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Capello on familiar battleground

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Phil McNulty | 16:05 UK time, Monday, 17 November 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerrard celebrates his goal against Bolton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Olympic Stadium in Berlin

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

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

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

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    My 1st ever 1st comment.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

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

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

  • Comment number 6.

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

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

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Good article Mr McNulty.

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

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

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


  • Comment number 9.

    panchopuskas:

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

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

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

  • Comment number 10.

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

    hehehe!

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

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

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

  • Comment number 13.

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

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

  • Comment number 14.

    At No.8 England Grim

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

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

  • Comment number 15.

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

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

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

    (btw. Liverpool fan)

  • Comment number 16.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 17.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

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

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

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    displacedscouse -

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

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

    too many to list by my reckoning?!

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

  • Comment number 23.

    Panchopuskas

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

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

  • Comment number 24.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 25.

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

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

  • Comment number 26.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

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

    I doubt that very much.

  • Comment number 29.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 30.

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

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

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

  • Comment number 31.

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

    good spot.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 32.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 33.

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

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

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 36.

    England vs. Germany? Friendly?

    National Pride is at stake!

  • Comment number 37.

    Good article.
    Capello is the man.

  • Comment number 38.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Comment number 39.

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

    please read and contribute to this:

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 42 Minutes Ago

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 38 Minutes Ago

    comment by footballandethics (U13370001)

    posted 26 Minutes Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Possibly the best post i've ever read!

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

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

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

  • Comment number 40.

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

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

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

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

    That, imo, is simply not good enough.

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • Comment number 42.

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

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

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

    Interesting questions that need asking of ourselves I think.

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

  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

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

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

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    Here we go again. If anyone suggests that:

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

    then it all kicks off.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    , The Fonz wrote:

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

    What other players?

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

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

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

    Ok?

  • Comment number 49.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 50.

    England vs. Germany? Friendly?

    National Pride is at stake!

    ________________________

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

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

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

    Well, that's my opinion.

  • Comment number 51.

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

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

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



  • Comment number 52.

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

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


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

  • Comment number 53.

    MikeyElmes - are you clever or what?

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

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

  • Comment number 54.

    Poor article, you've added nothing new!

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

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

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

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

    Leave it for Liverpool to win European trophies for England!

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

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

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

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

    then it all kicks off.

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


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


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

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

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

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

  • Comment number 59.

    57.

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

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

    A poor attempt to justify your recent England woes

  • Comment number 60.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 61.

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

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

    My line up:

    James

    Richards Terry Lescott Bridge

    W-Phillips Carrick Barry Young

    Crouch Defoe

    Plenty of pace there..!!

  • Comment number 62.

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

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

  • Comment number 63.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

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

    Is this purely a coincidence too?

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 70.

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

    Drop him.

  • Comment number 71.

    Comment #2, Footyfan011

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

  • Comment number 72.



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

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

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

  • Comment number 73.

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

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

  • Comment number 74.



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

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

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

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


  • Comment number 75.

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

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

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

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

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

    A-T

  • Comment number 76.

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

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

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

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

    Alex Ferguson, oh the irony.

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

  • Comment number 77.

    Oh, one more thing re above, no 76.

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

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

  • Comment number 78.

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

    Says it all, really.

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

  • Comment number 79.

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

  • Comment number 80.

    O'neil is not english

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    2 footiefan011

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

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

  • Comment number 83.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 89.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 90.

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

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

  • Comment number 91.

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

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

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

  • Comment number 92.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 93.

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

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

  • Comment number 94.

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

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

    I doubt this will go past the mods...

  • Comment number 95.

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

  • Comment number 96.

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

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

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.

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

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

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

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

  • Comment number 99.

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

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 100.

    Phil you say...

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

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

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

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

 

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