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Rooney fights England's corner

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Phil McNulty | 23:00 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Rustenburg

Franz Beckenbauer's wide-ranging condemnation of England has had an instant and desired effect - at least as far as manager Fabio Capello is concerned.

Wayne Rooney's cold-eyed response to a German inquisitor at England's Rustenburg training base was enough to confirm that criticism levelled by 'Der Kaiser' has been carefully noted by Capello's biggest weapon.

The representative of German newspaper Bild asked: "If you qualify for the next round, which I'm convinced you will, would you prefer to play Germany?"

Rooney did not even blink as he replied: "Of course. Yes." And when pressed for an explanation, he added: "Because it would be nice to beat them."

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Rooney says he has no problem with the World Cup ball

Cue headlines for Bild - and cue a vital sign that Rooney is desperate to make his impact on a World Cup that got off to a slow start for the 24-year-old Manchester United striker against the United States.

The exchange was brief but laced with significance. Rooney was delivering the message that England are unmoved by German mind games or efforts to dent confidence ahead of a potential meeting further down the line.

Rooney has admitted that he struggles to cope with the boredom of "Camp England" life during major tournaments. The games are what he lives for. And his desire to emulate legends such as Pele and Diego Maradona and put his name to a World Cup was obvious in every word at Wednesday's media conference.

"The last World Cup was a disappointment for me after getting sent off against Portugal, so I'm looking to do well in this one," Rooney reflected. "The thing that drives me on is trying to win for England and trying to do well at world level.

"You think of the history of the World Cup and you look at what Maradona did in the 1986 World Cup and what Pele did in three World Cups. They are the two stand-out players who took this tournament by the scruff of the neck and virtually won it single-handedly. If I can do half of what they did, it would be great."

And Beckenbauer's pessimistic message may just have provided an extra incentive for Rooney to work off his obvious frustrations on Joachim Loew's developing Germany team should they meet in the last 16.

Rooney's regime at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus offers him ample opportunities to improve his snooker and darts - but there is no disguising it is on the football pitch where he would prefer to exercise his natural competitive instincts.

"I don't really enjoy sitting around or lying in bed at two in the afternoon," he added. "It is quite boring, but thankfully the games are on now and we can watch them. It takes a bit of the boredom away."

Rooney's typical day - "breakfast, training, lunch, bed, dinner, bed" - is all preparation for his role as England's attacking spearhead, a player as close to irreplaceable as Capello possesses.

Capello may toy with the idea of playing a different strike pairing against Algeria on Friday - he says he is currently torn between Tottenham's Jermain Defoe and Aston Villa's Emile Heskey - but one factor will remain constant throughout England's time here in South Africa.

And it is the absolute reality that England's hopes of serious progress in the World Cup rest heavily on Rooney's broad shoulders.

He was a subdued figure against the United States but is confident he is now in the sort of form and fitness that enabled him to keep Manchester United's ultimately vain title pursuit alive almost single-handedly at times last season.

"I think this is a great opportunity for England and also for myself to prove myself at world level," commented Rooney. "If I didn't do that, I would be disappointed."

It came as something of a surprise to hear Capello state that he is considering exchanging Heskey for Defoe against the Algerians, as Rooney has never looked a natural fit alongside the Spurs striker, whose best work for England has come as an impact substitute.


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Capello admits Barry will start


If Capello is not erecting a smokescreen and is seriously contemplating an attacking change, with Gareth Barry also finally fit to return in midfield, Peter Crouch's excellent goal record might make him a more deserving case to come in to face Algeria than his Spurs club-mate Defoe.

Crouch's efforts at international level are often damned with the faint praise of suggesting he only flourishes against the lesser lights of international football - which means Algeria surely fall into the category of opposition he has terrorised for England.

Whoever is selected, Capello will be happy to see Rooney place them firmly in his giant shadow by producing the sort of performance that makes him one of England's few undisputed world-class players.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    NIce blog Phil. Personally i'd like to see how we play with Defoe and Rooney. Its frustrating that we have to put Gerrard on the left because of that though.

    As for Germany, as Keegan would say 'I'd love it it we beat them!'

  • Comment number 2.

    Great blog. I would love to see Rooney live up to his potential and set England alight, I remember what he did during euro 2004 before he got injured, and how well we performed when he was spearheading the attack.

    I pray that he plays a 4-5-1 now with barry holding the midfield and offering support to the defense, whilst having Cole and Lennon on the wings, and lampard more central and Gerrard more attacking, this is the most talented experienced and best line up, these are the players that can make a difference. Cole has been overlooked, but I stil remember the hard working creative skillful and talented player he was not so long ago, he was one of our best performers and he still can be.

    We need to send a message out that we can win this, and for me this means playing our best players, Crouch is not good enough, Defoe is not good enough, SWP is not good enough, they are not world cup winners, good options to have on the bench but not world class.

    We need to use Algeria and Slovenia as games to solidify a set formation and starting 11, i do not believe having players like Crouch in because he is good against minor opposition is advisable, play the team we would in the knockouts and if it doesnt work well against algeria and slovenia then its not going to against more dangerous opposition, and we will be knocked out.

    We need to start caring less about who we play in the next round, and believe no matter who it is we can win. If the players dont believe, then we will never win, no more penalties or extra time, we need to be ruthless and go for the win in 90.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don’t think Rooney needs any “extra incentive”. Beckenbauer wasn’t trying to dent confidence he clearly wants to fire England up so they run around like lunatics rather than remain calm and play to a plan and system laid out by the manager. If any England players do get riled by his comments then he will have succeeded.

  • Comment number 4.

    "2. At 11:54pm on 16 Jun 2010, mcguirk12 wrote:

    We need to start caring less about who we play in the next round, and believe no matter who it is we can win. If the players dont believe, then we will never win, no more penalties or extra time, we need to be ruthless and go for the win in 90."

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

    Well said mate!

  • Comment number 5.

    Gerrard was the only player who showed up against the US. If there is a repeat of this expect a draw against Algeria.

  • Comment number 6.

    Honestly what does Crouch have to do to start these games. Heskey has never scored goals and while I would pick Defoe over him I would choose Crouchy first. Someone please tell me why we dont like goalscorers in England!!

  • Comment number 7.

    I wish we could play Germany. If you are going to win the world cup then you have to beat the best yourselves and not let others do your work for you. I much rather exit in a 90 minute blinder to the likes of Brazil than live in the twilight world of losing on penalties to mexico

  • Comment number 8.

    The Germans team fears that Capello has somehow dispelled our penalty taking nightmares, and that Tancredi has turned our keepers into match winners. If England no longer genuinely fears failure in penalty shootouts, then they can play with confidence and ultimately reach their full potential. Rooney epitomises this mindset, why fear Germany if you have succeeded consistently against their players in the champions league? - these kind of mind games are now the bread and butter of our players in the premier league, infact they seem to act more of a goad for players to excel than revert to any base type.

    Rooney is struggling because the opposition see him as the only credible threat in the scoring positions. The four proven players who should be on the pitch in scoring positions are Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, and Crouch. Freeing them to attack without restraint and causing chaos in the opposition defence is seemingly the England problem. Should England adopt the Argentine, Brazilian, Chilean, or Urguay method? - Crouch leading the point of the speartip with Rooney, Lampard, and Gerrard interchanging from behind.

    Defence as can be seen from the Switzerland performance is about organisation, commitment, and common sense. Gerrard and Johnson both played well against the USA, and maybe that was due to been combined with Carrigher. Carrigher seemed to be instrumental in organising and then feeding both Gerrard and Johnson with possesion, much like Terry does for Coe and Lampard. Looking at the breakway on goal that hit the post in the second half, although Carrigher struggled to cut off the attacker it is ultimately Lennon who gives the ball away at the halfway line too cheapily by passing laterally through the oppositions players when he was the last man on that side of the pitch!

    As for keeping the ball, when Glen Johnson went off for the blood injury treatment, England seemingly found out how to do it for several minutes before reverting to type. I do not think this is a reflection on Johnson but more on where Rooney ended up in relationship to Gerrard and Lampard.

    Heskey was one of the better players against the USA, and also is a key player in balancing out the England defence on dead ball plays. Maybe it is time to find him a different position to play in the team. Good in the air, excellent at closing down, runs all day, keep possession, and rarely misses a tackle. Having seen Brazil playing ROK, perhaps Heskey should be paired with Barry to create the Great Wall, thus allowing Ashely Cole and Johnson more freedom to maraude forward to supply credible balls from the wings. It also means you get to keep the considerable positives brought to Englands attack and defence at dead ball plays.

    Dempsey shot is reminiscent of a Souness goal versus West Ham in a crucial game, that was apparently at the time put due to lack of keepers attention and focus in the game. Did Green lose concentration? Why play Milner if obviously unfit for that game? Why play King instead of Upson? - Green, Terry, Milner, and Upson, all strangely seem to be suffering in some manner from altitude, perhaps this was instrumental in selection and the loss of both fitness and focus for players in the first game.

    The Green error, is the side step down on one knee move to such balls that seems so popular with the current crop of England keepers. Unfortunately that technique has been institutionalised into recent England keepers, Hart though seems an exception to this rule but maybe that is because he is a much bigger keeper. I am reminded that there was one particular past england keeper who made the same errors over and over again, famously in club games and (home) internationals. That is the assistant goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence (note to Kevin Keegan on ITV, Tancredi is the coach not Clemence). Tancredi improved Jamie Theakstons penalty technique for the Celebrity games which Clemence failed to do so under the previous management hopefuly a similair improvement is forthcoming from Englands professionals.

    Looking into the influence of Triesman, Brooking, and Clemence, in the selection of Green might shed some light on how the original squad was constructed (Adam Johnson revealing that Baldini was the one to ring him on ITV with James Corden). Is this squad entirely Team Capello or partially due to other influences?

    Not sure what the reasoning was for selecting King in the first place, especially given that ongoing injuries were so bad that he was unable to even play garden football with his son nevermind that they prevented training with the rest of the squad (team cohesion). Was King selected only as a backup incase of a Rio suspenson? Why keep King in the squad when Rio was ruled out? Why did it seemingly take 40mins to relay news of Kings injury after only 4mins ? - The injury obviously hampered Kings movement and fundamentally changed the balance of the team to defend King rather than the goal, it led to one goal and gave at least another good chance to score from a header. If someone is that badly injured that it effects the whole team performance surely you substitute them as a priority and not wait another forty minutes?

    Is England team selection too predictible, even though there are 23 players - realistically only 16 have actually any serious chance of been on the pitch?

    An experimental team for Algeria:

    Hart
    Johnson, Carrigher, Terry, A Cole
    Heskey, Barry
    Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard
    Crouch

    Substitues from: Lennon, J Cole, Milner, Dawson, Defoe

  • Comment number 9.

    Having now watched all the teams play at least one game i now believe England can go very far if Rooney starts playing.He can set the world
    alight if he gets that spark.I'm sure he knows it.
    Great to see Rooney mature into an eloquent observer of the game.
    Who wouldn't be bored locked up with John Terry for weeks on end?
    Go on Rooney.
    Be an English legend!

  • Comment number 10.

    People shouldn't really criticise the Defoe/Rooney combination yet - they've not had anywhere near enough game time to gel. And I don't buy into any arguments about them being too similar or anything like that either. Rooney played very well in tandem with Michael Owen in Euro 2004, and the comparisons between him and Defoe are all too obvious. If those two can work together, then Defoe and Rooney should be able to operate cohesively together.

    I have to admit, I'd feel quite sorry for Heskey if he got dropped, though. Personally I thought he played really well last week, even taking into account his big miss. He doesn't really deserve to be dropped, to be fair, and I find that really hard to say, believe me!

  • Comment number 11.

    #8 notasquick - I'm a fan of the 4-5-1 formation, it would allow Rooney more time on the ball, but I can't believe you're suggesting Heskey should play a defensive midfield role!? How about;

    Hart
    Johnson Dawson Terry A.Cole
    Carrick Barry
    Gerrard Rooney Lampard
    Crouch

    However, as we're in the middle of a world cup, it really isn't the time for experimentation.

  • Comment number 12.

    Phil, nice to see you taking a step towards realism. As far as England's performance in one match is concerned you have to feel like an Englishman and not just as an English media man. We now have quite a few results, as well as know how dicey is this Jabulani from Addidas and can put England's performance in perspective. We also should now have more respect for the USA football.

    There were some errors of judgment from Capello but mainly it were the first match nerves that shackled England that combined with a heavy injury-ridden kitty.

    If I were to try and sum it up I would say England did not play their natural game; they allowed themselves to be weighed down by expectations, and also a faulty presumption about their opponent.

  • Comment number 13.

    Collective knowledge should not be underestimated. How many millions of would-be managers have the same formation/team? 4-5-1 with midfield of Cole, Lamps, Barry and Lennon, with Gerard pushing forward to support Rooney. Come on Capello, succumb to the masses!

  • Comment number 14.

    From my amateur footy days I can remember how defenders generally hated playng against pace. With Defoe we certainly have that.

  • Comment number 15.

    Heskey in defensive midfield? Just because he prevents goals at one end doesn't mean he has defensive ability.

    I agree with mcguirk12, we should line up something like;

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

    with Lampard and Gerrard alternating. then we have options from the bench should we need to open up a bit.

    And Lennon needs early service, he can shine in this world cup, but he needs it early. In fact we need to move the ball around a lot quicker, there were too many touches in our first game, too many players wanting to put their individual stamp on proceedings. We have individuals who can shine but we need to get playing as a team first, zipping the ball around, working space.

  • Comment number 16.

    We have to be brutally honest with ourselves in that the "English lads" just don't seem to have the technical ability to unlock stubborn defences nor can adapt to defending those opponents who can if we make it deeper into the tournie. Our style is still often regimented, our build up / approach play is slow and predictable and we don't have players who are true masters of the ball. Formations are important of course but really are only the temporary relationships that players form with each other during dynamic play. We rarely show clever movement off the ball and guile while on it (why Adam Johnson was not picked is criminal). I wonder what types of combinations and approach play we actually work on in training. Too many straight lines and not enough triangles! To see us resort to the amount of long balls to Heskey was painful and by bringing on Crouch, it is simply asking for more of the same. I can't just give a good old moan though without a potential solution with, sadly, limited options but we do have some. I think we could utilize perhaps our most gifted technical player, Joe "in the hole" Cole just behind Rooney (if a 4-4-2) and a case could be made for Gerrard in this role also. However this still leaves us with the Gerrard / Lampard conundrum and the 4-5-1 is the only way to solve that one and still have good width and service from true wingers supported by overlapping fullbacks. I just hate to see Gerrard wasted on the left but that’s what a lacklustre Milner and the exclusion of Johnson might sadly force. I would however have the balls to drop or sub Lampard and this is from a Chelsea fan !! (he was non-existent against the US). The use of Barry will completely change our fortunes in my opinion so light perhaps at the end of the tunnel. The holding role is the lynchpin of any great team. "Notasquick" you made some nice points but I'm sorry, Heskey has to go and has NO place in the midfield. The mobility and passing range required to play center midfield escapes him completely and the lad can't even shoot. So for me, the 4-5-1 (4-3-3 in attack with license for attacking midfielders and outside fullbacks to join in too) will create diagonal movements, better penetrating passing lanes and a team shape that would finally release both Gerrard and Lampard (the latter perhaps replaced by Joe Cole). Carragher (just too slow) warms my bench and I give the in-form Dawson a shot (can only go by what he's done for Spurs lately) over the Carragher / Upson options. A.Cole and G.Johnson pick themselves. I'd rather see Joe Cole out left but 'pinched in' and cutting inside often with A.Cole providing width, support and left footed crosses if pushed into a decision that keeps Gerrard central rather than Shaun Wright cul-de-sac out wide if Milner can't shake his illness (A.Johnson omission again per-leeeze????). Lennon despite his shoddy service at times, still makes my team due to his pace and trickery. Come on England, get crafty !!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    As usual everybody is entitled to Phil's opinion. Be that as it may it is no use, it may even be foolish to deploy SG out of position and then mourn endlessly about how the great SG drifts in and out of a game. As I see it Capello has to decide to play to the strengths of WR and someone else (SG?). Then build a team around the two as they do in most other sports. Remember the Italian Trident System (Mattaus, Klinsman, Brehme at Inter), (Gullit, Rykard, Van Basten at Milan) or the Shaq?Kobe Axis at LA lakers. The coach has to decide the stars and deploy a supporting cast. As it is now trying an all star team, with almost everybody out of position will only end in Tears (certainly not FC's tears).

  • Comment number 18.

    'Come on Capello, succumb to the masses!'

    Ha ha. The best punchline exhortation.

  • Comment number 19.

    Play for a second place group finish then. I would rather see England go farther but if you want to lose to Germany and be done with it I understand.

  • Comment number 20.

    I know England can win this World Cup, but they have to have an outstading keeper, i hate all this mistakes by England keepers. Defenders also have to response.
    Rooney can do everything, hope he'll wint the golden boot.
    By the way, nice blog Phil.

  • Comment number 21.

    i would like to see Rooney partner Crouch upfront, especially against a team like Algeria

  • Comment number 22.

    As Algeria lurk menacingly on England's radar, the weight of a nation's expectation accumulates. Wayne Rooney may say he doesn't feel the pressure, just as Rob Green said instantly after the US game that he'd put that goal behind him, but I for one don't buy either. Let's hope he can handle it, or better still, that our other big players weigh in with some heavyweight performances of their own and spread the load.

  • Comment number 23.

    Don't know what the fuss is about Beckenbauer's comments. He only told the truth. Capello picked at least 3 players that should have stayed on the bench & will now tinker with the squad as he usually does to try to get it right tomorrow. All this should have been sorted 2 months ago & the team should feel comfortable playing with each other. Instead no-one knows if they're even going to be picked themselves, neve mind who they will play alongside. How can that help England?

  • Comment number 24.

    Phil - I dont now where you got the headline from but I watched the press conference too and Rooney was in no way "riled".

    If the idea is for the BBC to report news in a "Tabloid Press" type way, then I think you are going down a very slippery slope. For me, I prefer the BBC to report in an even handed way.

    Andrew Bond (you should read his last bog and comments) was almost universally criticised when he tried it after the England match and I think rightly so.

    Lets have a bit less of the "tabloid" and a bit more "reliable, trusted, BBC"

  • Comment number 25.

    @24
    The headline I was talking about was taken from the front page of BBC 606: See below

    "Beckenbauer's blast riles Rooney
    The England striker is ready to respond to the Kaiser's criticism, says Phil McNulty"

  • Comment number 26.

    England's got the players to perform at this level. They can retain possession and they can play good attacking football. They got the skills but I am not too sure if they have the mental strength to do so. I am sick and tired of Capello's persistence with Heskey. He should not play more than 45 minutes if England needs to score.
    If Rooney performs well for England, England can get very far. Gerrard has stepped up a level and need Lampard and others to do so.

  • Comment number 27.

    So Beckenbauer stating the bloody obvious is what is needed to motivate Rooney and England?!?! Right, whatever. One would have thought this was Capello's job and shouldn't require 3rd person intervention at all - but what do I know.

  • Comment number 28.

    Was going to post, but someone's already said it:


    Phil - I dont now where you got the headline from but I watched the press conference too and Rooney was in no way "riled".

    If the idea is for the BBC to report news in a "Tabloid Press" type way, then I think you are going down a very slippery slope. For me, I prefer the BBC to report in an even handed way.

    Andrew Bond (you should read his last bog and comments) was almost universally criticised when he tried it after the England match and I think rightly so.

    Lets have a bit less of the "tabloid" and a bit more "reliable, trusted, BBC"

  • Comment number 29.

    is it me or the press are making Barry look like a Zidane or Rivaldo? its the same old Gareth Barry right?

  • Comment number 30.

    With the nervy opener against the USA out of the way, Rooney and co. should really be fired up for Friday's Algeria match. Personally. I don't really care who plays so long as they play to the best of their abilities and without fear of losing. Trouble is it's at altitude, which means they'll have to find a delicate balance between energy conservation and high work rate. But at least it's an evening kick-off so it should be cooler. I'm expecting a couple of early (England) goals then shut up shop with a trio of fresh subs. But that's probably what the Spaniards said...

  • Comment number 31.

    The Heskey debate will rumble on and on and I think that it is unlikely that people will change their opinions at this stage but for what its worth, here's my take on it.

    England's big drawback in these tournaments (and one hinted at strongly by Beckenbauer) is that they don't have the ability to retain posession like the other teams. When you watch Capello on the touchline, his frustration at our lack of class in this respect is evident.

    In terms of striking options, Heskey is our best bet for retention of the ball. His size and strength means that when he receives a pass, whether long or short, defenders struggle to win the duel. Posession is retained and he will then usually play a simple pass to a team mate. Whilst this may not sound like a big deal, it is an assett that neither Crouch or Defoe have. Whilst Gerrard is able to do this in the space of midfield, he is not so good at doing this when directly under challenge from a defender.

    It won't be an ideal solution for as long as Heskey fails to find the net (and I think most of us have given up on this aspect of the game by now) but if people believe that retention of the ball is key to progress in this tournament (and I do) then they have to at least offer consideration to the fact that Heskey may be our best option.

  • Comment number 32.

    So Rooney says "it would be nice to beat Germany" and you make a story out of it. Now if Rooney had said he was afraid of meeting Germany, THAT would be a story.
    Then we are told about Rooney's typical day and how he has opportunities to sharpen up his snooker and his darts.
    The standard of football and level of entertainment in the World Cup has been atrocious to date. This blog is in keeping with it unfortunately. I hope everyone, players, coaches and media improve as it goes on.

  • Comment number 33.

    Rooney was delivering the message that England are unmoved by German mind games or efforts to dent confidence ahead of a potential meeting further down the line.
    ---------------

    Utter nonsense. Rooney would have said the same thing regerdless of the German comments, he is the type who wants to play against the best and beat them rather than plot an easy course.

  • Comment number 34.

    is it me or the press are making Barry look like a Zidane or Rivaldo? its the same old Gareth Barry right?
    -------------------
    No, they are making him look like Marco Senna or Dieter Eilts. Limited but important player who fills a specific role in the defensive midfield area. What is actually what he is.

  • Comment number 35.

    Here's something else just to expand the "Germany" theme:

    This World Cup the ball has been the cause of great angst. However, the Germans seem to be coping very well with it. Why is this significant? Well the Bundesliger has been using this ball ALL LAST SEASON.

    Does it seem strange that one country could be spoon fed such and advantage?

    Just cast your mind back to how Germany secured the World Cup in 2006. A New Zealand official inexplicably voted for Germany when the New Zealand Football Association had given him clear instructions to vote for South Africa.

    Its a conspiracy theorists heaven.

  • Comment number 36.

    In terms of striking options, Heskey is our best bet for retention of the ball. His size and strength means that when he receives a pass, whether long or short, defenders struggle to win the duel.
    -----------------
    Rubbish. No other team relies on a big striker to "retain posession" in that way. The possesion is retained by the midfield making the right decision about who to pass to and when. Our midfield is encouraged to play faster and earlier (nearly always means less acurately) up to the front by the very fact that Heskey is there.

    The ONLY thing he brings to the team is the ability to pull defenders away from Rooney when the ball is chucked up for him to head.

    If we want to retain better then we go with 4-5-1 with Barry, Lampard and Gerrard in the middle, Lampard and Gerrard can take turns stepping forward to support Rooney with Lennon and Milner/Cole on the wings offering width (not wandering into the middle please Joe)

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm not that worried.

    So we started slow - but so have many of the other best teams.

    We drew our first game in 1966 too.

    I'm confident of a win on Friday.

    I would play Defoe & Crouch.

  • Comment number 38.

    Rooney swatted Beckenbauer's comments really well and gave a confident press conference where he compared himself to past "stand-out" players. This is a far more subtle and effective way of playing mind games with our opposition.

    Can't wait to see England face the Germans in what feels like an inevitable encounter!

  • Comment number 39.

    Hart

    Johnson Dawson Terry A Cole
    Barry
    Lennon Lampard J Cole
    Gerrard
    Rooney

    That should do it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Personally I can only see Beckenbauer's comments as a positive thing, because anything to get the players fired up is fine by me and I can only see it doing this. Any England player who hears these comments and gets mentally affected by them to the point of it having a negative effect on their game should surely not be in the game, let alone the England squad for the World Cup.

    Beckenbauer is trying to use the disappointing result against the USA, and the parallel opposite result that the Germans had, as the perfect time to heap more pressure on our team. But this is the first game of the World Cup and nothing can and should be judged at this stage. On top of that, there are many reasons for the first match performances of both sides, including new ball, altitude (great site here by the way to see the stadiums in South Africa on a map and great video footage - The World Cup Map) and even nerves.

    I have every confidence that the team and the results are going to get better, and that when we do finally face the Germans (whether in the first knock out game or later) Beckenbauer will be regretting his comments!

    Come on England!!!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    I think AL is quickly becoming Englands most important player. He has pace & end product, if more of the play goes through him there will be more success. England beat Germany, in your dreams!!

  • Comment number 42.

    I don't know about improving my snooker and darts, but if I were out there and whining about the ball as England are doing I'd spend every free moment kicking the thing and trying to get used to it. Doesn't have to be a heavy training session, just passing the ball about and controlling it. They looked scared of the ball against USA, as if they expected the thing to jump up and bite them every time they touched it. They are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy with this ball - everybody plays with it not just us, so they need to get over it.

    And I agree with some other posters - James in goal, Dawson in at the back, Barry holding, J Cole out left, Gerrard tucking in behind Rooney instead of Heskey, but that's not going to happen. And use the wings instead of playing the diagonal ball into the box; the only person who could do that well knackered his achiles playing in Italy. Oh yes, and if they are going to overhit crosses can they please get somebody in on the back post. Frankly I'm feeling a bit pessimistic...

  • Comment number 43.

    "You think of the history of the World Cup and you look at what Maradona did in the 1986 World Cup and what Pele did in three World Cups. They are the two stand-out players who took this tournament by the scruff of the neck and virtually won it single-handedly. If I can do half of what they did, it would be great."

    Maradonna yes, BUT, when did Pele single-handedly win the WC?

    Pele was part of the greatest Brazil team ever to play from 58-70 -Garincha, Zito, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Tostão, Gérson and Rivelino... to name a few.

    Sadly, England ain't Brazil, and Rooney isn't Maradonna!!

  • Comment number 44.

    Beckenbauer World Cup winner as a player, world cup winner as a coach, articulate, thoughtful....Wayne Rooney non of those things, perhaps if our over pampered squad listened a little our credability as a decent side wouldn't be so tenuious.

    Algeria are rubbish but the best capello can offer is Garath Barry! Enough said.

  • Comment number 45.

    How many more blogs are you going to write on the subject Phil?

    Beckenbauer's qualified opinion to which his entitled to express only seems to have "riled" the English journos

  • Comment number 46.

    Well a good attitude to a tight scenario, humour is a good card to pull well done Wayne.
    Speaking of systems and England but what about 3-5-3? Humour, I wonder?

  • Comment number 47.

    Best blog of the World Cup so far by a BBC journalist. This is the kind of stuff I want to read about - the things that we don't already know.

    I'm sick of reading blogs about noise inside the ground, the world cup ball etc. How refreshing to read about something I could only find out about by good journalism.

    I do still think Rooney will shine in the World Cup - although I do think that Capello should consider swapping Heskey for Gerrard instead and host a 5 man midfield. It gives us a lot more options and a heck of a lot more creativity and gives Rooney the lone role he craves.

    What I feel Capello is missing is that yes, England and rooney played great during qualifying but never did we play a world class team. The likes of Germany won't allow Heskey to be so effective and that eliminates him from the game.

  • Comment number 48.

    I fully agree with Pingitland. He's spot on.
    Nevertheless I am fiercely critical of Capello. He has turned out to be quite lacking in many respects:
    Selecting injury-prone player such as King was very naive.
    Carragher is way too slow - that was amply manifest against the USA, nearly cost us a goal.
    Crouch should never have been chosen - he's tall for nothing. He's not a strong header for his height. And he's a poor shot too.
    For me his selection of the 23 left much much to be desired. Apart from resulting in making the wrong decisions, he practically just kept the old team that was there in McLaren's or Erikson's time. He was just not capable of identifying and using new talent during these two years in charge. What the hell was he doing attending all those PL and other games - just to stick to the old failed team.
    And I believe that he's too afraid to drop an under-performing player such as Lampard.

    I believe too that Capello is indecisive. What's this with him not declaring his team until about 2 hours before the game? Entirely not acceptable. For me this shows indecisiveness.

  • Comment number 49.

    Rooney's definately in the right frame of mind at the moment..let's hope he can show it on the pitch.

    I've often wondered why players don't give everything to seize their opportunity of becoming legends at World Cup's just like Pele and Maradona. I scream when I see players like Lennon 'play it safe' by pulling crosses tamely back when in scoring range - when a single goal to their name would immortalise them in English footie history forever. I'd be shooting at every given opportunity! Now's the time chaps..grab it!

  • Comment number 50.

    Why is the fact that the 'Jabulani' has been in use in Germany for a whole season cause for so much anger? This is after you have been told that the offer to use the ball in practice etc. was turned down by the great Capello? I think the english are as usual already preparing for the inevitable inquiry after an early exit. The English should just accept that they do not have the players, the coach, and the system to go far in this WC. Already they have been exposed as pretenders rather than contenders. So after all is said and done there will be more talk of the GerPard conundrum, the presence of a striker who poses ZERO goal threat, and the deployment of aging pensioners at the heart of the English defense!

  • Comment number 51.

    Posts 15 and 39 have got it right.

    Is this another one of those situations where every football brained person in the country knows what team we should pick but the manager doesn't?

    The Heskey/Crouch/Defoe debate is irrelevant. None of them should start, certainly not against the better teams.

    To repeat:

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

    This is the team that can dominate midfield and create chances. Gerrard should never play on the left and Joe Cole is one of the most dangerous players around if given a chance.

  • Comment number 52.

    @15. Charly - Totally agree! Spot on about Lennon being able to thrive off early service.

    Our team are capable of playing better football than we showed against the US - and I think Defoe over Heskey might facilitate that... fewer efforts at chipping the ball up for Heskey to knock it down to nobody. With Defoe and Lennon together there is an alternative option available on how we attack.

  • Comment number 53.

    I just hope and pray that Capello plays to our strenghs and not weaknesses..... Quite clearly our only chance of winning the World Cup is by playing 4 4 1 1....... With Barry holding, and keeping possession allowing Lampard and Gerrard to play there natural games, with Lennon wide adding pace and Cole left..... This is our best chance with Defoe or crouch coming on as impact subs...... Though as I fear he'll probably go with 4 4 2 with Gerrard out wide left which is ridiculous, and whoever upfront...... Same old playing people out of position, why can't Capello see this??????

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I'm becoming increasingly nervous about Mr. Capello. I could not believe it when he was whinging about the ball yesterday. They were the words of a man who does not have confidence in his team. Reminded me so much of something a certain Mr. Erickson would have said (which he has as well in this tournament!)

    The ball is probably a bit naff, but EVERY team has to play with it!

    Also, his treatment of Gareth Barry as some sort of saviour of English football! The guy is a very tidy player who will give our team a bit more balance, granted, but he is not going to win us the World Cup! I don't understand how Capello has revealed he will start with Barry but not confirmed the whole team? He may as well just come out with it and say he needs Barry if we are going to progress in this tournament. Doesn't exactly fill the other players with confidence does it?

    I just wish we'd take a few risks personally. I'd rather us go out of this tournament taking risks and going for it than boring the life out everyone. To me, that means sticking Hart in goal, giving Dawson a run out, starting Joe Cole, and playing Gerrard in behind Rooney as Phil rightly keeps suggesting! We are never going to be Spain, or even a competent passing side, but if we took a few risks and played to our strengths we could do some serious damage to ANY team in this tournament.

    I really hope Capello proves me wrong, but for a man earning £6 million P/A, he should have a settled team by now.

  • Comment number 55.

    England should focus on what is best for them and ignore the Kaiser. Whether he told the truth or not, we do not need him to tell us our flaws and as a representative and elder statesmen for German football he should show more class and not come across in this crowing way. You do not hear Bobby Charlton coming across like and he has more class. England played Heskey up front in our high energy highly effective 5-1 win in 2001, and whilst that German side was different, that was an England performance which I think this side could give (assuming our goalie does not make another schoolboy mistake) too. If we need to play Heskey the we do, and if the Kaiser wants to call it kick n rush or whatever he wants then he can, but we beat them 5-1 then with such a style and whilst I very much doubt that scoreline could be repeated I see no reason we cannot come out on top again.

  • Comment number 56.

    Like Platini, Beckenbauer has a lot to say about the English or other matters he feels qualified to comment on. Interestingly, he always fails to mention the theatrical diving Germans always resort to in International matches and the blatant penalty that should've been awarded to the Aussies the other night. He was a good player in his time and the German public love him. A bit too arrogant for my liking and don't see need for press to pander to his comments. Still, I have mixed feelings about us (England) doing well in this competition as it will only paper over the obvious failings we have in our home-grown players who really can't control the ball well or win it back quickly either - unlike Spanish, Brazilians, Italians and others who seem to be adroit and much more inventive than our lumbering lot. Not enough qualified coaches in our schools or clubs, hence the need to employ more and more foreign ones. They can only do so much and it's usually good old 'endeavour' that gets us so far in WC's. It's the same with cricket (we rely on Africans here). Still, I'd really like to see us stuff a big score right up Franz' mouthpiece against his beloved homeland.

  • Comment number 57.

    Assuming that he sticks to a 4-4-2, I think (and I am probably the only person in the world with this opinion) that he shouldn't start with Rooney...he should go for the spurs pair. It's not because I have any concenrs over Rooney, I just think that suince we are going to be playing against one the the poorest, dirtiest teams in the competition, why expose our greatest asset for the whole 90 mins? Send on Crouch and Defoe who should still be a class above, give them a chance to build some confidence with a few goals whilst taking the sting out of the oposition, then bring Rooney on in the second half whether we need more goals or not.

  • Comment number 58.

    Beckenbauer had a bit of a go about the lack of english players in the epl having a detrimental effect on the england team. Half of the german squad aren't real germans, and are playing for their '2nd country'.
    Hypocrite!

  • Comment number 59.

    Is this article some lame english media attempt to create controversy? I appreciate a good strawman argument but one per article please.

    I watched the Rooney interview and the boy seemed bored by it all. I suppose he is immune to the attempts to inflame by these hacks.

    And Dempsey's remarks about the english being edgy did not include anything about the english being afraid. Something added by the hack to hopefully elicit a good quote or two.

    All an english soap opera.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Beckenbauer's blast riles Rooney"
    "Rooney fights England's corner"
    "Franz Beckenbauer's wide-ranging condemnation of England"

    It's good to see you haven't sensationalised the story in any way Phil!

  • Comment number 61.

    Never one to miss a side swipe at united eh phil. Ah well, other than that, well written. I completely agree that crouch is not effective against the bigger teams, such as Germany and spain, who would keep him very quiet. I think Defoe is our better option because atleast he is a goal threat. If it means him playing as the spear head and dropping Wazza further back in a role he played at united in previous seasons, if this benefits the team, so be it.

  • Comment number 62.

    WHAT ON EARTH DOES CROUCH NEED TO DO TO START? Capello says he likes playing with two strikers, Crouch scores loads of goals and terrorises international defenders from the smaller countries. Oh perhaps will give Jermain a go then!

    This is a no brainer surely - I wonder what all this smokescreen is doing to the players, it may have unsettled green not knowing that he would play, and now Crouch has been given number 9 shirt and is now is last on the list over Defoe and Heskey. What is going on?

  • Comment number 63.

    Reading these blogs there are quite often a few daft comments made. But today I've read one which takes the biscuit....

    Heskey in defensive midfield? Was that a wind up? A red herring in amongst what was otherwise a well written comment?

    The mind boggles!

  • Comment number 64.

    I think we messed up by hiring Copello in the first place. His selection 'dithering' is evidence enough. He is a club manager if he is so good why didn't the italians hire him?

    Why Play Milner instead of Joe Cole(he scores regularly in big games) and seems to always give 120% for England. (great goal at last world cup)

    The Defence is a major worry - should never have risked taking Ledley King if there was a doubt on fitness and recovery times.

    Heskey should not be at the tournement as he is not technically good enough. If he is the 2nd best striker in england then we may as well come home from the world cup now and give up playing football as a nation as that is shameful.

    We need to remeber these guys pratice finishing and shooting skills and more every single day, they get all equipment and best training facilities and pay you can hope for yet when it comes to delivering they fail.

    Heskey cannot finish a simple chance
    Green cannot stop and hold a rolling ball. - PLease remember this is at the world cup.
    If I messed up to this extent at work I would be sacked instantly!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    Agree with Charly that Lennon has potential to make a huge impact on our WC campaign but you got to get the ball to him early.
    As a Spurs fan I've seen him play alot throughout the season. The way that we play is to release the ball early from the back to the wide players who come deep to take the ball. This way the ball can be played into the space infront of them which means Lennon (or Bale - shame he's Welsh!) is at full gallop by the time they meet the opposing defenders.
    Lennon will beat most defenders for pace - can go outside them to the byline and put a decent cross in the middle or cut inside and play the square ball to the midfield runners.
    Typically teams will 'double-up' on our wingers which creates space in the middle (or invites an overlapping run from the full back).
    If Spurs had a Lampard or Gerrard (or indeed a Rooney) then I'm sure we'd be challenging for the title.
    England for the past few years (regardless of manager) play the 'safe' ball from defence to the experienced 'generals'in the middle of the park who then look to knock a square ball wide or back to the defenders for a hopeful punt up the pitch. Always predictable, the opposition simply gets tight to our widemen, who then end up drifting inside where it gets congested - we don't have the patience (or the type of players) to play the Spanish type game to knock it around until the space opens for the killer ball.
    C'mon Capello - play to our strengths please !

  • Comment number 66.

    Afternoon everyone from Cape Town - where again the beautiful spring-like weather should suit England down to the ground.

    Would you like to answer the question Rooney was asked. If England qualify, would you prefer to face Germany in the last 16?

    And on another point, given results since England's draw with US, was it such a bad scoreline after all?

    Be very interested in your answers, especially on the first question.

  • Comment number 67.

    WE took Walcott to the last world cup to prepare him for this one what happened?
    Also copello should have really begged Paul Scoles to return to the fold.
    Joe cole gotto play instesad of heskey,

  • Comment number 68.

    Phil Mcnulty

    If we face Germany in the Last 16 we will get knocked out.

    the other point: the draw with the USA was a bad result because of the Goalkeeping and finishing respectively. Worringly simple errors from 'Professionals' in their department. My main concern is the explaination or excuses post match.

    Green: If I would stop 999 out of 1000 of those( mate you missed the main one)

    Heskey: He made the keeper work. ( no he did not he kicked the ball straight to him no work involved for the keeper there)

    I am just trying to be realistic we have rooney but surely the rest need to up their game to get the best out of him as he is certainly world class as is Gerrard, lampard and Joe cole. I am afraid the rest are way off the pace.

  • Comment number 69.

    just watching Argentina - Took them 15mins to score and they will defo score again.
    I wonder if they have pumped millions into 'grass routes' football like our F.A. They got the players to show for it.
    We haven't.

  • Comment number 70.

    Beckenbauer was not playing mindgames. He accurately described the style he saw England playing - kick and rush. That's how England played against USA. Like schoolboys.
    I live in Germany and witnessing the difference in how the German team, media and population approach this competition is fascinating. There is a real level of expectation but without the hysterical panic and self-defeating overreaction that is witnessed to insane levels in England.
    That's probably the difference in having consistently delivered in competition and not.
    I am desperate for England to win something again in my lifetime. Once they do then everything can calm down a bit and maybe we too can enter into competitions in a more controlled and professional way instead of this total nonsense that goes on now. Sadly, the strain of not winning is getting heavier and heavier with each lost opportunity.
    But come on England! If Germany can teach us anything it's that: this game does not have to be SO damn difficult!

  • Comment number 71.

    Phil, it wasn't a bad result but is was a bad performance. Or, at least not a good performance. When players of this stature are unable to pass or shoot any better than members of the watching audience then I think it's not what we are looking for really.

  • Comment number 72.

    Surely part of the problem, if not the main problem, is that England have played their best players out of position for years. Rooney played up front on his own for Man Yoo all last season and scored 30 odd goals. Lampard, J Cole and Gerrard all play behind the striker for their clubs and Barry is happy to sit deep.

    So why persist with two strikers, or even put Crouch up on his own, and use Rooney as a supporting striker/attacking midfielder?! Is it any wonder that his international goalscoring record is poor compared with his domestic record when he spends most of the game somewhere between the centre line and the endge of the 18 yard box?! Get him in the box and on the end of through balls and crosses provided by the three behind him.

    Get Gerrard off the left flank and playing behind Rooney, linking up with Lampard and J Cole.

    4-2-3-1 is the way to go:

    Green
    Johnson Terry Dawson/Carra A Cole
    Barry Carrick
    Gerrard Lampard J Cole
    Rooney

    This is the formation that suits our players the best.

    I understand that Capello is on £6 million a year.

    I'll do it for half that.

  • Comment number 73.

    hackerjack

    You got it spot on pal.

    In my opinion
    ///Any team can only be as good as their worst players\\\

    we got heskey - and do not have an established first choice keeper.
    the best CB we got is Terry what if he is injured or picks up a suspension? or the same happens to rooney or gerrard(god forbid) - we will really struggle.

    We should play some of the fringe players against Algeria - we got nothing to loose.

  • Comment number 74.

    I would rather us face Germany in the last 16...and beat them in 90 minutes, we'd be settled in to the tournament by that point and not too nervey as in the semis/final (fingers crossed ;)). I really don't want to see penalties at all this time round, please no penalty shootouts.

    On the other point.....everyone seems to be forgetting USA aren't that bad a side, they almost beat brazil in the confed cup final. They're also 14th in the world.

    Gone are the days of the 7-1 hammerings of San Marino.....you have to be half decent to make it to the finals of a major tournament now....just look at us 2 years ago we were decent but still didn't make it!!!

    All I hope is that they are all enjoying being out there.....I know I would !!

  • Comment number 75.

    Riled? The riled one is "the Kaiser" himself - obviously still smarting from losing the World Cup to England in 1966! A snide remark about England's abilities seems to pop out every other time he opens his mouth. High time for "the Roon" to lay his sour grapes to rest, I say!

  • Comment number 76.

    one thing has struck me this time around and its the realisation that unless England changes the way it plays and also the amount of games its players play, it is unlikely we will ever be able to win the world cup again.
    We have a choice, have an economically attractive EPL which is sold all over the world which is filled with foreign mercinaries or get serious about making efforts to change the way the game is played, viz fast paced end to end stuff,good for the punters but not conducive for producing a possesion style that can challenge the big five, Spain, Argentina, Brazil,Italy, Germany

  • Comment number 77.

    I realize that Rooney is a great player for Man U. but to be honest he has always disappointed me on the world stage. I hope for the sake of England he can start to play even at 25% of what Pele and Maradona did.

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    Always makes me laugh when the old, we drew our first game in '66 line comes out. We've drawn our first game a few times other than '66 and we didn't win it in those years...

    I think it was the BBC who interviewed Rooney before the USA match, when he was talking about playing as the lone striker (as he has done for Man U for a lot of the season), he was keen and likes the role. As Lineker (I think?) said, build the team around him and play so he can do what he does and we'll be OK.

    I'm all for that, 4-5-1 for me, only let's actually try passing it around rather than hoofing it (Beckenbauer was right as far as I'm concerned). Let's get our big hitters actually having a crack at goal, and generally just play more positively.

    Sod Heskey and Crouch off, neither are good enough at this level as far as I'm concerned (Yes, yes so Crouch scores againt nobody teams, but he leads to the old hoof and chase).

    Whack Hart in goal (rookie keeper?? How much World Cup Finals experience does Green have?). Main keeper - team relegated, second keeper - team almost relegated... Rookie Hart - played for a newly promoted team and did pretty darned well, experience doesn't beat talent. (Christ would England ever have let Pele play at 17?)

  • Comment number 80.

    der kaiser's criticism was just- you can usually count on him for an honest evaluation...i think everybody's been a bit too over the moon on rooney. great player, no doubt. england's savior? don't think so. umm, well the problems in the team lie elsewhere and the best player with the most experience where they need it most wasn't chosen (though i would have taken an 80% hargreaves) viel gluck, england, your gonna need it...

  • Comment number 81.

    Having read 64.

    At 12:18pm on 17 Jun 2010, the_diego wrote:
    I think we messed up by hiring Copello in the first place. His selection 'dithering' is evidence enough. He is a club manager if he is so good why didn't the italians hire him?


    the_diego are you being serious??? This is a man who won Serie A, La Liga and the Champions League. When Capello left Real Madrid (after winning the title) Italy were world champions, they were hardly going to get rid of Marcelo Lippi were they!

    We have short memories in this country, anyone recall that infamous dutchman McClaren?
    For me, Capello had one task, get us to the world cup. He did.
    If a multi-title, Champions League winning coach can't win the world cup with England, I don't think anyone can, Paisley, Ferguson, Mourinho anyone.

    Englands first XI (just my opinion)

    Hart
    Johnson Carragher Terry A.Cole
    Lennon Gerrard Lampard J.Cole
    Rooney
    Crouch

  • Comment number 82.

    England always use the long ball tactics as they can't keep possession of the ball in the midfield

    They look more dangerous when Crouch is on but this just entices the team to hoof it up the park to him

    The Kaiser was only stating what we all see every time England play

  • Comment number 83.

    Oh and Germany in the 2nd round? Bring it on.

    They beat a poor Australia side, they are mediocre at best, better teams will expose them.

    But then what do I know, I think England WILL win the world cup.

  • Comment number 84.

    Right now I wouldn't want to face Germany, maybe after the Algeria match I'll change my opinion. Only if Capello finds some positivity in his tactics though.

    As far as the USA result is concerned, personally I think it was a rubbish result. Purely based on the two teams performances (neither did really peroform) I guess it was a fair result. Really, if we want to be taken as serious contenders we should be attacking and not worrying about the minor teams (said with no disrespect to them)

  • Comment number 85.

    Crouch and Rooney please!!! And let's exploit the long ball. The big man is essential for this and Rooney picking the loose ball should create havoc in any defence, including the Germans. Speed and long ball, let's not be ashamed of that. It is what we known how to do best.

  • Comment number 86.

    Yes I agree with most of what's been said.

    Gerrard should remain just behind Rooney, we need to keep the 4-5-1 formation for the next two games where we can hopefully score some goals and gain some confidence and build momentum.

    Defoe, Crouch and Heskey should never be in the team.. it's no good having second rate players because we can throw them on in lesser games it's a joke, we just don't have a good crop of strikers nowadays.

    Instead we have to rely on the scoring ability of our midfielders, and maybe throw one or two up front with roo in times of need. Rooney isn't getting the ball service still and I'm not confident the team build around him the way they should..

    If we make it to the last 16 and meet Germany, Argentina or Holland what'll we do - even worse if Rooney gets injured.

    Capello should have taken Agbonlahor and Walcott.. although Agbonlahor is in much the same vein as Rooney so might clash with styles of play there is no doubt he should be in South Africa, and Walcott can still frighten defences with his pace, his end product is something that you work on in training. If people put a little faith in him i'm sure it'd pay off..

    Still I think we should sail through off the next two games

    I mean look at Spain, they're in a worse position..

    This world cups been a right downer so far!

  • Comment number 87.

    Liverpool fan here. Carragher look out of sorts against USA. Dawson or Upson should start. Also, Joe Cole is the ONLY man in our squad who can dribble past a player. Rooney is a one-man attack at United after Berbatov's failings, so why can't he be a lone striker now? I remember him saying he likes playing up front on his own anyway. And put Gerrard in the hole behind him. It's the position he's played for the last 3-4 seasons with Liverpool consistently, so it boggles my mind why he isn't doing it now. My team:

    -----------James-----------

    Johnson-Terry-Dawson-Ashley

    -----------Barry-----------

    ---Lennon-Lampard-J.Cole---

    ----------Gerrard----------

    -----------Rooney----------

  • Comment number 88.

    In terms of striking options, Heskey is our best bet for retention of the ball. His size and strength means that when he receives a pass, whether long or short, defenders struggle to win the duel.
    -----------------
    Rubbish. No other team relies on a big striker to "retain posession" in that way. The possesion is retained by the midfield making the right decision about who to pass to and when. Our midfield is encouraged to play faster and earlier (nearly always means less acurately) up to the front by the very fact that Heskey is there.

    The ONLY thing he brings to the team is the ability to pull defenders away from Rooney when the ball is chucked up for him to head.

    If we want to retain better then we go with 4-5-1 with Barry, Lampard and Gerrard in the middle, Lampard and Gerrard can take turns stepping forward to support Rooney with Lennon and Milner/Cole on the wings offering width (not wandering into the middle please Joe)

    ________________________________________________________________

    I could not agree more. Retaining posession is about an entire team moving for each other and making accurate passes. It's nothing to do with having one guy playing one role. We do have the technical ability to move and pass but when the midfield doesn't function the long ball game results. The role of midfield is to link the play between defence and strikers.

    Heskey is suposedly a striker (he's definitely not a midfielder or defender). The role of strikers is to score goals. Having a 'striker' that demonstrably cannot score goals is like playing with 10.5 men on the pitch. If the midlfield don't belive he can score they push forward and try and score themselves leaving a big gap infront of defense. That gap generates a long ball game. Capello played a 4---4-0.5-1 against the USA and you cannot afford to do that in a game of football at any level.

    As many others have said 4-5-1 please. The five should be Barry, Lennon, Lampard, Cole, Gerrard.

    Get through the group, run with pace at the pedestrian and cynical German defense and have a field day. Above all move for each other and enjoy playing. Come on England!

  • Comment number 89.

    I believe the winner of this year's world cup will be a team comparable to the Greece team that triumphed in 2004. After that disgraceful defensive display by switzerland yesterday it seems that playing the beautiful football and having the best players no longer wins football matches. It is sad to see such boring pre-organised, over-coached football. This however gives England a chance of World Cup Glory. They are an average team with a good coach, perhaps they can become the Greece of World Cup 2010. It will however be a sad World Cup if 'Kick and Rush' football triumphs over the beautiful passing game.

  • Comment number 90.

    Rooney simply has to play up on his own.

    Put it this way:

    Rooney goalscoring record for Man Utd:
    2009-2010 - 34 goals in 44 games = 1 goal every 1.3 games
    Overall - 131 goals in 282 games = 1 goal every 2.2 games

    Rooney goalscoring record for England:
    25 goals in 61 games = 1 goal every 2.44 games

    Even taking into account the harder opposition at international level etc, that is still a telling statistic. In 2009-2010 he played the whole season up on his own with three players behind him and has a fantastic strike rate.

    Gerrard and Lampard have similar stats:

    Gerrard for Liverpool (08/09): 24 goals in 44 games (1 every 1.8 games)
    Gerrard for England: 17 goals in 81 games (1 every 4.8 games)

    Lampard for Chelsea (09/10): 27 goals in 50 games (1 every 1.85 games)
    Lampard for England: 20 goals in 79 games (1 every 3.95 games)

    Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation would allow the front four creative freedom and harness the power of this goalscoring potential. They may never reach their club level goal-per-game ratio, but they would have the sort of goal rates that their talent demands.

    It's simple mathematics.

  • Comment number 91.

    Wow now looks like Rooney's prediction that England WILL beat the Algerians has annoyed them!

    Did Capello plan that Phil? What was that you were saying about comments inspiring people Phil?

  • Comment number 92.

    If we face Germany in the 2nd round, something will have gone wrong somewhere(other than drawing against the Yanks). The Germans are beatable but have hit the ground running which is more than can be said for us right now.

    Bottom line, we need to go all out against Algeria for the win to get us back on track.

  • Comment number 93.

    McGuirk12 is spot on with his comments.......if you haven't read them, go look. Post # 2. I think we can win our next two games regardless of players and formation. But like McGuirk12 said, 4-5-1 with barry holding, cole on left, lennon on right, Lampard attacking mid and Gerrard off Rooney is the only line up that will give us a chance against the top teams. Everybody is aying this, this is nothing new but for some reason Capello seems to determined to play 4-4-2 using a big man. Gerrard should not play on the left but i understand why capello does it. Heskey and Crouch can both cause problems in the group stages but i think their impact will be close to nothing against the big boys

    Regardless of who plays, let's be positive and get behind the players and staff......

  • Comment number 94.

    Totally bemused by you mods deciding you need to 'refer' my posting for extra viewing.

    All I suggested was that England can't hold the ball and that they would, most likely, get destroyed if they end up playing Germany. I also criticised McNulty's 'sensational' style articles. I didn't realise you guys were so sensitive!

  • Comment number 95.

    # 75 truth from above :

    Sir: Are you sure you're sane? Beckenbauer doing this out of a trauma from '66? LOL
    With Germany having eliminated England three times at WCs? LOL
    With Germany having won two WCs thereafter, been runners-up four times,
    reached third place three times? LOL
    Beckenbauer having won a World Cup both as a player ('74) and a
    coach('90)? LOL
    Are you real?
    Just shows how deeply ingrained that frustration must be with England having reached nothing, nothing after '66.
    Did you say "sour grapes"? LOL LOL LOL

  • Comment number 96.

    Back again from my previous comment #16. Some great comments. It appears that so many of us here can see how the 4-5-1 can play to our players strengths...why can't Capello? Why doesn't our most inventive player in Joe Cole start? You can also persuade me on the 'soup de jour' formation favored by many coaches now of 4-2-3-1. Carrick and Barry as the 'two' will also provide extra protection for our problem centre back position AND also fully releases full backs to maurade forward as Johnson and Cole are excellent at doing.... a la Inter Milan. In this formation, Lennon becomes the casualty. Rooney clearly wants and craves the lone role but will be fully supported by GerPard, whom I feel will relish the freedom of either one or two holding players behind them. Either of these choices is by far our best shot at winning and being inventive....bar-none/period/full-stop/forward slash/go England dot com. A $9 million fee, I don't charge (sorry an ex-pat does not have the pound symbol). I'll do it for a lifetime supply of weetabix, fish and chips and packets of pork scratchings please lord numpty of the FA....just can't get those stateside. Once again lads..let's get crafty!!

    BTW- Phil..I'd answer the question posed to Rooney about facing Germany as simply..."Don't care mate...to be the best you've gotta beat the best and that's what competing in the world cup is all about. Bring on whomever."

  • Comment number 97.

    Phil- Still think the USA game was a disappointment despite the other results, because of the nervous performance and the way we sat too deep and surrendered the initiative we gained and then squandered possession far too frequently. Of course the draw is not a telling blow, and the only thing you can hope is we learn a lot from it, what we did well and what we did badly (a lot) which i'm sure Capello has been working on.

    Call me boring, but I hope the players don't get ahead of themselves after Beckenbauer's comments and start thinking about a potential round of 16 clash with Germany. I think we need to take each game as it comes and prepare professionally for the task in hand with Algeria and Slovenia to come. We need to pay them the respect they deserve and concentrate on beating them. Whatever will be will be in the last 16, should we get there. Franz's comments have no doubt added some potential spice to what would anyway be a fiery encounter. I think England could certainly raise their game for such a clash- you'd have to worry about the players desire if they couldn't- and I think Germany are not invincible. They only beat a desperately poor Australia side playing with 10 men for a fair period, albeit convincingly. Surely Ozil and co won't be allowed so much room and influence against better teams?

    My tip for the tournament remains Argentina though- excellent again today despite giving away a daft goal on half time, and I feel with the draw being very kind to them they look nailed on for the last four, absolute minimum.

  • Comment number 98.

    I can't believe the fuss about Beckenbauer. Phil, no one takes Beckenbauer seriously in Germany. He is well known and often ridiculed for just saying whatever pops into his head in any given moment. In fact, he is famous for saying one thing (like England are favourites to win the World Cup) and then turning around saying the exact opposite (they are useless).

    As for the ball, stop whining people. The Germans did not have an unfair advantage. The Bundesliga never uses just one brand because they don't have a centralized contract, the home teams decide which brand to use!! as a result players are used to playing different balls week in, week out. So one weekend you a nike, the next weekend adidas. I haven't heard a single complaint the whole season. In games where the adidas World Cup ball was used, the shooting, long balls or crosses were not any worse.

  • Comment number 99.

    All this talk of a 4-5-1 formation is laughable. Has everyone suddenly developed memory loss? England, with this current crop of players, have played 4-5-1 in the past, albeit under a different manager. Its been proven that England are ineffective under a 4-5-1 formation.

    Let's be realistic here. The reason England seemed disjointed and ineffective came down to two things:

    1) Tim Howard
    2) Lampard and Gerrard in the center of midfield

    Tim Howard had a great game. Give the player some credit. Lampard and Gerrard cannot play together in that center of midfield. Yes, I know, they are good quality attacking options, but they need to be complemented with a holding midfielder.

    I honestly cannot understand why Capello simply did not start Carrick. Go ahead, point to his inadequacies if you want, but he's in the team for a reason. He's there as cover for Barry. If Barry isn't fit yet, then its pointless to take Carrick in the squad and not use him.

  • Comment number 100.

    Kop4Life

    I understand what your saying especially the point:

    "For me, Capello had one task, get us to the world cup. He did.
    If a multi-title, Champions League winning coach can't win the world cup with England, I don't think anyone can, Paisley, Ferguson, Mourinho anyone."

    This statement is scary cos it is true.

    However what I guess I really ment is that Copello aint no Sir Bobby Robson - and we have not been able to replace the great man what do you think?

    Also I think Copello is exactly what LFC need - If we don't go for King Kenny that is? Would like to know your thoughts Kop4Life

 

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