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Clueless England on the brink

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Phil McNulty | 23:09 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Cape Town

Fabio Capello looked every inch as clueless as his players as he groped around for reasons behind the World Cup torture England had just inflicted on Cape Town.

For the first time in his reign as coach Capello looked totally nonplussed, even a little out of his depth, under interrogation after one of the worst England displays in recent memory.

Capello clutched desperately at straws as he cited the pressure of a tournament that apparently reduces players who fly in training to the sort of embarrassing incompetence that characterised every moment of England's draw with Algeria.

No excuses justify the sort of performance England put on in the opulent surroundings of Cape Town Stadium - or the behaviour of Wayne Rooney as he chose the most inappropriate of moments to publicly insult the country's loyal travelling support.

Capello got the message about just how bad this was when he was asked if he would resign if England fail to reach the knockout phase, a fate that will almost certainly befall them if they fail to beat Slovenia next Wednesday.

"It is too early to speak about this" was his answer. It is certainly not too early to contemplate the grim possibility that England might be back home with more than one British tennis player still involved at Wimbledon. The outlook could really be that bad.

Rooney's antics at the final whistle capped as desperate a night as he has had for club and country in recent times. He has rarely looked so out of sorts, with even the ball control that usually comes as naturally to him as breathing looking way beyond him.

rooney_hanging_head595reute.jpgIt was a frustrating night for star striker Wayne Rooney

Frustration, and what appeared to be another injury, may have got the better of him, but there is no defence for taking it out on fans who were simply delivering a brutally honest verdict on what they had just witnessed.

Rooney was well within his rights to approach the television cameras and address England's support - but only if he was going to deliver a heartfelt apology for what they had just paid lots of hard-earned cash to endure.

Instead, he appeared angry and mystified that they chose to deliver such a resounding raspberry in England's direction. What did he expect? He should reflect on this and deliver that apology at the earliest opportunity.

There is, of course, the school of thought that fans should never turn on their own team. But there is also the theory that you pay your money and take your choice - and no-one should condemn England's fans who have travelled thousands of miles only to watch what they were served up in Cape Town.

Rooney's poor performance took its place on a long list of concerns hanging over a World Cup campaign that has not got started from the moment captain Rio Ferdinand was injured on the first day of serious work in Rustenburg.

It is also one that will come to a premature end unless Capello can fashion a major improvement between now and next Wednesday.

If Capello's somewhat unorthodox arrival at his selection of goalkeeper, with David James replacing Robert Green, was the major talking point before the game, it is among the least of the Italian's worries now.

England's performance flatlined throughout. Not one ounce of inspiration could be detected in players who looked jaded from the opening moments and for periods Algeria looked the more composed and ordered side.

Steven Gerrard attempted to drive England forward on rare occasions, but Frank Lampard's impact was non-existent apart from a shot in the first half that ended as the only serious threat to Algeria.

Gareth Barry failed to establish the platform and stability which was supposed to make England blossom, while up front Emile Heskey was as hard-working as ever but no longer looks like he has got a goal in him.

Capello threw on various forwards in the shape of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch as England became mired in desperate straits, but they were so poor that Franz Beckenbauer's scathing criticism of their style might have actually been viewed as glowing praise on this evidence.

The fact that a bird flew into the middle of the action and landed on the top of Algeria's net, then perched blissfully undisturbed, was a fitting symbol of England's impotence.

Capello has had England's players together for what seems like an age, but familiarity almost looks like it has bred contempt. The mood is wrong. This was a stale offering, and the comfort in which Algeria survived must set the alarm bells ringing.

Of course such condemnation could end with the critics looking foolish. It has happened before in 1986 and 1990 to name but two World Cups. We might look back on this night and laugh when Gerrard lifts the World Cup next month - but to imagine England shaping any success on the basis of what they have produced so far takes a mammoth leap of the imagination.

England were not even capable of mastering basics. Passes went astray with painful regularity, simple balls were wasted by dreadful control and there was even a moment when Gerrard and Barry were confused by each other's mere presence in midfield.

Capello cannot pass that off as pressure. It is not the result of fatigue at the end of a long season. It is simply not good enough.

And Capello himself is suddenly fallible and vulnerable. Ever since his ill-fated flirtation with the Capello index he has lost the assured touch that saw England sail through qualifying.

There was a cut-and-paste appearance to England's World Cup squad selection, with injured players picked and old timers such as Paul Scholes receiving calls to try and tempt them out of retirement.

What did that scream out to the players who had taken England to the World Cup so impressively?

As was stated after the draw against the United States, if England's players need to improve drastically, then the same applies to their coach.

Of course this could all have been excused had England delivered out here - instead they have not even spluttered into action yet.

How Capello responds to this shocking night will shape much of his future as England coach. No-one is suggesting his job would be in immediate jeopardy should England fail to beat Slovenia, but such a failure would represent a damaging scar on his reputation and would take major repair.

Capello's prime task is to get to the bottom of what is troubling Rooney. England will operate in vastly reduced circumstances if he continues to perform so poorly. If he can reignite this world-class player's spark, then Capello could yet be in business.

Rooney carries an unbreakable spirit into his game - but even that looked snuffed out last night. Capello must work on mind and body before England's next test.

It was only reputation that kept Rooney on the pitch against Algeria. No-one could have complained had Capello removed him.

Old hat in this blog I know, but surely now is the time for Capello to reshape his side and give Rooney more potent support in the shape of Gerrard?

Heskey was by no means the worst England player against Algeria, but his main purpose, on the basis it is certainly not scoring goals, is to bring the best out of Rooney, Is that happening? Not so far.

And has Joe Cole caused some form of grave offence behind the scenes to seemingly disappear so comprehensively off Capello's radar?

England's lack of variety in their opening games has called out for the unpredictability and creativity he can provide, so why has Capello chosen to ignore him in favour of Wright-Phillips, who has produced little to back up his coach's preference?

Cole's presence could release Gerrard further forward and perhaps even take some of the shackles off the subdued Lampard. Capello would still face problems on the right because Aaron Lennon has not delivered on any level yet, but there is room for manouevre.

England's players and Capello may take such severe, and merited, criticism for this display and use it as a tool to actually kickstart their World Cup. This does not make the criticism wrong - any search for positives from their second game would end up on stony ground.

If there is a chink of light among the gloom that will accompany England on their return to Rustenburg, then it is the knowledge that they still have a very good chance of reachiing the last 16.

Capello will know, as will his players, that they will not grasp that opportunity if a performance as wholly unacceptable as this is served up in Port Elizabeth.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

David James: One early moment of uncertainty apart, no serious problems. 6.

Glen Johnson: Poor in possession and troubled by the occasional Algerian attack. 5.

John Terry: Not his greatest night, but performed adequately. 6.

Jamie Carragher: Booked and now misses pivotal Slovenia game. 6

Ashley Cole: Won England's man of the match award. Hardly saw off stiff competition. 6

Aaron Lennon: Poor once again. Ironically hauled off after his one decent cross. 4.

Frank Lampard: Should have scored with a close range effort in the first half. His World Cup has not started. 5

Gareth Barry: Still looked short of fitness and gave the ball away too much. 5

Steven Gerrard: Plenty of effort but quiet. Needs to be utilised better and yes I will say it again, behind Rooney. 5

Wayne Rooney: When did he last play as badly as this? Could not do a thing right and rounded it off with an ill-advised attack on England's fans. 4

Emile Heskey: Honest trier but not a goal threat. Time for a change. 6.

Substitutes:

Shaun Wright-Phillips: Wastes possession and delivery too often and delivery not good enough. 5

Jermain Defoe: Lively cameo. 6

Peter Crouch: Not given any time to make a serious impact. No rating.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.


Comments

Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    Gerrard gave his all tonight but that meant he played wherever he wanted.

    The FIFA heatmap of his position puts him mostly around the right of the centre, in the opposition half. Surely if he was playing "just off Rooney" as everybody has been calling for, this is exactly where he'd be? And Rooney, once again, played unbearably deep for a striker. His passing and first touch was awful, yet he was coming deep to receive the ball so often that England struggled to kick start any attacks.

    England are at their best when they play with width, get the ball to the edge of the box and then put it wide for a cross. With no left winger England were impotent and became more and more panicky as the game went on. Problem is, there's no left winger in the squad!

  • Comment number 2.

    No balance, no shape- when will England learn lampatd and gerrard can't play together! Drop lamps and get some balance to the team- in the end it was 3 strikers 1 winger 2 central attacking midfielders- what formation is that??? Johnson was awful, turned inside out all night but who can he drop him for? Brazil have left ronaldinho at home because he doesn't fit in the system, England should play players in their position not play them because of who they are, a disgrace!

  • Comment number 3.

    my my my what was that all about!!!!... so much to talk about.. but will stay positive and rally the troops on wed.. just to follow up on what mr phil said.. i think don coppello needs to shake up the team abit for the next game.. pure direct football of 4-3-3, take out hesky (although i like the chap) and put in joe cole to give us abit of samba flare... could do with glenn johnson having a rest and put in hard working minler out at right back... gerrard & roony connecting, joe cole & lenon providing lampard supporting and barry holding... how simple can it be!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    it was so frustrating the lack of passion the players showed....it really was , as you say Phil, one of the poorest England performances in years. This is the worlds biggets football competition and i would of thought the players would of been busting there guts out to get a result. That just did not happen.

    We are still in with a shout and we really are far far better than any of these teams in this group. The players need to take a long look at themselves and ask a simple question. Do i want to win the World Cup? ....the answer is a simple one ...and with that answer they should start playing like they want too.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    i don't think anyone could disagree that england were awful . Up until about the 80th minute i just assumed they would somehow still win , just thought it was impossible to play that bad for 90 minutes. Capello has been doing strange things leading up to the world cup and getting stranger. All this nonsense of not telling players they are playing till just before the game seems weird as well. That doesnt set a relaxed confident attitude.

  • Comment number 7.

    great blog, capello is clueless, lampard has been one of worst england players in both games and should be dropped, play gerrard in middle hes been england's best player in the two games, scored a goal and actually plays decent creative passes.

    drop heskey he shouldnt even been in the squad and his performances have shown it

    play joe cole hes clearly the best player to play on the left wing

    dont let swp anywhere near the pitch hes rubbish, atleast give milner another try on the wing if lennon not playing well

  • Comment number 8.

    Phil, well said. Something is not right with Rooney, hell, something is not right with most of the players who have 'featured' so far. There is no confidence, belief, technique, familiarity, and the most effort has come from Heskey. Which sadly is a wasted effort. Major changes are needed. Joe Cole has to be involved, wide players need to try to get wide, and Frank Lampard should not take another corner. And someone needs to be honest about what is troubling Rooney, else there is no point his being on the pitch.

  • Comment number 9.

    'Capello's prime task is to get to the bottom of what is troubling Rooney.'

    It seems that Capello is the only person in the world that hasn't realised that its 2010 and not 2008. Heskey was clearly very effective during qualifying to bring out the best in Rooney but this past season has shown that Rooney is best, and enjoys, being up front on his own. With Lennon right and Joe Cole left and Gerrard through the middle I think England would cause anyone problems.

    I don't wish to bash the manager but his squad selection was poor and his theory of naming the team 2 hours before kickoff seems flawed, the team today looked like a team of strangers. Name the next 11 now and give them 3 days to train and play together.

    For what its worth my 11 would be

    Green/James - doesn't matter now, problems are elsewhere

    Johnson
    Dawson
    Terry
    Cole A

    Lennon
    Carrick
    Barry
    Cole J

    Gerrard

    Rooney

  • Comment number 10.

    I can sympathise to an extent with Rooney's response.

    It's certainly true that England's travelling fans are rubbish as supporters, and have *plenty* of previous when it comes to booing their own team.

    But he is hardly the one in a position to point the finger, given how poor his own performance was on the park.

    What it comes down to - yet again, as it has always done - is England's ludicrous overestimation of the quality of its football team.

    The "supporters" are booing the players because they think they have massively underperformed.

    But the hard truth is that it is a mediocre team, woefully lacking in the technical skills considered basic on the continent and in south america, and lacking also in strength of character.

    England is not a great footballing nation - and never has been - the record of major tournaments shows this clearly.

    And the sooner the english fans can engage their brains on this simple fact, the sooner they can start living up to the name of "supporters", and getting behind a team of mediocre players doing their best.

  • Comment number 11.

    It was painful to watch. The passing was woeful and there was just something wrong.

    I dont think it's Capello, it's the players. They're just not clicking and it's like watching a group of people who have never played with each other

  • Comment number 12.

    spot on Phil, your blogs sometimes fail to catch my imagination, but this is all so true.

    What I don't understand is what Capello is seeing in training that we're all not? I think 99.99% of the English public would like to see Gerrard (the best player for England vs. the USA, in the middle) in his best position which he plays week in week out, Lampard with freedom, and Rooney in the position he also plays every time for his club. Why oh why is Gerrard out on the left side (leaving it dangerously exposed, by no fault of his own).

    Where has Joe Cole gone? He has the craft to unlock defences and we could have used him against Algeria. Pace is just not enough against teams who play like the Africans did tonight - we needed something more.. and we failed to get it once more.

    The concentration levels were below acceptable, Rooney was atrocious and we played with no purpose.

    All is not lost, but Slovenia are a very nifty team, and will frustrate us a lot more than the Algerians did.. but who knows, they need a result and could play quite open, giving us more room than we've had so far.

    We've seen it all before.. negatives aside, we're still unbeaten, we can only get better, no other ''top ranked'' team has impressed in this tournament. Capello needs to swallow his pride and go all out on sorting this mess out.

  • Comment number 13.

    Capello's reluctance to play 4-5-1 is verging on stubborn now - everyones saying it but still he refuses to abandon his 4-4-2. There seems little point in bypassing a midfield of such supposed quality by lumping it up to Heskey to lose. He may be good as an impact player, and as much as he seems a nice bloke, Heskey just looks a bit clueless at this level. Englands best players are Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard. The players most likely to score goals for England are Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard. So why play a system that A doesnt suit them and B theyre not that used to. Most premiership teams play 4-5-1 every week, why should it be so difficult for England to do that. I think what ever happens he has to change something, just to provide some sort of impetus. Joe Cole is totally proven at major international tournaments where hes appeared to have the self confidence (unlike some) to deal with the pressure. He should play on the left where he had been successfully before injury. Heskey should be dropped, and Gerrard and Lampard support Rooney. If this doesnt happen another 0-0 against Slovenia looks innocuously likely.

  • Comment number 14.

    Come on everyone, keep the faith we will win Wednesday no problem. Rooney im taking your comment at the end of the game as passion.

  • Comment number 15.

    Many suggest that foreign players coming into the English Leagues is the problem. I'd suggest the real problem is that so few of England's players venture beyond your shores.

    The thing that impressed me most about England in the 2006 WC was that two of it's best and most FEARLESS players were Hargreaves and Beckham, two players that had recently plied their trade abroad. Too often England's boys look as such... like BOYS... overwhelmed and out of their element in major international competition. They lack the footballing worldliness that comes with playing in another culture under a different and more objective kind of scrutiny than they receive at home. The home-boy hype, padded goal tallies (default penalty taker) and exorbitant salaries for the pleasure of contracting England's own is negated. As well a bit of reality and time away from Mother England would better prepare them for such major events.

  • Comment number 16.

    I really hoped England would do well this time and Capello would make a differnce but at the back of my mind was always the niggling thought that these are the same players who couldn't string 3 passes together 4 years ago in Germany. The same players who look like rabbits startled in the headlights of playing for England in a major tournament. They clearly have psychological issues and I think its time to rebuild with younger players who have not been trumatised by the failures of the past.

    I don't blame Capello I don't think he should take all of the blame. His methods have worked in the past and he has tried them in qualifying with success and here now with more pressure and more expectation, its his players that have faultered.

    However I think if he made some changes he can get us through to the next stage and save some face, and face saving is probably the best he can do. It is apparent to everyone and their granny that the team is unbalanced and square pegs don't fit into round holes. Why can't Capello see that Gerrard, Rooney and Lampard aren't playing well because they aren't playing in thier normal positions and it has to be one of either Gerrard or Lampard in midfield? The sooner one of them retires the better.

  • Comment number 17.

    Also I don't enjoy all this Heskey-bashing. He might not score but then neither does anyone else. At least when he plays England can keep possession to build attacks. Once he goes off they struggle to put 3 passes together.

    Defoe hasn't been on good form for months and its a mystery as to why he came on. He had his chances and did no better than Heskey in front of goal but offered none of his link up play.

    I'll still never understand taking off Lennon for Wright-Phillips. Such a waste of a substitution, just as Lennon was getting into the game as well.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    No passion, no pride, no heart & No English spirit.... just poor

  • Comment number 20.

    Surely Wednesday cannot be the end of our world cup dream.

    We didn't wait all this time for 2-3 miserable draws. Keep the faith boys!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's imagine the alternative - imagine if the England fans had instead been real supporters - imagine if they had stayed behind for 10 minutes after the whistle, singing their support for their team.

    The England players would have been even more humbled by that than they were by the booing - but they would also have been inspired by the fans loyalty - and I think it would have proved a powerful motivation when they ran out onto the pitch against Slovenia.

    As it is - well, let's just say "they may struggle."

  • Comment number 22.

    Your forthright opinions are duly appreciated by this reader Phil.

    Blogs, social networks and pub chatter across the country circulates around the 'Rooney-supported-by-Gerrard' attack with Barry and Lampard holding the reigns in midfield.

    Frank has come in for criticism and will undoubtedly, if England are KO'd early, be the scapegoat for our failure. However, he is not the same as Gerrard - that's not to say they can play together as a two, but the Chelsea man's deeper lying starting position will suit him more with the Liverpool skipper roaming around the pitch as he wishes.

    Agreed the Three Lions ever-reliable Ashley Cole (has been since 2004 apart from a poor Wembley showing against Kazakhstan??) was our best player while Glen Johnson was less so on the other flank.

    Two things for the Slovenia game. Bring Joe Cole in for much needed flair. But the centre half situation is precarious to say the least. No doubt form will be make up Capello's mind when he debates over Dawson v Upson?

    Lennon needs more time and ball in wide positions - it goes without saying Rooney must keep his place. On his own. Up front. As he has done all season for Manchester United.

  • Comment number 23.

    Why are Lampard and Rooney fixtures in the England team, despite continually failing to turn up on the big occasion, yet the clamour for Heskey to be replaced increases to rise?

    He may not be the most gifted player on the planet but he actually bothers to turn up and put in a shift. His ability to hold the ball up and win the ball in advanced positions made England's best changes in the game today, and he was the star performer against the USA.

    Drop the players who don't perform, no matter how big their name and reputation, and pick those who turn a shift in. Let us at least be proud of the efforts of our players, not have to suffer the abject disappointment and lack of pride they seem to have in the England shirt they wear.

  • Comment number 24.

    I don't know why so much is made of the short notice of Capello's team selection - it's pretty obvious who he is and is not going to pick. The problem with this team is that there is no Plan B. Capello sticks to his rigid 4-4-2 and won't even contemplate changing his methods.

    What Don Fabio should do is drop all these big-names but he and they both know that he can't because of the poor calibre of the squad he's brought to South Africa.

    I just love recalling The Sun's now infamous headline when this group was drawn: (E)ngland, (A)lgeria, (S)lovenia, (Y)anks... In fact technically, I think it's fair to say that Group C is by far the poorest group and had a decent team been in there, England's hopes would have been well and truly shot to pieces by now.

  • Comment number 25.

    -----------James
    Johnson--Upson--Terry--A.Cole
    --------Lampard--Barry
    Lennon-----Gerrard----J.Cole
    -----------Rooney

    (Lampard or Carrick, Rooney or Defoe)

    If Capello had a shred of intelligence, he'd field this team in the final game. As well as winning, England must bag goals after goals. This is their last chance.

    I also think this inspiration video needs to be shown to the players before the match, it'd guaranteed to fire them up:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66OuJZGDCHE (Carlsberg teamtalk vid)

    It's time to wake up and unleash the Lions!!

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    it just echoes 2006 over again.

    struggling against a minnow nation (Trinidad in 2006, Algeria tonight) .. the difference is we got a Beckham cross and a typical Crouch ''climb on defenders'' kinda goal, and a Gerrard stunner to save us. Nothing that lucky tonight. A draw against a 'decent' side (USA here, Sweden in 2006) that we NEED to beat to win the World Cup, and a scrappy victory over the other (maybe the story of Slovenia?).

    The only difference is we do not have a plan B like we did back then. Beckham's set pieces really are proving their worth now we don't have them. Gerrard and Lampard's corners are absolutely dreadful.

    That corner in the 93rd minute I was just willing Beckham to whip his jacket off and say 'Hey Stevie, this one's mine' and plant it on the head of beanpole Crouch.

    Come on England, we still support you, but we are just crying out for a great performance against Slovenia to restore the huge faith we have.

  • Comment number 28.

    Gareth Barry performed alright, he actually kept possession well, which you would see if you watched the game, he was the only player on the pitch who looked assured in possession, and the only one who could control the ball.

    Shocking performance overall, but it's not Capello's fault, while the decision to put on Wright-Phillips again was an odd one, it was the fault of the players who were just shocking on the day.

  • Comment number 29.

    I've read most of the comments here and even though find myself agreeing with most of them, however must point out that this is the world cup after all - we've already had so many surprises France, Spain and Germany to name a few. Its hardly surprising that the players are feeling shell shocked too and demonstrated it last night. No one wants to lose and 1 point is better than no points.

    What we must do is remain calm and trust our team to do what they can do and have done throughout qualifying. Phil's mentioned in his blog one decent result in our next game and we're on our way - why not just get behind them and let the journo's do their job.

    Regarding Joe Cole, he mustn't be right as Capello would've played him by now for sure.

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 30.

    #29 (HammerousUnited)

    I agree to an extent, but apart from France, all the teams that have had shock results have played really well, but just been frustrated by a team that puts 11 behind the ball. We played appallingly. The USA game was 'ok', that was our one average performance gone, we made chances and I believed that that would be the end of it, but it's gotten worse.. and we really need to improve against Slovenia, or we'll be welcoming the guys home next week.

  • Comment number 31.

    Will people realise we are second rate , every competition , same scenario , cannot beat second or even third rate nations who basically have better technique and skill levels . Everybody believes in the hype , great players , great energy , - it is bull. Overpaid , basically in the cold light of day - they dont give a damn whether they are playing in the knock out stages or on holiday with a WAG. Simply a disgrace.

  • Comment number 32.

    Dont blame the manager.

    English media and supporters continually expect the national side to achieve way beyond the capacity of the players to deliver. The whole premise of England's inflated expectations is based on an exaggerated and irrational opinion of the England players' individual skill levels. The simple unpalatable truth is that the so-called current "Golden Generation" of England players is a mere empty fabrication put out by media and tv pundits in order to build up a false and inflated mirage of England's relative strength.

    Lets face the truth - England does not have ANY true world class players and this current crop is simply not good enough to trouble the real elite of world football.

    It was plain to see this evening, in spite of yet again totally unjustified hype tinged with the usual superiority complex of the British media prior to the game, that Algeria were far superior to England in the technical mastery and control of the ball, passing skill and dare I say spirit. It is without doubt that this "humble" Algeria side held and passed the ball far better than the millionaires parading in England shirts.

    The only reason Algeria did not turn their superior touch and control into victory, thereby sealing a thoroughly depressing evening for England, was the fact that they lacked any real striking force - the only failing that Algeria shared with England.

    So, lets get real and accept the fact that the England team is simply incapable of doing any better than it does because of the truth staring everybody in the face - we have no real quality and never will do until the Premier league rules are changed to allow more players of English birth to develop and improve and so create a bigger pool to choose from.

    So, please stop kidding ourselves and get off the Manager's back. We need to address this basic and fundamental flaw in the system before we can develop true world class players and EARN the right to again be considered a real power in world football.





  • Comment number 33.

    Rooney had every right to say what he said. True support means providing a lift to the team when they are struggling not cheering like crazy when they do well then just moan when they struggle. If this world cup has taught us anything it is that the world of football is now much closer than before. Are Brazil happy with mediocre 2-1 win over N. korea? Spain losing to switzerland? germany serbia just to name three poor results.

    Comin into the world cup i belieed there were three top teams - argentina, spain and Brazil- and then a whole group of about 7 teams who had an outside chance of winning with us being one. We are once again guilty of assuming we are the best when we are clearly not. If we set realistic goals and stopped putting som much pressure on the team maybe some of the mistakes will dissappear Yes the results are dissappointing and we should be doing better but we need to remember the players want to win. they were once fans like us screaming at the tv for their heroes. were they angry when they lost? maybe but i am sure they appreciated they had put the whole effort in even if it may not appear so due to not having the ball as much as they should.
    As the world of football is so close now maybe just that little bit of true support will push us over the edge into the top teams. booing will get us no where. all it will do is add pressure next game and force more mistakes. we should let the players know that we are behind them no matter what and if we were so good as some people let themselves believe we would be playing of rengland instead. we aare not so we should support our best players - the 23 that are out there now.

  • Comment number 34.

    My, my, you really do have it in for Capello, don't you Phil?

    Why can't you just admit that nobody's to blame but the players themselves. Capello hasn't changed any of his methods for the World Cup. Those same methods that helped England have a successful qualification campaign. And yet, some how all of this is his fault.

    Of course Capello looks clueless about what happened. We all are! We're clueless because we don't know what's wrong with the players. We're clueless because they've been using the same tactics for the past year and half, and *now* something's wrong!

    Capello's methods and tactics haven't changed. Which means the players have changed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, although you seem to refuse to acknowledge that assertion. The players need to buckle up and actually decide to make a go of it. Like I said in you're other blog, there's only so much a manager can do.

    Capello can select the players. He can select the tactics. He can give inspirational team talks. But at the end of the day, its up to the players to execute the team strategy. Its up to the players to actually WANT to win. If there's no will or heart or passion to win, then an inspirational team talk will merely fall on deaf ears.

    England's fans and coaching staff have done all they can. Its up to the players now. No one else. If you think Capello is wrong and you are right, then may I suggest you submit your CV to the FA for the England manager's job after the media mob predictably lynch Capello out.

  • Comment number 35.

    lets be honest..if there are problems with players lets hear them. At the moment the players seem to have their minds on other things...perhaps new contracts with new clubs after this world cup.

    We still have to get behind the team and show them we really care....

  • Comment number 36.

    Never have so many people been let down by so few people!

    You are a bunch of overpaid pre-Madonna’s!

    You have let 60 million people down and are a disgrace to your country!

    Hate me and prove me wrong and win the world cup! Play like men not like a bunch of losers! We will not forget....

  • Comment number 37.

    Frank Lampard non-existant? Made the most accurate passes on the pitch tonight.

  • Comment number 38.

    I've got a theory. I think the reason Capello keeps putting on SWP is he's desperate to justify his inclusion in the squad. He's had a poor season, and has never really produced for England, and yet he was preferred to Walcott (who also had a poor season, but can hardly be accused of never having performed for England!) and Johnson (in my opinion, along with Jack Wilshire and a few others the future of English football). I honestly think Capello is hoping SWP will score a screamer/set up an important goal or just do SOMETHING to prove why he deserves to be there and justify Capello's choice.

    Obviously, there are many MANY other issues with England at the moment which everyone who posts will no doubt pick over repeatedly, but everytime I see SWP come on and run about with lots of energy and no direction/creativity it annoys me that he's there over two vastly superior players. England's problems begin with the manager and his squad selection before they even step on the pitch.

  • Comment number 39.

    The problem with Heskey is most people treat him as their own flesh and blood, he has a poor shot/pass/header and we all expect it because he's Heskey, don't get me wrong the guy has a heart of gold but he is not a good player and I would rather Ashley Cole upfront than him.

    I have for the past year wanted Capello to play or at least try 4-5-1 with Gerrard behind Rooney, it basically allows our 3 best offensive payers to play in their preferred position (Rooney alone upfront, Gerrard just off the main striker and Lampard free to make his late runs in the box with a DM to cover) but it seems Capello is far too stubborn to admit that most people in England are correct, oh well, there's always 2014 I guess.

  • Comment number 40.

    Once again we see and England Team of highly paid and highly skilled players who just cannot perform when the chips are down. Playing at the World cup should be like fighting for your life, and none of our players seem to want it that bad.

    As for Rooney and Cappello mocking the crowd with their comments - shame on them! The Fans deserve better than their jibes.

    Even if we do qualify for the next round do we honestly think we'll get further than the last 16?? I don't think so!

    Capello has to take some blame as he didn't bring subs on until too late in my eyes - give them time to effect the game for God sake!

  • Comment number 41.

    Got up at 2.30 in the morning in Australia to watch this one. Wish I hadn't.
    Thought we were actually OK against USA. But tonight it was awful.
    Rooney should have been taken off. Something is clearly wrong. I just hope that he is injured and that is the reason for his poor display. He caused so many attacks to break down by giving the ball away. If he is carrying an injury. Rest him. We have a whole tournament to try and get through.
    We were back to how it has always been. Gerrard and Lampard don't seem to be able to play together. I thought Gerrard was worse. He might have tried hard, but his crosses and ball use was not good.

  • Comment number 42.

    The problem with England is that God gave the two most-talented central midfielders at the same time vying for the same role. Now the manager can't take any out because he is so very religious.God being the 4-4-2.

  • Comment number 43.

    Phil, I watched the game on espn (i'm in california) and after the game Alexi Lalas and Steve McManaman made some observations. Steve was as frustrated as every other englishman watching the game - "why? why?" as he put his head in his hands and bashed it on the desk. Alexi said "they are just not very good!" Hearing an american soccer player say that is hard to take, but when you look at how many "world class" players are in the team it's true. Yes Rooney, Gerard, Lampard, Terry, all play at world class level, but at Chelsea & ManU, they are surrounded by other "world class" "non-english" team mates. Where would this english team finish if they were in the premier league? That said some of the atrocious passing, pathetic corners, and unforced errors was unacceptable for so called "professional" players. I also think the usual england tactic of constant pressure in the opponents half is the biggest problem. Drawing the opposition into the center and playing cut through balls was so rare, almost as rare as good wing balls resulting in quality crosses. We have dumped on english managers, tried a swede and now an italian. Maybe, just maybe, Alexi is right and we have to accept its not the manager, it is simply that england are not a world class team. If any of them read this blog, I challenge them to prove me wrong! I am 50 and I could deliver better corner crosses than most of what I saw today. . . John

  • Comment number 44.

    This quote from PoolHall Junkies comes to mind:

    "You watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? You got this lion. He's the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He's laying under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He's so big, it's so hot. He doesn't want to move. Now the little lions come, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn't do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. They start to move in. The jackals; hyenas. They're barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that's in his domain. They do this, then they get closer and closer, bolder and bolder. Till one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals, who he is. "

    In our case, there are 3 lions, and I think that we may see them show everyone how good we really are on Wednesday.

  • Comment number 45.

    People can blame Capello allthey want but at the end of the day if your whole team of £100, 000 per week superstars suddenly lose the ability to pass the ball 2 yards then what do you expect?

    Pundits trying to pass the blame onto Capello, a guy who obviously couldn't believe what he was seeing.Rooney's comments at the end said it all- the whole team is crumbling under the pressure- we don't produce sportspeople like Paula Radcliffe and Tim Henman for no reason- we just can't handle expectation. If we were playing the argies or the germans im certain england would have performed much better!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    i am the first to admit that capello has made errors here. personally i think we should have started with gerrard off rooney, and for the life of me i cannot understand how wright-philips is getting on the pitch when you have a quality player like joe cole sitting on the bench. but it is important to remember that only a few weeks ago capello was being labelled the best england manager since alf ramsey. he is a very good manager who guided us faultlessly through qualification and we must keep the faith. if anything it is for the players to step up and show the drive and determination that has been so missing so far in the tournament. anybody watching can see the passion of the fans and the manager to excel in this tournament and it is now time for that to be mirrored on the pitch.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    What I wonder is how can a nation put its whole hope on one man? Is England all about Rooney? You dont see Argentina or Brazil or Germany or Spain putting all their hope on a single individual. Its all down to team work and where are all these so-called world class players when it matters most?

  • Comment number 50.

    to me it just seems so simple what needs to happen (of course there are alot of other issues that need to be addressed) but that rumoured 4-5-1 formation should be the route to go, it is the best formation for the players we have, England have lots more talent in midfield than in attack so why not get most of that talent on the pitch?? Rooney has been playing up front on his own for Man utd so it is not new to him, he might even thrive under what he knows.

    Personnel might alter but this is the formation i had in mind

    ........................James.....................
    Johnson........Dawson..........Terry........ACole
    .......................Barry......................
    ..............Lampard..........Gerrard............
    Lennon.......................................JCole
    ......................Rooney......................

    Media took a critical view to that, but it should at least be tried out before completely dismissed, in that formation having proper wingers out wide in Lennon and Cole with Barry holding allows both Gerrard and Lampard the freedom they both need to support Rooney up front, and given the talent at our disposal i truly think it might actually work, at least better than the current 4-4-2 is.

  • Comment number 51.

    No composure, No technique, No cohesion, No understanding of international level football.

    When will they realise that this is not the premier league! Teams are much tighter defensively. Steven Gerrard epitomises this lack of understanding.

    I keep hearing the players talking about needing "more urgency" in their play, or needing to "up the tempo".
    This is the polar opposite of what is required.

    There needs to be more calmness in their play. When they get the ball there isn't always going to be a chance to break and be through on goal in one or two passes!
    So why are they playing with such emphasis on moving the ball forward as fast as possible? Even when there are already opposition defenders in position and in numbers.

    It also shows our lack of technique when hitting and dealing with passes that are weighted to go three times the distance necessary.

    High pace, high risk/reward passing, should be used more sparingly like on the break, and should be replaced by a more methodical build up.

    Better teams will punish us all day long if we relinquish possession so readily with these Hollywood type through balls from too deep or or too difficult. Even when they hit their mark, the recipient is too isolated to turn it into an end product.

    IT's FOOTBALL BASICS!!: If an attacking recipient of an intended pass is in a good position to progress play or create an opportunity then pass it to him.

    If he is not, or being marked by the opposition then keep possession as a team, until such a moment exists!

    The movement they showed last night was also dire and predictable.
    This is another problem. They are not creating or running into spaces and thus not shifting the opposition out of position. They just seem to rely on a counter attacking opportunity to cause problems for the opposition and look to have no creativity in passing or movement if a ready made route to goal is not clear or evident.
    The lack of creative movement is shown by the need to over use the dreaded long ball.

    All of this makes me wonder, how many of these players could go into management after their playing career is over? Because they are demonstrating a very naive way of playing.

  • Comment number 52.

    You know, this really baffles me.

    I should start by saying that I have been getting regularly slated by my mates these past 2 weeks for saying before the tournament that I didn't believe England were contenders for the World Cup, that quarter final was about our level, semi final major success. I stated that we are simply not technically good enough to compete at international level, and lack players of creativity, which is what you need to make the difference.

    I was accused of not getting behind the team, and being negative. Now those same fans are slating England's performance today & suggesting Rooney was out of order for being angry at England's fans booing them, as does the author here.

    .......has everyone gone mad?!! All those people saying "Believe in England" now think it somehow helps the players to boo them off the pitch?! Ridiculous.

    I'm not a big fan of Rooney the man, but I think he has every right to be angry at those fans whose job it is to help the team, not heap more pressure on them! Why should he be appologising to them when they weren't there to help lift the team when they needed it?

    Whilst I was critical of our ability and chances before the tournament, and my opinions certainly haven't changed, I support England for every minute of every game, and always want them to win. If they were to win the tournament & prove me wrong i'd be delighted. I could see today was a poor performance, but i'd never boo the team or make my support for them conditional based on their performance.

    The writer of this blog and all those who think it's acceptable to get on the team's back have got it badly, badly wrong. I'm not one of those that thinks England are anything like world beaters, but i'll never withdraw my support for the team.

    Maybe that's just it though - Us realists have not had our blind faith brought sharply into focus have we? We are supporting OUR country and OUR team regardless of their performances or chances, like real supporters do. All those fools who were bleating on about "England are going to win the World Cup" and who are now slating the team instead of helping them should take a long hard look at themselves.

    Ask yourselves what you're in it for - The glory of attaching yourselves to a successful side & a team of winners, or supporting and helping your country and your country's team, whatever may happen?

    Sort yourselves out. The squad is undoubtably our best players & one of the world's best managers. They can all do things we can never dream of doing, so whatever they achieve is whatever their limit/potential is. There's nothing that could have been done better to prepare them for this tournament, and no one better to be there.

    The moaners couldn't do what they're doing, so stop the whining and support your country!

  • Comment number 53.

    If I'm not mistaken, the bird was a mourning dove. Quite serious.

  • Comment number 54.

    Capello had no plan B. Heskey off at half time, Joe Cole on to run the left side and Gerard up front with Barry told to hold the centre in front of the two CBs.That would have been a better balance and added some dynamics as Cole is a dynamo on his day and with Wright-Phillips on the right running at their defence who knows what we could have achieved. I hope Mr Capello puts out this side against Slovenia as what we had offered up today will not beat them and we will be home by weeks end.
    To the powers that be.......do something!

  • Comment number 55.

    Capello has done well in general. As he said when he first came into the job, his biggest and most important task was to restore some confidence to the players, and he did that during the qualifiers. They scored a lot of goals, although they never looked as comfortable on the ball as the top sides - but what England team ever has?

    Part of the problem seems to be that England have a team full of players who are outstanding as one-man footballing weapons. For their clubs the other players get the ball to them, they do something special. They're the pinnacles for their respective clubs, but put them together and they seem to cancel each other out. They need a few more players who do the simple things very well, players who can control, pass, move at pace and with accuracy.

    Despite that, should it really be beyond players who have done the amazing things we've seen from them for their clubs, fitting brilliantly into their teams, to pass the ball accurately to each other? They absolutely have to be able to keep the ball and move the opposition around the pitch a bit. They do not need to look to make the killer ball every time they win possession.

    On top of that, the final few warm up friendlies were pretty abysmal. With those performances against Mexico, Japan and the local South African side, all of the confidence that Capello had rebuilt during qualification was lost. That just showed how fragile it must have been, and I'm not sure Capello could have known that would be the case. Perhaps he should have just played the same team that played so regularly in the qualifiers - more of the same - and perhaps the team would not have been the one everyone else seems to want to pick, but if they could have carried on from where they left off then the players would surely not have resorted to the fragile shadows of their regular selves that we're seeing now.

    Also, it might perhaps have been wise to have used players who were in good form for their clubs during the season when they first started demonstrating that form. When Hart was playing regularly and well for Birmingham, he could have been introduced to the national team then and there. If he'd have played well there'd be no dispute over the first choice goalkeeper up to and even DURING the World Cup. Darren Bent is another example. People criticise him for his apparent poor form for England. But how many chances has he had? Heskey, Crouch and Defoe have all had plenty of opportunities to play and train with Rooney. Bent hasn't, and he's been thrown in and expected to reproduce his goal-scoring club form. Surprisingly, he hasn't. If he'd been included at least in the squad from an earlier stage when he was consistently scoring in the league then perhaps he'd be better able to reproduce at England level and form a decent partnership based on some mutual understanding with Rooney.

    Capello has made his choices, however, and fiercely defended them. Now he has his hardest ever choice to make - stick or twist. He'd built up this England team from nervous, underperforming individuals into a confident, goal scoring team. His formation and player/squad selections had, until recently, performed as required virtually faultlessly. It all came tumbling down in the warm up friendlies - not against the US or Algeria - and now he has to react.

    Does he persist with the selections of formation and lineup that had previously served him well or change his ways, going against everything he's argued for up until now. In making that decision I hope he takes into account the fact that the clubs England's best players play for have altered their formations to correspond to developments across the global game. With Barcelona being so successful with their flowing passing style and rather rare 4-3-3 formation, and Europe's other great sides following suit with lone strikers and versatile attacking wide men, the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard and even Lennon had found their niche at club level. Ferguson decided Rooney was best suited to being played as a lone front man being supported by a hard-working creator behind him and pacy wingers providing constant crosses and options when Rooney had to hold up the ball. Gerrard became that hard-working creator behind a lone front man at Liverpool, and Lampard did something similar, linking Chelsea's midfield with their striker(s). The only person who as yet does not seem to have reacted to these international developments is Capello. How many teams play 4-4-2 these days? Admittedly, it suits some teams, but how many of the teams doing best so far at the World Cup or in Europe this season play such a formation? I would say none.

    Capello should be brave now. Things change, in football as in everything else, and Capello should not feel that he has to live and die with his choices made previously. They served him well. He should now accept that he must live and die by his decisions in the moment. If he decides to change things now, does he look weak? Does the image of authority and serene intelligence and tactical know-how slip if he decides to change a team that's playing itself out of the World Cup? No.

  • Comment number 56.

    Stinking performance from England yet again.
    Without the foreign talent they have playing alongside them at
    club level the English players are shown to be lacking in most
    departments.
    Zero confidence in the camp and unless something drastically changes
    before Wednesday England's campaign will end against Slovenia.
    Rooney should have been taken off at half time if only to fire him
    up for the game on Wednesday.
    Capello has one last hand to play and if it comes off and England
    start playing like they surely do in training then it could be the
    spring board for much better things.
    It can't get any worse..can it?
    I would say if they go out on Wednesday then the majority of the
    squad should be put in the bin marked 'woeful generation' and never
    play again.
    Surely heads would have to roll at the FA also?
    Time for 'yes' men like Brooking to go and real passionate lovers
    of the game installed at all levels.
    Sack Capello before Wednesday and get Harry Redknap out there to
    install confidence in players who have none!

  • Comment number 57.

    I think the media criticism was totally unwarranted after the U.S.A game, as I didn't think we played that badly, but after tonight I think the team deserve all they get, what a truly shocking performance.

    I can only assume that the team believed what the press were saying about them, to turn in a performance so devoid of confidence and inspiration.

    That was easily the worst performance under Capello in a competitive match, and that has to be the worst I've seen Rooney play ever since he got those 2 goals against Man U as a 17 year old playing for Everton.

    What frustrated me most was the total lack of imagination regarding substitutions. Lampard had a shocker so why not take him off, stick Joe Cole on the left who is capable of creating something, and put Gerrard centrally.

    I still think we'll beat Slovenia and go through, but we've absolutely no chance of winning the World Cup. Unfortunately we haven't got it mentally, something the Germans have got down to a fine art.

    If you've got confidence in your ability you don't perform as badly as that.

  • Comment number 58.

    Look - we never had a chance of winning this World Cup. Last 16 was the best we could hope for because that is as good as we are. Last 8 would be over-achieving. That is the simple truth - not a criticism - but the honest truth.

    Forget all the hyperbolic, mega-hyped nonsense about the Premier League where over-paid prima-donnas like Gerrard and Lampard are ludicrously hailed as "world class" against Hull and Burnley. England do not have a single World Class player in their ranks. It is mega-hyped fantasy to suggest otherwise. This competition is exposing them for what they really are - and the Emperor's new clothes are there for all to see.

    I don't agree with booing the players because they genuinely gave it their all. They tried as hard as their collective talents allowed them to. But they are not "world class" at all. Until August comes along, of course, and they can go back to being "world class" against Blackpool and West Brom.

  • Comment number 59.

    As usual Phil uses mixed metaphors by lumping everyone together. How can he lump Defoe & Crouch with the others? Capello obviously decided on his team long before he even picked the 30. Lennon is having a bad time because he is being crowded out by Johnson. He is a very poor right back but there is no one to replace him. Lampard is a club player, nothing more. Rooney was awful . DROP HIM! Play Defoe & Crouch, Bring in Cole for Lampard. Stop Johnson from coming forward so that Lennon can use his pace.Sadly. Fabio left Young at home, so they will have to make do. That left winger from slovenia will eat Johnson alive . Recall Capello NOW.

  • Comment number 60.

    It was poor. Very, very poor. But I'm not going to use this as a sounding board to be judge, jury and executioner for the whole team. There are millions of other fans as equally qualified as me to do that. Let's at least try to get behind the team for the last group match - whichever 11 gets rolled out next week. They need our support even more now!

  • Comment number 61.

    The moment that Lennon was substituted was the moment that I lost faith in the England team. Whilst he did not have a good game, sure, he still had more potential to threaten the Algerians that any of the big names (Rooney, Lampard, etc), but we've evidently regressed a few years and "Sven's undroppables" seem to be running the show once more.

    I don't understand the logic behind playing two strikers who haven't scored a competetive goal since, what? - March; especially when there are two strikers on the bench who have proven that they CAN play together. I don't see what Lampard is offering the team at the moment, and Gerrard has flattered to deceive in an England shirt for about eight years now.

    As I suspected, Rooney is being found out this tournament. All those who claimed he was one of the best in the world have shown to be premature in their enthusings. Anyone who lived up to even half the hype he's been given would have at least looked mildly threatening in just one half of the games he's played, surely.

  • Comment number 62.

    You can all sneer at this if you like, but it's a tragedy that Michael Owen got injured. I'd have had him on that pitch, and I don't think we'd have been any worse.

  • Comment number 63.

    No doubt about it, England were complete rubbish and the players today should be ashamed. As for Rooney and for any other player, if you play rubbish then take the boo's on the chin. Rooney needs to apologise asap.
    However, there is a lesson to be learned from this rubbish! The FA needs to take the English game in hand and limit the number of overseas players in the domestic squads, and then limit the number that can take the field. Not wanting to harp on the past but 30 -40 years ago the top flight teams in Englad were full of international players from the 4 home countries. When playing in Europe they were limited as to the number of foreign (4 home countries) players. This was the time England last won the cup. Having watched the game today who else could you put in the team/squad. England needs to develop a lot more talent that can honestly push each other for selection to represent the country. As for Rooney's comment about a B team beating Algeria - well, maybe they should have played instead of the A team. As for a rating out of 10, I'll give them one, for turning up and wearing a nice white strip, doesn't white mean surrender. England you looked disjointed and out of ideas and possibly out of the cup! Battle hard next game, or bow your heads in shame!

  • Comment number 64.

    So, Phil, your rather accurate evaluation of the match and an excellent joke with Wimbledon (I truly laughed out loud) aside, how much are England missing Beckham on the pitch? Not at all, eh?

    60th minute, Crouch+Beckham on? Wouldn't help in such a match, when everybody is awful and don't seem able to even kick the ball forward? No? Well, you were correct then. A blessing in disguise he got injured, indeed. Pure luck he couldn't have been brought on in such a match, because he would've spoiled it all.

    Anyway, my humble opinion: this was not about positions. None of the English players seemed to have first touch (nor a second one, for that matter). An example, 9/10 chances at Chelsea, Frank would've buried that. I was halfway up screaming GOAL when I realised what a non-shot he'd produced. Not a single man in the white shirt was able to cross, shoot, run with the ball, or, indeed, foul effectively. It didn't click. Something was horribly wrong, somewhere. Not a case of playing Gerrard out of position. The England 11 would not land a job at League 2 tonight. Apart from James. Pity he was rubbished by the media and couldn't start against USA, because, incidentally, he's quite good.

  • Comment number 65.

    Perhaps as a foreigner I can offer a different perspective. Reading the pre-match buildup, I imagined Algeria would sit back and defend like many bottom-half teams do in the Premier league against Big 4 opposition.

    Instead I was pleasantly surprised by Algeria's passing game, their confidence to pass to a team mate who was marked.Indeed in the first 30 mins they had England on a carousel.I think Lennon's first touch in the game was in the 7th min and that was to concede a corner.England improved and I felt they would score in the second half if only they had someone to help the isolated Ashley Cole down the left. Rooney looks half-fit, Lennon was poor but it is hard to imagine Walcott doing much better when the entire team was so flat.

    I still think you will scrape through.You will need a lot of luck

  • Comment number 66.

    First - TIM1980, that's the team we want.
    Also the team we've got look like they are scared of making a mistake when they get the ball. They look like they've been thrown into a Roman gladiator arena. They look each other in the eye and say if we stick together we can be victorious but as soon as one gets the ball he passes it to someone that doesn't really want it in case he makes a mistake. There's no flowing movement. Capello is ignorant, as was Mclaren. They both need to top dog at the expense of the team. England qualified in spite of Capello's team/game plan not because of it. The same goes for when he won the league in Madrid. McLaren binned Beckham, he moved to the states because he thought his England career was over. It was McLaren's ego. We should have let Sven see out his contract, let Bobby Robson and Terry Venables stay. You need a manager that enquires about your kids, your dad's health. A manager that you'd feel comfortable going around his house for dinner, not a manager that when you see his name come up on your mobile you're filled with dread of fear - weather it's good news or not. Long rant, apologies.

  • Comment number 67.

    No we are not as good as Spain, Argentina or Brazil but this group of England players prove week in and week out with their clubs in the EPL and the CL that they are very very fine players. Wanted all over Europe. Mourinho has won everything there is to win twice over in 3 countries and he believes Frank Lampard is the best attacking midfielder in Europe...is Mourinho clueless? Real Madrid would happily spend 100 million on Rooney to make him the most expensive player in history. So don't tell me he is not world class as some posters have said.

    We should expect far better than we are being served up. These players are not second rate as has been said in above posts, they are drastically underachieving and no one seems to know why. People used to give Beckham horrendous stick, but I wonder if they are now missing his devotion and obvious pride and passion when playing for his Country... we need new heros. Man up fella's - before its too late.

  • Comment number 68.

    It's funny, yes all these players play in the best league in the world, but when they come together for England (on foreign soil) theyreally lose it (international temperament). There are allot of psychological issues that are clearly not being addressed.

    The media all say, England should beat the USA, England should beat Algeria... Yes it does stand to reason England "should" beat certain teams, but they still need to do something to make that happen as just turning up won't cut it. How is England going to win should be the emphasis, not when England win! The media and fans should really have allot more respect for other countries especially if England have to play them. This is the World Cup, smaller countries come to beat bigger countries, teams want to beat England, there not going to lie down.

    When Capello picks his line-up, everyone talks about who he should play where. Why is that sole topic of conversation, does Capello not know his squad by now? The Algerian coach knows his squad for sure! Why doesn't everyone talk about who he should play in relation to the team they are playing against, what role a player might play to counter strengths in opposite team? This culture of lack of acknowledgement to the other team is overly audacious. If England want to do something internationally they are going to need to change their mentality.

    I think England have to be able to adapt and change styles if need be, because nobody plays the English brand of football but countries are very wise to it though... When not playing well, play for the foul instead of the killer pass... The England team needs to forget about all the hype going around them and get to grips with what they want from this tournament. They need to play and work hard for each other on the pitch, it's no good passing to Gerrard and waiting for him to score or cross the ball to you... Graft...

  • Comment number 69.

    Very well written Phil, You placed the finger in the scar. I consider myself a truly England's fan even though am not English. Been following English football since 1982 and today i felt betrayed. Not because of their performance but for their lack of determination, courage and hunger. I've seen teams performing badly but ending with a positive result because of being determined, courageous and hungry. Also as an Man U and Rooney fan felt dissapointed for a player named among world class players like Messi and Ronaldo today performing in and out the pitch like a player so moody that can give an impression of a bi-polar character with possibilities of being lost in the football world just as the most recent Nike footage suggests.
    As per Capello, being an admirer too, i sensed desperation. A wrong feeling for a manager of such caliber but perhaps a feeling to open his inflexible character. I am not saying he needs to resign to his ideas or principles but more open minded and less arrogant or stubborn. In my opinion, there are few English players to make a difference in any game; They are Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney, A. Cole and J. Cole. Why not using J. Cole? Especially when SWP is far from showing some danger to opponents like the U.S. and Algeria. If you don't trouble these kind of defences i wonder how would he perform against Argentina, Spain or Brazil.
    Now it is time to deliver or die and to be perfectly honest i do expect them to deliver against Slovenia but if they don't, it will be food for thought to every English and in particular those who think England is capable of repeating the class of 1966.

  • Comment number 70.

    When will this "Gerrard is our Saviour" nonsense ever stop!?

    We've heard this time and time again about Gerrard in various guises over the years. "Lampard holds Gerrard back." "Build the England team around Gerrard." "Play Gerrard in his preferred Central Midfield position." Remember that one? Now apparently he is an attacking midfielder or a second striker despite the fact Gerrard himself rejecting that role when given to him by Sven Goran Eriksson in a pre World Cup 2006 friendly against Hungary.Now we have "play Gerrard behind Rooney."

    Why? When Gerrard has been given main man status (and indeed the Captaincy) in the Autumn 2007 period, we played dismally losing to Russia and Croatia with Gerrard outshone by Barry. And where did it all end? Failure to qualify in Euro 2008.

    Yet fans and McNulty STILL continues to think Gerrard is the answer. Well, I'll tell you something. Gerrard IS NOT the solution, rather HE IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. How do most people not see it? Or worse, continue to excuse Gerrard again and again. Even tonight, Lampard is the scapegoat and Rooney after his first truly dismal performance for England should apparently be dropped according to many fans!!! And Gerrard? Well, apparently we should pretty much build the team around him for Slovenia!? I swear you couldn't make this...up! Yet we were treated to the full Gerrard repotoire of misplaced 5 yard passes, wild shooting and dismal decision making.

    Still don't believe me? Why have SGE and Capello not given him the freedom on the pitch so many people think he deserves. Perhaps, PERHAPS, because they just don't think he is suitable or capable for such a role!? Honestly, the constant excusing of Gerrard and non-stop media fawning of him has ruined the England supporter experience for me over the past five years. The thought of such an undeserving player lifting the World Cup for England is unpalatable, to put it mildly.

    He is NEVER spoken of as the problem. Why is he immune from criticism!? Or when he plays badly the Gerrard apologists will always trot out "Lampard/Rooney/whoever was worse." Why can't any journalist or analyst have the gumption, orginality or insight to even suggest that Gerrard is perhaps not the solution? Moreover, he might - just might - be part of the problem. McNulty et al - shame on you. Cowards the lot of you!

  • Comment number 71.

    Gutless, clueless, spineless and afraid. Why? Maybe we can now finally kill all the hype that accompanies England whenever they qualify for any championship. As for Premier League being the best in the world? What a joke. As for the Golden Generation - good riddance to a bunch of overpaid, pampered marionettes - let's start picking players who will fight for the shirt. As for the FA - start teaching our kids how to treat the ball and possession like its a crime to give it away. And while you are at it, start teaching our kids to be able to use BOTH feet.

  • Comment number 72.

    43. At 02:38am on 19 Jun 2010, JOC wrote:

    "Yes Rooney, Gerard, Lampard, Terry, all play at world class level, but at Chelsea & ManU, they are surrounded by other "world class" "non-english" team mates"

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

    Give me a break! Berbatov is surrounded by world class players at Man United too, and yet he's not banging them in like Rooney is. Why is that? Could it be because.. *gasp*.... Rooney's World Class? Could that be the reason Fergie is reluctant to sell Rooney to Real Madrid?

    Spain were way below par against Switzerland. I guess this means they're not world class either.

    But none of that matters anyway! Who's world class, who isn't world class. It doesn't take a bloody world class side to win titles (e.g. Greece Euro 2004). But it definitely takes passion, heart, and determination. All qualities that England lacked against Algeria.

    If you watched the USA-Slovenia game, then you'll notice that the US looked a lot like how England played against Algeria. Why was the second half such a contrast? Because the US players pulled their socks up, got down to business, and actually showed some heart with Donovan leading by example.

    I saw the McManaman/Lalas segment you referred too (I live LA too!). Lalas' comment was more smarmy if anything. He probably didn't mean it. He knows England have quality players. He's not stupid! If England really aren't good enough, then perhaps the US team should be frowned upon and heavily criticized for relying on a very fortunate keeper's mistake to salvage a point against what Lalas believes is a 3rd rate team!

  • Comment number 73.

    Congratulations Phil, you qualify as England's new manager.

    I am clinging to the faint hope that as you so eloquently put it, (and as almost all replies agree), we have to drop Lampard and Heskey at least, probably Barry too.

    In my opinion, we should stick with Lennon on the right, play Cole on the left, Carrick holding. Start Defoe and Rooney up front and let Gerrard go where he likes (without worrying about bumping into Lampard or Barry).

    If only Lampard could have been as helpful as Butch Wilkins was in '86 and got himself sent off today!

  • Comment number 74.

    66. At 03:42am on 19 Jun 2010, T150662 wrote:

    "England qualified in spite of Capello's team/game plan not because of it."

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

    England scored 9 goals against Croatia, both home and away, in spite of Capello's game plan? England won 9 qualification matches in spite of Capello's tactics? That's a lot of "in spite of" wins! Too many....

  • Comment number 75.

    As a kiwi you poms will forgive my exultation at the committed,gutsy performance of the All-Whites. The country is at this moment in raptures at their success. If we do go on to exceed even the first-round draw with Slovakia by beating Italy and/or Paraguay ecstasy will reign beyond Xmas!It seems Ricky Herbert has the magic of mutual trust with his players. May I suggest that the English manager lost his the day his squad found out about the infamous Capello Index?

  • Comment number 76.

    Frank Lampard is my favourite player of all time. He should be dropped for Slovenia. Gerrard in the middle will give us far more balance and make the team play better. Also Rooney -he is not fully fit perhaps, and he will get pissed off if dropped and probably play better if brought on say at 60 mins.
    I'm not sure why Capello doesn't trust Joe Cole. Surely he has to play against Slovenia as a single bright spark in the dire warm-up friendlies. We are lucky in the sense that if we beat Slovenia we go through, but surely an early exit for England at this point is only a matter of time. This most reminds me of Euro 2000 with the loss to Romania in the final game after a poor showing sending England out at the group stage.

  • Comment number 77.

    Unless we start the Slovenia game with a goalscorer, hello Peter Crouch, a left sided player with creativity, hello Joe Cole, and a defender with pace, hello Michael Dawson, it'll be a quick flight home.

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    It frustrates me that the most sensible voices are muffled,

    Please will the FA listen to CHRS WADDLE. PLEASE just listen. He has it right on the money.

    I cannot for the life of me understand why we do not take young players to a world cup.
    The pace of the games, and the atmosphere is all set up for it, R O D W E L L W I L S H I R E A D A M J O H N S O N, we have to pick the best young ENGLISH players and take them, bed them in, as they have hunger.

    We also have to change the player power that exists, scrap the 4-4 2 system, and forget about the premiership stars alone. An England team should be picked with players who agree to follow all the methods of the manager, no dissent.

    GLEN JOHNSON is the best right back in England ? Unbelievable. Not fit to clean GARY NEVILLE`S boots.
    HESKEY ? At least he can retain the ball.
    But we have no other centre forward that can score goals ?

    SVEN used to play HESKEY on the right hand side, and that was better.

    LENNON, cannot retain the ball, he runs with it, but after that nothing. If he decides to keep it nobody shows themselves for it to even accept a simple pass. No movement.
    A disgrace. Pathetic.

    There were 5 players in that team who looked moody, and over run by their salaries, egos, with no energy.

    People keep going on about 86 and 90, but the systems were changed, to make changes.

    It won`t happen for us unless he changes the system, and chooses players who can pass the ball and move.

    He must make the midfield and the ball the priority. Keep the ball. Without that goodbye.

    Thrust and thrust does not work in International football.

    We never explode like other teams. You cannot do that unless you keep the ball. We disrespect space.

    People have been laughing at M A R A D O N A but he is a very clever man, he loves his players, and 3 or 4 defenders who can also play as centre backs is a good idea in international football, as it makes the team retain the ball. Better than choosing a right back who cannot do anything other than bomb forward. A lot of the other teams like SPAIN have full backs who can retain the ball better than players like GLEN JOHNSON. When he gets it, we look like if we don`t bomb forward = lost and the ball goes out of play.

    The basic things are all wrong. FABIO had great players in MADRID, MILAN, but with ordinary players = please do not blame him. He must have thought "What have I let myself in for with this lot" ? Headless chickens. Sad.
    Not a pass. No poise, and fans should stop being patriotic and let their hearts betray their heads. Pathetic.

    Not a chance, unless heads roll now.

  • Comment number 80.

    All this chat and no one seemed to notice the relevance of an Uzbek ref, his countrymen are fleeing Kyrgystan by there 100 thousands as a quiet genocide takes place and we sit here discussing numbers.4-4-2 or whatever rubbish the relevant numbers are 0-0(most relevant) if its a system try 3-5-3. Sad isn't it lets use Capello's words reputation doesn't count its hard work that will be relevant.
    Rubbish, try that and look at Rooney last night or even Gerrard summed up by a dive at the end, these are dire days when an England captain expects handouts from a ref whose country is in a state of recoil. So now everyone accepts the decision to axe Green, that is NOT team work. Sure James was good but at the end his armour looked chinked as the back passes kept coming in. In actual fact some of the hardest strikes on the English goal came from English players. Sorry the right wing is disaster number one sorry I don't see Cole operating here move Johnson up to this position. Too late now but this position was pivotal in Englands last victory over Germany with Downing on wing. Put Joe Cole up front with Crouch and Hesky face it you need two knock down men and sorry replace Terry with Carrick he nearly gifted Algeria a goal and cannot pass forward accurately. Bring on Rooney as a sub and really coach if you sub players at least give them 20 minutes. The dithering is ridiculous why he changed his mind from Carrick to Wright Philips is pure science fiction if you believe in building players who had bad performances then put Green back.Ps it was Carrick's penalty that won Man United the Uefa in Moscow, this lad ain't afraid he is keen and may be the only person in the squad capable of accurate long distance passes. Its sad yet much like that bird I will sit and watch and hope that a semblance of celtic spirit ignites this squeaky wheel.

  • Comment number 81.

    England were woeful against Algeria, Rooney was disgraceful when he came off the pitch, he should face facts and apologise to the fans, they were poor and deserved to be booed off...

    I think for the next game Capello should shake things up a bit!

    I would pick...

    James
    Johnson King Terry Cole

    Gerrard Barry Cole Milner

    Defoe Crouch

    Give Rooney some bench time to calm him down and maybe fire him up for when he gets the chance to come on as a sub, same with Lampard, show them both that no player is a guaranteed selection and that their performances were just not up to scratch. Crouches goal scoring record for England speaks for itself and Defoe, Cole & Milner all deserve a chance to play. Lennon looks like he could use a break too and maybe would do better coming off the bench rather than Wright-Philips...

    Just as a quick thought!

    All the fans who said he was right to drop Walcott, do you all still think that? I think that not being a part of this shameful England team will do wonders for him, bring on Brazil 2014, you're gonna see Walcott shine for England there.....

  • Comment number 82.

    Yes England was abysmal - let's forget about this and move on. England did very well in qualifying. This team can play football, and can play together - a little faith there. The English team simply hasn't turned up yet. Let's hope they do at the last hour - of not then they deserve full well to go home.

    It's down to the manager to solve the psychological issues that are at the bottom of this. Outside observers really can't know... did the players fight, is it the intense media spotlight, the overbearing expectations, the noise in the stadium, the new ball? Could be any or all of these. With Capello you have the best chance of resolving whatever needs resolving.

    ~ A foreigner who still hopes England will turn up, for the sake of the tournament.

  • Comment number 83.

    No hunger.
    No passion.
    No pride.
    Not a clue and do not care ...........
    Spoilt by the Premier League !
    Send these spoilt kids home as soon as possible, stop wasting our time with pathetic displays.
    England players should be drawn from the Championship or lower leagues where players have something to prove and a desire to perform.

  • Comment number 84.

    It was one of the worst performances by an England team I can remember. And I had to get up at 4.30am to watch it!

    How many poor games in a row have England now played in the World Cup? The last good performance was against Denmark in 2002.

    Let's hope that like previous tournaments, England will improve as time goes on.

  • Comment number 85.

    What has been written has said it all. I was watching, suddenly, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. I was happy to miss it. Did I miss much?

  • Comment number 86.

    At the showcase of world football England have failed to demonstrate any worthy goods. Sadly this has been so for most of their appearances in major tournaments, lots of talk but very little display. Two very dismal displays have convinced many that England are not a world power in the sport. World class teams display world class players who even in defeat leave their 'skills' in the memories of the viewers. (Spain in defeat) Rooney has yet to prove his class but definitely displays his temperament. Any team lacking initiative, imagination and determination has no chance at this level. It would appear that all the creative players (THE CREAM) in the EPL are now playing with their respective countries and left the ball runners (dregs)on duty for England. I spent many years in England and attended many games including 90 Cup Final and replay, Man U v Crystal Palace, I played a bit too for a small island who never made it and I love the English game but sadly it has not gone very far forward (maybe, yes financially).I live in LA but still watch European games..NEVER MLS nor do I support the US. Should have beaten the USA
    I do hope England improve.

  • Comment number 87.

    Since the return of Rio Ferdinand, it is an unpalatable fact that we have only one player in this squad with the technical ability required to play international football consistently well. I can only assume that this player has been caught performing some unspeakably unnatural act with a close member of the manager's family. How else can you explain him not starting in the last two games and then not getting a minute as substitute whilst Sean Wright-Phillips (yes, the willing but oh so clueless Short Wide Player) is preferred not just once, but twice instead of him. In his worst nightmares he could not plumb the depths of technical incompetence displayed by the much lauded Gerard and Lampard. And let's not pretend that this is some one-off aberration and face the truth. Both these "world class" players have received innumerable opportunities in an England shirt to demonstrate that they can adjust to the different demands of international football, and far too often have come up woefully short. I am sick and tired of the excuses offered by and for Gerard concerning where he needs to be played to get the best out of his God-given talent - Gerard generally plays wherever he damn well pleases, as the Algeria game amply demonstrated. Is it just my imagination, or is he not the most selfish, ill-disciplined and over-rated footballer on God's green earth who would be lucky to make the squad in a decent international team? As for Lampard - since his penalty taking touch has deserted him, his only use is as a goal scoring midfield player without portfolio - he cannot play in a central two at any level, never mind internationally, and as shown at Chelsea needs to be in front of one or preferably two defence minded central partners and behind a battering ram of a centre forward that allows him to arrive unnoticed around the edge of the box. Which brings us to the final unpalatable truth. Wayne Rooney is still not quite the complete finished article that the media would have us believe. Ball retention and close distribution is not yet his real strength. Any formation that encourages him to drop deep, and try to feed off second ball scraps, risks robbing the team of its greatest striking asset, which is him in and around the penalty area where he belongs. What he desperately needs, and is not getting, is service. Where is someone with a bit of creative spark, an eye for a pass and the ability to deliver it? Who is really comfortable with the ball and the pace and style of international football? So come on Joe - be a a man and apologise to the manager for whatever egregious offence you have caused him and his loved ones - your country and the blessed Wayne need you.

  • Comment number 88.

    Dear God, England on the brink? We are two games in, unless we had won both games we were BOUND to be on the brink. Nearly every team is still on the brink if results don't go their way. Yes the performance was poor, but it's a tournament. Win the next game, problem over. This is the BBC chief football writer? I have more sympathy with fans who pay to go watch than this over-reactionary blog from someone we pay to go there and write intelligent content. What next? Germany on the brink? Spain? Brazil? France, need I go on?

  • Comment number 89.

    Heskey gets a six and should be rotated off. Rooney gets a four and all is swell?

  • Comment number 90.

    "How Capello responds to this shocking night will shape much of his future as England coach. No-one is suggesting his job would be in immediate jeopardy should England fail to beat Slovenia, but such a failure would represent a damaging scar on his reputation and would take major repair."

    Weren't you a huge Capello fan prior to the WC Phil? As for his job not being in immediate jeopardy......possibly only because the FA have done a 'Liverpool' with the contract! Do you honestly think that if England go out next Wednesday or in the round of 16 that the press won't vilify Capello and make his position untenable?

    You yourself have already turned on him and the sound of knives being sharpened is starting to drown out even the vuvuzelas!

    But I'm not for one minute suggesting that the criticism is unwarranted.

    Capello looked lost last night. His demeanour and body language did not represent what you'd expect from a confident and capable manager. He's run out of ideas, especially regarding how to change things.....mainly because he has an abysmal squad:

    Goalkeepers: A mess that should have been sorted a year ago by picking someone and sticking with them.....Capello's fault.

    RB: Johnson is unproven at this level and is poor defensively....but right now there's no alternative (which is shocking for a coutry the size of England)....NOT Capello's fault.

    CB: Rio, Brown, Jagielka, Lescott all lost to injury and now King also... NOT Capello's fault. Bringing the dreadful Carragher out of retirement and actually playing him...Capello's fault.

    CM: Playing Gerrard out of position and failing to find a system that facilitates Gerrard/Lampard, or dropping one of them....Capello's fault.

    DM: Maybe unlucky with the injury to Barry but let's face it, Barry is very average in world terms. Why bother to include Carrick as back-up if you've no intention of using him? A left winger would have been a better option....Capello's fault.

    Wing: Even having SWP in the squad raised eyebrows. Here's a guy who has never been able to hold down a regular place at club level. Ignoring the option that Joe Cole provides and not having an orthodox left winger in the squad.....Capello's fault.

    Striker: Persisting with Heskey when the rest of the country can see he isn't good enough. Failing to even try playing Gerrard off Rooney, when the rest of the country believe that this is the best option in attack....Capello's fault.

    But for all the blame that can be laid at Capello's feet the fact is that the team look bereft of confidence, passion and form. There were too many question marks over too many positions going into this competition for England to have any chance of winning it.

    However, if the 'big' players all performed to the best of their abilities then there was hope of at least going a long way and having something to be proud of. Unfortunately the opposite has happened. Mr "England's chances are finished if he gets injured" Rooney...absolutely shocking and so far he's been in very good company.

    It's that bad I just can't see any chance of turning it around at this point! Beating Slovenia, yes, but beyond that a miracle will be needed.


  • Comment number 91.

    Bring them home. Stop humiliating the good players that were left behind, if we have any. After all, the premier league, some say the best league in the world is stuffed with foreign payers, so how can we have a good national squad.

    The premier league is the biggest disaster in the history of British football. It's time to cut it off, and start our football with the Champions League. They can't produce any worst players that the 'jokes' who are in South Africa right now.

    The England squad coming home after Wednesday could be the best thing that happens, as it will finally get through to players and coaches that England is synonymous with the feeling that all they have to do is turn up on the pitch after all the games they played were not against the best squads and now they can't even beat them.

    And Rooney needs a lesson in growing up and stop acting like a petulant schoolboy. He was rubbish on the night. What did he expect?

  • Comment number 92.

    I've shared all the disappointments down the years but always clung onto some kind of hope, but I've never lost it completely before like now after last night's performance. I feel like a supporter of an FA Cup minnow dreaming of a giant killing against the 2 million might of Slovenia in our Cup Final on Wednesday.

    How do you explain that? Overrated, tired, nervous, bad tactics, bad execution? For me, Aaron Lennon was symptomatic of whatever the disease is. I was looking forward to his blistering pace giving their left side the runaround, but every time he got the ball I can't remember him once trying to get around the back, preferring to turn back and offload the responsibility as soon as possible to someone in a far less promising position, but even then often failing to deliver the ball only a few yards without making it bobble and/or the teammate able to gain an advantage over his opponent/s through the correctly angled and weighted pass. One of the first things I was ever taught was pass the ball as you would expect to receive it. I can't think of a reason for Aaron to be in the team if he isn't going to take defenders on. And I don't know what's going on with Wayne Rooney. Personally, I don't think he's been right since that Bayern semi-final first leg. Steven Gerrard had a poor game, but at least was trying to get things going. The same as Frank Ribery for France, I've never seen what all the fuss is about with Frank Lampard. Yes, he does score all those goals for Chelsea often arriving late in the box, but in the role he plays for England as a supposed creative player, besides looking a nervous wreck, his ball control is poor, he doesn't successfully dribble past opponents, and his passes lack deftness.

    Unbelievably, we can still finish top of our group, but unless we improve hugely, you might as well hand in the keys to Reception now Phil, and for the players it might be a good idea to re-direct the flight to some small island in the middle of the ocean. Just think we've got another 4 days of this torture of blogs, but of course praying longer.

    And #48, Joseph McGranaghan, like many other England supporters, I've never booed whatever team I've supported, am no thug, and try to be open-minded, so you're out of order.

  • Comment number 93.

    Yes the players were bad. I couldn't believe what I was watching. But there is talent there.

    Unfortunately, players these days are overpaid, molly coddled, undisciplined, egoists - and yes BOYS - I agree with 15 - who should get out more, play abroad in a different footballing culture and stop believing in all the hype about themselves about being in the same bracket as Messi (Rooney).

    They also represent a country whose empire has gone long ago and the national psyche is, like theirs, thus damaged.

    All in all, the complex psychology of a player is important. How does non psychologist unshackle their minds in three weeks?

    You might think they'd want to play for their country with the Princes watching. You might think they'd want to 'die' for their country on the pitch. Not a bit of it. The country like them live in the past and a present of material riches.

    They say all the right things in front of the camera and no doubt do all the right things on the training ground. but on thre pitch...forget it. They are collectively shackled, physically numbed.

    Capello is the right choice to try (and fail) to lick these overpaid preening egos into collective shape. God forbid we go back to player power and stroking of ego and saying there there!!!

    In the end it's a physical sport. Those players looked physically drained, lacking zip in movement. OK on the training pitch but not for real. Whatever anyone says, if they're exhausted from a long hard season without a single break, playing in 3/4 competitions with all the expectations heaped on them....

    I hope we can all see them for what they are even if the players don't. I hope the players can defy my expectations find some kind of spirit, an inner spark.

  • Comment number 94.

    The Scotland fans will probably be happy to have their World Cup song borrowed,"You're only here for the money".
    What a dire non-event.
    England's best attempt on goal was by Carragher after 16 minutes and was saved by James. At least he had the sense to get carded.
    Someone told me once that the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result! You could play Heskey 'til hell freezes over and never bother the net.
    Start with Joe Cole, Defoe & Crouch, give Lennon the freedom he has at Spurs and try to score goals...please. Look at the self belief the USA has and try to grow some pride...or just come home and leave us watching the tennis.

  • Comment number 95.

    @ comment 88

    France aren't on the brink, they're on the plane home, call me cynical but who thinks that Uruguay v Mexico isn't going to be a draw and both teams qualify!!!

    So who's going to win the World Cup?

    I still agree with my pick from when the Walcott blog was on here, Argentina to beat Brazil in the final!

  • Comment number 96.

    P.S. Don't forget England have still got to play the best team in their group! (so far)...

  • Comment number 97.

    After that dismal display, England will have to change their perspective. History shows that teams like Italy who are generally slow starters, go under the radar with a couple of less than average performances, to then go far in the competition. For England the knockout phase starts on Wednesday against Slovenia. We can look at it as a "Last 32 match". After all the biggest optimist would say that 'We're only 5 wins away from being world champions!'

  • Comment number 98.

    So, what happened to the England manager who was 'going to make the tough decisions' and 'play the players who are in form.' Well looking at the squad shouldn't Heskey be on Safari and Joe Cole ripping down the left wing for England. I can tell you that Fabio has to change something drastically, even if it isn't the players. Passion and belief spring first to mind.

  • Comment number 99.

    I was at the game in Cape Town tonight, and I completely understand the frustration of the 30-40000 England fans present. England were awful, and the fact that the fans have paid hard earned cash to go down and support their team, definitely gives them the right to respond if England perform as poorly as they did tonight. The fact that Wayne Rooney reacts to this is in my view a disgrace, as he was poor beyond belief, had very little desire like most of the rest of the team. These people have paid thousands of pounds to travel down to SA to support their nation. They are not the "fair-weather" supporters who pop over to Europe when England are in a big tournament....Wayne Rooney you are a disgrace, and as a Man U fan I find that hard to fathom....

  • Comment number 100.

    excellent blog phil - england were dire and as you state rooney should apologise for his and the team's performance. however i would like to make 1 comment about capello - i think it does no good to have a manager constantly prowling the technical area and throwing his hands up in horror at every england poor pass or perceived mistake by the referee ( ie when he gives a decision against england ! ) , and constantly barking orders to his players. i like the way that the algerian manager sat in the dug out and hardly moved all game accepting decisions philosophically and let his players get on with it - capello could learn from this as his frustration transmits itself to his team. so capello choose your team then sit down and shut up !

 

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