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Capello stands firm under fire

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Phil McNulty | 19:41 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Cape Town

Fabio Capello delivered a typically masculine Italian take on crossing your fingers for good luck at suggestions the fates have already decided England's World Cup campaign will take flight in Cape Town.

Capello conceals a superstitious streak beneath his iron exterior - so refused to accept all the omens pointed towards England's coach celebrating his 64th birthday with victory against Algeria on Friday.

He does not trust to luck when it comes to the business of management. Capello relies on methods forged in the hothouses of the San Siro and The Bernabeu, and which he will continue to use in South Africa.

And if anyone was wondering whether faith in his personal decision-making progress had been shaken by England's faltering start against the United States, Capello put them to bed emphatically under cross-examination in Cape Town.

Capello's resolve to keep England's squad in the dark over his selection until two hours before kick-off has come under severe scrutiny in the days since the draw with the United States - especially his refusal to name his preferred goalkeeper.

Would Robert Green have been better served by knowing well in advance he would be playing in Rustenburg? Did Capello's decision to keep his cards close to his chest contribute to anxiety that caused Green to gift Clint Dempsey an equaliser?

Capello's conviction that he is right is set in concrete. If you harboured the slightest doubts you only had to stand a few feet away from him in a sideroom at Green Point Stadium on Thursday night.

Conviction oozed from Capello. The message could not have been clearer had he daubed it over the walls in white paint. This is the Fabio Capello method - take it or leave it. We may not like it, but he does not care. Not one bit.

Capello revealed he used to inform AC Milan's players of his team selection over dinner the day before a game. It was a practice he ditched after a year and there will be no going back.

He said: "I started for one year by always telling the first eleven the day before a game. After the dinner I spoke individually with some players - but after this I decided 'no'."

So England's players will be told whether they are in or out shortly before they leave to face Algeria on Friday, and Capello is happy to stand or fall by the results of his deliberations.

He said: "People can say things. I know because I was a commentator. The score is the most important thing. The other things are only words."

And he asked: "Why is it better for the players to know? All the players are ready and focused. No problems." Any further questioning of Capello was met by a light-hearted offer to take his place.

So Green and David James - who still remains in the frame for a starting place against the Algerians - will have to wait again to discover their fate.

He confirmed he will speak to Green before making the final decision, but no confirmation about who is in goal will come until England's players are almost ready to board the coach to travel to the game.

Green may have fumbled a couple of efforts from goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence in training on Thursday night, but nothing will deflect Capello from his stated intention to wait until his pre-appointed hour before naming his choice.

And Capello, who bemoaned missed chances that cost victory against the United States, is also considering whether to replace the game but wasteful Emile Heskey with the more predatory Jermain Defoe.

To borrow a phrase, Capello did not get where he is today by bending at the first sign of pressure - whether it is from those of us in the media, or even a German legend such as Franz Beckenbauer.

Capello's face cracked into a smile at the first mention of Beckenbauer's name in Cape Town, clearly well up to speed on criticism from "Der Kaiser" about England's style and their current direction (in his belief reverse) under their Italian coach.

He said: "All the ex-managers can speak. I want to say something. If the referee had maybe given a penalty for Australia then the game could have been different. The red card for Tim Cahill was also hard.

"I respect Germany. I respect all the teams. I respect the opinions of the other managers, but I only think about my team."

And while England's listless opening effort is already being measured against the exhilirating attack of Argentina and Germany's dismissal of Australia, Capello was again unmoved by the unflattering comparisons.

He said: "We are speaking about Argentina, but the score was 2-1 and South Korea had a big chance, one against one. If they had scored it would have been 2-2 and we might not have been speaking about Argentina."

Capello's strident messages drew smiles of satisfaction from England captain Steven Gerrard as he stood alongside. It is clear England's players have as much confidence in their coach as he has in himself. In other words - a lot.

As Capello himself said, however, all that matters is the result. The rest is only words. And the result is the only things that will dictate whether Capello has a happy birthday.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I see that you are still harping on about Capello not telling his players who's in the starting line-up until 2 hours before the game.

    Would Robert Green have been better served by knowing well in advance he would be playing in Rustenburg? Did Capello's decision to keep his cards close to his chest contribute to anxiety that caused Green to gift Clint Dempsey an equaliser?

    What a ridiculous statement.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well it may be harping on about it but I hope Capello is pulling a massive bluff and does give players more notice.

    Surely he has the players practising and rehearsing with a formation that they know will be what they are expected to do in the game?

    If not, then he's going against all known, common sense coaching practice, no matter what the team game.

    He can't be doing that....can he??

  • Comment number 3.

    @Keith

    Your comment made me laugh. You summed up what many of us are thinking - Who cares if we don't the line up.

    It better to keep it a secret and the players don't care and if they do then they should grow a backbone, the same goes for the whinging press.

    Write something about tactics ... no wonder we are in the dark ages.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a keeper myself, having played at a decent level, i wasn,t at all surprised by Greens howler, if i were manager he wouldn't have made the 23.Its beyond me what Capello sees in the man, if as i expect he plays tomorrow, take a look at the 'fear' in his eyes in the tunnel, any confidance he may have had will now be well and truly shot.David james gets the gloves for me, plays the game with a smile on his face but commands his area and seems this season to have eradicated his walk about problem that dogged his game.Who would i have taken ?..Paul robinson found a bit of form this term and would have started for me, david james and my rookie would have been Ben foster.

  • Comment number 5.

    With all due respect, i do believe there's nothing wrong in telling players if they start or not 2 hours before the game. They are professionals and even though humans experience their nerves, they are also trained phsychologically to deal with it and if they don't, the manager should take it into consideration before selecting his squad.
    Green's error was simply bad technique at handling the ball and perhaps a lack of concentration. People learn from their mistakes but you need certain character to overcome failure. We still don't know how costly Green's mistake is but hopefully for him and the team it vanishes tomorrow with an emphatic win.

  • Comment number 6.

    oh gods, yet another article telling us very little. interesting that we are compared to argentina and germany, but not spain and france, who both suffered unexpected losses...

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes, of course Capello oozes confidence, that's his job.

    England, unfortunately, ooze mediocrity.

    And when they're whimpering home once again with their tails between their legs, Capello will be first in the firing line.

  • Comment number 8.

    A couple of things. Firstly at the people above who dismiss the question of whether Green might have benefited from knowing he would play. Some managers choose to announce their starting lineup a few days before and some a few hours before a match. They will all have their reasons - its part of man management and motivation but you cant just write it off and say that there is no effect on players from finding out one way or the other. Just like some players need a shouting at and some need an arm over the shoulder, each one needs dealing with differently. Who knows if Green might benefit from knowing hes going to play in advance.


    I would have thought that different players in a team would benefit from one or the other depending on what sort of character they have. If that is the case, just because the team isnt announced in public is it not possible that one or two players might be told in confidence whether they are in or not? Surely even pro footballers can keep a secret for a few days without the press finding out?

  • Comment number 9.

    I am disappointed that the focus of the conversation is all about Green and sometimes about Heskey. What about the rest of the team of prima donnas. Surely we should be looking at the lack of pace in defence, the lethargy and complacency of the players.Poor midfield. After all when they lose the WC we will forget about it all and blame it on Green. They will still get paid the same 1000000000 and keep their jobs.Please refer me a goalie who hasnt blundered.Carragher blundered when he couldnt keep up the pace.Lennon cant even cross the ball. What do they do in training? When you are a sub you get 5mins warning. Wots the difference. These are professionals.Oh dear I feel sorry for them not being told. Are they kids or adults?No more excuses,england were awful. Payment on results.Capello start again please with some hungry,athletic professionals who can cross a ball every time.

  • Comment number 10.

    Despite all the waffle, the late selection of the keepers has to be a factor. How many people in the country believed Robert Green was the best English keeper going into our first game? Not many i'd warrant. I'd also say that by his demeanour Robert green himself didn't believe it. confidence is fundamental for keepers so if Capello thought green was no1 it was up to him to convince him of that, to imbue him with confidence.
    & what's all this "lennon can't cross" rubbish, this gets trotted out pretty often. I have to say if you actually go to matches rather than just watching match of the day you'd know that's not the case. Before his injury at the turn of the year last season he was second to fabregas in terms of assists and surprise surprise, seeing as he's a winger, the large majority of those came from crosses.

  • Comment number 11.

    Many managers announce the team an hour or so before KO. I can't see what the issue is here? DO we have to follow new trends that reporters and writers believe are correct? Leave it to the manager, he is after all a very successful one!

  • Comment number 12.

    As we head deeper intot the SA winter, I think this could be our world cup. A heavy pitch, hail and cold. The likes of Robinho don't turn up in those conditions.
    English football as all about the second touch being a sliding tackle. Bring on the conditions where we excel...

  • Comment number 13.

    Naming lineups late is fine in most cases but aren't keepers a different case?

    How many sides in club football or international football rotate their keepers? Hardly any i can think of. You get changes in the outfield players depending on many factors but with keepers you have a no.1 who's assured of their place and the only thing that changes that is a dramatic lack of form and that normally leads to a permanent change and a new no1 coming in, who will then play every week.

  • Comment number 14.

    @Keith:

    LOL! What's even more hilarious is that the 2 hour policy didn't seem to be a problem during the qualifiers.

    But *now* its a problem? Why didn't the media, the all wise the all knowing media, bring this up last year? Because we were winning games, and everything was peachy. But since we drew 1-1 with the US, the 2 hour policy is suddenly a problem and one of the main reasons for the US equalizer.

    It can't have been the fact that Green simply misjudged the shot. Oh no! No goalkeeper in the history of this sport has ever made any mistakes!

    Give me strength! Some of best keepers in the world have made worse howlers. Just ask Peter Schmeichel. The great Dane made his fair share of cock ups! But I don't hear anyone ever questioning his quality or confidence, even if he was on the receiving end of one of Fergie's hairdryer treatments.

    Capello really hit the nail on the head. When we were winning, everyone loves his policies. When things don't go our way, those same policies are the problem.

    It really is all about the results. The media mob are such a fickle bunch. I wonder how many of them will be praying for a loss to Algeria, just so they can give everyone the old "I told you so!" speech.

  • Comment number 15.

    Everyone is entitled ti Phil's opinion, be that as it is I am worried that 23 grown men having traveled over 5000 kilometres to be at the ultimate soccer platform, can moan that they need to be told 24 hours in advance to be ready. I would have thought that the said 23 grown men know that they are NOT on holiday, having practiced and practiced they should be ready. After all even in the EPL players have succumbed to injury during the pre-match warm-up a few minutes before kick-off. Does it then mean that the coach cannot use a sub, simply because the sub was not informed 48 hours before the game? What a load of rubbish. All 23 players if fit should be ready every matchday whether they are selected to actually play or not. I can already see the english (press) explaining the inevitable early exit on the failure(?) of FC to name the team early.

  • Comment number 16.

    Morning from Cape Town. The focus of the piece is not so much on the selection of the keeper, but on the fact the Capello remains so firmly unmoved when his methods are even slightly questioned.

    He simply brushed aside the merest suggestion that he might have been better off naming his keeper, even though it was put to him - as Charly hints - that the uniquely pressurised position presents a different case.

    Are there any other positions you would be considering after last Saturday.

    The debate about all aspects of England's game can be held here today. The platform is yours.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ok i'll give an example of how important confidence is with keepers. For any of you that watch the premier league think of the spurs keeper Gomes. When he started out at spurs his confidence was rock bottom and he was a liability. The last season however his confidence soared and he was fantastic.

    It was down to confidence and becoming at ease in his surroundings.

    Now i don't know about the rest of you that think it's not an issue, but Green didn't exactly strike me as confident. I agree the tabloids do talk a lot of nonsense most of the time but i do think they have a point with regards the keeper situation. Anything Capello could do to help his no.1s confidence would've been a positive step i.m.o. but Green not being sure of his place until a few hours before kick of does go against the norm and possibly didn't help that. & yes Capello does know his stuff, as his record shows but i don't think there's ever been a manger that's every call he's made right, although Mourinho would maybe disagree with that.

  • Comment number 18.

    The fact he's considering Defoe is interesting. Defoe doesn't really do it over a premiership season, he plays in patches, but if one of his hot streaks coincided with this world cup it'd add a new dimension to our team.

    I don't know whether it is a smokescreen, to divert attention from other areas of discussion but i'd have thought not, i don't think Capello's really too fussed what anyone else says.

    If it is because of the ball, keeping it on the deck, it'd be a positive step, we all want to see England pass the ball around and play good football. Rooney does like Heskey because he can set him up & Defoe won't do that, but what it would mean is we will have to start working openings through movement and quick passing. Rooney's very adaptable he can be creator or finisher & having Defoe look to get in behind will stretch our opponents, giving the likes of Rooney and Gerrard more space to operate.

    It'd be interesting to see.

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil, yesterday a whole bolg about Rooney. Today it is Capello's turn. Allow me to guess tomorrow it will be about DeFoe? No way! Your Liverpool man Gerrard..
    Anyway, I am not one of those overly impressed by Capello and how he is going to do it for England. Why? Managers don't win you matches, players do. That is why Argentina will do better than England. Just to further my point. Capello's biggest achievement was to win the serie A with Roma. Otherwise he has coached teams that are expected to win, and should have won even without him. Capello's biggest challenge, by a mile, is the England job. In the next week we will know how he does.

  • Comment number 20.

    Are there any other positions you would be considering after last Saturday?

    I'm no expert, only watch the odd game on telly (and most England games are odd...) but want to see Joe Cole on the pitch tonight. He gives us fizz, and perhaps he'll help Frank Lampard get that Chelsea feeling and start really imposing himself.

    Capello's bent over backwards to get Heskey in the team. Wonder if he now wishes he could go backwards over Bent?

  • Comment number 21.

    great article as ever! enjoy reading your articles!

  • Comment number 22.

    i'm an american and you probably will think i'm foolish but i've been playing soccer since i was six and enjoy the epl and world soccer as a whole. If heskey is being considered over defoe because of wayne rooney, well, that's ridiculous. rooney can man up cause isn't he supposedly one of the best strikers in the world? Defoe is a goalscorer unlike heskey. I used to like heskey but he is past his prime. What does defoe need to do to start for england? score even more goals? or is it because he is young and black? It's ridiculous to me that capello didn't bring cole or bent when they are both capable of doing heskey's role and are much faster than him. Bent scored 23 goals on an ok team and rooney scored a few more on a very good team this season. The media put a lot of pressure on bent to perform in friendlies and qualifiers of which he only played a handful unlike rooney who plays all of the time for england and whom you all love even though he did absolutely nothing against the usa. I'm sick of young Black english players always getting overlooked in english soccer. I think that the USA is pretty racist and I used to think that europe was a less racist place but i think it's just more under the table. Capello is an idiot if he doesn't start defoe instead of heskey who made one mediocre assist to gerrard who was poorly marked. I'm 24 and am a pretty good soccer player. i would have played better than heskey that game. I would have made runs, crosses, passes and shots better than him. Btw, I love gerrard, joe cole, garreth barry, dawson, upson, lampard and james milner so please don't just say i favor black players. Sorry if it seems like i'm ranting but i'm fed up with england always losing.

  • Comment number 23.

    defoe scored 18 goals last season. how many did heskey score?

  • Comment number 24.

    Phil its good to question but Capello has to defend his selections and strategy . I have supported him although totally against a non-english manager ever since FA Head Crozier at the time ( scot ) sent us down that road with Erikson because of their non-understanding of english players mentality and also repetition of mistakes :
    HESKEY has never been an international standard , when we beat Germany 1-5 in Munich all the fans sang "EVEN HESKEY SCORED" REST MY CASE!
    GERRARD/LAMPARD We the fans watch this conundrum for years and it still doesn't work ???
    GREEN According to OPTRA He is the most "ERROR STREWN PLAYER IN THE PREM LEADING TO GOALS " This guy picked by Capello who leaves no stone unturned for information????
    TWO HOURS- before THE GAME to inform players to play, maybe yes this should not bother them/him but what about team formation and tactics --more questions than answers for Capello ???
    MILNER- Apparently had a virus why play him he was not himself and a yard slow ???
    JAMES- Injured but now in an interveiw he says he wasn't don't know who said it but???
    CARRAGHER- Out of position good experience but no pace marking a fast winger ??
    Sorry I remember a film with Peter Sellars as a Butler who became a life of Brian type character through default and his utterances were deemed profound and meaningful Capello appears to be this character along with Erikson who together have no grasp of the english players psyche . In summary I despair at the english FA and just hope our players give their all for the rest of the World Cup despite Capello's lack of understanding--- Defoe ,Rooney, Gerrard , Barry ,Johnson , Cole , J. Cole ,Upson ,Carragher, Lennon and James COME ON ENGLAND !
    By the Way my religion is FOOTBALL I'm with Shankly on this point ( tongue in cheek of course )

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    Cause and effect, cause and effect. People are obsessed by it. And the people most obsessed are usually totally wrong about the cause even if there is one. All players at this level should be ready to go and give their best at a moment's notice - sustitutes anyone?

    We are already into the realm of result being more important than performance but a palatable media reaction after tonight will only occur if we win easily and play well. If we don't I may well avoid the whole media circus (until Wednesday of course).

  • Comment number 27.

    Nicholas413, I have no idea where you're coming from with the racism angle. You question whether Defoe is kept out on racist grounds ("because he's young and black"), yet the incumbent, Heskey, is black himself. We have multi racial elements through the team, Lennon, SWP, ex-capt Ferdinand, Cole, Johnson, James. Racism may play a part in backward countries like the US, but there is absolutely no call to say it's present in the England team selection. You are ignorant and bigoted. We are world leaders against racism in sport, I refer you to our away game against Spain in Madrid, and the reaction to some of our black players being roundly abused by the home support.

    Also, why are you fed up with England "always losing"? You're not English (You open saying "I'm American"). We won 9 out of 10 qualifying games. We have yet to lose in the world cup. We drew our game. If you didn't notice it was against your country. It begs the question of why you're so bothered about England, do you even follow your own country? You sound like a disgusting glory supporter (first one I've ever heard of in connection with England mind you...).

  • Comment number 28.

    nicolas413

    That is one of the most bizarre postings i have ever read!!!

    You my friend are very strange.

  • Comment number 29.

    "The focus of the piece is not so much on the selection of the keeper, but on the fact the Capello remains so firmly unmoved when his methods are even slightly questioned"

    In which parallel universe would he bow to pressure? He is Fabio Capello. If you didn't know about that, or thought that the whole world did not know that, it is time to reconnect with your audience.

  • Comment number 30.

    What I am understanding from this article is it's beginning to dawn on you that the coach is the coach and the journalist is just a journalist. I am not criticising you. I have seen a similiar issue with Trappatoni in reference to Andy Reid for Ireland. Trappatoni is a guy full of confidence and stubborn to a fault, and I am beginning to understand when you look around, Ferguson, Capello, Trappatoni, these guys are not lovers of the huh and the slap on the back, the are thorny hard nosed confident intelligent individuals who will tell you where to stick it if they have to. Dunga too is of a similar mould, but I am not sure Maradona is. I think England should win Easily against Algeria....but this world cup is only lighting up now.

  • Comment number 31.

    Everyone is expected to be ready but prior knowledge of one's role in a match is certainly a help. It gets you thinking and devising ways of meeting situations that may crop up with respect to a particular adversary.

    A short illustration; I was leader and coach of a basketball team. Once before a big game I was sharing ideas with my team on how to take care of a particularly dangerous attacker. Days before time I nominated a defender. The next day my team had a fresh proposal and some one other than my nominee was straining at the leash that he would do it, no problem. I saw the confident look in his eye and approved the re-allocation. Great results, of course.

    In Capello's case it is the national team. He has to worry about the leakages and an over-zealous, prowling and garrulous media. Nevertheless I think 2 hours is cutting it too fine. I am sure that is what it says only on the box, 'not to be opened earlier than 2 hours before use'. Capello must be sharing it days in advance with the concerned player on a 'need to know basis'. It does entail some flexibility of thought and that should not always tantamount to pliability.

    He may well have been pertinent to the England situation but I do think the Kaiser was speaking out of turn. One is expected to be discreet at someone else's predicament. I cant imagine him opening his gob had the Germans not done so well in comparison. Moreover one could see the Germans were at ease with the Jabulani.

    I think England are sure to right their boat tonight and stay on course without much fuss.

  • Comment number 32.

    The problem with the English team is simple, the team is over-rated.
    A lot of expectations have been placed on a bunch over average players. How many of the starting 11 would be in the starting line ups of say Brazil, Spain or Argentina? Spain's or Brazil's 3rd choice keepers could easily walk into England's starting 11, its a bout time England started rebuilding a fresh squad and reduce dependence on the good old Gerards, James, Ferdinands and Lampards

  • Comment number 33.

    Further to post #1.

    If anyone thinks that the mistake made by Rob Green was caused by the fact he didn't know he was playing up until 2 hours before the game is just plain daft in my opinion.

    If you follow that logic through, Capello should be telling the substitutes well in advance of match day when they will be coming onto the pitch which I'm sure you'd agree is just as ridiculous an idea.

  • Comment number 34.

    2010, nicolas413 wrote:

    Given that Heskey is also black, I think you could talk about ageism, but not racism.

  • Comment number 35.

    Quite a poor blog, not telling us anything new - but on the two points which I think have been overdone.

    1 - Green, yes he made a mistake, but so have other keepers in the competition - I think Heskeys miss is far worse and yet ia getting less attention. A keeper makes a mistake its in the spotlight, an attacker misses an easy chance and he blames the ball and gets away with it.

    2 - Squad selection, if the squad know the policy, then there is nothing wrong with this policy. All 23 players should be focussed, all 23 players maybe called upon during the game it shouldnt matter if they are starting or not. These guys are professionals, its not like.. "oh Im playing, I was going to put my feet up and have a cup of tea!"

    Get over the mistake, get behind the team....

  • Comment number 36.

    Capello says all the players are focused and ready. Of course they are - but the question is would certain players benefit from being told they are playing?

    The other side of this is - would a player, say Green, become excessively nervous knowing he is playing? This is what Capello has had to weight up and he has decided it is best not to tell the players.

    Also there is a slight difference between naming a team publicly and telling the players in private. Capello may be concerned about leaks in the camp and wants to keep all these things confidential.

    Listening to Capello last night was to hear a very interesting lesson in managerial psychology.

    What about the game itself? What sort of danger do Algeria pose? Should England win this game comfortably?

  • Comment number 37.

    Has Capello crossed the borderline from firmness to mulish stubbornness?
    If he picks Gerrard to play behind Rooney, we'll know by the kick-off that the answer is "no".
    But most pundits are predicting that Gerrard will play up the left. What then, if he either performs as a marginal figure, or drifts into the centre too much and exposes Cole behind him? By the start of the 2nd half, if Gerrard is still out left, I'll be answering my question with a yes.

  • Comment number 38.

    Did Capello's decision to keep his cards close to his chest contribute to anxiety that caused Green to gift Clint Dempsey an equaliser?
    _______________________________________________________________________

    That is one of the silliest theories I've seen being aired on 606. Club team managers name their teams just prior to kick off and you dont see goalkeepers constantly dropping clangers because of that. I think the English press is struggling to find anything to talk about so any news will do and controversy is manufactured by those clutching desperately at(news)straws.

  • Comment number 39.

    Despite what anyone says, no one in here is as capable of managing England as well as Capello. He has proven himself at club level and also had an excellent qualifying campaign. Everyone was sceptical about his appointment as a foreign manager after Sven, but look how quickly that fear turned to joy after excellent results over the last 2 years.
    So what we didn't beat USA. They are one of the highest ranked '2nd' placed teams in any of the groups. Look at how France and Spain performed. Only Germany and Argentina have looked good and Germany was against a poor Australia team with 10 men. Brazil struggled, Portugal struggled, we did ok.
    Everyone has an opinion on who should play and who shouldn't. For me Heskey played really well last week and got an assist. Granted he missed a relatively 'easy' chance but without him we may not of scored the first goal.
    We can all question the manager's tactics because we all think we know more about football but how many of us can say we have predicited the right scores/results in the WC so far?
    Capello would not of got where he has by getting the big decisions wrong. He knows the players better than anyone because he sees them off the field. We dont and we cant say what is right or wrong, including when to tell the players. If they know 2 hours before does that get the blood pumping and get them geared up or does it make them nervous in training and make mistakes leading to exclusion. No one will ever know. If we beat Algeria convincingly today no one will care!

  • Comment number 40.

    Capello is showing strong leadership, but looking back to previous world cups Bobby Robson in particular changed his lineup and his formation on the advice of his players and as a result the team went from strength to strength.

    On the other hand maybe managers Like Sven were too influenced by certain sections of the dressing room, playing the media favourites even when they were obviously well short of fitness.

    So it's about striking a balance and as with any manager it'll be the results foremost but also the performances which dictate whether he's getting it right.

  • Comment number 41.

    Spot on KZWHITECLUB. It is obvious now how incompetent Caperllo is.
    I can't understand the 2 hour info to who would be playing or not. I mean how could the team gel during training if the ones-to-be-selected do not train as a team. Once they are on the field there wouldn't be any familiarity on each other's moves.
    And finally the 23 man selection utterly exposed Caperllo. What with taking an injury-prone defender who doesn't even train with the others for fear of getting injured!! Speaks volumes doesn't it.
    And he was extremely lucky that Rio got injured before the 1st game, otherwise we would be 1 defender less.
    His other selections such as Carragher leave me flabbergasted. This player is sooo slow - too evident in the USA game.
    And he's even afraid I reckon to drop under-performing players such as Lampard. Again, though Heskey heads and keeps the ball well, he finds it very hard to score - similar to Kuyt of Liverpool. Such players should never be chosen as they waster every goal opportunity the team gets, especially when these are at a premium. The same can be said of Crouch. How he's even considered for the England team I can't figure out. He's tall for nothing and he's doesn't have a strong shot; not even a strong header.
    All in all, Caperllo is really a very big disappointment. He's selected practically the same players that under-performed(most of them) under McLaren and Erikson.

  • Comment number 42.

    Well day 7 has come and gone and a "Come on England" day 8 has finally arrived. Back to day 7 though. The goals are starting to come thick and fast now. We have seen Argentina thump S,Korea and a soul destroyed French side get, well, soul destroyed really.
    Mixing day 8 and 7 together: Can england cope with the attacking football that is now starting to be played. Yes it's Algeria tonight ( shouldn't be too much of a problem ) and we should beat Slovenia. OK, so we go through. What then?.
    We have a team of players whom on paper will make it out of the groups. But so have a few other teams who, well, may not make it. Spain and France are 2 to note. OK, the Spaniards should wake up a bit and make it through but at the moment it looks like the year of the underdog.
    Maybe we can blame the ball, the altitude, the Goalies ( sorry Rob ), maybe even the commentators who always say how well a player is doing 3 seconds before the howler.
    At the moment it looks like Brazil or Germany to win but be warned.
    Watch out for the little guys.....

  • Comment number 43.

    16. philmcnultybbcsport wrote:
    The focus of the piece is not so much on the selection of the keeper, but on the fact the Capello remains so firmly unmoved when his methods are even slightly questioned.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    With all due respect Phil, what qualifies you to slightly(?) question Capello?
    He is an experienced and successful manager. You are a journalist.
    He has been at the very top of football management for some years. You have not.
    He has played at the highest level for club and country.etc etc

    Frankly rather than try to undermine Capello's knowledge, experience and authority, wouldn't the press be better served by actually supporting the manager and players, rather than sniping at thm and picking them apart?

    The vast majority of journalists wouldnt recognise a football if it turned up in their soup.

  • Comment number 44.

    Drop Lampard. Barry and Gerrard in the middle. Joe Cole down the left. Defoe up front with Rooney. 2-0 to England.

  • Comment number 45.

    What's this? A McNulty England blog minus the usual childish dig at Emile Heskey?

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    Today's game may be tricky due to the Algerians' type of possession football but I fully expect an 'italian' type of game from england: a goal in the first 30 minutes and another one at the beginning of the second half. 2 - 0
    I cannot understand why after the USA's game there is a lack of believe in the England team. I would have been worried if there wasn't urgency in England's play or if there were a lack of goalscoring opportunities.
    I'm reading that James will start today: understandable due to Green's lack of confidence but my main worry is who will partner Terry at the back.

  • Comment number 48.

    #Got to agree with #1, #3 and #6. And Phil, you yourself talk about Capello possibly worrying about leaks from the camp. Is this pressure for more notice for players down to the press sat twiddling their fingers struggling to fill pages the day before the game?

    And it's all gone quiet on the Spain front. Xavi, Iniesta, Torres, Villa, Casillas, Silva, Alonso, Fabregas....Senderos, Fernandez (a Man City discard), Barnetta, Hakan, ergh....Spain 0-1 Switzeland just to confirm what a lot of nonsense has been said by a large percentage of people on these blogs. A lot of the teams can beat each other so Algeria shouldn't be discounted. I remember them beating Germany in the WC before. I'm worried about Barry's fitness, but I think we'll be playing more like the qualifying England tonight with Lampard and Gerrard more advanced and Lennon having more opportunities.

    I'm just wondering if we're seeing a shift in power with the progressive football coming from South America, and European teams still looking to stifle.



  • Comment number 49.

    43. At 09:22am on 18 Jun 2010, you wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration.
    ___________________________________________________________________

    I pointed out Capello's credentials to manage England. I also pointed out that journalists probably arent as qualified. On balance this comparison is perfectly reasonable considering the incredible amount of criticism being levelled at the England manager over when he announces his team.

    Is this really a question for the moderators?

  • Comment number 50.

    6 million a year it's his birthday every day, playing the likes of the USA Trinidad etc for the last 2 years i think the jokes on you? Top side again tonight i see!

  • Comment number 51.

    Don't think it matters who the keeper is, I'm more concerned that England have a midfield that can actually pass the ball, to each other and to Rooney. I really don't want to watch the defenders fail to find Heskey with the long-ball for 90 minutes, again.
    I think with A.Cole and Johnson we have 2 of the best attacking full-backs in the competition. Playing 4-3-3 with 2 holding midfielders (Barry & one of Carrick or Milner) plus Gerrard or Lampard would allow both the fullbacks licence to attack. The 3 up front wouldn't need to be wide players so you could have Rooney and J.Cole playing behind one of Defoe/Heskey/Crouch.

  • Comment number 52.

    Sinogyny,

    Spot on with the player selection comment and spot on about Carragher's pace. While carragher is a superb defender it was made clear as you stated that the pace is no longer there.
    Capello has stated that pace is something he looks for in a player, hmmm.
    Gerrard is quick, Rooney is quick, Cole is quick ( but looked a bit slow against USA ) and Lennon is well Flamin quick.
    But thats about it.
    Looking at the squad selection, was leaving Walcott behind a bad move.
    The kid just needs a chance. A hat trick in qualifying and left behind.
    Hmmmmmm.. again..

  • Comment number 53.

    47. At 09:34am on 18 Jun 2010, Bigillu wrote:
    I'm reading that James will start today: understandable due to Green's lack of confidence but my main worry is who will partner Terry at the back.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    So someone who's nickname is "calamity" would fill the English defence with confidence? James' clangers in big games are legendary.

    I dont know why we dont take a leaf out of the German's book. Neuer is the same age as Joe Hart and he's in their first team. Quite frankly if he's good enough, he's old enough. If Green doesnt start, it should be Joe Hart.

  • Comment number 54.


    Fabio Capello is doing fine. It's time his players start displaying their true potential and accumulating victory after victory on the world stage. The fans would love to see the Fabio trained squad doing justice to their enormous talents.

    Let's wish Fabio a very happy birthday.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 55.

    There are no comfortable matches, even Argentinas dismantling of South Korea was touch and go till the 3rd goal. England on paper and recent results should win. You lot should be wondering why Rooney has not scored in an England shirt recently. Why in effect your coach is playing with two barren strikers, one of whom is probably exhausted.
    And why your defenders are so slow! But keep banging on about Green it's great camouflage.;-)

  • Comment number 56.

    Definently looks like James will start tonight ahead of Green, according to media Capello concerned about Green's confidence.

    While i disagreed with his original selection of Green and personally would have selected James, I think Green is unlucky to be dropped, however Capello gets the closest look at him in training and is watching how he handles the pressure. Perhaps in training under the spotlight of the coaches and other players, Green hasnt been able to handle it well enough, hence the decision to play David James.

    Capello is paid the big money to make these decisions, a win tonight and it will be justified.

  • Comment number 57.

    @Nicholas413: "What does defoe need to do to start for england? score even more goals? or is it because he is young and black?"

    Stupid, ignorant statement. Half the English team are young and black!

  • Comment number 58.

    The reaction to the Englands draw to the USA has been ridiculous. England did not play that badly and were let down by a goalkeeping error. England dominanted and created alot of chances. They don't have go all the way back to the drawing board, just to improve. Some of the press have been quite frankly over critical. I did not pay my licence fee for this.

    If the team stays focused and is confident but not complacent I think they can go far in ths tournament.

  • Comment number 59.

    Everyone has their own opinion on Robert Green and mine is he's nowhere near a world class keeper. But, the thing that really worries me is that if he keeps his place in goal what do you think the other teams will be saying? Exactly what every Saturday or Sunday league side says when they see a nervous, edgy keeper who's made a mistake - shoot, shoot and shoot again. It's going to encourage other teams to attack and take shots from anywhere, and as we get (hopefully!) further into the tournament the shots are going to get better!!

  • Comment number 60.

    I spoke to Mehdi Dahak, the editor from Algerian website DZ Foot a few months ago in view of writing a story on the Algerian team.

    He says that the national team's strength is its unity and passion. He says that previously, there was a dressing-room split between the French-based players and the domestic players, although this is not the case now. He pinpointed Ziani is Algeria's key man.

    Dahak says that England's defence is its weak point and that Gerrard, Rooney and Lennon represent the biggest threat. Interestingly, no mention of Heskey here ;)

  • Comment number 61.

    Phil,

    "but on the fact the Capello remains so firmly unmoved when his methods are even slightly questioned"

    I am sure that if other respected managers were questioning his methods he might take more of it on board (although not publically). The fact he was being questioned by football journalists who continually get things wrong (Liverpool for the title?!), most likely have never played or managed the game to that level probably had something to do with how dismissive he was.

    If I, as someone who can write but am not a journalist, started telling you what was wrong with the way you write or report, i am sure you would be equally dismissive of me.

    COME ON ENGLAND!

  • Comment number 62.

    So you think Green wouldn't have made the mistake if he knew a week in advance that he was going to play? I think the mistake would have happened anyway and don't think it was a factor.

    I don't see why Capello should have to commit himself to a starting XI, days in adavance of the game. He should be allowing to kep assessing the form, physical and mental condition as much as he needs to inform his team selection.

    According to the comments from pro footballers I've read, it's very common for coaches to announce their team a couple of hours before kick-off and wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference if he'd announced it earlier.

  • Comment number 63.

    Phil McNulty said: Capello was in feisty mood facing the media last night - criticism of his selection methods were met with an offer to replace him in his job. No takers.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Really?

    That's surprising considering the media's insistance that they know better than Capello about team selection and when the England XI should be announced! :)

  • Comment number 64.

    England have to beat Algeria, no excuses. How they do it is irrelevant. The fact is Capello has picked a squad of 23 established Premier League players, if they can't beat Algeria, then they shouldn't even be playing for Stockport County, let alone Chelsea and Manchester United.

  • Comment number 65.

    #44

    I completely agree. But it seems as though Lampard is undroppable. Putting Gerrard on the left is a waste. Joe Cole should definately start. But it won't happen.

  • Comment number 66.

    To nemesis wanted...in my defence I think even my harshest critics on here will say I never get too dismissive of people who criticise me - and there are plenty. I might disagree with them but I never dismiss them.

    Just seen plenty of Algerian fans around Cape Town and they all seem to be very upbeat about their team's chances. And after a relatively quiet start in Rustenburg, England's fans are also flooding into the city in their thousands.

    Who are the England players who need to up their game tonight?

  • Comment number 67.

    Couldn't comment directly on the story but just read the article from Bruce Grobbelaar saying David James should start. Hmmm do i want the opinion of a goalkeeper who was disgraced following a match fixing scandal?!? NO. Why does the BBC even allow his opinion to be heard? And if he is backing James it immediately makes me not want him.

  • Comment number 68.

    RE 66, I train with an Algerian guy who used to be a footballer, he reckons Algeria will do the business tonight. But frankly after their recent results, lack of ability to score, I can't see them pulling off a shock, unless it's 0:0 with 80 minutes to go. I would imagine the English should manage the Algerian defence pretty well.

  • Comment number 69.

    I wrote a piece on my blog a few weeks ago regarding the goalkeeping situation, I felt we would be much better placed going into the WC with a recognized No1. For me, that should have been Paul Robinson.
    As for naming the team late, this must restrict tactical training sessions to some degree. I mean sessions must then be focused solely on positions rather than personnel. Whilst this is beneficial in terms of continuity - injuries and subs etc - it's not incredibly flexible. Hence, the perceived reluctance to change the formation.
    That said, I'm of fan of keeping things simple where possible and this will certainly keep half of the squad on their toes - the problem is 8 or 9 are assured of a place anyway. However, the most important thing is what the players think and they seem very comfortable with it... At least until books need to be sold in the future.
    I personally would give Crouch the nod tonight, if the plan is to stick to 442 but I feel pushing Gerrard further forward could be our best option as we progress. Defoe is a very useful squad member but I just don't see him starting games as we enter the knockout stages. That said, a comfortable win is on the cards provided we start well and take our chances. I'm going with a flattering 4-0 win for me after some early resistance from an Algerian side staring at an early exit.
    I'm actually positive about England's chances but share some of the concerns posted on here.
    Come on England!
    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 70.

    Everyone is missing the obvious here.

    Capello doesnt name his team until two hours before the game. Well, he has already named Barry as starting, so why cant he put the goalkeepers out of their misery, and name which one he is going with?

    If he had named Green, then he could have spent the last few days getting his head right.

    Not naming the full side is understandable, as this gives forewarning to the opposition as to our tactics. There is no need to keep the goalie on tenterhooks until H-Hour.

  • Comment number 71.

    Can we please try and play Gerrard behind Rooney, Joe Cole on the left and just leave the old 'long ball to the target man' approach? Premier League tempo and aggression that all the players are capable of, intelligent link up play like our first goal and lets try and keep possession and be patient.

  • Comment number 72.

    Lots of reports around Cape Town that Green has been dropped in favour of James, although nothing confirmed as yet.

    Green had a poor training session, with Capello paying particular attention, in Cape Town last night, and the suggestion is that this has prompted a change of heart.

  • Comment number 73.

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

  • Comment number 74.

    Forget the Christmas Tree formation, England play the Traffic Light system:

    Graham Taylor - "Do I not like Orange?"
    Fabio Capello - "Do I not like Green?"

  • Comment number 75.

    England have a great coach and some great players. But they don't have good enough players to win the World Cup. Their best goalkeeper, Joe Hart, is the manager's 3rd choice. Glen Johnson is a defender who has limited defensive skills. John Terry isn't quick or skillful enough at the very highest level. Carragher is fantastic but too slow at this level. Dawson couldn't get a game at Spurs only 12 months ago. Without Barry or Hargreaves the midfield cannot function. Defoe, Lennon and SWP are physically inept.

    England need a way to focus their whole game around Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney. These are the only 3 players who give England hope.

    I predict England to be knocked out in the second round.

    But good luck.

  • Comment number 76.

    Grow up!!

    Capello's methods are well know - If any player has a problem with the approach they are free to refuse selection, didn't see any principled enough to do this prior to selection - not one refused, therefore they accept this approach, as should we.

    Cappello was chosen as manager because of these qualities - remember we wanted the overpaid prima donnas to at least look like it mattered, whether that has been achieved, we will see.

    Furthermore it might turn out that the game/result against the USA was OK after all, especially as they applied themselves and cut us down, don't forget a number of thier squad play in the premiership. They might just progress a little further than people give them credit for.

    However 'the sun' had already decreed that the match was easy, that's the problem here - Tactic's, like previous comment's, are never discussed any further than 'sun mentality'

  • Comment number 77.

    I could've sworn that Green himself said he is used to not knowing the squad, even during the Premier League season, so can't see how that lead to his mistake? Weird idea!

    I personally worry more about having Calamity in goal (especially with all the howlers that have been going on this week) than I would Green again, should be Hart. Experience doesn't beat quality.

    Capello needs to get some positivity about his tactics, play to the main players' strengths and then we'll see a different team and a much improved performance (I think and hope!)

  • Comment number 78.

    Regarding the "two hour rule". I am with Cappello 100% on this and for a very good reason that has been overlooked.

    So telling the players 2 hours before means the group prepare the same, good. Yes, some players say they would prefer to know a day in advance, and that they would then prepare differently again. However, remember that in this situation you also have unpicked players, not only spending the time "not preparing", but also possibly moping about feeling sorry for themselves and creating bad vibes, remember we are dealing essentially with children with big egos here.

    Cappello has this approach spot on, and who are we to tell him otherwise. His record is evidence enough for me, judge him on results.

  • Comment number 79.

    Who are the England players who need to up their game tonight?
    ----------------------------------------------

    All of them! Simple as that, none of them deserve credit for the USA game.

    I just hope Capello plays a formation to Rooney's strengths rather than to massage his own ego. We have one decent striker, so go 4-5-1, please!

  • Comment number 80.

    Great blog as always Phil. i think Capello is half manager half psychologist and believe in his own methods of how to approach a match even in the highest level. he is always calm, confident, and always looks like he is unbeatable. but the fact that you mentioned "should some players know in advance if they are starting", Capello's method of leaving it to the last 2 hours is all about who's on form and who isn't. but all that said, it might be alright if some key players knew they were going to start, maybe some players who Capello will predict to have difficulty playing at such important games.
    but I still don't think we should question his methods, specially when we're forgetting how great we qualified and most of us underestimated USA, who defended with 10 men in their own half but still...
    And about Franz Beckenbauer, he should have kept his opinion to himself, you never know, it will come back to haunt him...

  • Comment number 81.

    So has Green been told he is out? It is being suggested he was told this morning, although unconfirmed. Has Fabio Capello waived his "two hours before the game" rule on this occasion?

    He cannot go back to Green in South Africa if he does not trust him to play tonight. And what happens if James makes a similar error against Algeria? Does Capello apply a similar "one strike and out" rule, as he has effectively done with James? I don't see that - presumably he would feel James would cope with it better than Green, who looked nervous at Green Point last night.

    Let's hear your views on this development. All welcome.

  • Comment number 82.

    Your wrote:

    “So has Green been told he is out? It is being suggested he was told this morning, although unconfirmed. Has Fabio Capello waived his "two hours before the game" rule on this occasion?”

    Surely this only proves Capello’s point that telling people in the trusted position of being inside the England camp does not guarantee that the news will slip out. Personally, I hope Green was told to allow him to prepare and as a test to see what he’d do next. Once again he’s failed spectacularly.

    If anyone starts bleating about harsh comments, answer me this: When did it become acceptable to defend millionaires that perform so badly and to such devastating effect on the countries reputation (even the USA knew it was alright to laugh)? Is Green in fact a banker?

  • Comment number 83.

    At post 32 Marko,

    The champions league is accepted as the barometer of what is and what isnt a world class footballer. In the england X1, terry, ferdinand, carragher,cole, johnson, j cole, lampard, gerrard and rooney have all excelled at this level and are quality players. I also think Barry, Lennon and to a lesser extent Milner can be considered as top level players, if not world class.

    Btw "World class" for me is a band of players at the top level of the game. there is a "class" above that reserved for the iconically brilliant players of the era, occupied currently by perhaps Messi, Xavi and Ronaldo.

    I think Gerrard is world class but not "elite" for example..same with Rooney..and Torres...and Higuain...Aguero...A Cole..etc

    I would take Gerrard and lampard over Busquets and Xabi Alonso on the evidence of Spain's first match anyway!

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 84.

    And I know its the trend to be anti ashley cole but before people rubbish my suggestion Id like them to offer an alternative with it. Better than Heinze and Capdevila.

  • Comment number 85.

    To VillainV...I've been told by several posters not to mention Gerrard playing behind Rooney ever again because I'm getting a bit boring. Oh...just done it again.

    Let's hear those goalkeeper views.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Would Robert Green have been better served by knowing well in advance he would be playing in Rustenburg?"

    No. He's a professional footballer. He's a human being, so in his first world cup match would have been a little nervous of course, but the game was well under way.

    James is vulnerable for different reasons. His desire to rush out and punch anything that moves is a worry but I still feel more confident knowing he's in. Just as long as we don't concede too many set pieces.

  • Comment number 87.

    @67 The BBC perhaps want the goalkeeping opinion of Bruce Grobbelaar because he played at the highest level, winning countless trophies with Liverpool.

    Sure, he was a prune of the highest order to get himself embroiled in any match-fixing scandal, but to say you wouldn't want James simply because someone of whom you disapprove rates him is a bit of a pointless statement really.

  • Comment number 88.

    "Would Robert Green have been better served by knowing well in advance he would be playing in Rustenburg?"

    Once again. This whole advanced knowledge thing is ridiculous. I expect any of the England 23 to be psychologically ready to get on that pitch in a moments notice.

    Its a farce to suggest that these highly overpaid prima donnas shouldn't be anything than prepared for it. If they aren't psychologically up to that, then they shouldn't go at all.

    Whatever happens at the World Cup, we need to go into the Euro 2012 qualifiers with Joe Hart as England's Number 1 and blood him to be there for the forseeable future. 10 - 15 years if needs be.

  • Comment number 89.

    I don't understand some or indeed most of the comments on here about the outfield players. Starting up front, if you want a striker other than Rooney who scores goals at international level it's Crouch. Not Defoe. Neither of them are particularly good at the holding the ball up stuff, but whereas Defoe always looks lost at this level, Crouch always seems better than he does at club level. Heskey on the other hand has been involved in many of England's best performances of the last 10 years, which is unlikely to be coincedence (let's remember his return under Mclaren coincided with a marked upturn in performances at that time). Also the chance he missed wasn't exactly a sitter given he was outside the bos with two defenders close by (we've all seen him miss a lot worse mind). Gerrard and Rooney might have done better, not sure anyone else in the squad would have scored it.

    Lennon, Lampard and SWP were all poor against USA but don't appear to subject to the same rules, although SWP will clearly not play tonight. Rooney was also subdued, though clearly we do subject him to different rules. I really would play Cole rather than one of them, like Crouch he appears to play better at international level.

    My bigger concern is that Capello had a system that worked in qualifiers and now appears to be wavering without having anything to replace it with. All efforts to have found a batter style having so far come to nothing, would it not be a good idea to actually stick with what worked then? Particularly for a game that could really kick start the tournament for England.

  • Comment number 90.

    I would hazard a guess that he has told Green eithier last night or this morning. He did say he would tell Green before the annoucement of the team.

    Personally I dont get all of the "2 hours before kickoff" debate. When England qualified, this was the case than - the players are used to it and would expect it now. Its the media demmand for instance news that has now made this one of the number stories around the team.

    If you are an England player and you are not ready when the time comes, than you really shouldnt be out there. We took a 23 man squad, every player should know what he is doing when the time comes.

    It seems if and when England get knocked out of the tournament - this will be one of the many sticks used to beat Capello with.

    It would not be England if it didnt happen...

  • Comment number 91.

    All James' selection shows is that he is Capello's first choice for the tournament and that, if fit, he would have started against the USA. Green was always second choice. If Capello has told him that, and that he's not being dropped for the error, but because James is fit again, then what's the problem?

  • Comment number 92.

    Something which has hardly been mentioned, if at all, about Dempsey's shot is that there was no closing down of him by defence or midfield. One picture shows Lampard standing there watching on rather than actually moving and applying pressure on the attacking side. The work-rate is lacking, and Barry coming in won't make any significant difference as this will be his first match back from injury, and he is hardly going to fly into tackles or run from box to box. Capello's folly has been to pick a squad of injured players and those incapable of performing at this level. The fact that Lennon was unable to find any England player with a cross, or Terry and King unable to win a header, are just as bad as Green's error, but are not met with anywhere near the criticism he has experienced.
    Green got Carragher out of the brown stuff with a decent save which perversely will probably result in Carragher retaining his role at centre half. There is no pace in either of the centre half positions in the entire squad. If England somehow get out of this group any half decent international side will take one look at the middle of this defence and target it with even reasonably quick forwards and central midfielders.
    As for James, he isn't nicknamed Calamity for no reason. All three goalkeepers are as susceptible to nerves as each other, all goalkeepers are. It is the position under most scrutiny and there is not one goalkeeper in the world, either playing, retired or dead who have never made a mistake like that. I have seen far worse goalkeeping than Green's mistake this world cup which haven't even been commented on. Forlan's goal was watched by the South African goalkeeper all the way in. Why didn't he jump, if only to tap the crossbar. If you look at any league match, goalkeepers always do this, or make saves even though the ball is not going in, just to reassure themselves. Schwarzer came flying out of his goal and got nowhere near the ball against Germany, Casillas went in feet first twice against Switzerland, when going in with his hands would probably have stopped this goal, and even the Nigerian goalkeeper yesterday, who has been pulling off save after save, succumbed.

  • Comment number 93.

    Come on Phil, get on track.

    As many here have said, it doesn't matter when you find out your are playing. The squad is the team and they all know what their job is when they are called upon. So let's stop whining and bleating, let Capello and the players do their job and if they do it well enough, we may go all the way. If not, well it's not like we're used to winning these competitions is it?!
    Get behind the team and enjoy the ride! It's sure to be bumpy but it may just give you the best feeling ever at the end of the tournament.

  • Comment number 94.

    How important is the issue of the selection 2 hours before kick off? Not at all. Looking at the team that played against the USA, you would think only Milner was the suprise selection. So that is not an issue.

    The GK should be Green as its about time we picked a no.1 and stuck with him rather than rotating which isnt helping anyone especially during a World Cup.

    I think Algeria will struggle tonight because their main thing is their defence. Thats where all their srongest players are such as Bougherra, Belhadj, Yahia (the captain) and Halliche. Also, the likes of Yebda, Lacen or Mansouri are all defensive midfielders so again there lies the impetus on defence. Only Ziani can be the creative attacking outlet for Algeria but players like Matmour and Djebbour will always press and harry defenders for the 90 mins so any errors like Demichellis' for Argentina yesterday could be punished. But otherwise Algeria will look to defend, and look for goals on the counter, from errors or from set-pieces.

    This defensive mentality shold encourage England to play a 4231. Having players in the middle third will allow England to have possession in Algerias half rather than in their own half. For England to win this match, they would have to attack, attack, attack as Algeria wont preset a goal threat so England dont need to worry about defending so they should push players forward at every oppurtunity which is what they didnt do against the USA and were punished for sitting back being happy with a 1-0 lead. For England tonight, PATIENCE is the key for the win.

    I have a split loyalty for this match as I am English and Algerian so I will be supporting football tonight and hope to see a thrilling, passsionate game.

    Last point, I have been impressed by the standard of refereeing as I think it has been (bar Cahill's red card) perfect so far and long may it continue.

    Oh. and Happy Birthday Fabio.

  • Comment number 95.

    As most players have said in response to this issue, they don't get much more than 2 hours notice when playing for their clubs so why should they worry about it when playing for their country. All players should be ready to play, whether they are in the original line up or not. It is not unknown for someone to get injured after the announcement.

    The main people making an issue of it are the pundits who just have to have something to complain about. If Capello announced the team 24 hours in advance and they lost, then there would be complaints about announcing the team too early. Let him do the job for which he is being paid. If the players can't take the pressure, then they should not be in the squad.

    As far as Green's 'mistake' is concerned, it seems to me that the goal-keeping standard in this tournament has been poor, and very few keepers seem to be able to catch the ball cleanly. I have seen loads of dropped, or mishandled takes; and a few last minute adjustments and frantic punching of the ball.

    I find it amusing to hear that the 'BBC understands' what Capello's team selection will be, many hours before the team is told. What is the name of the clairvoyant that they are using?

  • Comment number 96.

    @nicolas413
    I take incredibly exception to your idea that its racism. How can one black player not playing for another black player be racist?

    As a supporter of West Brom, the club that pushed racial boundaries in the 70s with Cunningham, Batson and Regis all playing together and being the first club to play more than 1 black player at a time. I find it disgusting you'd sink to such a low for no reason other than your own racism.

  • Comment number 97.

    All of you thinking that any fan the questions FC's tactics or style should have a CV comparable to FC is missing the point, after all you do not have to be a qualified chef to discuss the quality or lack thereof of a meal. Be that as it may the whole world has been fed on the EPL courtesy of sky TV, and the style of play of each player on show has been analyzed in the minutest of detail. That being the case every team has to play to its strength, and only adjust as the game develops, e.g what to do if they take the lead, fall behind, or lose a player to injury or sending off. Any team that has to base its line 100% on that of the opposing team is in many ways giving up even before the game has started. So it is difficult to understand what is gained by hiding the line-up until the last minute. As I have said in an earlier posting any player in South Africa must surely be ready to perform on the highest soccer platform, and has been seen already, Brazil has opted to be efficient rather than exciting, Spain chose to be slick and swift, without being effective (so far at least), England have chosen to deploy players out of position as a tactic to confound the opponents, so far the english players look confounded themselves. So even sky TV viewers must surely be allowed to comment even if we do not have UEFA pro licenses.

  • Comment number 98.

    The way I see it, for too long now, the balance of power has been with the England players rather than the manager, and it's gotten us nowhere. So if Capello wants to us an iron fist and do things his own way while everyone else bleats about it, fair enough. If that doesn't work either perhaps we should just get used to being a second-rate national team who do quite well, rather than world-beaters with an actual chance of winning.

    One thing's for sure though, I don’t think anyone benefits whatsoever from the media trying to undermine everything for the sake of an article, which sadly seems to be the trend for this tournament. I realise journalists need to justify their own existence and the cost of them being out there to cover the tournament but questioning Capello for every decision he makes simply for the sake of it is really unnecessary.

  • Comment number 99.

    So someone who's nickname is "calamity" would fill the English defence with confidence? James' clangers in big games are legendary.

    I dont know why we dont take a leaf out of the German's book. Neuer is the same age as Joe Hart and he's in their first team. Quite frankly if he's good enough, he's old enough. If Green doesnt start, it should be Joe Hart.

  • Comment number 100.

    If 9and its a big if) Green really does need more than two hours to prepare mentally, then he can't be in the team. More than that, he can't be on the bench because he would only get 30 seconds warning if James/Hart gets a red card. Green would not have been my frst choice, but he has not become a bad keeper since going to SA. If Capello thought he was the best before, he must still be best now.

    I don't want Gerrard stuck on the left wing tonight! If Capeelo persists with 2 up front and Barry in the middle, Lampard and Gerrard show fight it out for the other central spot. Seems like we have made no progress on this in 6 years!

 

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