Terry's fault (credit for holding his hands up) but his confidence must be shot. Time for Kirkland I think.

    Also disappointed that Young didn't get a longer run out, whilst Downing was better than usual I didn't think SWP really did a lot

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  • 75. At 10:14am on 20 Nov 2008, Andy wrote:

    McNulty is a one man cliche machine! If there was ever a writer whose opinion is swayed in an instant it is McNulty!

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  • 76. At 10:18am on 20 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    williewandsworth wrote:

    John Terry, footballer, oxymoron? the shortcomings of the traditional english stopper were all too apparent again last night, its inconceivable that any other european defender would have tried so laughably to shepherd the ball back to his keeper under such circumstances, rather he would have controlled and played the ball away, finding a team mate to make an effective pass to. Terry is the lastest in a long line of clodhoppers in this position, think Adams, think Butcher and yet we continue to applaud their mock heroism for an ability to play up play up and play the game though bloodied and bowed. isnt it time we bred and encouraged a more skilful cultured breed of defender, one who is at ease and is comfortable on the ball and who's first and last resort is never the mindless hoof to the stands?
    Absolute kack! Perhaps you should try watching Terry with the ball rather than basing your entire opinion on one error, an error where it isn't actually conclusive as to whose fault it is! For all Terry's apologies after the match, I think it's clear that at Chelsea that ball would be picked up by the better keeper's that are Cech and Cudicini.

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  • 77. At 10:20am on 20 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    royalalbertdock wrote:

    A great pity about some of the negative comments posted. Would they have rather England lost to justify their prejudices?
    It does seem that way with some people and I think it is rather sad.

    You get the impression that even if England won the world cup, there would be some that would say 'yes, but....'.

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  • 78. At 10:28am on 20 Nov 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    England have a good solid squad now, under Capello, as they have belief that they can go to places like Germany and win. With McLaren, they would have probably lost.

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  • 79. At 10:36am on 20 Nov 2008, Astonlad wrote:

    I cannot believe the comments made by 47. I have never been a fan of Downing but I thought his performance last night was excellent. Not only was he a threat going forward he chased back and performed his defensive duties excellently.
    As to 50 how can you leave Barry out of the squad? Since his return to the England team he has been the most consistent performer. He does the simple things right. He has proved he can play alongside Gerrard, Lampard and now Carrick. He and Carrick ran midfield especially in the first half and Barry would be one of the first names on my team sheet.
    I thought the full backs were very good last night and would pick Bridge over Cole all of the time. Central defence was solid except for the one mistake by Terry for the goal. Midfield was excellent. I have to agree about Wright Phillips however. His crossing is very weak and he does tend to run at people instead of round them. Agbonlahor had a satisfactory game but I wonder if he is an international striker. Having said that he was no worse than Defoe nor Bent.

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  • 80. At 10:37am on 20 Nov 2008, Frodo_MUFC wrote:

    I agree that the likes of Cech may well have collected the ball, however we could all see Carson was hesitating and I still think that Terry should have called rank and just cleared it.

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  • 81. At 10:39am on 20 Nov 2008, madeiraman57 wrote:

    Glad to see the win and some very decent performances by the 2nd stringers.
    I was really impressed with the midfield especially Carrick, who played to his strengths and has obviously benefited from Capello's straight talk as have most of the youngsters on show.
    It will be interesting to see Capello's 'best' X1, I think Lampard and Gerrard will need to get used to the subs bench.... Lampard because he isn't good enough and Gerrard because he always puts club before Country.
    I don't see Owen or Beckham in the picture now, but DB might get another cap to equal Charlton's record, so be it.!
    There will be more' B' team fixtures and I think the England boys will beat most opposition in the world with Capello in charge.
    Well done England.

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  • 82. At 10:43am on 20 Nov 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    I thought it was a fine performance from England, they are just so different to watch from the hoofers of the last 10 years, very refreshing.

    However, as good as it was I don't think it will change the first team much, just gives Capello more options when players suffer injuries and/or loss of form. The only possible recriminations for the first team are for Wes Brown and Joe Cole, who could be replaced by Johnson and, I can't believe I'm about to say it, Downing respectively.

    Ferdinand and A Cole will come back in, as will Lampard, Rooney and Heskey. Agbonlahor and Defoe played well and are able deputies but Rooney and Heskey have forged an excellent partnership and will be first choice for 2010.

    What I think this game proved again is that Gerrard shouldn't start for England - he just doesn't fit in with Fabio's preferred system of 4-4-2 with 2 CMs and 2 wide players. For Gerrard to fit in you'd probably need to drop Lampard and Rooney as we would have to line up 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard in the middle of the 3. Rooney hasn't looked the same player when stuck on the left - this system doesn't play to his strengths. For all those calling for Gerrard to start, just take heed it means dropping Lampard and probably Rooney (or playing him out of position) to work.

    For me the team is as per our qualifiers:

    Johnson - Terry - Ferdinand - A Cole
    Walcott - Lampard - Barry - J Cole
    Heskey - Rooney

    Carrick is fighting for Barry's place (and would come in for Lampard if unfit) and Downing/Young for Joe Cole's.

    A great performance, and proof we have some strength in depth, but no real recriminations for the first XI.

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  • 83. At 10:43am on 20 Nov 2008, NouManor wrote:

    "... an era of under-achievement under McClaren and his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson."

    McClaren yes, but Eriksson? nonsense.

    Is Carlo Cudicini eligible to play for England yet?

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  • 84. At 10:44am on 20 Nov 2008, hermannredux wrote:

    I'm not sure I understand so many people's defence of Eriksson.

    The argument seems to go that he took an underperforming team and turned it into a world cup QF regular.

    And that this is somehow a success.


    He certainly took over an underperforming team. However, he also took over a team which included world class players, and the fact that he failed to mould them into anything better than "QF regulars" is firm proof of his shambolic inability.

    Furthermore, the fact that these players were world class was nothing to do with Eriksson - they were made world class by their clubs, not their country.

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  • 85. At 10:48am on 20 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Frodo_MUFC wrote:

    I agree that the likes of Cech may well have collected the ball, however we could all see Carson was hesitating and I still think that Terry should have called rank and just cleared it.
    Agreed, Terry's actual error was one of judgement in that he assumed that Carson would get there rather than just putting his foot through it, which he could have done.

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  • 86. At 10:52am on 20 Nov 2008, ... wrote:

    I wasn't suprised in the slightest last night. The most interesting freindly since Argentina a few years back, and shows that these fixtures have a genuine purpose. Whilst so many doom mongers have been whinging about our apparent lack of depth, I have always maintained we have as much back up talent as any country. The fact that these 'fringe' players play week in week out in the strongest league on the planet must stand for something. I find it incredible that people are trying to deflate this victory - far too much negative feeling still towards the national team.

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  • 87. At 10:53am on 20 Nov 2008, Alan Johnson wrote:

    What a great result!

    But Germany were poor.
    Were they poor because England were good? If so, congratulations!

    There's no substitute for pace, (ok Bent fell over....) but Agbonlahor, Wright Phillips and Walcott (when fit) should always be in the squad.

    James still looks shaky.

    Perhaps 25 should be the age limit?!

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  • 88. At 10:56am on 20 Nov 2008, Eewires wrote:

    Not sure if some of you watched the match last night (NikosBg is a well known England hater so his bilge can be ignored - read the F1 606 blogs) as many comments don't reflect the game that I saw.

    Apart from a short spell after the ridiculous German goal (Terry's fault, but Carson could have saved the day) England played well balanced pass and move football and controlled the game against a German side missing 3 stars. Germany do not have weak teams ever.

    Downing stepped up in class in a way I didn't think that he could, SWP was scaring the German defence with his runs, Abonghalor looked close to the real thing too. Carrick played better than I have ever seen him before, and Upson was the rock in defence that Terry and Ferdinand so often fail to be. Glen Johnson was also excellent, and I never thought I would say that when he plays for England.

    To me the big thing was the way that we kept playing as a team after substitutions. We have so often lost our shape and our way when that has happened in the past.

    The only player who didn't impress me was Ashley Young, but then he was only given a few minutes and probably tried too hard.

    This doesn't mean we are world beaters, or anything else significant for that matter, it just means that I watched England without my heart in my mouth for the first time since Alf Ramsey.

    Finally, I don't think that Peter Crouch should get a cap for coming on in the 3rd minute of added time. It is making it a joke. Perhaps a cap should only be awarded for playing a minimum of 20 minutes? Or add up the minutes and award a cap when it gets to 90??

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  • 89. At 10:58am on 20 Nov 2008, BlueNoseAckers wrote:

    When Carrick's on form he is the best holding player England possess. Unlike other contenders, he is bigger, better in the air, breaks oppoosition play up but, has that vital extra - he has vision and can pick and play killer passes. No other holding player has those attributes and for that reason should always play if fit and on form. Play one of Lamps or Gerrard (similar style players anyway) to bomb forward, Carick to hold and pick passes, Barry/Cole /Downing (last night's form only) on the left and either Theo/SWP/AN0 on the right. Balance.

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  • 90. At 10:58am on 20 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    NouManor wrote:

    Is Carlo Cudicini eligible to play for England yet?
    I think yes, no and I'm not sure. Helpful that isn't it.

    I think he became eligible in 2005. However, I think he then was on the bench for Italy for at least one game.

    So, he would have got a cap, I think, but didn't necessarily appear.

    Has that cleared it up for you?

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  • 91. At 11:00am on 20 Nov 2008, mikeyjkelly wrote:

    Phil while every fan wants their country to win everything and is naturally is disappointed when they dont, it takes a real objective thinker to realise afterwards that perhaps their team wasnt as good as they thought. Objective thinking is something I really expect any journalist worth their salt to do, espacially one working for the BBC. Your comments about Sven belong to the Daily Mail. In 2002 England got narrowly beaten by the best team in the world, a team that featured Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho in their pomp. In 2004 you lost to a better Portugal team (collectively and player for player) . Just because you have a golden generation does not guarantee success as Portugal in football and New Zealand and Ireland in rugby shows. If you come up against another golden team or have a bad day then there is no point in blaming a coach for your players failings or misfortune (Seaman, Rooney etc). The World Cup does not belong to any nation (even Brazil) and I think you should just be thankful that you have won it once which is better than a lot of the traditional football powerhouses (Spain, Holland, Portugal) have managed.

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  • 92. At 11:01am on 20 Nov 2008, marklee22 wrote:

    It will be interesting to see Capello's 'best' X1, I think Lampard and Gerrard will need to get used to the subs bench.... Lampard because he isn't good enough and Gerrard because he always puts club before Country.
    Of course the stand out Premiership midfield player of this season isn't good enough. I stopped reading your post after that nonsense madeiraman57.

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  • 93. At 11:01am on 20 Nov 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    #73 NikosBg - that sounds like a bitter Germans comment to me!!!

    the German keeper jumped into Defoe when bumbling to get a left fist to the ball, defoe was on the 6yard line, not like he was standing on the keeper impeding him

    the second goal was onside seen as there wasnt the so called all important "daylight" between the players, next u'll be saying it was a foul cause Terry got a better leap?!

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  • 94. At 11:03am on 20 Nov 2008, ALondonDevil wrote:

    I was glad to see how balanced the team looked yesterday.

    Ignoring the Lampard/Gerrard dilema, Englands first choice Wingers under Mclaren and Eriksson weren't wingers, which gave us very little width.

    SWP, Downing, Young, Walcott and Lennon really provide us with an extra dimension. Maybe their inclusion will allow Cappello to get the best out of the Lampard/Gerrard partnership.....?

    Barry and Carrick were immense last night, and I think that a successful midfield really does hang on the inclusion of one of these at the expense of either Gerrard or Lampard. I think Hargreaves is actually the best candidate to fill in the DM berth, his defensive capabilites would really get he best out of Lamps or Gerrard.

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  • 95. At 11:05am on 20 Nov 2008, Jake Hadlee wrote:

    Eriksson's underachievment was in creating an England team that was far less than the sum of its parts, a team that routinely fell into self-doubt and panic as soon as it was put under any pressure, and which lacked the sort of composure shown last night. McLaren inherited and reinforced a style and mindset that had manifested itself in three quarter finals (go a goal up, panic, defend deep, lose), in desperately lucky performances against so-called minnows in qualifying, and embarrassingly one-sided friendlies against the bigger nations (Holland, Spain). Munich was a freak result caused by a creaky German defence panicking at the sight of Michael Owen (who had just destroyed most of them in the Super Cup a few weeks before).
    The most satisfying thing about England last night was their calmness, professionalism and self-belief - the very things that seemed to be sucked out of them by Eriksson and McClaren. Even if Germany had nicked the winner, I still would have had more reason for optimism about this England side than I ever had after watching Eriksson's England stumble to wins against teams ranked 50 place below them.

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  • 96. At 11:06am on 20 Nov 2008, SportsFan wrote:


    The moderators are getting slower and slower - can you have a word/slip some pro plus into their coffee?


    PS On the Eriksson debate surely the answer is his reign was a 6/10 - did well to get to the QFs but ultimately found wanting. Could have done better. I'm not saying we have a divine right to win a tournament but you could look at his record and say "did excellently to get to the QFs" or "his record of getting past QFs was 0/3". For me he should have taken us to a semi, and possibly a final, at least once to be deemed a success.

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  • 97. At 11:06am on 20 Nov 2008, Friendlycard wrote:

    Even allowing for the fact that this is a fairly poor German team, England deserve credit. The team played with great courage, zest and enterprise, and Agbonlahor and Wright-Phillips were particularly impressive.

    Since Capello picks teams on merit, several of the players selected last night could displace better-known names, which could be no bad thing.

    Best of all, Capello seems to be working to a solid long-term strategy - which makes him a much better manager than either McClaren OR Ericsson!

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  • 98. At 11:08am on 20 Nov 2008, gooner4eva1982 wrote:

    The Germay Goal

    How can Terry be to Blame????

    Who is the only one of the two players that can see the WHOLE PLAY???

    NOTE: JT has his back to the player behind him.

    There was clearly NO call from Carson telling him he had a man on. This is the 1st sign of a world class keeper - communication, talking to your back 4 at all times. as you are the only player that faces play for the entire 90 minutes.

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  • 99. At 11:10am on 20 Nov 2008, GerrardTheKing wrote:

    Phil, good article, but you should be shifted from your position, at least slightly with Eriksson.

    It was only this time last year that many in the press were declaring that England simply didn't have the players to warrant a regular place in major finals, despite Eriksson never failing to not only take us there, but progress to the Qtr final stage.

    I predict increasingly deranged articles predicting that we'll win the whole competition in 2010. What's going to happen if we lose (probably on penalties) at the Qtr final stage then? I expect the press will conveniently ignore Eriksson's achievements but (rightly) laud the abilities of Capello.

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  • 100. At 11:14am on 20 Nov 2008, icetoppp wrote:

    Phil says England will always is measured against Germany. How many people do that? Most people would agree the England team needs and should be comparing themselves to the best in the world, that means Argentina or Brazil not this Germany team anyway.

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  • 101. At 11:14am on 20 Nov 2008, DoctorBoroLove wrote:

    At last the answer to the eternal Gerrard versus Lampard debate!


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  • 102. At 11:15am on 20 Nov 2008, bobbieflowers wrote:

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

  • 103. At 11:17am on 20 Nov 2008, Samwell2804 wrote:

    #88 - Eewires - i like your thought on the caps system, every time u clock up 90 minutes, u get a cap?!

    or at least as u say a minimum of 20minutes.

    it is a joke that crouch will get a cap for that 3rd min of extra time sub appearance

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  • 104. At 11:29am on 20 Nov 2008, skybluedave24 wrote:

    Great Blog as always Phil,

    However one quick question,

    you say at the start of the blog that England under achieved during Sven and McClarens reign as manager!

    However what i would like to know is what are you basing this under acheivement from?

    I would call quater finals of major tournaments a good achievement by previous england sides!

    England have the majorrity of international player's playing in England during 2000-2007 (they still do now).

    In the period of 2000-2007/08 season only 2 english sides won the champoins league, Man U last season and Liverpool 2005.

    Surely there is a argument here to show English teams we not the best in europe.

    Surely the major international teams that underacheived during this period were Spain not England!

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  • 105. At 11:31am on 20 Nov 2008, Chris wrote:

    The thing I liked was England played compact and well organised. Nothing fancy, and the confidence that brings goes a long way.

    It helps the players technique come to the fore, and that is what happened last night. Everyone had their role to play, and they played it very well. So well that Germany were beaten quite easily.

    England had width, danger on both sides, Carrick and Barry controlled the middle, the back four hardly had a problem, we utterly dominated the first half.

    Should have scored more, my only disappointment was with England's strikers.

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  • 106. At 11:36am on 20 Nov 2008, brianafan wrote:

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

  • 107. At 11:42am on 20 Nov 2008, PrestonSpur wrote:

    Icetopp: Germany are currently ranked by FIFA as the second best team in the world. I think that supports Phil's point.

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  • 108. At 11:44am on 20 Nov 2008, SilvertonSpur wrote:

    I thought it was an excellent performance from england, shows we have players capable of putting in good performances in the absence of others. I would still like to see Ashley Young given a chance on the right, and think its time to try Green rather than Carson (Also Hart but he was injured...) as the goalkeeper is our major problem position at the moment.

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  • 109. At 11:53am on 20 Nov 2008, SportsSportsSportsBS wrote:


    Nice blog, with Carrick, Downing, Wright-Phillips, Upson, Johnson and Agbonlahor particularly deserving of praise - a rare thing indeed for Downing at International level.

    My view is that in many ways the quality of the performance and the positive result merely highlight the perceived pointlessness of the friendly, because realistically the fringe players that played so well will find themselves once again on the bench for the next qualifier - although we'll have to wait and see if this is the case.

    I also thought Gerrard's 400 mile roundtrip was something of a scandal, an unfortunate by-product of Capello's power struggle with Benitez, Wenger, Ferguson, and Scolari. Could he not have visited some sort of Capello approved, non-Liverpool affiliated doctor or physio in the north-west of England?

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  • 110. At 12:00pm on 20 Nov 2008, First Gooner on the Moon wrote:

    I was very satisfied by the way England played. They were missing quite a few players, but the ones on the pitch couldn't have been better. England was better than Germany and easily kept the Germans under pressure, while Germany was struggling to get anywhere near goal. England delivered a concentrated, attacking, professional, confident performance and I can't remember seeing that under McLaren nor under Eriksson. Fabio Capello deserves the credit for finally unearthing at least some of England's potential. Yesterday was a great sign of big things to come.

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  • 111. At 12:00pm on 20 Nov 2008, bobbieflowers wrote:

    #104 - an obvious hole in your argument is that greece won the european championships. Granted they over achieved but its hard to make a case to say england weren't capable of winning (being the best team in europe isn't the criteria) a major international competition during sven tenure.

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  • 112. At 12:02pm on 20 Nov 2008, bobbieflowers wrote:

    this moderation is getting annoying

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  • 113. At 12:02pm on 20 Nov 2008, brooksy123 wrote:

    Rosey005 what are you talking about. That german team is one that is never going to challenge for anything.

    An england C team would of won.

    I agree we should be playing these fringe players more often. they are the ones for future but shame that senior players such as gerrard cry off and then will be ready on saturday

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  • 114. At 12:06pm on 20 Nov 2008, andyjm1983 wrote:

    I dont understand these people who say lampard isnt good enough, maybe they havent actually watched England in their last 3 important games where they had to win! ( euro group games) Dont you guys have setanta? Or i forgot most of the people commenting on here only have the basic channels lol. Lampard has been one of the best players, its Gerrard who hasnt performed. Look how many goals lampard scores for chelsea. This was a good game for England but lets not forget most of the german side was not playing anyway. So lets not judge on this game, judge on the games which have meant something like the trashing of croatia etc.

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  • 115. At 12:14pm on 20 Nov 2008, Ji-Sung Parks cousin - 19 wrote:

    You could probably find an article from McNulty with similar praise about Sven's first year. Sven's England did not under perform, we are, at best, a top 8 team and nothing more.

    Hopefully Capello can get a bit of luck and reach a semi final... but a few wins does not mean that we are automatically considered a great team, worthy of a semi final .... which, I assume McNulty believes we are, if Sven had us under performing?

    Basic journalism... sing when they are winning, demonise when they are losing.

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  • 116. At 12:16pm on 20 Nov 2008, donjay78 wrote:

    Well done Fabio.

    @ Mr McNulty, I can't understand why you and most journos use WC 2002 as a rod to beat Ericsson with, considering it was a tournament England really had no right in qualifying for given the position they were in when Sven took over. Typical over-inflated English expectations meant once we scraped our way to qualification we should be winning the whole thing. And let's not repeat the usual non-sensical excuse of "given the players at his disposal, he should've done better". If they were so good, qualification should've been a breeze. Be glad he got an average team to the QF and only went out 2-1 to the eventual winners. No shame in that.

    I agree that by the end of his reign (and what we're really talking about is WC 2006) he lost the plot somewhat, but the expectations for the England team were always too high to begin with.

    Back to the here and now, it's just good to have a manager who is totally his own man and won't be swayed by ANYONE. The egos appear to be being kept in check and Capello's instilled a discipline that's been lacking for ages.

    Praise be to Don Fabio!

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  • 117. At 12:18pm on 20 Nov 2008, starJonJames wrote:

    I bet all those injured players that had to pull out of the friendly will be fit for their clubs this weekend. The FA should rule that not fit for country, not eligible to play for club next game.

    Anyway good result last night maybe we should stick to that team, as they all played well together and looked like they wanted to play for England.

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  • 118. At 12:23pm on 20 Nov 2008, boils wrote:

    Well done England. But lets be clear, that was a very weak German team. The least physically impressive team I have seen in years. No creativity either. They helped make Downing look world class.

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  • 119. At 12:25pm on 20 Nov 2008, David wrote:

    The results shows that a balanced team is better than an unbalanced team. Garrick and Barry were awesome in the midfield. We now now we have 6 midfield players that can perform well together.

    Well done England!

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  • 120. At 12:31pm on 20 Nov 2008, RedWristband wrote:

    The thing I liked was England played compact and well organised. Nothing fancy, and the confidence that brings goes a long way.


    Spot on there, being solid and compact comes first, breaking teams down with passing and patience, the flair and technique will improve later.

    Admittedly the German side is nowhere near full strength it is still an excellent achievement for our young talent to be able to go to Berlin and be undaunted by 71'000 German fans. The crowd was muted almost straight from the kickoff which is very important.

    I do hope Capello considers these players for competitive games, they deserve it and they've certainly got the quality and temprament.

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  • 121. At 12:38pm on 20 Nov 2008, BlueRoyal798 wrote:

    It was a fantastic performance it has to be said. we were the better team and looked threatning. I think they Capello should go into the next game with a "dont change a winning team" attitude and keep Lampard and Gerrard out the squad. Carrick and Barry did really well last night and link up alot better than Lamps and Gerrard do. Abonlahor also played good and his quick pace caused problems for the German back 4. Overall it was a comforting performance and i hope its the same squad that start next time. Its good to see the youngster doing well because it shows that no one is untouchable and just because your name is Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham.

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  • 122. At 12:44pm on 20 Nov 2008, HAYDON wrote:

    That was the best performance in a friendly that I ever seen from England.

    I have never been a fan of Downing but he had a very good game last night. Maybe he is intimidated when he plays with the others?

    Some of the 'first' team now need to raise their game in future. England showed lots of running off the ball. That is an alien concept to some on the first team.

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  • 123. At 12:57pm on 20 Nov 2008, dunne_and_dusted wrote:

    england made germany play bad with their pressing.

    Yesterday was proof that england have strength in depth with the likes of Downing, Carrick, Barry, SWP, Gabby and i thought glen johnson was awesome what a performance on the whole.

    germany had more first teamers than us we had theo, rooney, gerrard, brown, both coles, lampard and heskey out.

    the only players they had missing was ballack and he was dropped and frings is out of favour aswell, the german squad was similar to the one that played the euro qualifiers.

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  • 124. At 12:57pm on 20 Nov 2008, duffy wrote:

    I think it is fair to say Geramy didn't really show up. Taking nothing away from the England performance, which was very pleasing indeed. If the only goals we look like conceding are mix-ups like that, then we really can rely on a solid defence & as metioned a good balance. Spain will offer a bigger challenge in February. I, with many other England fans, will go into the game with expectation now rather than hope.

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  • 125. At 12:59pm on 20 Nov 2008, rosey05 wrote:

    ok i kno we played well last night and im probably going to get slated for this but im jus not going to carried away with this victory or our record at all under Capello and here is why...

    Firstly we do not hav 1 good goalkeeper in the country to speak of. people say David James is on the the best about and gettin better with age etc etc... but the fact of the matter is wen u play for a top club or country side u hav to b better than a good shot stopper which is all we hav in our ranks at the moment. Playing at this level u need great concentration and the ability to do nothing the whole game and when called upon once or twice, to save your team. James proved he couldn't do it at a top level with liverpool, likewise Carson.

    Secondly we don't have a good enough partner for Rooney. Heskey will do a job but when push comes to shove you can't have a world cup winning team with a striker who isn't going to score you any goals!

    Finally we have an unbelievable core of the team in ferdinand, terry, lampard, gerrard and rooney but no manager has been able to mould the team around those individuals. that may be partly the players fault admittedly but i don't accept for one second that a team so talented is unable to play all together... all you need to do is have a look at Spain in the summer or glorious Brazil teams of the past.

    We just don't have that unity thus far, i do believe Capello is the man to give us that but we are still lacking in 2 very crucial areas!

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  • 126. At 1:00pm on 20 Nov 2008, nickbasan wrote:

    I am so happy and proud that we beat the Germans! This really shows how great our country is, especially when you see how strong the German team was and how important the match was!

    JT is such a heroic leader, too! Look at how he covered up the goalkeeper's mistake and modestly made himself take the blame after the match, not in any way attempting to improve the image of his leadership!

    Phil, I'm sure you agree that we will definitely win the World Cup now and put all those years of pathetic underachievement behind us!

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  • 127. At 1:02pm on 20 Nov 2008, Stomalomalus wrote:

    The performance last night was rather good. We controlled the match, looked balanced and had width and penetration from the flanks. However, I have one gripe which I havn't seen picked up on yet.

    In the first half, we had Agbonlahor and Defoe up front, then Bent and Agbonlahor. None of these three, whatever their merits, are particularly good at holding the ball up. Thus, we probed effectively in the midfield area, kept the ball and caused problems, but most of the time were not able to link the midfield and attack in an effective way.

    Apart from this, I was very impressed with the performance. I would have just liked to have seen Peter Crouch earlier.

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  • 128. At 1:07pm on 20 Nov 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Interesting to see the support Eriksson is receiving here.

    He was not a bad England manager - just someone I felt could have done more and someone who lacked inspiration at crucial moments.

    Can people recall their emotions at the end of the World Cups in 2002 and 2006 and Euro 2004?

    Mine were that England could have done much more with the quality of players available, and the vibes coming out of the camp were that Eriksson did not inspire when it mattered.

    He was also in too much thrall to his big players. Beckham was clearly unfit in 2002,

    But let's throw it forward. This debate is about what Capello has achieved and last night's excellent win, not raking through the ashes of the Eriksson regime.

    What was particularly impressive in Berlin was the balance of the team. Good in all parts of the pitch. It was the work of a coach with a clear idea of what he wants - and an ability to impart that to his players.

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  • 129. At 1:10pm on 20 Nov 2008, Rimbo2006 wrote:

    footiefan wrote:
    whats the big fuss about? we played against a bunch of kids!


    Ah yes footiefan, but at least our kids were better than their kids!!

    I think this is the big turnaround. We will definitely win the next five world cups and the next Euro. We can't lose, all is good Capello for a sainthood.......until we have one loss, then I'm afraid it's kick him out, burn him and I never liked him all along. Welcome to English media Mr C.

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  • 130. At 1:10pm on 20 Nov 2008, Biscuiteater wrote:

    Just got the feeling after the match that the list of injured players for the next friendly will not be quite so large.

    I cannot see any way back into the regular England team for Michael Owen now. All his competitors give so much more to the team.

    Although the 'big man, little man' attack option clearly bears fruit, I feel it is just a little too one-dimensional, giving little in the way of a plan B should it fail. It seemed as if the German defence was set up to deal with that type of attack. It clearly could not deal with the dynamic attack options thown at them by Bent, Downing, SWP and Agbonlahor.

    What was so encouraging about England last night was simply the variety of attack. How many times have I seen England teams with basically one dynamic attack system, failing one after the other. Wednesday by contrast simply saw all kinds of options being applied, simply not allowing the German defence to settle. I am not saying this is a WC winning team, but to me this is what they are made of.

    People talk about the record of QF knockout in the World Cup being 'not too bad', but the thing is, that lack of options always falls over when up against a real quality side.

    Been a few years since I've been to an England game. Starting to get the urge again.

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  • 131. At 1:12pm on 20 Nov 2008, marbelladave wrote:

    Capello took on a meaningless friendly and turned it into a very positive experience. Picking his strongest side from the players available sent a strong message and virtually all the backup players did well, delivering another win to keep the run going and the mood positive.

    Personally, I think our shape and style of play was superior than is usually managed by our 'first XI', solid in midfield and the pace up front was clearly troubling the opposition.

    The question is whether Capello will take what he learned last night and apply it when the qualifiers come round?

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  • 132. At 1:13pm on 20 Nov 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    jonnyboy1104 - by your definition I'd fall into both groups.

    It seems Phil McNulty is forgetting England had to qualify for the major tournaments too. I remember watching in agony as England failed to beat Poland in '73 just to qualify for the world cup, then missed out again in 1978. The best football I've seen England play was under Venables. They were also good under Robson in the late 80s, I'd put Eriksson up there with those two. It certanly wasn't an "era of underachievement", maybe just the final tournament. He certainly should not be lumped together with McClaren.

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  • 133. At 1:14pm on 20 Nov 2008, awSwindonForTheTitle wrote:

    Footiefan this is to you.

    Yes, Germany did have a young team out. I am pretty sure however, that England had a relatively young team out with not a lot of caps between them. If you looked at our bench then I do not think there could have been more than 50 caps there. I say 50 as Crouch was for some reason in the England set up again.

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  • 134. At 1:16pm on 20 Nov 2008, footy_analysis - play beautifully - wrote:

    Tactically, Capello got it right and the performance was so much better than it would have been just a few months ago.

    But, time to be churlish! It was an incredibly dull game and Germany were awful. It was so dull in fact that I turned over after 68 minutes! Where's my patriotism?!

    I know people will say you should support your team no matter what and sure, had the game meant more, I would have stayed tuned. But I am a believer in a certain way football should be played and there's only so much I could sit through!

    I know not everyone subscribes to the same philosophy, but they are my beliefs.

    Capello isn't a manager known for his entertaining sides, but the performance against Croatia showed that we can play very good football. With the likes of Rooney back in the side, I'm sure we'll play more creative football, though I'm sure this isn't necessarily high on Capello's priority list.

    Overall, yes, I think we can take away a lot of positives from a side which had a lot of players starting who probably usually wont. And let's also hope that we can look forward to better football.

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  • 135. At 1:20pm on 20 Nov 2008, rbrunning wrote:

    Generic ITV commentator: "Agbonlahor is offside there. The law is that you are offside if any part of your body, with which you can play the ball, is ahead of the defender."

    David Pleat: "Like your finger."

    I'm not going to write my opinion on this insightful comment by a former international football manager, suffice to say I deemed it worthy of being recorded.

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  • 136. At 1:21pm on 20 Nov 2008, RobVilla wrote:


    England may have underachieved with Erikson though your collegaues in the press whipped up an entirely unrealistic frenzy whereby at times, reading the media's output, England (especially in 2004 & 2006) just had to turn up to win.

    2002 was a poor performance v Brazil. Howver most England fans would have took a QF defeat prior to him taking over, especially after that real group of death

    Also some of you journalists were just as much in the thrall of the players - witness the wretched ghost written auto biographies that popped up in autumn 2006.
    The players were just as much to blame for their awful performances in 2006.

    Erikson naively treated the players like adults whereas Capello treats them like teenagers - more effective

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  • 137. At 1:24pm on 20 Nov 2008, pmf1959 wrote:

    Living and working in and with the Germans its always good, whatever the team is, when we win against the Germans. It was a good display from our guys, but, we shouldn't forget we only looked good, on a whole, because the Germans were really bad. If we would have played with this team against a team that played good football zhen we would have had many problems. So don't let us get carried away and let us keep our heads, we still have a long way to go.. It was a good team display against a bad team.
    What we shouldn't forget, in the history books a win is a win.

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  • 138. At 1:24pm on 20 Nov 2008, siatpt wrote:

    hold on a sec

    i feel we've been here before

    the best games we played under mcclaren was where he was forced to pick other players because so-called big names were out. would cappello had played this super well balanced team if all the injured players were fit...probably not...

    and just like mcclaren he'll bring back the same players again when they are fit

    interestly another fantastic england performance with no gerrard or rooney...

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  • 139. At 1:26pm on 20 Nov 2008, stracepipe wrote:

    I think that your criticism of Erickson is unfair. We were dire when he took over and yet his team produced the best England performance (Germany 1: England 5) that I have witnessed. He also, was the first manager that I can recall, who picked players from 'unfashionable' clubs such as Charlton. Previous managers only picked from the big clubs irrespective of talent, or performances. It was egomaniac players that were the problem. I personally didn't see anything outstanding last night. The Germans were poor. SWP might run around a lot but his crossing is poor and he loses possession too easily. Downing is fairly toothless and Carrick goes sideways. I didn't see any inventiveness from the midfield. Beckham may be 'old' but he can still cross a ball, take a free kick or a corner, far better than anyone else in the squad and he genuinely cares about England doing well. Our first goal was the result of poor goalkeeping rather than good play and John Terry is grossly over rated. He consistently makes mistakes. The good points were, they were totally committed, harried the Germans into mistakes, and also they showed more patience and composure than traditional England sides. They didn't just hoof it mindlessly forward. However, the main reason I like Capello, is that if we fail to qualify, this time, the 'Golden Generation' will have no choice but to accept that they are rubbish.

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  • 140. At 1:27pm on 20 Nov 2008, CH wrote:

    Impressed by the effort last night, impressed by Capello and what he's managed to do so far.

    QF's were the bare minimum Eriksson should have achieved with those players. why anyone would hold him in high esteem for England stuttering to winable QFs then going out having barely fought for it is beyond me.

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  • 141. At 1:42pm on 20 Nov 2008, vanlow wrote:

    its quite unfair to put erikson with Mc Laren.. when England scored 5 goals against the Germans everyone was saying that Erikson was the best coach.........

    reaching 2W.C quarters finals cannot be an under achievement.....England simply were defeated by 2 better teams at the time, Brazil & Portugal. Erikkson did the best he had with those "over rated" players!

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  • 142. At 1:43pm on 20 Nov 2008, red lion wrote:

    Every body is entitled to Phil's opinion.

    Why spoil a perfectly good article with a mention of Owen and Becks.

    Phil mourned when Owen was left out, some 5 matches ago. To say he has not been missed is an understatement of gigantic proportions. Becks last played for what could have been 4 minutes. Once again he was not missed and may never be missed. Instead Lamps should look out.

    Capello has shown that he is capable of sizing up the occasion and putting 11 Englishmen in the park and they will deliver. Even if the 11 don't include Lamps, Stevie G, etc.

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  • 143. At 1:43pm on 20 Nov 2008, TM2257 wrote:

    Phil with regards to posts 54 and 128 about Eriksson and this comment you made:

    "Eriksson was a better England coach than McClaren, but still did not achieve what he should have done with the players at his disposal.

    I will not be shifted from that opinion."

    Can I suggest looking at it from a more objective point of view. At the World Cups in 2002 and 2006 England were not in the top 4 teams in the World; thus they had no real right to get to the semi-finals. Most would agree that they were in the top 8-10 teams. Regardless of what happened during those tournaments England went as far as they should (the key word here is 'should') have done in those competitions. [In Euro 2004 I though England would get to the semis, as I think they were in the top 6 teams in Europe at the time. Rooney's injury and the subsequent penalties were all just factors of luck.]

    I will admit that England had opportunities to over-achieve in both World Cups. The fact that Sven didn't take them, doesn't mean he under-achieved however.

    As per usual unrealistic expectations and hype about the "Golden Generation" made people ignore the reality that England weren't that good - certainly not top-4-team-in-the-World good.

    Eriksson did in my eyes, what was expected of him. Unless it involves winning a competition it'll never be enough for the English media and public.

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  • 144. At 2:00pm on 20 Nov 2008, themightlyandygray wrote:

    I'm with you Phil on Eriksson - does anyone out there actually watch the matches or do you just read the results on Teletext? The Eriksson era was one of the worst in terms of negative and poor performances. Those who say England were poor in 2006WC were right, but it was a fitting ephitaph for the Eriksson reign - an earlier post gave Eriksson credit for taking Walcott to the finals - what a joke selecting someone who you have no intention of playing even when we were desperate for a forward at the time!
    2004 saw a good, unlucky performance against France, but was otherwise a one-man Rooney show and when we didn't have him against the Portuguese, Eriksson was out of ideas....but it was still better than the disgrace that was 2002, when we managed to go out with a whimper against a 10 man side - we were awful (I know; I was there - I don't think we had a shot on goal in the 2nd half) and it wasn't just that match. Beating the Argies? In a shocking match courtesy of another poor, but lucky Beckham penalty? 3-0 against Denmark - yes 3-0 is 3-0, but again if any of you actually bothered to watch you might recall that we scored from pretty much our only 3 shots of the match once again in a very ordinary performance - the most flattering 3-0 result I've seen anyway...
    Its very easy to take Eriksson's record out of context, but these days - i.e. since the Euro increased to 16 in 96 & WC to 32 it doesn't take much to reach the QF - generally you just need to knock over Paraguay of Ecuador and you're thru...and then in the final stages, the team winning it is pretty much the one that takes penalties (given that no England manager so far seems to worry about penalties much!) shouldn't we be placing more emphasis on performance rather than just on results?
    For WC 74 & 78 England were extremely unlucky both times to lose out by a fraction to Poland and Italy respectively - the only teams to qualify from the group - who ended up having very good WC's, both reaching the Semis - despite Ramsey being past it the first time and Revie not up for it the second. 82 we went home undefeated; 86 QF, but out to the HoG; 90 SF, 94 - ok the Turnip years were worse, I'll give u that; 98 - penalties, but out with a fight...& since then its been pretty bleak with a great generation of players that have not been utilised. Beckham is a prime example. In Italy the team would've been built around him with him in the centre. This is where Hoddle had the vision to play him, but since then he has been stuck out on the wing because of his 'crossing ability' - fat lot of good that is if you're not quick enough to get to the byline or even beat your man to get a cross in!....I'm just waiting for another few years and maybe in 2010, when he is 35 the penny will drop and he will star in the centre for England a la Van Moer or Muhren

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  • 145. At 2:03pm on 20 Nov 2008, Lord_Bemax wrote:

    Yes, England match was very satisfying, although it did appear Germany wern't really up for it!

    As an aside, Does anyone else think it would be a good idea that if a friendly game is drawn at full time, to have a penalty competion to determine the "winner"?

    I know it dosen't really matter who wins a friendly but it would give the players practice at taking penalties in a stadium and under a certain amount of pressure rather than just on the training pitch

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  • 146. At 2:09pm on 20 Nov 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Out of interest, does anyone (pmf1959 for example) know what the German press are making of this result?

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  • 147. At 2:10pm on 20 Nov 2008, Edmund wrote:

    England were dire. Where have people gained the idea of ANY positives?

    'Not a wasted pass' couldn't be further from the truth. Frequently not only did England mistime passes, they passed it to absolutely no one.

    Thankfully Germany were even worse.

    This game was embarressing for both teams.

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  • 148. At 2:16pm on 20 Nov 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    Let me 1st say that I didn't see the match, it wasn't broadcast here. We only had Italy v Greece.
    The world cup is still almost 2 years away, so there is every possibility that Fabio will have the best team by then
    Even if Gerrard plays on Saturday, I think after his jaunt to the team hotal, that he wasn't fit for Wednesday. Yes, Fabio flexed his muscles dragging him to the team hotel. I would have liked it if he had dragged Ferdinand, Rooney and Lamps too. In the long term, there will be fewer players crying off.
    As far as the best league in Europe goes, currently in the CL it is
    Spain 31 pts
    England 30 pts
    Italy 27 pts.
    So get your heads out of the clouds
    No European team has EVER won the World Cup outside of Europe!!!
    Argentina to beat England in the final
    If you want B internationals, bring back the home internationals, then you can complain about meaningless matches.
    Germany, ranked 2nd by FIFA (what a joke their rankings are), were runners up in Euro 2008, but apparently didn't turn up last night.

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  • 149. At 2:17pm on 20 Nov 2008, machinemessiah wrote:

    Yes Phil, Eriksson was not a perfect manager, but I think he was above average as England bosses go. Remember Revie, Keegan, G. Taylor, the dog days of Ramsey, the start of Bobby Robson and of course good old Steve McLaren. I do and still shudder at the thought. THAT'S how bad England can be under a dodgy manager.

    England's performance in 2006 was disappointing and Eriksson was wrong to take Walcott and not have any experienced strikers to cover for Owen/Rooney. But when you have Brian Barwick telling the England boss at a press conference before the World Cup he's out of a job after the tournamant it probably didn't help much.

    The Golden Generation tag was put on the players by the media and then (surprise, surpise) used as a stick to beat the manager with.

    But moving on to Capello, I agree it's great that we have someone who is probaly one of the best three or four managers in the world. The team seem to be playing with a belief that they never had under Steve McLaren.

    Capello has never failed to win a major trophy in any of his previous jobs, so if he eventually comes up short with England maybe we'll just have to admit that our players are not quite as good as people like you keep telling us they are.

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  • 150. At 2:18pm on 20 Nov 2008, duffy wrote:

    135. At 1:20pm on 20 Nov 2008, rbrunning wrote:
    Generic ITV commentator: "Agbonlahor is offside there. The law is that you are offside if any part of your body, with which you can play the ball, is ahead of the defender."

    David Pleat: "Like your finger."

    I'm not going to write my opinion on this insightful comment by a former international football manager, suffice to say I deemed it worthy of being recorded.

    Unless Pleat was being ironical about Maradonna, Which I doubt his intellict extends, words fail me. How Pleat got a contract with ITV is beyond me. I can only assume its similar to the Coleman deal the BBC regretted for 30yrs.

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  • 151. At 2:19pm on 20 Nov 2008, Arsh wrote:

    I haven't enjoyed an England performance that much since England held taly to a draw in Rome under Hoddle. Beats the 5-1 in Munich because in that game we were outclassed for 30 minutes and should have been 3 down before half time. Last night we controlled the game and made Germany look very poor.

    And what I really liked was the team spirit - Downing filling in for Bridge, Agbonlahor pressing, Barry and Carrick playing without ego. No Joe Cole stepovers, no Beckham posturing at free kicks, no Frank and Stevie reluctant to pass to each other, no Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney intimidating the linesmen.

    They were playing for Capello and England fans, and personal pride, not competing for column inches or saving themselves for the weekend match. They were all equals.

    Bridge, Downing, Johnson and Carrick all deserve to keep their places after that. The only downside is our keeper. I've been supporting James but he didn't instil me with confidence last night, even though he had little to do. There was a lot of hopeful hoofing to nowhere when a quicker thinking keeper might have been able to retain possession.

    A mitigating factor might be the conditions - it looked really blustery and JT said the pitch was bobbly - which just goes to underline how well the team played.

    So I'm optimistic. We're not up there with Spain, Portugal, Holland, Brazil or Argentina in technique, and never will be, but team spirit wins tournaments and we have that in spades now, especially if Capello rewards those who performed well last night.

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  • 152. At 2:23pm on 20 Nov 2008, alpeshcgujjar wrote:

    Can't it be just co-incidant that England have won many games after the appointment of Capello.
    I think the real truth will be known after England enters the World Cup compatition itself.
    If you look,most of the nation are trougling now,many are losing and drawing games.
    Lets see how far England goes.

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  • 153. At 2:24pm on 20 Nov 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Just a point on Michael Owen - every indication appears to be that Capello has decided he is not for him as an international footballer.

    And, despite my open reservations, results so far have proved Capello to be totally correct. No-one can disagree with that.

    I still, however, believe Owen is worth a place in the squad if he is fully fit and playing regularly for Newcastle.

    I would rather have Owen on the bench in a crucial qualifier when England need that vital goal than Darren Bent or Jermain Defoe - although both are good club players.

    Just my opinion, but given Capello's selections so far I do not expect to be given a chance to see the preference in action.

    What did people feel about the midfield partnership of Barry and Carrick compared to others such as Barry and Lampard and (dons tin hat!) Lampard and Gerrard?

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  • 154. At 2:24pm on 20 Nov 2008, littledrunkensailor wrote:

    So good to see the men in the England shirts playing with confidence and desire. Capello really has been a strong and positive infulence on all of them and has instilled a determination.
    As a spectator, that feeling of "i hope they don't go to pieces or mess it up" is absent when I watch them now.
    All those players missing from last night's game for whatever reason should be working their socks of to fight for a starting position, because they guys with only a few games under they're belts went out and performed well and there weren't any signs of nerves. It'll be intersting to see who Capello leaves on the bench when the next game comes around if all the "1st choice" players are available

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  • 155. At 2:30pm on 20 Nov 2008, dunne_and_dusted wrote:

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

  • 156. At 2:34pm on 20 Nov 2008, CroftKid wrote:

    A really good win for England, lets not forget this was GERMANY and a team that is rated considerably higher than England, at least by the FIFA ratings.
    Unfortunately I didn't see the game so will not pass comments on the game except to say "well done Capello" as classy guy and a proven manager at any level.

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  • 157. At 2:35pm on 20 Nov 2008, rosey05 wrote:

    Phil i couldn't agree with you more a fully fit Michael Owen is definately worth a place. Before anyone slates Capello too much for not puttin him in the squad just look at what he did with Beckahm at Madrid he dropped him and Becks worked extra hard to get back in and produced some of his best perfromances at the back end of that season. We certainly wouldn't complain if come the World Cup Michael Owen is firing on all cylinders.

    As for the midfield, as good as Carrick and Barry were last night they are not positive enough and will not score any goals for England. Lets not get too carried away because if truth be told Germany were very average last night but when push comes to shove Germany always produce when it comes to the major tournaments, which can't be said about us.

    So its all well and good winning these sorts of games but the only real judgement can be made of Capello is after the World Cup.

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  • 158. At 2:37pm on 20 Nov 2008, Chad Secksington wrote:

    I've said for ages that I thought Carrick was worth a shot in England's midfield and it was good to see him play so well, just a shame he'll be dumped again as soon as the sacred cows are "fit".

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  • 159. At 2:40pm on 20 Nov 2008, kennydogleash wrote:

    Once again you've gone way off the track.

    Last night should've proved to Capello that the likes of Downing, Defoe and especially Bent just aren't up to International Standard.

    Yes Downing went past the German defenders with ease (who had centre-backs playing as full-backs, a wingers dream) but when it comes to the final ball into the box what percentage were acutally worthwhile? He fails to beat the first defender with the cross time after time... Not good enough. The same could be said of Wright Phillips - we have an award at our club each year; "Player most likely to run up his own backside" - both would be worthy winners.

    Germany were very poor, and our goals came from set pieces, the lack of quality was evident in our team and even more so from Germany. There were the Number 2 team in the world? I dont think so...

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  • 160. At 2:47pm on 20 Nov 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    Phil re 153

    I think they worked very well together although were largely untested. Lampard and Gerrard has never and will never work against anyone above Andorra's quality (who may mount one attack per game).

    What I think this game proved again (on top of Lampard and Barry's performances) is that Gerrard shouldn't start for England - he just doesn't fit in with Fabio's preferred system of 4-4-2 with 2 CMs and 2 wide players.

    For Gerrard to fit in you'd probably need to drop Lampard and Rooney as we would have to line up 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard in the middle of the 3. Rooney hasn't looked the same player when stuck on the left - this system doesn't play to his strengths. If you want Gerrard to start, just take heed it means dropping Lampard and probably Rooney (or playing him out of position) to work.

    For me the team is as per our qualifiers:

    Johnson - Terry - Ferdinand - A Cole
    Walcott - Lampard - Barry - J Cole
    Heskey - Rooney

    Carrick is fighting for Barry's place (and would come in for Lampard if unfit) and Downing/Young for Joe Cole's. Gerrard on the bench and to come on for Rooney or the left sided midfielder and we change formation to 4-2-3-1 to accomodate him.

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  • 161. At 2:52pm on 20 Nov 2008, SportsSportsSportsBS wrote:


    True, no European Team has ever won the tournament outside of Europe, but the tournament has never been played in Africa, so this lack of precident somewhat devalues your point.

    Also, you're statistics about Champions League statistics and points prove nothing, English teams have dominated that tournament for the last 3 to 4 seasons:

    05 - 3 English semi-finalists and an English winner.

    06 - An English Finalist.

    07 - An English Finalist.

    08 - 3 English semi-finalists and an English winner.

    This trend will only continue, the only team that can get close to the four English representatives is Barcelona - I guarantee at least two English teams will make the semi-finals this season.

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  • 162. At 3:02pm on 20 Nov 2008, bobbieflowers wrote:

    #144 - bang on, thats one of the best appraisals of svens england campaigns i've seen.

    #147 - take up golf, you obviously don't like football

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  • 163. At 3:04pm on 20 Nov 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    Eriksson is a passionless mercenary
    McClaren was out of his depth

    If the morons at the FA had not talked themselves into a hole, by stating that they wanted to appoint the new manager before the 2006 WC, when all the managers were contracted, except the wally with the brolly, we would have had big Fil as manager, and would have qualified for Euro2008.

    Eriksson should have done better, but his teams lacked ambition. You have to go out and win and not wait for the opposition to roll over and lose.

    McClaren, what can you say, incompetent FA, in appointing him, incompetent coach at least at international level.

    Capello is both competent and passionate

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  • 164. At 3:04pm on 20 Nov 2008, luton3arsenal2 wrote:

    why did upson get MotM when he didnt really do much apart from the goal

    carrick was much more deserving of it and why on earth is this the first squad he has been in under capello (i think), certainly his first cap under capello

    he is quality week in week out for man utd and much better than barry hargreaves jenas parker bullard etc.

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  • 165. At 3:08pm on 20 Nov 2008, the swashbuckler wrote:

    It's funny how a good performance and result in difficult circumstances can really expose the absolute stupidity that graces these boards. How tedious was it seeing hundreds of redundant posts whinging about Capello's team selection, particularly regarding the inclusion of Downing over Young? Or the bitter, bias fools who think Terry is not good enough to be in the Englnad team (laughable) and isn't fit to be captain (ludricous). Where are these fools today?

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  • 166. At 3:20pm on 20 Nov 2008, hamedrehman wrote:

    I thought it was a great performance by the lads seeing as we were away from home with a second string side playing a team ranked number 2 in the world.

    Although the Germans were missing key players of their own, England proved that their young team has players good enough to make the regular 11 in competitive games. I was most impressed with Carrick. Loved how he picked up the lose balls and just neatly passed it around the midfield. Why not play him and Gerrard/Lampard in midfield?

    Upson had a great game, as did Downing and Wright-Phillips. Agbonlahor also did well for his debut and I thought Bent did well although he missed a sitter. I feel for Carson, but you can tell the lad's confidence wasn't really there.

    All in all, a great performance by a nation that seems to have found it's quality under Capello. England have 2 more friendlies before the tie against Ukraine at Wembley, let's all hope we chall up good results and find the best 11 we can for that game.

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  • 167. At 3:25pm on 20 Nov 2008, Augsburger wrote:

    England are now playing like Liverpool in the late 70's and 80's and - significnatly for Germany - like Spain did to beat Germany in the European Championship this year. I never did understand why England didn't follow Liverpool's lead at that time. Better late than never. As for Germany, the swashbuckling style they adopted at the 2006 World Cup has run its course. They need something more sophisticated.

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  • 168. At 3:26pm on 20 Nov 2008, snelly1986 wrote:


    as to the midfield partnership of carrick and barry, i thought they were both magnificent last night.

    carrick's passing was penetrative, barry full of endeavour, both were strong in the tackle, tactically disciplined and seemed to have a good understanding. an effective partnership.

    currently, in terms of form and balance i would take a first choice pairing of carrick and lampard; carrick to break up the play and spread balls wide (for our newly pacy and confident wingers) and lampard to make those surging forward runs and drive the team.

    gerrard is a talented maverick who doesnt easily fit into a disciplined international formation. he always tries to do too much, and i think his main role for england should be an impact player.

    a wonderful problem for capello to have; im intrigued to see how he handles it.

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  • 169. At 3:33pm on 20 Nov 2008, mikeyjkelly wrote:

    Phil, if you want people to focus on Capello and stop raking over the Eriksson years then it may be advisable if you stop your continuous references to him in every England article. Seriously, even Butcher hasnt got as big a chip on his shoulder as you have. Did Sven slight you in some way Phil or is there something you are not telling us.

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  • 170. At 3:57pm on 20 Nov 2008, andyjm1983 wrote:

    Why is there so much hype just because England beat Germany in a friendly?
    England thrashed Croatia etc not long ago and they played brilliant with Lampard, Rooney in the team, did you guys not see that game? Why are you guys talking like we dont need them? I thought the whole match against Germany was boring and didnt really mean much. Lets go on important results not friendlys.

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  • 171. At 4:11pm on 20 Nov 2008, The Professor wrote:

    Phil, I think the issue about Eriksson really stems from the fact that you lumped him in with Mclaren. I mean, does anyone deserve that?

    I would characterise Eriksson's reign as disappointing, especially at tournaments - but not hugely so. We still made the latter stages of those tournaments, if not as far as we had hoped.

    Now onto Mclaren. Worst England manager, ever? Probably, given the talent at his disposal. You can't stick him and Eriksson together, it isn't fair. It'd be like putting Bobby Robson and Graham Taylor in the same bracket - you wouldn't do that, would you?

    And as for 'a genuine hint of menace' - what does this actually mean?! I have a real problem with your use of the word 'genuine', it just doesn't make sense when put in front of 'hint'. Surely a hint is subtle, less obvious? Anything more than this would be a display of menace, rather than a 'genuine' hint. It implies you could have a 'false' hint of menace in a football match, which you can't. I just don't think sports journalists consider some of their cliches enough sometimes. Not just you, there are plenty of others.

    But hey, I'm pedantic.

    As for Capello, I think it's all shaping up nicely - there's a bit of heart in the England performance now, which is good. Although saying he has the Midas touch is a little overboard - Germany were exceptionally poor (anyone remember a decent German effort apart from their goal, which we created for them?). He's done what he should've, and also gotten a result above that (v Croatia).

    Steady progress.

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  • 172. At 4:23pm on 20 Nov 2008, kinrick786 wrote:

    good win, but I think we are giving Capello more credit than he is due for this win.

    If it wasnt for the so called 1st team players being injured these '2nd rated players 'would have never got the chance.

    Capello can look at the misfortunes of injuries to players work to his favour, but in reality his thinking has been very similar to his predecessors.

    Why does it take injuries to force England Managers to try other quality players for a friendly?? Isnt that what friendly games are for?? giving chance to other players?

    Before the game we were crying about lampard and gerrard not being fit? whats all that about! its a friendly game give others a chance. These players have been tried and we know what they are about. I really dont understand the logic of not trying new players in friendly games, and Capello with out the injuries would never have put out the team he did.

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  • 173. At 4:29pm on 20 Nov 2008, tom wrote:

    Please, please, please Mr Capello drop Gerrard from the England set-up. As a liverpool fan, this would be the best xmas present ever. I hate international football, and it should be reserved for players that care about this kind of thing.

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  • 174. At 4:47pm on 20 Nov 2008, Canadiancharles wrote:

    Midas touch sounds about right. For, if it hadn't have been for all those players pulling out, this team wouldn't have seen the light of day because Capello would have followed the old tradition (as he has already) of putting out the old guard in a friendly just to make sure he could claim a win, rather than use these matches to search out and give new talent a chance.
    As the saying goes "some achieve fame and some have fame thrust upon them". This was certainly a case of the latter last night.

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  • 175. At 4:51pm on 20 Nov 2008, dyrewolfe wrote:

    Considering this was a game most people thought we would lose (away from home, fielding mostly second-string players), I thought England did brilliantly.

    For the first time in quite a while, I watched an England game without thinking they were going to mess up horribly any minute (the Terry and Carson cock-up aside).

    For most of the match, every player looked comfortable on the ball, the majority of their passes found a target and the whole team moved with purpose and attacking intent.

    They didn't stand off and give the Germans room to play and when they lost possession, they worked hard to get it back (something you generally only saw Gerrard or Beckham do when Eriksson and McLaren were in charge).

    England pretty much dominated the first half (possession was 70% - 30% in favour of England at one point!) and only struggled for 15-20 minues in the second half when Germany stepped up a couple of gears.

    Okay, it was only a friendly and maybe the Germans weren't taking it too seriously, but if this is what our reserve team is capable of, it should give the first-choice players a timely kick up the backside.

    If ever they needed a reminder that nobody's place is assured, then last night should have done the trick.

    Well done lads and well done Fabio. You are rapidly restoring my faith in Team England.

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  • 176. At 4:54pm on 20 Nov 2008, andyjm1983 wrote:

    Please please mr capello drop Gerrard from the squad..... I hate scousers full stop.

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  • 177. At 4:56pm on 20 Nov 2008, LazEagle wrote:

    Please, please, please Mr Capello drop Gerrard from the England set-up. As a liverpool fan, this would be the best xmas present ever. I hate international football, and it should be reserved for players that care about this kind of thing.

    The guy clearly does care though.

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  • 178. At 5:08pm on 20 Nov 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    I'll be more convinced about Capello when Phil Neville is back in the team. England lack a utility player.

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  • 179. At 5:20pm on 20 Nov 2008, dyrewolfe wrote:

    Just a quick comment on what, for me, were the downsides of the match.

    Slightly worrying that both our goals were scored by defenders. Also a concern is that we still don't apear to have a reliable back-up for David James. I felt a little sorry for Carson, as Terry should have dealt with the situation better (especially knowing what happened the last time he played for England).

    While Darren Bent may be scoring for fun for Spurs, he looked a bit out of touch last night. He contributed well with some good hold-up play, but when he created a great scoring opportunity for himself, he fluffed what looked like a relatively easy chance.

    If our strikers could just start finding the back of the net more often, I think all would be rosy.

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  • 180. At 5:21pm on 20 Nov 2008, clearcheesecake wrote:

    under sven we were about the eighth best
    team in the world in the major tournaments the teams that get knocked out at the quaterfinal stage are the fourh to eighth bets, we overacheived well done sven. But we have moved on and gabby agbonlahor is the future, brilliant last night.

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  • 181. At 5:32pm on 20 Nov 2008, wurzelgooner wrote:

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

  • 182. At 5:36pm on 20 Nov 2008, Michael Staley wrote:


    "I agree with the first guy, England haven't under achieved. This is only a friendly, crying out loud. Even Ireland beat the Germans in Germany in a friendly then got hammered in qualifying by them. Delighted you feel you have something to celebrate, dissappointed I have to listen to you lot thinking you are going to win it again till 2010."


    People here don't think that they are going to win the World Cup, simply that at this rate England may be in with a chance. How awful, that people should feel optimistic.

    You don't have to listen to all this untrammelled optimism. You can just go away and fester in a backwater of pessimism, old son. You'd be happier, and so would we.

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  • 183. At 5:40pm on 20 Nov 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    Injuries picked the team. So while Capello has changed the attitude of the squad if he had a fully fit squad what would have happened ? Germany have punched above their weight for the last few years. So let's not get carried away. Optimism is not a crime, but let's wait for some reality, because we all know who's going to get picked when they're all fit !

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  • 184. At 5:44pm on 20 Nov 2008, GPJERSEY wrote:

    No 98 I fully agree with you,

    Carson should of given him a shout to tell him to put his foot through the ball.

    If you look at the replay he is coming for the ball and then stops.

    I admire Terry for taking the blame but his glance at Carson straight after the goal was one of "you called for it come and get pick it up"

    I also noted how he said how Upson continued to talk all he way through the game, maybe this was a litle dig at Carson.

    As an ex goalie of a reasonable standard the one thing you players want is for you to tell them whaat to do in situations like that. Carson is a premier league keeper and very good but he looks so nervous on the international stage.

    As a West Ham I do think Green should be given a chance, he is a good shot stopper and you can rely on him. But I may be biased.

    On a more positive note England looked great, they wanted to play as a team to fight for the places, I think that is what we need a bit of competition in there.

    I cannot however see Rooney being scared after Bent came on. He is bilge.

    Well done Matty, Gabby, Carrick, Barry, Johnson and Downing you did impress. Play well for your clubs and there is no reason why some of the so called 1st teamers will be fighting to get noticed in the eyes of the gaffer instead of you in these so called friendlies.

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  • 185. At 5:45pm on 20 Nov 2008, J-b08KOPITE wrote:

    Clearly i was watching a different game to most. I thought we looked pretty bad to be honest.

    Both wingers lacked penetration when trying to reach the byline, SWP looked better when he came inside with Johnson (to me one of englands better performers on the night) overlapping. Downing squandred good positions (which he did well to move into) and didn't show me anything to sway me from the belief Cole and Young are the only options on the left.

    Our set-pieces were a joke, despite both goals (i think) coming from set pieces. SWP's corners were pointless, either failing to beat the 1st man or hit far too deep, and although Downing has a good cross/shot on him the organisation of these looked poor.

    James distirbution was shocking often wasting possesion hitting long with Agbonlahor (i agree he looked promising) and Defoe (much less so) upfront.

    Carrick and Barry held possesion well and generally looked hungry, however, with our wingers failing to penetrate they often did little more than short simple passes. Gerrard or Lampard would have made a huge difference creating a threat from deep in the middle.

    Of course there are positives to be taken i think our defence looked relatively assured and carrick and barry broke up play well despite lacking something going forward. Agbonlahor has potential too and it was generally nice to beat Germany.

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  • 186. At 5:54pm on 20 Nov 2008, Uldus66 wrote:

    Great game, - from the team in red. England showed up with precisely the vitues that made Germanys team successful in the last years: the three-lions played and acted, failed and finally won as a team.
    Maybe it was a lucky coincidence that Englands "golden" generation of unrealised promises (remember the astounding performance in the WC in France, - ...and what came after that) let this match pass by.
    So nobody in the team had to prove individual success. And by this everybody was able to believe and to serve in the teams success leaving the part of helplessness and despair to the German side.
    I strongly doubt this would have been possible with a teams of individual divas, - even for Mr. Capello.

    P.S. Every pack has to have a top dog: Terry you made a magnificent job!

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  • 187. At 5:55pm on 20 Nov 2008, BognorRock wrote:

    I've never subscribed to the idea that the foreigners in the Prmiership are ruining the England team and that is never more true than now.

    We have some amazing young players coming through, even below the U21 level with the likes of Wilshere, Delph, Bostock etc.

    I've haven't been this encouraged as an England fan since Euro 96. I truely trust Capello to get the best of the players which I haven't done since Venebles.

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  • 188. At 6:01pm on 20 Nov 2008, Andy wrote:

    Everybody played in position, there was a good structure, the players knew what they had to do, they worked hard and played as a team.
    I don't think that anybody played really well, but everybody played quite well and was committed.
    We still had problems with the final ball, didn't keep the ball at times and didn't get enough people in the box at the right time.
    There are some player to come back who will strengthen the team - if they can play in the structure - Ferdinand and Cole/Cole will fit in; Rooney if he is disciplined - not sure about Gerrard and Lambard though.
    Great progress and a brilliant position to build on.

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  • 189. At 6:21pm on 20 Nov 2008, jazza0707 wrote:

    #23 "Downing was excellent and he and Bridge gave balance rarely seen on the England left." What? Ashley and Joe Cole are regularly England's 2 best players. One mistake and a couple of missed games and 4 years of excellence is forgotten!

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  • 190. At 6:21pm on 20 Nov 2008, Ydiss wrote:

    Don't all get carried away again please


    Why is it this line always comes out after someone praises England?

    Honestly, if England won the world cup we'd get people coming out to let us know we shouldn't get carried away about it...

    No one is getting carried away (and if they are let them).

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  • 191. At 6:36pm on 20 Nov 2008, The Trawler wrote:

    Not read all the comments tbh, but my two penneth would simply be that:

    1/ Capello really couldn't care less what the intelligentsia amongst the freeloaders dining out on the back of covering the England national team have to say. The ITV coverage made me laugh out loud, and I'm not talking about Tyldesley inane drivel absolving Lionheart JT of blame for the goal he handed Germany! No, it was Steve Rider straight after the final whistle when he said something like "we're off for a short break but I'm sure you want to hear what our expert pundits think about that performance". Er, no actually. Much like Capello, I couldn't care less!

    2/ Much as it pains me to say it, Michael Carrick plus one other should be at the heart of the England national team whenever he is fit and available.

    It pains me because if I had my way neither the FA nor most of the "Stand up if you hate Man U" idiots who follow England would ever be allowed to benefit from having any United players in that team ever again.

    Not all England fans are clueless idiots. Not all England fans are clueless idiots. Not all England fans are clueless idiots... etc


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  • 192. At 6:56pm on 20 Nov 2008, snoopy wrote:

    great game by bridge and downing, can we PLEASE get rid of cashley cole?

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  • 193. At 7:22pm on 20 Nov 2008, littlejklc wrote:

    I am not very sure if England is that great or not. But surely it is much better than under the Clown.
    I only watched the game they played Kazakhstan at home. It was very poor in the 1st half. So poor that when I felt the England team my daugther playing in the video games against Italy even better than them. Although the score was 5-1, just the last 15 mins, Kazakhstan players were very tired.
    I cannot judge them but result wise, it is good and I think Capello is the right person to manage the team.
    Watching England's game is not so easy nowadays. Hope I get a chance to watch them playing Spain. It will be very interesting.

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  • 194. At 7:27pm on 20 Nov 2008, The Best team evra wrote:

    I thought yesterday was a great performance from the peripherial players, but what I will say is that this auspicious start to Capello's charge reminds me of the Early Steve Mclaren reign.

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  • 195. At 8:06pm on 20 Nov 2008, KnuttyBoy wrote:

    Cannot help be irritated at:
    a) Capello for bringing on Crounch with 20 seconds to go and..
    b) For David Pleat's ridiculous love affair with Stuart Downing... for Ch****'s sake. The man cannot cross a ball and his shooting is worse than my Auntie Hilda's!!! So please stop trying to big-up another mundane performance.

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  • 196. At 9:20pm on 20 Nov 2008, Barnes B 25 wrote:

    One has to wonder whether there is an English manager who could have done what Capello has managed. He's a professional manager charged with and capable of getting the best results out of the available resources without the emotional baggage.
    If Spain play England at the Mestalla next year, which is a 10 minute walk from where I now sit, then it will be interesting to see hard nosed Capello up against an equally professional, but emotionally closer to his players, Del Bosque.
    On the basis of the evidence so far it will be a good game between two teams at the top of their confidence levels, just the way all international games should be.

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  • 197. At 9:49pm on 20 Nov 2008, Dave I wrote:

    It's difficult to know how poor Germany were. England looked very good and it is unlikely that the Germans weren't trying, with their pride and home record.
    England's strength was in Carrick and Barry both playing a proper midfield game, backing each other up all the time, without either of them disappearing all the time. This allowed the rest of the team to play with more freedom and the defence to have more confidence.
    I think this is the shape that Capello would really like to play.
    Pity about Carson, if he is England's second best goalie, they really are in a mess.

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  • 198. At 9:59pm on 20 Nov 2008, Ydiss wrote:

    I thought yesterday was a great performance from the peripherial players, but what I will say is that this auspicious start to Capello's charge reminds me of the Early Steve Mclaren reign.


    How? It's nothing like it at all. If anything, Capello started off slower with his friendly results, where Mclaren had a great friendly win.

    It all went south quite fast for Mclaren.

    It's only gone up for Capello and he's broken the England team record for World Cup starts.

    Can't see how you think this is anything like Mclaren's start. It's like no manager's start, the record books tell us that alone.

    There's still a long way for England to go, with lots of improvement yet to be seen. They're not the finished article yet but your statement just doesn't make any sense at all.

    Ok, if we go and lose key games and don't qualify... in retrospect you might have had a point. But as we stand right now there are zero comparison.

    The most important two aspects where there are no comparisons to be drawn, except our results, are these:

    1) We are playing decent football, not just winning
    2) Capello is willing to shake things up at half time when things aren't working.

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  • 199. At 10:43pm on 20 Nov 2008, showUsYerHands wrote:

    The key to this performance was the excellent midfield of Barry and in particular Carrick.

    I read an excellent article a while back that stated that despite Gerrard being a world class player, he simply does not have the ability to dictate the tempo of a game from midfield. He is too attack-minded and too direct. Gerrard's best position, the article argued, is just behind the main striker. It went on to explain this was part of the reason why Gerrard is rarely played deep in the midfield (despite his protests) by Benitez for Liverpool as the Spanish tactician is aware of this weakness in his game. I completely agree.

    Although it is perhaps not a weakness, just a fact that Gerrard is NOT a playmaker. The problem arises when he is played in the middle for England with Lampard, who although better than Gerrard at dictating proceedings, is also not a natural playmaker.

    The huge benefit of Carrick on the pitch in midfield is that he is a natural, and gifted, play-maker and is economical with his use of the ball and is not averse to passing back to retain possession. This is vital in International football but more importantly the whole team operates better if the midfield has a strong influence on the game.

    What Capello does to solve this conundrum is hard to fathom, but I think there is a strong argument that Carrick should start for England and be a regualr in the team to effectively control the midfield.

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  • 200. At 11:30pm on 20 Nov 2008, Red_blogger wrote:

    Dare I dream that I'll see England win something in my lifetime and will it be this crop of lads that finally bring football home!

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  • 201. At 02:45am on 21 Nov 2008, Born_Again wrote:

    11. At 02:31am on 20 Nov 2008, sevenseaman wrote:

    JT should be renamed Mr. Commitment. No wonder Capello picked him for captaincy. That he so promptly absolved Scottie of letting in the German equiliser and shouldered the blame himself is the footprint of a good leader.

    WHAT??? It was Terry's fault, so of course he should absolve Carson of blame. One thing last night showed is that England will miss out on naming the best CB pairing possible because Rio is the best English CB and Terry will always play if fit because of the captaincy.

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  • 202. At 03:31am on 21 Nov 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    Have you noticed that Scottie comes up with a goalkeeping howler on a fairly recurrent basis? Obviously he gets in because he is good most of the time. His blips though are worrisome. I put it down to recurrence of doubt in his mind at critical junctures. That means his reactions are not always instinctive, he gets put under pressure in crunch situations. Analyse the last sample. Terry had the ball well within his reach to clear safely but didn't. Instead he was seen fending against a possible poacher by spreading his hand and legs. Which only means that either he was sure Scottie would collect it or Scottie had actually called for Terry to leave it to him. And Scottie let it pass under the bridge. It was a simple matter for Helmes to go round the two for a simple tap in and ensure a merry Christmas for him and his family.

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  • 203. At 04:03am on 21 Nov 2008, DoctorBoroLove wrote:

    I don't think Terry would agree with your item b) Knuttyboy. And neither would Capello it seems.

    I suggest Specsavers for your irritation.

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  • 204. At 08:34am on 21 Nov 2008, super pig sufc wrote:

    you mention the missing england 'regulars'..IMO its the fact that these 'regulars' were missing that we've been doing so well.. the team looks balanced (we have left footers playing in their proper positions.. yay) and we can finally get all of the ego's on the pitch

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  • 205. At 11:03am on 21 Nov 2008, druss_the_legend wrote:

    you're totally wrong to say England underacheived under eriksson.

    Totally and utterly wrong.

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  • 206. At 11:22am on 21 Nov 2008, scrphil wrote:

    Strong performance but of the reserves only Carrick and Johnson really looked good enough to challenge for places now, Agbonlahor maybe with more experience.

    For me, Gerard wastes the ball too often and tracks back too much, but he can score some great goals. I'd probably keep him in.

    Lampard seems to have lost the knack of scoring in Internationals and Carrick looked better than him on Wed.

    J.Cole is inconsistent but I can't see a strong contender for his place.

    Only Barry is a certain pick.

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  • 207. At 11:52am on 21 Nov 2008, steve wilson wrote:

    Now that Gerrard has been ruled out against fulham do you think liverpool should get england's physios to check .......just incase!!!

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  • 208. At 12:28pm on 21 Nov 2008, Tyto alba wrote:

    Scott Carson is an excellent keeper but, like England's current number 1, prone to the odd error (not that I think he was at fault on Wednesday).

    David James has overcome his calamity tag to be the worthy incumbent (and, as a Pompey supporter, if we could just tether him to the crossbar so he cannot rush out of the area which is his only real fallibility he would be one of the all time greats) and I am sure given time Scott Carson will do the same.

    His only problems are Chris Kirkland seems to be able to kep his fingers intact these days and the boy Foster will no doubt start playing once Van Der Sorry is pensioned off.

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  • 209. At 3:34pm on 21 Nov 2008, thedocumentburner wrote:

    I totally agree with machinemessiah's comment. True, Capello could have done no more, and he is obviously an outstanding manager - we are lucky to have him. However, to match Sven's achievements he will have to -: a) qualify b) qualify from a no doubt tough group in the finals (we knocked Argentina - pre-tournament favourites - out in 2002 - remember???) c) win a touch last 16 match.

    To BETTER Sven's achievement he will have WIN A PENALTY SHOOT-OUT - simple as that. When you reach a WC (or EC) q/final you are undoubtedly going to be playing a world class side - the matches are always tight and usually go to pens.

    Why is this so difficult for you the English public to understand?

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  • 210. At 4:11pm on 21 Nov 2008, crash wrote:

    great performance, and someone i wanted to point out in darren bent. yes i know he missed. but the run, and pass from barry was top quality, and if his standing foot hadnt gone, that game is over. i have been waiting for a striker like him for a while. owen doesn't really have the speed, walcott is still primarily a winger, and rooney doesnt make forward runs, rather tries to attack the defence from in front. bent is just the kind of direct striker we need.

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  • 211. At 5:29pm on 21 Nov 2008, Serpillo wrote:

    No need to say much more, other than adding that among many positive factors, the mental strength stand out, which is very important in competitions. After conceding the goal, the English team reacted very well, playing with great spirit and creating several chances, which eventually produced the win

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  • 212. At 6:34pm on 21 Nov 2008, henry144 wrote:

    I agree wuth Phil on Eriksson.
    I think Eriksson did a great job in the qualifiers, but he under achieved massively in the big tournaments with the players he had.
    In 2002, we were playing against a ten man Brazil for the last 30 minutes but never looked like scoring.
    In 2004, we went 1-0 up against Portugal in the 3rd minute and Eriksson tried to defend a 1-0 lead for the rest of the game. It was crazy! It just invited trouble, instead of just trying to get the all important 2nd goal. I could understand trying to defend a 1-0 lead if we'd just scored in the second half, but not a 3rd minute goal! We had a much better team than Portugal, yet we lost because of stupid tactics. Remember Scolari taking of his best player Figo. And the strop Figo had!!! Eriksson would never take off a big player if he was under performing. This decision won Scolari the game and lost it for Eriksson. Postiga scored for Portugal!!! That says it all, he would never get in the England squad. Yet we lose to a team that has that standard of players in it.
    The trophy was there for the taking!!!

    And in 2006, we were completely rubbish. Struggled against poor teams and never looked like a top team. The squad he picked for it was a joke. Just proved he picked players for their reputation and not their form. He picked only 4 strikers, 2 were not fit, and 1 was 16. What a joke!
    Beckham was poor from start to finish in that , yet he would never drop him.

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  • 213. At 4:36pm on 22 Nov 2008, Robbienelson wrote:

    For the players england have had available since 2002 world cup, they have definetly underacheived and without question under-performed in many many matches. In my view this comes down to the poor and weak management of Eriksson and his hapless successor Mclaren. It makes my cringe to look back at the "wags" stepping out all dolled up for a night on the tiles in Germany, and I was equally umcomftable with Mclaren's media friendly smirk, and 'one of the lads in training attitude.I firmly belive had Capello been in charge in Englands, two most crucial matches since 2002.( both games which i was at incidently). Brazil in 2002 QF and Portugal in 2004 QF. the right decisions would have been made and England would have gone on to win one of those tournaments. I like many England fans can pin point exactly where Eriksson went wrong in those matches. Against a 10 man Brazil in a world cup QF England had no shots on target in that second half, no attacking football whatsoever, and Beckham, legend that he is shouldnt have been on the pitch due due injury. Remember when he jumped that 50/50 tackle. enough said. The Portugal game was a tragic case of bad luck and weak managment. after Rooney, who was on fire in the group games, went off with a broken foot. England who were 1-0 up had the perfect replacement and partner for owen on the bench, the proven England international, Emile Heskey. So what does sven do... of course he brings on Vassel! now i and every England fan in the ground and watching on tv are baffled by this poor poor decision made by sven in this critical point the the game. who gos on to miss the crucial pen in the shoot-out against a glove-less portgal keeper.? Yep you guesses are mate Darius! long exiled into international wilderness. For the once you have to give credit to the F.A for the bold appointment of Capello, a true super-coach. If he cant get the best out of this England squad then sadly no-one can. I look forward to future under this new regime and im praying its not to late for some long overdue success. Robbie.

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