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The end of the sad lads and the bad WAGs

Robbo Robson | 09:29 UK time, Friday, 17 October 2008

Four wins out of four, 14 goals for, three against, five for Rooney, three for Walcott, none for Heskey (but then again he has established himself now as international football's first ever out-and-out non-goalscoring centre-forward).

But the most interesting contribution to the chat around Capello's first few games in charge came from Rio Ferdinand. Capello is business-like, professional and there was a bit of 'a circus' going on around the players during previous regimes.

If he means there were three lions everywhere but they were tamed and toothless then I see his point. There was a lot of juggling in the midfield too, the tumblers were all Portuguese..and there were plenty of clowns on the pitch.

In fact you could cut together a few choice clips to the music and lyrics of Send In The Clowns...

"Isn't it rich" (Beckham skies his penalty against Portugal)
"Are we a pair?" (Gerrard and Lampard step on each other's toes)
"Me here at last on the ground" (Owen writhes in agony on the touchline)
"You in mid-air" (Peter Crouch just about anywhere)
"And where are the clowns?" (Paul Robinson Croatian clanger, Gerrard's far post miss against Russia, Scott Carson's butterfingers too . And McClown himself under his comedy umbrella... )

It appears Rio was actually referring to the WAGs' sideshow. Posh was mistress of ceremonies with her slightly enhanced Big Top (if you believe the press reports - and your own eyes) and there was magician's assistant Coleen, the Geordie snarler Cheryl and numerous other women who might make a splash in a lads' mag but haven't caused even the slightest ripple across the Robson consciousness.

The fact that some of these women seem content to build a career around being some sort of girl-shaped bling on the arm of a Premier League footballer kind of sums up what's wrong with this country. I saw one of 'em on Jonathan Ross - Crouchy's girlfriend I think - and frankly I'd be more engrossed by a Glenn Roeder press conference.


The fact that Capello's got shot of this carnival float that has tagged itself on to the England set-up is the best news England fans have had in a long time. If you want a team to be at its best, then keep the lasses out of it. With the best will in the world most of 'em don't realize how to keep out the way when it comes to football.

I dunno if you've ever had the lass appearing at the sitting room door wearing something alluring when Match of the Day's on. Well I have, and to be frank, it's bleeding pointless. You could be Kelly Brook and I wouldn't look. Sometimes they even stand in front of the bloody telly!

The trouble is successful sportsmen have to be one-track minded. You don't need earache about a new kitchen or some soft flippin' furnishings or what the kids might want for their birthdays when there's three vital points at stake.

Clearly the WAGs found a good team spirit - Bacardi, I think it was. But you don't want to be reading about them shrieking and boozing like a bunch of jungle parrots either. So keeping the lot of them off the road is a brilliant move.

But Capello's brought a lot more than a few rules and regulations to the party (incidentally I'd like to see him in charge of some hedge fund managers next). He's brought honest-to-goodness nous with him.

He makes changes at half-time that seem to solve any problems. He got away with the Stank Gerpard conundrum on Wednesday, but I reckon he must've worked out that Belarus would have nowt coming down their right so Gerrard wasn't needed to defend so much. I still think it's either/or with them two when Joe Cole comes back, mind.

Heskey, who was magnificent in Minsk, moved out to the left, Lampard played more of a holding role and Rooney's been given his head and he looks, well, brilliant. I never quite understood the Rooney doubters. He's only 22, he's had niggly injuries, he's been played in funny old positions and it's not that easy to out-shine the gelled tumbler at OT.

But he's got talent to burn, he works his wotsits off (and occasionally tries to do the same to others) and the new look's great. It's like having a squaddie bouncer with dancer's feet hunting you down.

The fact is, there's a bloke in charge who knows a damn sight more than the lot of them put together about how to win football matches, and they trust him. It's the football equivalent of replacing Adam Woodyatt with Robert de Niro.

Even better than the results are the noises coming out of the camp. Capello's happy but not jumping up and down, grinning like a kid on Christmas morning and Gerrard's talking about staying humble - I mean how refreshing is that to hear from a lad who only gets to play his proper position five times out of 50?

There's still questions about the left-hand side and in particular Shaun Wright-Phillips - who would clearly run through brick walls for the team but you wonder why he actually seems to aim for them so often.

Capello's got two games coming up against top teams. You can't call them friendlies 'cos it's Germany and Spain, but hopefully he'll be able to try out some of the others - Ashley Young and Agbonlahor deserve a run, Carrick and Hargreaves might be around by then and all and Joe Hart needs a start.

It's looking good but I'm not thinking too far ahead. Take each game as it comes. It's all about the three points....but it's been anything but drabio, Fabio.


  • 1. At 10:50am on 17 Oct 2008, Flux Redux wrote:

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

  • 2. At 10:57am on 17 Oct 2008, Parish87 wrote:

    2nd comment. Robbo - You sir, are a legend.

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  • 3. At 11:00am on 17 Oct 2008, gunner_spain wrote:

    Sooooo sad that the articulateFerdinand and Co. [who trained him to say those long sentences?] - revelled in the attention they and their WAGs received. Professional - my a**e ! No 'cojones' to actually train, focus and as you so rightly suggested, Robbo, DELIVER. Easy to blame the manager, when they should be looking equally close !
    Poor lambs - hope they don't get slaughtered.

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  • 4. At 11:05am on 17 Oct 2008, gunner_spain wrote:

    Just thinking about Ferdinand's new found literacy. Did you think he said Duck ! instead of **ck when he realised his back four were under pressure again ?

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  • 5. At 11:10am on 17 Oct 2008, poppyAstonvanilla wrote:

    Good to see a new fluency to England over the last few games. I think that Capello has done the trick with the strict regime that he has implemented.
    To be fair Robbo, if Kelly Brook was being alluring in my living room I think I'd tape MOTD!

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  • 6. At 11:18am on 17 Oct 2008, Suspect_ZN wrote:

    UnitedAbroad: Shaun Wright-Phillips is a brilliant winger that was wasted at Chelsea. I don't know why you'd make a stupid comment like that.

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  • 7. At 11:19am on 17 Oct 2008, Red_Sam_ThisYearHonest! wrote:

    "I dunno if you've ever had the lass appearing at the sitting room door wearing something alluring when Match Of The Day's on"

    What counts as 'something alluring' in Middlesbrough? A clean pinny?

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  • 8. At 11:21am on 17 Oct 2008, GorgieShed wrote:

    It is the first time I have actually thought England are a good side. All down to Capello IMO.

    It's not just the WAGs he is getting rid of it's the "I'm a big superstar" attitude that the players once had. Every player knows he needs to earn the shirt which helps England finally play as a team!

    As a Scot, I hate to say it but you have every chance come the 2010 World Cup. I know you guys hate the press bigging up your chances of winning the trophy but I genuinely believe you have the squad, manager and team morale to do it!

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  • 9. At 11:22am on 17 Oct 2008, Notorious Enigmatic Red Devil AKA Wookiee wrote:

    Quality article again Robbo. Good stuff.

    Your spot on about Rooney, I've listened to a lot of doubters talkin out of their arrises for the last few injury plagued years. If this kid has a full season. Watch out Messi and Ronny is all I'm sayin!

    Kelly Brook in front of you whilst MOTD is surely what Sky+ was invented for.

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  • 10. At 11:28am on 17 Oct 2008, CantonasCollar79 wrote:

    Not got Sky+, Robbo? Kelly recommends it!

    Capello has been great so far, and does what all good managers do when it's going wrong - make changes. Either positionally or personnel-wise. 4 out of 4 is pretty darn good.

    Good column this week, Robbo. Funny stuff in there too. Nice one.

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  • 11. At 11:31am on 17 Oct 2008, Flux Redux wrote:

    Yeah, your right Suspect_ZN, it was a stupid comment. The dog would never get fed!

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  • 12. At 11:36am on 17 Oct 2008, nefariousnilbog wrote:

    Now Rio's a man a manny manny man!

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  • 13. At 11:39am on 17 Oct 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Suspect_ZN wrote:
    UnitedAbroad: Shaun Wright-Phillips is a brilliant winger that was wasted at Chelsea. I don't know why you'd make a stupid comment like that.
    Actually, it seems to be that he just bottled it at Stamford Bridge. He was given plenty of chances and took few of them.

    Have Man City played any of the top teams yet and did SWP look good in them if they did?

    His England form and Chelsea form are one thing, his ability at Man City, on so far a slightly smaller stage, is something else.

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  • 14. At 11:41am on 17 Oct 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Does anyone else find Kelly Brook not quite all that when she is not covered in slap and her crackers are on display.

    I mean, she's hardly in the same league as Scarlett Johansson is she.

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  • 15. At 11:48am on 17 Oct 2008, WHUDINNI wrote:

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

  • 16. At 12:00pm on 17 Oct 2008, Rasta_Pub_Phuket wrote:

    England should not look too far ahead and start thinking that the World Cup is possible.

    Winning four qualifiers is really good. Sustaining that form and discipline over a month long competition is whats needed to win the prize.

    And thats when we'll truly know what England and Capello are.

    But for now, lets all enjoy the ride.

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  • 17. At 12:18pm on 17 Oct 2008, sandcastlejim wrote:

    spot on analysis again Robbo, all done with the usual good humour. A couple of points to make - by now we all should know you build the team around Rooney, and Gerrard plays attacking CM. These two are the jewells in the England crown. Lampard is a good sub to bring on, but he has to be sacrificed for the good of the team. Good he might be but he's not Steven Gerrard, and he just gets in the way when the two of them are together. At the back still concerned about James, so Capello needs to check out the alternatives.
    Would also like to see Young provide some competition for Cole on the left, and Downing needs to be ditched as he is blatantly not good enough.

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  • 18. At 12:24pm on 17 Oct 2008, tone1947 wrote:

    1:- Excellent article as ever Robbo
    2:- Re WAGS, they just thought their own profile was so high,esp with VB in charg. In the EM, the German wags were there but were presumably kept on a short leash(froget the imagery), but as the media were also in the same hotels, the players were generally more available to talk to them
    3 RE the SG/FL debate, I thought perhaps earlier it should be one or the other. However as Fabio is his own man, perhaps he is determined to get them working together, there were signs on Wed it could work. Fabio's hardest decisions will then come in the future to pick 4 from GB, MC, OH, SG, FL, JC, TW plus SWP, AY or any other wide or central players aspiring to play for their country

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  • 19. At 12:33pm on 17 Oct 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:


    by now we all should know you build the team around Rooney, and Gerrard plays attacking CM. These two are the jewells in the England crown. Lampard is a good sub to bring on, but he has to be sacrificed for the good of the team. Good he might be but he's not Steven Gerrard, and he just gets in the way when the two of them are together.
    On the basis that Gerrard scored a goal then showed us how one footed he is by hitting the post with the goal at his mercy.

    Oh puhlease, what else did he do to warrant some of the sweeping statements that have been made since the match?

    The only thing conclusive about the Wednesday was the three points.

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  • 20. At 12:34pm on 17 Oct 2008, IanH wrote:

    "I dunno if you've ever had the lass appearing at the sitting room door wearing something alluring when Match of the Day's on. Well I have, and to be frank, it's bleeding pointless. You could be Kelly Brook and I wouldn't look. Sometimes they even stand in front of the bloody telly!"

    Sky+ is your friend.

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  • 21. At 12:35pm on 17 Oct 2008, twitstein wrote:


    Winning four qualifiers is really good. Sustaining that form and discipline over a month long competition is whats needed to win the prize.


    That and putting your penalties away. And being able to beat Italy.

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  • 22. At 12:52pm on 17 Oct 2008, Robbo Robson wrote:

    something alluring in Teesside is not a clean pinny! It's anything that's not in velour.

    And I won't take Murdoch's dollar not even more Ms. Brook.

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  • 23. At 12:54pm on 17 Oct 2008, Flux Redux wrote:

    "And I won't take Murdoch's dollar "


    I bet your pub does though ;)

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  • 24. At 12:56pm on 17 Oct 2008, jacksofbuxton wrote:

    sky+ for motd is best used to avoid listening to these gurning idiots trying to analyse each game.hansen just gives a list of words "aye,pace,power,technique"aaargh.shoot him

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  • 25. At 12:56pm on 17 Oct 2008, BestSpam1979 wrote:

    Love the 'send in the clowns' analogy, wonder if anyone could actually put that together for youtube? Would be awesome.

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  • 26. At 12:57pm on 17 Oct 2008, awSwindonForTheTitle wrote:

    Hahaha, team spirit as bacardi. Some great one liners in here, and to be honest, it does seem like Shaun Wright Phillips has an odd football talent. He must have a magnet in him that attracts him to every player on the oppositions side, but he has special boots made with glue where the ball just sticks to him until he rolls over. Teach that to a guide dog.

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  • 27. At 1:13pm on 17 Oct 2008, Presto West End wrote:

    Regarding the influence of the WAGs, I could never tell whether the tail wagged the dog or the dog wagged the tail, or which ones were the dogs and which ones were the tails. I'd wag mine for Kelly though.

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  • 28. At 1:18pm on 17 Oct 2008, Brandyrecovery wrote:

    I think people (including most of the media) are going overboard here - surprise, surprise...

    England played reasonable well, at the moment Capello's changes are working out well but there will be a time in the future when that won't be the case. And then what??

    5 weeks ago McNumpty and the other media clowns were saying "Capello needs to prove himself"...""This is Capello's true test"...etc, etc. Now he's the best thing since sliced bread! Similar for Rooney and Gerrard.

    The other bandwagon everyone jumped on is blaming McLaren: actually, he didn't do much wrong, it's just that the players bottled it against an in-form, confident Croatian team (including Gerrard who, despite being Englands best midfielder, ended the Croatia game by hiding from the ball).

    Also, we should have beaten Macedonia at home (playing 4-4-2) but when all the media talk about it, they jump on the fact that we lost the next game away in Croatia, and blamed that on the manager changing formation to 3-5-2 - they've repeated that opinion so load and consistantly that most of the mug punters now believe it to be a fact.

    One day soon, Capello's gonna play 4-4-2 and England will play badly and look outnumbered in centre midfield. Or play 4-3-3 and England will lack width and / or Rooney will look isolated / in the wrong position.

    When this happens the knives will come out again for Capello - "is his honeymoon over?" the hypocrites will ask.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed it Wednesday - Belarus were excellent in the 1st half and scored a brilliant goal (if it was Argentina we'd all be raving about it, even though Lampard, Bridge, Gerrard and Walcott all made mistakes to let it happen). But England came back well and scored 3 great goals themselves.

    Just let's not get too carried away...

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  • 29. At 1:27pm on 17 Oct 2008, markadoi84 wrote:

    MrBlueBurns - Kelly Brook "not all that"? Now, have you stopped taking your medication again? Yes, Scarlett is admittedly a nice alternative, but when miss Brook is around she'll only ever be the wench on the bench.

    For me the jury is still out on the Gerrard-Lampard debate. Clearly Fabio knew there would be no trouble from the Belarussian right-back, but I doubt he'll start with both if we play a team with full-backs who actually try to get forward. In that scenario, Gerrard would expend too much of his energy and time defending and the balance is once again lost. In my opinion, for the good of the team it's got to be Cole (although, by the world cup, I wouldn't bet against Ashley Young taking his place) on the left with Gerrard in the middle alongside Hargreaves or Barry. Lamps on the bench, bring him on when drawing or losing with 30mins to go and what a sub we have there. All the good teams can call on top talent from the bench, so let's join them.

    The midfield debate which I personally find it more difficult to answer is Barry or Hargreaves - what do you think? It's a difficult one because Harg can be our answer to Gatusso, who I think is often the difference for Milan and Italy, but Barry is a more composed player....not easy, but Hargreaves has more of the Lion Heart in him so perhaps I'd go for him. Or perhaps not.....give me 6mil a year and then I'll tell you.

    Great article by the way, Robbo. You look ridiculous in that stupid hat.

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  • 30. At 1:53pm on 17 Oct 2008, KILLERMANUCHO wrote:

    Nice one Robbo and no religous comment this time. Belarus were brilliant b4 their goal but after that... Capello is awesome and the Roon is on a run! watch out! (and now, I pray: LORD please protect the metatarsals, them knee ligaments, hamstrings and ankles (and all United fans said) AMEN!!!

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  • 31. At 1:54pm on 17 Oct 2008, dodiesmith wrote:

    Robbo: I always look forward to your comments...and LOVED this latest missive!
    Being a Merseysider I was thrilled to see two Liverpool lads score for England on Wednesday....Rooney and Gerrard are now blooming under Capello's rule. (And rules were SO necessary. He has brought a sense of order and no histrionics to the beautiful game.) Robert de Niro? maybe, but Pacino definitely!
    For those writing in saying don't get too excited about England yet.... ignore them.
    It's time to believe.
    Thanks again, Robbo.

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  • 32. At 1:56pm on 17 Oct 2008, Onion_C94 wrote:

    Sorry, if I wanted to watch a team with a foreign manager I'd follow a Premiership club. Can't and won't follow England while we have a foreign manager, good results or not.

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  • 33. At 1:59pm on 17 Oct 2008, poppyAstonvanilla wrote:

    Robbo, I lived in Newcastle for a while and there was quite a difference of opinion as to what "alluring" meant, especially in the Bigg Market on a Friday night. The sights I saw will live with me forever. That said, I married a Geordie so there are some lookers up there! Don't know if thats the same thing in Middlesbrough?
    I don't think that the midfield debate will be sorted whilst this generation of players are playing so Capello will just have to pick on form and the players will just have to be gratfeul to be picked. No player has a divine right to be in the squad and I think that that is the attitude that Capello has. Long may it continue.

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  • 34. At 1:59pm on 17 Oct 2008, ripley11 wrote:

    Crackin' blog as usual Robbo

    Just thought I'd add my pennyworth on the Stank Gerpard debate...

    1. I think Wednesday was the best we've played with both of them on the pitch together. Capello had obviously given them strict instructions - Lampard obviously stuck to his to the letter allowing Gerrard to operate in his more favoured role.

    2. Fabio also thinks he can get more out of playing them together than using any other of the midfield combinations available to him - Lampard, after a couple of years of not playing quite so well is getting back to as he was when fans voted him England's best player in back to back seasons before that - Gerrard is a big game player, the bigger the game the better he plays (FA Cup final v. West Ham, Champ League Final v. Milan spring to mind) so if we get to the World Cup Final he'll be awesome!!!

    3. Benitez has been tinkering to find Gerrard's best position - not for him but for the team - for a couple of seasons now.
    Lampard this season seems to finally be dovetailing with Ballack at Chelsea - down to Scolari or just having experience of playing together, who knows?
    But it just shows, even in club situations, of playing week in, week out, these things can take time - Capello, it seems, thinks it's worth the wait......

    Yes, totally agree with giving Joe Hart a game or two in the upcoming friendlies - he looks the pick of the younger keepers around at the moment - at least until Foster is back to full fitness at Man U.

    Now if we can only get Rio to communicate as well to the rest of the back four as he does at press conferences we may be on to something!!!

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  • 35. At 2:00pm on 17 Oct 2008, Bunny107 wrote:

    Brandyrecovery :

    McClaren didn't do much wrong?

    He let the media make decisions for him.

    I don't care what anyone says, and I said it at the time in both cases :

    a) Beckham should not have been dropped from the squad.

    b) Carson should never have replaced Robinson against Croatia.

    In both cases I think McClaren thought he was being brave - but it was just naivety. He was doing what he thought the press and the public wanted him to do, as opposed to making sensible footballing decisions.

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  • 36. At 2:01pm on 17 Oct 2008, yukkejang wrote:

    #8 wrote "every plays knows they need to earn the England shirt"...

    Give me a break how does Beckham fit into this category??...

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  • 37. At 2:16pm on 17 Oct 2008, richjseymour wrote:

    "the gelled tumbler"...

    commedy genius, robbo.

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  • 38. At 2:26pm on 17 Oct 2008, Frodo_MUFC wrote:


    There's been some controversial statements on this stie but I think that your Kelly Brook statement may take it to new levels.

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  • 39. At 2:28pm on 17 Oct 2008, jhfgdsaw wrote:

    Great blog! Great Kelly!

    But what is winding me up is the way the players (ferdinand, becks etc) are now saying it was a bit of a circus before .... but why didn't one of them stand up roy keane-style and talk straight when it needed doing? we could all see that it was wrong, wrong, wrong...

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  • 40. At 2:30pm on 17 Oct 2008, Brandyrecovery wrote:

    35. Bunny107: as u can see from the comments of #36, clearly not evrybody thinks Beckham should be in the England Squad.

    I was happy when, in his 1st match, McLaren played Gerrard right mid, and Lampard central with a holding player (Hargreaves I think). I would have preferred Gerrard in the middle but McLaren seemed to understand that the team needed balance.

    There was nothing wrong with dropping Beckham - and nothing wrong with recalling him either. To his credit, Becks has taken it all very well, but my personal opinion is that England look much better when we have genuine pace out wide and there are better central midfielders than Becks.

    Goalkeepers - this is what drives me mad. We haven't had a grreat one since Seaman (which is why he went on for so long). James is an accident waiting to happen. Even in the Belarus match, he had one kick all along the floor that on anotrher day would have gone to an opposition player and led to a goal.

    Robinson was in possession but had started making big errors. So what should McLaren (or any manager) do? If u stick with Robinson, and he makes an error, u get slughtered "why didn't he change the keeper - he's made loads of mistakes".

    If you swap him for James, and James makes a mistake, u get slaughtered "everyone knows why he called 'Calamity' James - how could he give him another go"

    SO why not swap him for one of the other keepers - like we're now suggesting for Joe Hart - who has a clean record. Green / Foster / Kirkland / Carson - these guys are widely considered to be the next generation of England goalies. I'm not gonna pretend to be qualified enough to judge which of these is better then the others (ok enough - I like Kirkland) but McLaren chose Carson.

    Bunny, maybe u know a lot more than anyone else but I didn't remeber hearing anyone before the game saying "don't pick CArson - he'll let one under his body from 35 yards and dive weakly at another". Maybe u should have gone to the bookies.

    So I don't blame McLaren for that. In fact I don't BLAME anyone. It seems that's all we want to do after every defeat - find a scapegoat.

    The players collectively were outplayed by Croatia, so if anyone is to blame, it's them (yes I'm a hypocrite!). But conveniently, they prefer to say the new manager is a lot better i.e. not qualifying last time is not their fault. We will see when the tougher tests come...

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  • 41. At 2:31pm on 17 Oct 2008, Robbo Robson wrote:

    23... course my pub has Murdoch. I'll stick to my principles though - and be forced down the boozer to watch it any road.

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  • 42. At 2:32pm on 17 Oct 2008, aredeegee wrote:

    robbo - outstanding again.

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  • 43. At 2:36pm on 17 Oct 2008, Teiam - problem solved wrote:

    I'd love to see a midfield of

    Young Carrick Hargreaves SWP

    With Rooney and Gabby up front, we'd finally have pace and accuracy for a proper counter attack and the two midfielders wouldn't need to adjust like Lampard and Gerrard do, to a new role.

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  • 44. At 2:42pm on 17 Oct 2008, Bergysdeftflicks wrote:

    Yr best post for ages Phil. Adam Woodyatt indeed!!

    Having said all of the above and not digressing from Capello's apparent minor miracles, we are still left with young Rooney as the only genuine World class performer in that sqaud and frankly when we have to play some real teams, the guy is on his own. Its down to him to create any sort of chance for England and at International level, although Maradona was once the closest to a one man team as its possible to be, its beyond Rooney to do the same.

    Failure isnt far away. Lets not kid ourselves that these same players, in a squad which hasnt changed greatly in 5 yrs, have suddenly become top international performers. They havent.

    Its makes a decent change though to at least see them looking committed, if nothing else.

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  • 45. At 2:44pm on 17 Oct 2008, Boonting wrote:

    In fact you could cut together a few choice clips to the music and lyrics of Send In The Clowns...


    You're with the BBC.

    Make it happen.

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  • 46. At 2:45pm on 17 Oct 2008, redruthyella wrote:

    How and why would you watch/listen to a GR press conference? Even us Canaries avoid them! I bet he turns to the the obituaries first.

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  • 47. At 2:45pm on 17 Oct 2008, englandcomeon wrote:

    Oh puhlease, what else did he do to warrant some of the sweeping statements that have been made since the match?
    scored the crucial first goal and laid one on, that's usually enough for MOTM in most games, certainly when the team wins 3:1.

    there's a lot of work to do yet, passing and defence have to be improved, it would be nice to be qualified with games to go though.

    FC seems to be teaching the players things and showing them that there will be no automatic places in the side except for seemingly (Beckham (sub), Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard)

    This is what England has been in need of for years now, think of all the wasted talent!!!!!!

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  • 48. At 3:01pm on 17 Oct 2008, Fantasma wrote:

    As good as Capello is the big question is: how many English managers have been assigned to his coaching team so that they can learn from the master and keep that knowledge for the benfit of English Football?
    It will be like planting top quality seed and then letting the crop rot on the fields.
    There must be a reason why Italy has won 4 World Cups and quite a few Champions League (before and after the name change).
    The game is afoot lads, make the best of it lest somebody else walks away with the top prize.

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  • 49. At 3:06pm on 17 Oct 2008, aka_bluepeter wrote:

    Well four wins has certainly got everyone going again but I worry that this new found optimism is being overhyped.
    Yes, England have beaten the teams we expect them to beat and done it convincingly, including Croatia, so pat on the back boys, however there are bigger fish to fry so don't get too carried away yet.
    I still remember the time I became so convinced Bruno had a punchers chance against Tyson that I put a bet on him. He nearly pulled it off but didn't and at the end of the day there was a gap in talent.
    I feel the comparison stands up between England and the top flight international teams such as Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Germany even Russia.
    It still feels to me like we are a Portsmouth or Aston Villa, so close to the top four but in reality it may as well be a mile away.
    I have growing confidence that Capello will get the best oout of his squad and may just be able to out manoevre some managers so we may get tactical advantages which turn matches in our favour.
    A reliable goal scorer would help change my mind and another worry is weaknesses in certain areas of defence. Midfield is an area which Capello can play with to his hearts content and that is where he is making a difference at the moment.
    Still a nagging feeling that we are not at the top table yet.
    Just one comment drawing a similarity between Sven/Capello and Adam Woodyat (eastenders)/Robert de Niro is stretching things a bit far. How about Arne/AlPacino or Ulrika/Sophia Loren

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  • 50. At 3:18pm on 17 Oct 2008, DC wrote:

    Many good things are happening.

    1) - He makes changes at half time that are effective. This is something rarely seen and the sign of an excellent manager. Lampard said it always used ot be a case of him and Stevie G just saying "you go up, i'll drop" etc - there's more forethought now.... thank the lord.

    2) - He's getting the best out of players who, if not spectacular, are at least very good.

    My worry remains, the 'x-factor' that Kaka, Messi, Ronaldo and in previous years Zidane, Maradona etc have brought. Do we really have that yet in Walcott, Cole or Rooney - I'm yet to be convinced, but it's not impossible and if he CAN get Gerrard playing anywhere near his 'Pool standard...... It's this that wins one-off tight world cup games. That little bit of magic from one player.

    Players respect Fabo because, frankly, he's the most succesful European club manager
    of recent times.

    What i want to know is - why is it not a false dawn this time around? Because it doesn't feel like it, does it?

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  • 51. At 3:18pm on 17 Oct 2008, fallsheroes wrote:

    Cant you lot stop writing an article with links in every sentence?

    Quite frankly, i think your a muppet. You love jumping on the bandwagon and the most fickle of the beeb staff.

    Yes we've won 4 games. 1 was against a team of part timers, 1 without their best player, 1 against a team whose red mist descended, and 1 against a team of borats.

    Hardly world beaters are we?

    I bet as soon as england lose, or dont perform, robbo will be back on their backs.

    Why dont you talk about how crap downing is at international level? (or his penalty misses this season), or how wheater should move club seen has gareth will hold him back? And what about pogatetz? Only a town that worships roy chubby brown could welcome such a thug into their team.

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  • 52. At 3:27pm on 17 Oct 2008, Williamsbach wrote:

    Re: the Kelly-in-her-smalls debate. If the game is on right now, she can wait. If it's highlights or a recording, happy to oblige. Live action whichever way you look at it....

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  • 53. At 3:31pm on 17 Oct 2008, King-Dion wrote:

    Couldn't agree more with the entire article (except, perhaps, the Kelly Brock bit)!

    The difference between Capello and our other managers for the last 30 years is that Fabio is a proven managerial winner of championships. Yes, Terry Venables won a title I think, and so did Don Revie, but with all due respect to Bobby Robson etc. the FA appointed a succession of 'nearly men'. Then the so called top players failed to play for them.

    At long last the FA have appointed a man who actually knows and understands all aspects of competitive football and seems to take his job seriously. The England players now seem to actually want to work for him and hopefully are terrified of letting him down.

    Fabio is worth every penny of his salary, and you can't usually say that about most people involved in upper level of English football. If he wins the World Cup for us he deserves a fantastic bonus and an honourary Knighthood. Sir Fabio Capello has a ring to it, don't you think? He could be dubbed at Wembley before Community Shield kick off.

    Am I getting well ahead of myself? Probably. But when was the last time England supporters could actually look ahead with total confidence? It was at half time at the World Cup Finals in 1970 against West Germany!

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  • 54. At 3:38pm on 17 Oct 2008, Dazz wrote:

    Robbo sir, you should be teaching Phil McNulty how to write!

    Brilliant article and funny too. Had me cracking up in the flipping office and almost got me sacked! Imagine that, in these credity rickety crunchy times.

    I agree almost in entirety...I disagree with the Kelly Brook bit as well...except maybe after I've scored a few there maybe. lol.

    I also agree that when Joe Cole and Hargreaves / Carrick return from injury either Gerrard or Lampard (or even both) should make way.

    Ashley Young is the best player I've seen in the prmiership this season. He should gel his hair and stir up a few controversies...then he might get a better mention!

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  • 55. At 3:43pm on 17 Oct 2008, brad55000 wrote:

    At 12:18pm on 17 Oct 2008, sandcastlejim wrote:
    "Lampard is a good sub to bring on, but he has to be sacrificed for the good of the team. Good he might be but he's not Steven Gerrard, and he just gets in the way when the two of them are together."
    When has Lampard been a good sub to bring on?? Hes never been sub at Chelsea for anyone to judge whether he would be a good impact sub to bring on.
    Lampard is a class player and should definately start in the form hes in at the moment. If we are certain that steven Gerrard has to play- can he not play on the right as he has done for Liverpool- quite successfully at times.
    A midfield of


    is what i propose!!!

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  • 56. At 3:53pm on 17 Oct 2008, GretnaPat wrote:

    The problem with McLaren is he was a horrible smirking sycophant. He only made decisions to try and prove he was brave, not because he actually thought they were the right decisions. He did it to please the public and the press. That's the difference between him and Capello. Well, that and Capello is actually a good coach. And a Manager as opposed to the players' best pal who'll stop at nothing to please them.

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  • 57. At 3:53pm on 17 Oct 2008, Daniel Linton wrote:

    Great article Robbo as per usual.

    The debate surely after over 5 years is that it is Frank or Gerrard. When Gerrard is used with a holding midfielder behind him being free to roam (like he does for Liverpool), then we will see the best of him continually - the guy is World Class (no i dont support Liverpool), and Lamps is just unlucky that he has better competition. Name a team that Gerro wont walk into??

    Prefer Bentley down the right and when Joey is back him on the left. The eternal conumdrum is who t o hold the midfield - Barry, Hargreaves or Carrick.

    We have the basis of a good team (albeit without Owen - rooney and owen not toggether please) but there is something missing towards the top and i feel that Heskey being a nusiance with Rooney and Gerro just behind is the way forward.

    Then again what do i know - i havent won four games in a row before.

    fans do not get too carried away, apart from Croatia, the other three teams we expect to beat, so lets see what happens when it really matters. Expectations are high with media frenzy etc, lets keep our feet on the ground, and enjoy the ride while it lasts as with England the wheels will come off eventually.

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  • 58. At 4:08pm on 17 Oct 2008, Hitchin_Spurs wrote:

    The trouble is successful sportsmen have to be one-track minded. You don't need earache about a new kitchen or some soft flippin' furnishings or what the kids might want for their birthdays when there's three vital points at stake.


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  • 59. At 4:19pm on 17 Oct 2008, bationhearts wrote:

    Come on Robbo, no need to be so sexist. Don't be ashamed if you like your partner over football, that's the way life is, so don't try and impress us with all that 'macho' nonsense. I suppose you've got an image to keep up. That's the prblem with the male ego, it has to 'massaged' all the tiem and the impression management ione goes tjhroyugh on a daily babis (inc. Robbo)is quite a task. Most men don't realise they're doing it. Keeping shoulders up, looking mirror, swearing with friends, writing macho blogs, downing a pint in seconds flat, standing up yourself rather than walking away, give it all the biggun etc etc. Boring, Robbo boring.

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  • 60. At 4:24pm on 17 Oct 2008, Zulu Warrior wrote:

    The midfield debate is NOT over. One game and one goal for Gerrard does not prove anything. I'm leaving it to Mr Capello to see if he can get the best out of Lamps and Gerrard. They are both excellent players.
    My own view is that while Gerrard is first class he gives the ball too much at the highest level. While he can also be inspirational, he lacks consistency at the highest level. His old failing from his early days of every ball being a 'Hollywood' pass resurfaces at times.
    Maybe Mr C can sort it. I hope so.
    Mr Capello seems to have sorted out the 'I'm playing out of position so don't blame me if we lose' syndrome. This perceived attitude may have impacted Gerrards confidence, and impacted team morale. As Mr Capello said WE win and lose as a TEAM. Gerrard needs to realise that there are other very good players in the team and play to their strengths. As you say Robbo a little humility works wonders

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  • 61. At 4:27pm on 17 Oct 2008, Gareth wrote:

    Excellent article but to be fair, you'd expect England to beat each of those four teams they've played. If they play, for instance, Germany or Russia in the finals and lose would Capello still be such a hero? England are lucky the seeding system for qualifiers is in place -some of us aren't so fortunate and have to meet the stronger teams rather earlier!

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  • 62. At 4:33pm on 17 Oct 2008, Brandyrecovery wrote:

    #56 "...He only made decisions to prove he was brave. Not because he actually thought they were the right decisions..." and "The problem with McLaren is that he was a horrible, smirking sychphant"

    I think that actually sums up the problem with us fans. Unless GretnaPat has actually met McLaren, or has some special powers that lets them know what somebody is thinking, the he/she has based their entire (and forceful!) negative opinion on...what he/she has read in the papers!

    The papers are all united in the belief that McClown (with the stupid umbrella - what's that fot to do with anything?!) cost us qualification last time. The players agree cos they don't want to take responsibility. The public agrees and join in with slagging him off.

    The papers are currently saying Capello is the messiah. Lo and behold, all the fans here agree. If / when we lose, perhaps the papers will blame the manager, perhaps it will be the players fault. But I'm pretty sure that the public will be quick to eat it all up and join in with the condemnation...

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  • 63. At 4:34pm on 17 Oct 2008, give England a chance wrote:

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

  • 64. At 4:49pm on 17 Oct 2008, Oliver Jones wrote:

    Although I don't agree with many of your blogs, I do believe, Robbo, that you have written a good blog here. You reference about Heskey did make me smile, as it is very true. Keep up the good work! What does make me laugh slightly is that so many are quick to jump on the bandwagon of success, but so many were so quick to sleight Capello just because he didn't start like a train. Having followed Italian football closely, I knew this was all coming, as he's won titles with Juve, Milan and more importantly, Roma, a side that had potential but weren't expected to do much before he took over.

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  • 65. At 4:59pm on 17 Oct 2008, Republik of Mancunia wrote:

    The big difference between Capello and Eriksson/MacLaren is that when things are not going well, Capello has the nouse to change things effectively. Eriksson never had a plan B. (MacLaren never really seemed to have a plan A).

    England have still been poor from the start, lets not gloss over it and by no stretch of the imagination can they be considered a great team but they're definately better now.

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  • 66. At 5:00pm on 17 Oct 2008, poppyAstonvanilla wrote:

    Well said Alpineboyo! I wonder if Kelly Brook supports a football team? I've heard that she has a good grasp of tactics- she likes to play with two up front!
    Re McClaren: probably not as bad as we thought but not not brave enough to be radical with his selections and squads. Glad he's gone.

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  • 67. At 5:33pm on 17 Oct 2008, Richyburger wrote:

    While no-one can deny that Capello has done well in the qualifying matches so far we must not forget that England have played some stinkers under him too.
    Andorra and Khazakstan were both victories but in both we played poorly for the majority of the match and against better opposition would have been punished.

    As for his changes at half time, yes they have worked BUT the point is that changes needed to be made because HE WAS PANDERING TO LAMPARD AND GERRARD just like the two previous managers. Maybe if he hadn't been messing around with the formation/tactics for those two then we might not have needed drastic changes at half-time.

    I cannot see why he has suddenly gotten this reputation for showing the players that anyone can be dropped, he bent over backwards to accommodate both Lampard and Gerrard and the only player not usually in the squad is Owen.

    Finally I don't think Ashley Young will ever get an England game under Capello as he seems to think that he is already playing him at left back ;)

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  • 68. At 5:43pm on 17 Oct 2008, Armchair Dave wrote:

    Let's not go overboard and get out the 1966 betamax tapes again. You lot beat Kazakhstan, Belarus and Andorra - hardly World Cup material.

    Excellent result against Croatia but they are on the way down. Qualify for the World Cup, play some big names, beat them, then think about winning. :-)

    Oh and replacing McClaren with Capello is more like replacing Alan Partridge with Michael Parkinson.

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  • 69. At 5:52pm on 17 Oct 2008, ABritinCanada wrote:

    Robbo, you're darn right Joe Hart needs a start if for no other reason than Shrewsbury Town will pocket £600,000 (or a big chunk of change, for them anyway) when he does!

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  • 70. At 6:33pm on 17 Oct 2008, telemonster wrote:

    Shaun Wright-Phillips should play with a guide dog!

    hahaha...that's genius!

    ...and well said robbo, but give heskey a break, will you?

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  • 71. At 6:42pm on 17 Oct 2008, Hot Butter wrote:

    and frankly I'd be more engrossed by a Glenn Roeder press conference.

    = Brilliant.

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  • 72. At 6:48pm on 17 Oct 2008, Robbo Robson wrote:

    Whoever made the 'gag' about Kelly Brook liking two upfront is unleashing alot of trouble for all of us... I mean who's going to play in the hole?

    (That'll be up for no more than two minutes so catch it if you can?)

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  • 73. At 8:15pm on 17 Oct 2008, Bearded Shrimper wrote:

    top stuff as usual

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  • 74. At 8:46pm on 17 Oct 2008, 5TournamentFloplegend wrote:

    The end of the WAG circus should also signla the end of Beckham involvement with the national set-up.After all the total circus that included the WAGS and all the rest of the noise was Beckhams baby.That di*k cost us with his indulgences as admitted by Rio so Beckham should now show some respect and pay the price-He has NO RIGHT to pass players such as Moore and Charlton of whom he will NEVER be fit to lick the boots of.

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  • 75. At 9:23pm on 17 Oct 2008, The Chelsea Fan wrote:

    Chelsea fan here. SWP can indeed have some good spells, and he's done well for Man City. But Robbo's comment was around the last England game, and he's spot on. Basically, SWP would get the ball and run straight at the defenders - apparently hoping they'd just get out of the way. Then BAM - the attack was over. It was hilarious to watch. It was some strategy for a little guy, maybe he was hoping they'd open their legs so he could run between them? If he wore a rainbow coloured wig and bigger boots, we could sell it to a circus.

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  • 76. At 9:30pm on 17 Oct 2008, Pseudo-Viking wrote:

    The McClown debate is always a bit harsh I think. The man was clearly not qualified for the job, and okay, he maybe overestimated his ability. But who put him in that position, ahead of candidates who were far more qualified? Apparently they were taken in because he had prepared a 'really good presentation'. Nice. Did anyone check his cv to see if he had actually achieved anything significant? Clearly not. Yes, he's a bit of a wally. But I see nothing that makes him out to be a bad person. Let's put the blame for England's failure where it belongs - with the FA. Mr Capello seems to be doing a good job so far, but let's understand that what he got handed was a bit of a dog's dinner (maybe SWP's dog, I don't know). So if he get's England to a respectable level again (by which I mean competing at the top level, not necessarily winning), he'll have done well, and we should thank him for that.

    On the Kelly/Scarlett debate, why choose? Just go with both, but make sure they're nice to each other and get equal time. Jealousy is so ugly.

    Finally, to '5TournamentFloplegend' - get some help. Seriously. I don't mean this nastily, but your hatred of Beckham is so self destructive. It doesn't impact on him in the slightest, but it seems to be eating you up, judging by the frequency and violence of your entries on him. I can respect your view on whether he should be in the squad, that's just healthy debate, but there seems to be something more personal here - and unless you genuinely know him in person, I'm afraid you're hurting yourself more than him.

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  • 77. At 9:37pm on 17 Oct 2008, Oy get orf moy land wrote:

    Whats the difference that Capelo brings? in a single word 'SteviG' what the f*** was a StevieG.
    Capelo is frist class and no fawning sycophant, the sooner he puts 'SteviG' were he belongs, at home with that dumb wag of his [well said Rio], the better for the England team.

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  • 78. At 9:53pm on 17 Oct 2008, Lawrobot wrote:

    Thought you might like this, as i have heard you express some opinions about Lawro's prowess as a pundit...

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  • 79. At 10:00pm on 17 Oct 2008, pimms-o-clock wrote:

    Its funny that he attacks the wifes. is he married i would imagine he isnt. However i think they are a bit of a problem. And Capello hasnt done much with the squad really. Got rid of owen which admitadly hasnt done much YET. Also adding Heskey back in was a stroke of genius as he works so hard for the ball. Fair play to him. Maybe at half time he gives they a talk like no other manager has. They come out the tunnel as new men.

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  • 80. At 11:04pm on 17 Oct 2008, Dazz wrote:

    Richyburger - post 67

    So Capello has to pick his team according to your wishes for him to be a good manager eh?

    You symbolize the arrogant know-all attitude that has so far plagued our football. Be humble and acccept what we have all realized, that guy knows how to win matches!

    If we did, we wouldn't have an Italian as manager.

    Beat that if you can.

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  • 81. At 11:11pm on 17 Oct 2008, Dazz wrote:

    So some of you think we should normally be beating the likes of Russia and Croatia? What utter bull and guess what? we haven't

    It is exactly this kind of arrogance that makes the rest of Europe hate us and ensure we don't get the 50-50 decisions from most referees or even FIFA and UEFA. Take a good look, Platini and Blatter barely disguise their hatred for anything English.

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  • 82. At 11:46pm on 17 Oct 2008, Peter Saxton wrote:

    Why "try out" new players?
    Get the first team playing well together and "try out" new players when there's an injury or loss of form. "Trying out" a load of players together means nothing.

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  • 83. At 07:32am on 18 Oct 2008, manucastle wrote:

    ROBBO! Some of your blog do make me laugh!!! This is one of them.
    Good read. Well done!
    (I never thought I would say this to a mindlessborough supporter)

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  • 84. At 09:16am on 18 Oct 2008, kwinquark1 wrote:

    Best Robbo for a good while. And the World has gone crazy - coincidence?

    The Wingnut has got 5 goals! Emile's gone and got some credibility! Kelly Brook shows her crackers! What next, I wonder?

    Hope against all adversity - Almunia may turn Anglo-Saxon yet.

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  • 85. At 10:29am on 18 Oct 2008, divealdo wrote:

    Excellent blog Robbo, pity about the usual sense-of-humour-ectomy brigade you always seem to attract.

    As for fallsheroes, you need to get some therapy pal. I just looked back over your previous posts and couldn't find one that wasn't snide, negative, unknowledgeable and illiterate at some point. (Wheater held back? duh!)

    England are improving, they're maybe not 'there' yet but it's early days. The next 2 'friendly' games may show where we are or where we need more work. Let's just wait and see and meanwhile be happy with progress so far.

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  • 86. At 10:38am on 18 Oct 2008, Chaddyroar wrote:

    Though Fabio has had a fantastic start and we shouldn't complain after the dross that has been served up since World Cup 06 got underway, I still fell we haven't played our strongest side.

    It is possible that Lampard and Gerrard could play together if England play with just one up and a Ledley King/Hargreaves figure in front of the back 4. King played that position brilliantly a couple of times during Sven's reign.

    However there are only certain circumstances (away to Brazil) where this formation would be appropriate. And it begs the question, who would be the lone front man? Heskey? He has proved he can do a job for the team and would bring in Lamps, Gerrard and Walcott no doubt. But would he score enough himself. Rooney? His talent should allow it but would we get the best out of him. Maybe there's a player who can be a bit of both, Ashton (underrated in my view, shame he's never fit) or Crouch perhaps.

    If we decide to build the team around Rooney then I agree with other posters, Lampard must be sacrificed. I recognise his form, but, form is temporary and class is permanent. Does anyone believe, that fundamentally, Frank is a better player than Steven Gerrard?

    Hargreaves when fit, is the man to partner Gerrard in centre mid, with Walcott and Ashley Young on the wings.

    My concern against really world class opposition is who should partner Rio. Terry has never proven himself at international level and has been made to look good by the excellent Carvalho, Cech and Makelele over recent years. I could play with those three and look half decent. Lescott, Upson and Brown have not been at all convincing in their efforts at centre half and Carra has retired. I think Richards is too raw in that position. Woodgate and King should be given a chance. If Woodgate can stay fit, he may be the best defender we have.

    My preferred first 11:
    James, Richards, Ferdinand, Woodgate, Cole, Walcott, Hargreaves, Gerrard, Young, Rooney and Heskey.

    That is a side of pace, talent and adventure, with some real steel down the spine.

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  • 87. At 2:50pm on 18 Oct 2008, kwinquark1 wrote:

    It's 2.45pm on Saturday and here we are awaiting the kickoffs of today's proper contests in the top flight.

    The one earlier doesn't count, and will be most interested in the Robson Theory of Relative Cr*pness to explain the anomaly.

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  • 88. At 5:38pm on 18 Oct 2008, Rita Cocking wrote:

    So,Rio Ferdinand is glad to see the back of the WAGs .Excuse me,is this the same Rio Ferdinand that organised that notorious Christmas party for the Manchester United team that culminated in very sordid headlines in the News of the World? I think that the words,pot,kettle and black come to mind here.As for David Beckham's missed penalty,cast your mind back to WC 94,I think you will find that Roberto Baggio's miss was even worse then Becks.In fact,I heard stories going around that the Russians shot it down over Siberia three days later.

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  • 89. At 1:37pm on 19 Oct 2008, brandyzee wrote:

    As an businessman who has travelled to these wonderful eastern european destinations in the past, I believe others who have also travelled here will agree, it is patently obvious why Ferdinand and his team mates would not wish to travel with their partners.
    Why he should so poorly cover up his 'after game' pleasures is an insult to our itelligence.

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  • 90. At 9:43pm on 19 Oct 2008, maverick04 wrote:

    great comment give rooney time and he will be great but he neads time

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  • 91. At 3:02pm on 20 Oct 2008, sceptic_al wrote:

    First time for a number of years that I've seen England play convincing football.

    Rooney is growing up. About the first time I've seen him lose the ball and not go crazy trying to retrieve it but instead making sure he got back into the correct position. Well done Fabio. (Perhaps he should also have a word with Hamilton prior to the last race to make sure he keeps his head as well).

    Looking forward to some meaningful experiments in the forthcoming friendlies.

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