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Bilic barbs inspire Capello

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Phil McNulty | 14:29 UK time, Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Steve McClaren infamously took shelter under an umbrella as England's Euro 2008 hopes sank in a deluge on Croatia's last Wembley visit - the transformation in fortunes since ensured Fabio Capello exuded only rays of sunshine in readiness for their return.

Capello does not do playful, World Cup qualification is too serious for that, but he came as close as he ever will at Arsenal's London Colney traning base as he plots to secure the victory that would confirm England's place in South Africa.

He exuded confidence, without ever courting complacency, and was even in bullish enough form to return the fire turned on his team by Croatian counterpart Slaven Bilic as part of a very obvious declaration of psychological warfare.

Brandishing newspaper cuttings can often be the last refuge of the desperate coach - but there was authority in Capello's words as he responded to Bilic's charge that his side lacks "Englishness" under the Italian's guidance.

"Thank you Mr Bilic," said Capello. "There is no need to motivate my players after this fantastic assistance."

Bilic, a master of mischief as a player (just ask Laurent Blanc about missing the 1998 World Cup final) and now following suit as a coach, also claims England are "definitely missing something" but is not going to share it with the world. It is his and Croatia's little secret.

Maybe he has detected an uncertainty about the goalkeeping position, where West Ham's Robert Green still needs to convince, or at right-back where Liverpool's £17m summer purchase Glen Johnson has proved a more reliable attacking weapon than a figure of defensive reassurance.

Bilic might mean England's right flank, where no serious long-term successor to David Beckham has been found, although Aaron Lennon is likely to get his chance to audition on Wednesday.

And what about up front, where England are again expected to rely on the bludgeoning approach of Emile Heskey as opposed to the rapier thrusts of Jermain Defoe?

Or maybe, as is most likely, it is a classic piece of Bilic bluff. As a man who still reportedly gets through 40 cigarettes a day, he is no stranger to a smokescreen.

The impression lingers that he would much prefer the weakness of the McClaren regime, weaknesses he and his players preyed upon ruthlessly, than the pragmatism and resilience of Capello's rejuvenated team. And this is the motivation behind his message.

englandtraining595335afp.jpgFabio Capello rallies his players in training

The words cut no ice with Capello and England captain John Terry, other than to perhaps provide a last layer of inspiration on their intense preparations.

England banished the ghosts of McClaren's last game with a 4-1 win in Zagreb in September - but such is Capello's focus on Wednesday's Wembley confrontation that even the events of that balmy night appeared to have temporarily slipped his memory.

He announced England won 4-0 and after being corrected took the opportunity to stress: "It is history for me...archivio...." One for the archives.

And this is how Capello is treating every previous game in his reign. The progress towards South Africa may have been unblemished, but only Croatia at Wembley counts now and he is aware Bilic's team will provide formidable opposition, even without their heartbeat Luka Modric.

Capello insists England have "three finals" and need to win one - but he knows the advantages of early qualification and the opportunities for crucial experimentation that will bring.

And even if England get the victory they need on Wednesday it is merely the completion of phase one of the task Capello was hired to perform.

If there is one element of "Englishness" Capello truly wants to banish it is the habit of losing in the last eight of major tournaments - although admittedly even this was an improvement on not actually qualifying, which was the McClaren legacy.

The true measure of Capello's reign will not be reaching a World Cup, it will be excelling in one. This is the driving force. He will not be celebrating too lavishly if Croatia are beaten.

Bilic's words have provided a suitable sub-plot to the game, and Capello was preceded into his seat at London Colney by the man who is the living and breathing answer to his accusations of a lack of "Englishness" in England - captain John Terry.

He was keen not to get sucked in by the knockabout Bilic banter, but Terry can be lined up alongside Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham as obvious symbols of the "Englishness" of Capello's side.

And Terry is a man on a mission after readily admitting in the past that he could only bring himself to watch a few minutes of Euro 2008, such was his disgust at England missing out.

He revealed he will not be indulging in Churchillian speeches prior to kick-off - Capello is the man who talks and England's players do the listening.

The inspiration for England will come from the prize within touching distance. It did not need the verbal jabs from Bilic to remind them of the price of victory at Wembley.

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  • Comment number 1.

    3-0 to england, 2 goals to gerard one to defoe , carlton cole to start along side rooney .

  • Comment number 2.

    England not only need to beat Croatia but they need to take them to the cleaners! England need to beat their opponents with easy and show the other teams that they mean business and they will demolish any team in their way if they qualify for the world cup. If the formation and right players in the right position are there then there is every possibility that football's greatest prize will be back home in England.

    Come on England!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    great blog mate

    bilic is talking rubbish: the team is full of english lads. The only un-english thing in our national team now is our ability to come from behind (re holland) and to keep a lead, which, in the past, we have faild to do.

    he knows he is up against it and is just playing mind games. with modric and corluka out he is worrying big time.

    come on england. don't think we will win world cup, but tim vikerys blog on south american football is fascinating reading - both brazil and more so argentina are in a bit of a bad way, so it could be a very open competition, until spain win it!

  • Comment number 4.

    Always a good blog.

    Englands main problem is goalkeeping. If James is fit he is the only choice, albeit an unfortunate situation.

    GLen johnson may leek a few goals but his advances also press the opposition back.

    Lets hope lennon has a good game

  • Comment number 5.

    Good blog. No2, please dont refer to the World Cup coming home. Having won it only once we have no right to make such statements. Bearing in mind we snubbed the World Cup for years, I suspect we have less right to say its coming home that Uruguay! If it belongs anywhere as 'home' it is Brazil. This is the sort of attitude that helped get us in a mess last time out, thinking we can win it and its right if we do.
    We are a decent team, and others will want to avoid us, but Spain and Brazil will fancy their chances of beating us, so will the Dutch. We will qualify, but if we get to the semis it will be a good result. If we win, yeah, fantastic - but its not our right.
    I like Bilic. He was a good player and he is doing a good job with a smaller nation than ours. But he is certainly worried and I think, deep down, expects a thumping.
    Hope Rooney scores tomorrow, keep up his form for England and United!

  • Comment number 6.

    I have to agree with bobpaisley77, in some respects anyway. Brazil and Argentina both look a little directionless at the moment. The other big nations will look at Spain's defeat by the US and will be taking note. I think they peaked too early but I think that Capello will be keeping at least some of his powder dry on that one. I think it is an open World Cup, though naive to think that England will win it, they are certainly in with a shout.

    I agree with Bobpaisley77 about Tim Vickery's blog too, always value for money imho.

  • Comment number 7.

    one thing capello has done to england is bring a bit of flair and consistency. I would love the English team play with Lennon and Defoe. Introduction of Gareth Barry has brought stability to the midfield. This team is far more organised and motivated than the one Steve Mclaren managed. Clearly Bilic is far more concerned this time with his team's chances. Capello is far more experience to be sucked to comments like that.
    England win 3-1.

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't particularly buy into the theory that England have changed their playing mentality under Capello. They are still an attack-minded side that has a worrying ability to leak goals even while in apparent control of a football match. What has changed has been the performance of individuals - particularly the likes of Lampard, who have found a niche for themselves in combining combative defensive attributes with a good level of technical ability.

    Prediction: England 2 - 1 Croatia

  • Comment number 9.

    Nice blog.

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 10.

    I think that England will beat Croatia, but it wont be a stroll in the park. So England will qualify for the WC in S Africa. But it is way too early to talk about who will win it and who wont. There are 9 months or so till it begins...yeah probably the winner will come from one of Spain, Brasil, Italy, Holland, France (if they qualify), Argentina(if they qualify) and maybe England, or Germany or Russia. But a lot depends on the actual draw for the group stages and the knockout rounds. And then of course, there will be injuries and lack of form, and improved form from many of these above mentioned teams. One thing is usually certain in any WC...a group of death, a group of dirth, and a suprise package. But whatever, it will be a great tournament hopefully with plenty of good games, with plenty to talk about.

  • Comment number 11.

    Capello was exactly right, as so often.

    Bilic's comments are manna from heaven for him.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why do England feel the need to field both Glen Johnson and a fast winger. I dont understand, its not like Lennon or Walcott really need the overlap from Johnson. In my opinion if either Walcott or Lennon plays, Brown should play at right-back, and if Beckham plays then it should be Johnson.

  • Comment number 13.

    The only englishness that we've lost is that english trait of not living up to expectations. I feel more hopeful than ever under Capello, mainly because he just wont stand for people not performing, he exudes that kind of disciplined approach. If I was a player, I'd be scared of having a bad game under him. We havent had that kind of steel for a long long while. Thats what we've lost, we've lost our fear. Fear of losing, fear of winning, whatever it was, we've lost it, and Croatia, we're coming for YOU.

  • Comment number 14.

    england will dominate but win 2-0 at most, Rooney and gerard. i still think that spain will win it they have the best team in the world (Barca) and arguably the best league. (Ronaldo, kaka, messi, ibrahimovich) and ive still missed loads out!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    It would be interesting to have defoe start instead of rooney and then bring rooney on at half time. Hopefully this will give defoe his opportunity and reward for his form and rooney a push to up his game after a dissapointing performance on saturday (I dont mean this as a permenant thing) people talk about defoe having an impact at half time... imagine a fired up rooney

  • Comment number 16.

    The key issue here is almost forgotten - Ukraine. They are 3 points behind Croatia with a game in hand, and on top of that Croatia have to play the group leaders, England.

    Bilic is babbling on to the media about England to try and detract from the pig's ear Croatia have made of qualifying, and their very real fear of not even making the play-offs...

  • Comment number 17.


    Foster - not enough first team experience but the most likely candidate to replace James if he plays well for Man United whilst Van der Sar is injured

    Robinson - an unconfident goalkeeper in an England shirt. Enough said.

    Green - The best GK out of the three in the squad and should start against Croatia.


    Johnson - Good attacker, not good enough in defence against top opposition, and with Lennon on the wing, his attacking isnt necessarily required.

    Brown - A solid performer who knows the correct balance of defending and attacking. A much better candidate at RB against Croatia.

    Upson - A consistent performer in the England shirt, but hasn't shown it fully against the best attackers in the world, but still a better choice than Lescott.

    Terry - The England captain, a place is assured.

    Lescott - Has never excelled whilst playing for England, but is still good enough if anything happens to Upson.

    A Cole - He's better than Wayne Bridge and thats all that needs to be said for both players.


    Lennon - A good replacement for Walcott, and is starting to discover all the potential he had. Finally seems to have sorted out his "final ball" problems. Will start.

    Wright-Phillips - A slower version of Lennon. Thats about it.

    Beckham - An inspirer who can still compete. It will just be a cameo role for him though from the bench if he is to play at all.

    Carrick - A great passer of the ball, and helps England's midfield balance, but Barry just shaded it in terms of defensive quality.

    Barry - Probably starts against Croatia.

    Gerrard - His and Rooney's partnership flourishes on the left. The best player England have got (arguably) but he wont save England like he does for Liverpool.

    Lampard - The penalty kick man and will probably get a lucky goal, but wont score outside the box for England. Don't expect the bursting Chelsea runs.

    Young - His pace will be effective in the latter stages against Croatia, especially on the counter attack, if he plays that is.

    Milner - Won't start in place of Gerrard but either him or Young will come on off the bench to have an impact.


    Rooney - England cannot function the same without Wayne Rooney and has the largest contribution of any England players.

    Heskey - Should start with Rooney. England have played best when those two have been playing. No matter how many goals Defoe scores, he can't bring people into the game like Heskey can.

    Defoe - A great goalscorer. No-one else seems to score though when he is on the pitch.

    C Cole - Picture the moment- World cup semi-final, 92nd minute England 2-1 down, through ball played to C. Cole, onside and in the clear with only the keeper to beat. Would you bet your life on C Cole to score there? See what I mean?

    Crouch - Can do the same roll as Heskey but seems to get fouls for touching players. Refs do seem to not like Crouchy, shame really as he is a quality player who can score goals as well as assist.

  • Comment number 18.

    To The_third_Ronaldo...Fair point. The coach under more pressure tomorrow is S;laven Bilic. Fabio Capello was very relaxed with the media today, but his phrase "three cup finals" was a crucial one. England have three chances to get the points they need - although he wants them tomorrow.

    I expect England to get them and seal their place in South Africa tomorrow night.

  • Comment number 19.

    What England must make sure is that concentration levels stay high throughout the game. The friendly on Saturday against the Slovenians, an inferior team to the Croatians, shows that we still can't see out games without the odd lapse which will be punished at international level. They cut straight through the centre of defence a few times with a bit of movement and Bilic will have noted that as much as Glen Johnson's inclination towards attacking than defending. Apart from that Gerrard on the left was a bit of a nothing performance which noone seems to worry about, when Milner a genuine winger came on things started to happen down that side. If we are to get away from lobbing the ball up to Heskey every time we must play Defoe and allow him the chance to start and put defence on the back foot with his pace and clinical finishing. Give the lad a go!

  • Comment number 20.

    Fabio will pick the team best suited for this game and, based upon his track record, it will be just so. He will also make the substitutions which make the most sense; also for this particular game.

    Therfore; let us not "hope that Lennon has a good game', as mentioned in Comment 4; but that Fabio's selections play well, both as individuals and as a team.

    Let us further hope that it is a confidence boosting victory; thus allowing Fabio to try other players and combinations.

  • Comment number 21.

    Bilic is clutching at straws. All he can do is run his mouth. He knows he's in for a rough night.

  • Comment number 22.

    A nice early goal to ease the pressure then take it steady all the way to qualification.Consign the 2-3 result to the rubbish bin along with McClaren and here,s to Capello for actually making us resemble a football team when Fabio talks you listen or else.

  • Comment number 23.

    Interesting to see Croatia coach Slaven Bilic insists he showed no disrespect to England and his comments were a positive reflection on Fabio Capello's team.

    Having sat a few feet away from Capello today, I can assure you that is not how he saw it obviously.

  • Comment number 24.

    'It would be interesting to have defoe start instead of rooney and then bring rooney on at half time. Hopefully this will give defoe his opportunity and reward for his form and rooney a push to up his game after a dissapointing performance on saturday (I dont mean this as a permenant thing) people talk about defoe having an impact at half time... imagine a fired up rooney'

    Yeah he's on the pitch for the first 30 seconds of the second half and gets sent off for a rash tackle!

    If Capello doesn't start Rooney our best player and over the last 8/9 games prolific in front of goal and we lose/draw imagine the criticism he would get. Never going to happen, Capello is building a team around Rooney to win the World Cup.

  • Comment number 25.

    Oher questions worthy of discussion. Where do England fans think the weaknesses are in Fabio Capello's side? Who is vulnerable and who are the Croatian danger men?

  • Comment number 26.

    It's a clever comment by Bilic. By "Englishness" I suspect he means that inclination to run around like headless chickens and boot the ball clulessly to the big man up front in times of crisis: what we like to call "passion". Capello is attempting to build a more thoughtful approach - hence the exclusion of Owen, the measure of last resort - and it will be interesting to see if England can resist the temptation to prove a point to Bilic and in so doing throw Capello's plan out of the window.

  • Comment number 27.

    read my comment phil, i have crutinised

  • Comment number 28.

    Or maybe, as is most likely, it is a classic piece of Bilic bluff. As a man who still reportedly gets through 40 cigarettes a day, he is no stranger to a smokescreen.

    ha ha that is a classic. Personally I think England will edge it 2-1. I think it will be harder than last time where we caught them ironically underestimating us. Also at that time they were the favourites so there was more pressure on them. Where are the weakness well I think they lack pace in the centre of their defence so Defoe coming in as a sub could be the deciding factor. They are missing Modric who was their heartbeat and that could be a major factor as well. I also think they are weak defensively down the left Pranjić is good coming forward but looks shaky at the back. Finally Corluka who was their best CB is injured and maybe worse for them their regular keeper is injured I think and the most likely reserve Runje could have a difficult night ahead of him. However we can not afford to underestimate them they made us pay twice 3 times would be humilating.

  • Comment number 29.

    What is heartening about this squad is that there are some great complementary players and there is strength in depth starting to emerge. For example it's been mentioned by others that Heskey's ability to hold the ball up or flick on brings in both Gerrard and Lampard.

    Other examples are pace/accuracy combinations like (and I particularly like this one) Beckham and Johnson on the right. Beckham works hard and could help protect that flank and we'd have both combinations of darting runs and pinpoint crosses if they both play well.

    We can replace Rooney with Defoe, Heskey for Carlton Cole (I'd put Cole ahead of Heskey as many others have - just seems to have everything Heskey does and a might even score a goal or two?!).

    This is the one area of English football that has always been lacking - multi-faceted footballers. Spain have players that can go past players at pace, pass the ball well, hold the ball and score goals. That's one player having ALL those qualities.

    It's a shame that English players often only posess one of these qualities (although we have some that can do it all - Rooney and Joe Cole and dare I say it Glen Johnson).

    One area I think we are seriously let down is midfield. A lot of games these days are being dictated by two world class midfielders who can hold the ball and pass with exceptional quality.

    Lampard is the only midfielder we have like this but he's not world class in my opinion. Barry is also a little limited.

    As a Liverpool fan I think Gerrard's role has changed a lot. He can still play phenomenal passes, has great pace, strength and shooting ability but this isn't really a central role - he's become more of a striker/link man like Heskey and Carlton Cole. Gerrard just doesn't seem to dominate the midfield anymore. Alonso kind of made that role his and Gerrard hasn't shown that in his game for a while.

    I think we'll beat Croatia with Corluka and Modric out - but I think we often forget that when we beat them 4-1 they only had 10 men for half the game. I reckon 2-1.

  • Comment number 30.

    I did write this skit about 'Essex girl defending' on Saturday night.

    Course, for those versed in double entendres, it was pretty obviously a barb against how Bilic's team defended in Zagreb last year........

    Repeatedly attacked down the right, blood all over the pitch from Joe Cole and Croatia ended up getting royally laid to rest......

    Hope everyone saw that coming?

  • Comment number 31.

    I think England will qualify tomorrow night.
    It's unthinkable that one of our major weaknesses is the goalie. If there was one position England never had a problem with, it was the guardian of the onion bag; Shilts, Clemence, Banks. Players like Joe Corrigan couldn't get a look in! What happened?
    I still think, and especially after watching the Slovenia game, that our biggest weakness is our inability to hold onto the ball. All our major rivals for the WC are superior to us in this and I just don't think Capello has enough time with the players to make them even equal to Spain, Italy, Holland or Brazil. Good luck to him, but I just hope that he is allowed to continue, whatever the outcome of this WC. Glenn Hoddle, one of the finest players of his generation, had some interesting thoughts on this in his article in a Sunday Newspaper at the weekend.
    Also, Rooney must be fit for us to have any chance whatsoever.

  • Comment number 32.

    Phil's request for comments in Item 25 could lead to a barrage of answers as there are so many differing ways to look at it. Perhaps an immediate one is to view it from the aspect of those players not currently available to Fabio.

    In their form prior to the sad injuries, Joe Cole and Hargreaves were two of the best players in international ranks. It can be reasonably argued that none of the current replacements have reached that heady level. In similar vein, it may be considered that England has yet to secure a replacement for Beckham, in-as-much as no one has managed to provide consistent performances in that role. The one notable highlight of course was from Walcott.

    We may also look back wistfully to the performances of Gary Neville. Although the average England fan seldom regarded him as truly 'world class', they may now long for his return to fitness and form as a savior in times of stress.

    It may also be said of Defoe that his apparent absence in times when England are required to withstand pressure from the opposition reduces his overall value. Such a view, of course, may also be levelled at Owen should he ever be back in vogue.

    As said previously, the only view that really counts is that of Fabulous Fabio. Long may he reign.

  • Comment number 33.

    it is becoming more apparent just what a class act Fabio is, his confidence as a person and in his ability is rubbing off on the players, his clarity in what he wants - which is to win gives the players clear minds and no excuses. It goes to show that often in football - and in all professions - people are over promoted, not just Steve Mclaren, but many many managers over the years and this has not only jeapordised clubs fortunes but also their careers. Class takes time to mature and England are reaping the rewards.....

  • Comment number 34.

    ManUForLife69 - how arrogant! Your "scrutiny" was a little boring, so I'm not surprised Phil chose to ignore it.

    To comment on Phil's question, I am a little concerned - like everybody else - about the goalkeeping position. Often international games are very tight, so the odd slip or two can easily be punished. Who can forget James' performance against France when he let two goals in, in the dying minutes of the game, a few years ago?

    I'm not so concerned about Johnson. It wasn't that long ago when he won the Man of the Match award in an England shirt and people were raving about him, so one substandard game shouldn't mean he should be castigated. I think with Johnson and Cole marauding down the flanks from full-back, we have a pairing to rival some of the best in the World.

    I think Barry hasn't been as effective as he was when he first broke into the England team a little while ago. I'm interested in Hargreaves' progress, as I think he could take Barry's shirt come the World Cup Finals. If Hargreaves plays as well as he did a few years ago for England when he comes back from injury, I would not be surprised if he is England's defensive linchpin in 2010.

  • Comment number 35.

    Correct Fabio truly is a class act let me think about the other names being mentioned erm Big Phil nah Big Sam nah i think we,ll settle for "boring" Mr Capello wont we?

  • Comment number 36.

    Once England qualify, as they surely will even if it is not tomorrow, then it is worth reminding ourselves of one vital missing element in the current England team - namely Joe Cole.

    I think he has been one of England's best players when he has played in recent years, as we are reminded in this excellent piece by The Guardian's Richard Williams.

    If he is fit in time to confirm a place on the plane to South Africa, he will be provide an extra dimension to England's play. Top player and a great professional.

  • Comment number 37.

    Is it not the ultimate in 'Englishness' that we look so much more dangerous as a strike force when Heskey, rated less than second class by many when playing without quick support, plays in and around our current 'smaller' attacking and talented forwards?

  • Comment number 38.

    Bilic has a weaker side on papaer than Capellos by far. So he has every right to use "other" tactics such as verbal jibes to give his side a chance of winning. Capello is an astute headmaster type thick skinned manager and Bilic is trying to get under his skin. Capello is an italian managing an English side so may be he was referring to him. Either way he got Capello to respond. If fergie had done it, it would be perceived as genius/mindgames.

    End of the day England have a far superior side than Crotia and England should come out trumps. If not, Bilic will gladly be wrong as England will certainly have a huge amount of Englishness about them!

  • Comment number 39.

    While I'm hopeful for the Croatia match, the spectre of Andy Murray, 'our' man in the US Open tennis, being beaten tonight by an unfancied Croatian is a bad omen .....

  • Comment number 40.

    One nil would be enough for England. No need to prove a point against a team which is already down

  • Comment number 41.

    I fully expect us to win comfortably tomorrow night. Capello has done a good job so far however topping this group was surely a minimun requirment?! The job he has done looks so better than it really is because of how bad we were under steve mcclaren. The real test comes next summer, for now we need to get behind him and the squad and give full support. So many people are already concentrating on the negatives and looking for weaknesses in our team. There is a long way to but i think most would agree we look better than we have for many years. Italy won it last time through good organisation, if we get behind the team are our key are on form why cant we?????

  • Comment number 42.

    Barry must cover Glen Johnson-that's his job as the holding midfielder. England lack a world-class partner for Rooney so Gerrard should play in the hole behind him allowing Young, Lenon, Milner SWP and Becks to battle for the wide positions. Alternatively, Defoe should start up front and England should play 4-1-3-2 with Gerrard and Milner either side of Lamps. Lenon isn't technically as sound or defensively solid enough to feature in a 4-1-3-2. Whatever the formation or whoever starts, in Capello we must trust until proven otherwise. Heskey is about to retire but Capello knows better than me, and YOU by the way..

  • Comment number 43.

    ooooo yes your comment was certainly eventful. That i havent heard that mentioned 80million times before

  • Comment number 44.

    And what do you mean how arrogant? how was i at all being arrogant

  • Comment number 45.

    The negativity surrounding Johnson is comical - it wasn't so long ago he was being praised to high heaven.

    Of course, now he's moved to Liverpool the knives are out.

    I remember Ashley Cole's 'defending' at a similar age to what Johnson is now, and some of those memories make me cringe.

  • Comment number 46.

    3-0 to england, 2 goals to gerard one to defoe , carlton cole to start along side rooney .


    Are you kidding me? Gerrard has never performed for england, he is never in the right frame of mind it seems as if he is on another planet when being compared to his statistics for liverpool.


    England 3 - 1 Croatia


  • Comment number 47.

    Yes Phil i agree with you on J Cole, he has that creativity that we lack whihc all great sides need and if fit will make LM his own. The only qu that would leave is the perrenial Gerrard or Lampard debate. Lampard is not good enough to play any other position so Stevie Gerrard will probably be play in the SS position in which he has flourished for liverpoool.
    On a personal level i would love to see him play as a second striker with Wayne Rooney, if Rooney can be disciplined enough to stay up top that could be potentially be a world class first X1 minus the keeper
    Johnson, Rio, Terry, A Cole, Lennon, Barry, Lampard, J Cole, Gerrard, Rooney. Only slight doubts could be Johnson and Lennon but with an injury free season at their clubs i believe they will reach that extra step and make this Enlgand team on paper World Class in every positon. And with a world class manager in Fabio Capello the sky is the limit...

  • Comment number 48.

    i am really looking forward to the game 2morrow. i think it will be difficult but we will win 2-1. without modric, croatia will lack the creativeness and passing ability that Modric has. i think glen johnson is by far our best right back, and cant understand why some people want brown to play? In my opinion, he is massively overrated and loses the ball too often. although defoe has started the season brilliantly, i think carlton cole would be the best option upfront with rooney and defoe to come on at half time. cole is big and strong and can hold up the ball as well as finish. heskey is a good player but he doesnt get enough goals.

  • Comment number 49.

    We need Richards working really hard at Man City, so we can see the awesome right back he was back then. Glen Johnson is not just bad at defending, he's horrific.

    Almost all Slovenian attacks came through him, and the Croation team play good football like Slovenia, but they are better and more cut throat.

    Brown hasn't had the games in United's first team in an Age. I think the RB problem is bigger than the GK if Fabio can't get Glen to defend.

    To be honest, if we had a full team all fit and on form, I'd put out

    Joe Cole - Rooney - Walcott




    Playing with width from the wingbacks with DM's covering, and the support of Gerrard as a SS (like he does for Liverpool), or Lampard with the late runs like at Chelsea, however i think Heskey/Crouch would be better with Lampard.

    Can't see Hargreaves ever being what he was, and Carrick is lacking defensively though.

  • Comment number 50.

    England players still have a tendency to fear failure at International level, even fearing a misplaced pass losing possession. I know that in International football possession is key, but England are still dreadful to watch because they appear to be filled with fear. They play stunted, unintuitive football and appear to get through matches via a cautious approach, maybe that's the Italian influence of Capello, but in reality it's barely an improvement. When faced with the better teams in the World Cup, England players will need to express their natural individual abilities as-well as the team ethic in order to progress. I think that come the World Cup, the formation will have to change, and a holding midfielder in the shape of Ledley King or Owen Hargreaves will be needed to free up the quality trio of Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney. On the right flank I think that neither Wright Phillips nor Lennon are actually good enough. Walcott could be, with Beckham in reserve, and on the left flank, Joe Cole and Ashley Young to fight it out.

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    Post number 46...
    Steven Gerrard plays to accomodate others who arent even half as good as him, ask Lampard to play wide left and ul find out what a efficient job he does. He plays for the team occupying the weak parts of the team in these recent years for the benefit of the team. In his earlier years he played as a defensive shield in front of the defence, running rings around deisler, hamman n co. I could go on.. It is not because he is in not in the right frame of mind its because he has shackles on him to be conservative for the team rather than be free as he is for liverpool and if he was given a choice everyone knows which one he would pick. So rather than give him the slack about his frame of mind appreciate the job he does for the team even though it is to the detriment of his personal gain.

  • Comment number 53.

    People always underestimate goalkeepers. Just look at current international title holders - World Cup holders have Buffon, European Cup holders have Casillas. Two of the top three world keepers. Chelsea stopped winning when Chec got his injury. Sam Allardice - great manager, or was it all down to Brad Friedel? Same for Aston Villa.

    I feel England have a team of potential finalists, but the goalkeeper problem is going to bite at some stage. And there's nothing anyone can do about it, great tacticians or whatever.

    Now that Brazil have THE best goalkeeper in the world, we should all be prepared for the worse. Yes, we may give them a fight and who knows, we may get a lucky deflection or something, but the world cup is pretty much theirs for the taking. (The keeper is Julio Cesar, plays for Mourinho at Inter - even Buffon admitted he's better than him).

  • Comment number 54.

    england should win but i have been drinkin a lot of wine tonight. billic seems desperate to hang on to the memories of 2008, when under the astute management of the FA they managed to loose the whole support of the nation.

  • Comment number 55.

    This article reeks of English arrogance. Remember Croatia are out for revenge too. The 4-1 win in Zagreb was a complete one-off...

  • Comment number 56.

    Bilic's comments seem odd at first glance, but surely he is attempting to over-motivate the England players. Over-motivation is just as much of a hindrance as not enough. Given the history the ref is bound to be looking to stamp out any nonsense early on. Bilic obviously views Rooney as a loose cannon and an early yellow for him will see Croatia try anything to encourage the red mist and card to follow. He's clutching at straws but maybe he's been reading Sun Tzu and believes an enemy's strength can be it's greatest weakness.

  • Comment number 57.

    bilic is talking rubbish: the team is full of english lads. The only un-english thing in our national team now is our ability to come from behind (re holland) and to keep a lead, which, in the past, we have faild to do.


    And ironically Bilic selects a Croatian side with an Australian, German and a Brazilian. Plus the guy who scored the winner for them on Saturday was born and raised in Switzerland.

  • Comment number 58.

    Success creates confidence, which in turn makes the man more dignified and deeper in resource as well as social savoire faire. Capello is not at all perturbed by the 'unEnglish' Bilic jibe. It was intended to cause a ripple in the enemy camp; instead it has been turned into a source of inspiration for bonding the team. It may look like a masterstroke but I think it is only par for a mature and confident leader of men. Capello derives his strength from total, unquestionable loyalty and trust of his team. Such equations tend to be mutual.
    With Bilic already sounding a bit desperate, I do not think the Croats themselves believe they have any realistic hope from the Wembley game.

  • Comment number 59.

    Childish. How can england dream of beating brazil to make up to the ultimate prize? Don't you guys know brazil is the only team who can locate the most strongest point of a team and press on that,while enjoying the weak point with attacks and counter attacks. England can win world cup only on one condition and that is if they bought all the brazilian players.hehe.thanks.

  • Comment number 60.

    Some very selective criteria being put forward by posters here. Spain peaked too early? Winning the Euro championships is a big accomplishment. They aren't unbeatable, but they still look a lot more impressive than England, with an embarrassment of riches in most positions. They also beat England fairly comfortably not so long ago.
    Brazil have also look at least as impressive as England.
    If England had beaten Argentina 3-1 in their own backyard, most fans would already be ordering their 2010 world cup winners memorabilia.
    England are a quality side, but there are a few other sides just as good, and a few better. At least people aren't spouting the 'best squad in the world' nonsense like they usually do. Or best squad since '66. Best manager since '66 I'd agree with, although the fact it took so many England fans so long to recognise a brilliant manager (most of whom were completely ignorant of his exceptional management record) is pretty embarassing. There are still the odd moans from people saying he picks Beckham because of the media etc. (despite not picking him a few times when he wasn't playing regularly). But it's a far cry from the idiots declaring he was the same as McClaren after a whole 2 games!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Some interesting comments claiming that England will qualify and go on to win the World Cup.

    Cant you take it one game at a time?

    Capello has been trying to teach you all; that is the way to play.

    May the best team win.

  • Comment number 62.

    Well i don't see how some of you can say were unable to say the world cup is coming home, firstly whether we won it once or many times is irrelevant weve it won it period! and further more England is footballs place of birth FACT!

    As for tonights game i just hope we dont conceade another poor goal! i think Robert Green is the no1 English keeper availible to us despite David James record of games for England.

    I would like to see Lennon get a chance tonight and cole to start with defoe coming on later.When are people going to stop moaning about Johnson!! Ferdinand has looked just as poor recently and so have a number of other England players Johnson is a good player and offers us seriously dangerous attacking capabilities.

    As for scoreline i think 2-1 to the 3LIONS :) Both goals
    from Defoe.

  • Comment number 63.

    Is this the same spain who were soundly beaten by USA in the confedarates cup? the same spain that had there best 11 on the field?? Spain had a good euro campaign and thats all 1 good tourenment, i seem to remember Greece doing that ONCE! Spain overated this world cup is anyones this time with so many giant nations looking weaker Brazil,argentina,italy and holland to name a few!

    Maybe we will win it maybe we wont i just want to see some fight in us this time! like butcher! like italia 90 lions not lambs!

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

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  • Comment number 68.

    The fact is England will not win the World Cup. Semi-final is realistic, but no-one in their right minds can say we have a better team than Spain, Brazil, Holland. My dark horse to cause a few surprises: Serbia - a highly talented young team.

  • Comment number 69.

    Sorry but i think Brazil look very poor after watching 90% of there qualifying campaign and i think holland if it had not been for us GIVING them two goals would have been beaten rather easily cant argue with spain as they did beat us however they not unbeatable,serbia have a very intresting team but i dont think will make it past the group stage!

  • Comment number 70.

    Croatia are consistently the dirtiest team I've seen in World football.

    Does anyone remember Bilic vs Laurent Blanc when he conned the ref into sending off Blanc?

    What about WC 2006 when Simunic should have been sent off? In fact several of his teammates should also have been sent off.

    Croatia make Argentina and Italy look like the embodiment of Fair Play.

  • Comment number 71.

    I hope for football's sake Spain win the World Cup. They play the best football, and the tournament already looks like it could be a disappointment with the likes of France, Portugal and Argentina in danger of missing out. Obviously it would be nice to see England win it, but they're still a boring team to watch.

  • Comment number 72.

    MasterMeFF - i am english, an england fan, a member of "england fans", i watch England home and away (not every game but regularly), and if i'm not at the game i alsways watch on the TV.. i have been to the last 3 tournaments we have qualified for and therefore think i'm pretty safe to not just give an anti-England argument.... however....

    whilst i think we have a manager who is arguably as good as any in the world, i don't think that we have the best side/squad in the world... and whilst it is obviously possible that we could win the world cup (i hope for this more than anything) i think it is unlikely... and no amount of tub-thumping will change that... the Italia90 comment is a bit odd - as ultimately we did not win it... we came up short (again) and whilst i love(d) Sir Bobby Robson and think he was a great manager - the latter performances in that tournament were "exciting" rather than convincing ... as we were arguably outplayed in all 3 games, Cameroon - lineker dived (and has since admitted as much) to win atleast 1 of the penalties)... Belgium - Platt goal in the last minute of extra time against a side that were ok but never contenders to win the tournament but still outplayed us... and the Germany game - again the better side went through... and obviously in the group phase we only won one game (against Egypt 1-0!)... so whilst we did well to get to the Semi finals (our 2nd best performance in any tournament) i think it acts as an example to ultimately highlight our shortcomings rather than our success.

    As for the "england is the home of football" comment - that is not a FACT as you point out... England were simply the first country to put an officail administration function in place - people played football in opther parts of the world (or a similiar variants of the game) long, long, long, before The FA came along.

    Also - Spain are a good side mate and are rightly favourites ahead of us...

  • Comment number 73.

    We’ll do the job tonight. Capello may be all smiles in front of the cameras with his little light humoured responses to Bilic but come match day he’ll be bang on it. He’ll be winding them all up for tonight and our boys, still haunted by that night over shadowed by McClaren’s umbrella, will need no further motivation to put this game to bed and book the tickets for South Africa.

    Heskey Rooney up top, Defoe off the bench to smash in the fifth……..come on the lads!

  • Comment number 74.

    I think it will be a narrow win for the England tonight, possibly 2-1, I can see Croatia nicking a goal because I don't have too much faith in the defence we'll be playing. Neither Johnson or Green have proven themselves yet at this level. With our strongest defence playing, ie Rio, then thats a different story.

    Good to see a bit of competition up front, i'd still play Heskey from the start though with Defoe as an impact sub. I think its important Capello sticks to his plan and continues with the system that has worked for him so far.

    Looking for some BIG displays from Terry, Gerrard and Rooney tonight, lets see if all their hype can be realised on the international stage, time to make a name for yourself lads...

  • Comment number 75.

    Why doesn't he play Heskey AND Defoe and stick Rooney on the bench LOL


    Johnson - Upson - Terry - Cole

    Lennon - Lampard - Milner


    Heskey - Defoe

  • Comment number 76.

    BoomShakaLak: I couldn't agree more with your statement.

    I think the best England team I've seen in a World Cup was in 98, when we were undone by a dodgy ref (Simeone should have seen red before Becks retaliated, Sol Campbell had a perfect goal disallowed) and the dreaded shoot out. Had we beaten Argentina (shameless cheats in that match), I honestly think we would have gone very far in that tournament. Ultimately beaten by the French, but it was a tournament of outstanding quality. Sadly 2002 and 2006 were dominated by dour defensive tactics. It seems athleticism and tactical awareness are now far more important than skill. Look at Brazil.

  • Comment number 77.

    Funny how you failed to touch on England's biggest weakness at the moment, which is the lack of pace and mobility of the Terry/Upson defensive partnership.

    Upson is a good defender, Terry is a great one, but they both need a partner who has some pace and agility to be able to work with them, to cover them in order to allow them to defend more positively.

    Terry is at his best when he has the confidence to go for the ball in the air, close down his man early or interject himself in wherever he feels is the right place to head, block or intercept the ball, it is this kind of positive defensive work which has made him one of the best out there. But to be able to commit like that he has to have confidence in his partner to be able to cover him if it goes wrong (which it always will occasionally when you gamble a little), Ferdinand is the perfect foil for him in this regard.

    In my mind the partnership should be Terry and Lescott because while Lescott is no Rio, he is positionally very smart and should be a better partner for Terry.

    I also believ that with Terry free to defend like this he can offer more assistance to Glen Johnson, who yes can make mistakes but wa often left isolated in defence on Saturday. Something he does not have to worry about when Carragher plays next to him at Liverpool.

  • Comment number 78.


    Johnson - Upson - Terry - Cole

    Lennon - Lampard - Milner


    Heskey - Defoe
    Rooney is aggressive and runs around alot defending from the front and he always looks dangerous for England. Hesky and Defoe wouldnt cover half as much ground.

    Also no holding midfielder? Fat Frank covers 2km in 90 mins so you cant realy ask him to hold the midfield - Barry can fill that role and seems to be playing a holding roll for Citeh so he has to play

    And as for people tring to protect Johnson - correct me if i am wrong but he is a defender? - so shouldnt he be better at defending than going forward? i wouldnt mind seing Micah Richards at RB.

  • Comment number 79.

    "Terry can be lined up alongside Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham as obvious symbols of the "Englishness" of Capello's side."
    Interesting choices. Tell me, why are these players more obvious symbols of "Englishness" than, say, Jermaine Defoe, Emile Heskey, Ashley Cole or Ashley Young? Why are they not as "English" as Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard or Beckham?

  • Comment number 80.

    Boomshak italia 90 i was referring to heart and spirit shown by the team at the time rather than the results! something that i think alot of fans would say was or has been missing in recent years! and im not saying were the best in the world either i just think sometimes people put sides like Holland ahead of us when they shouldnt! and we are the home of football! other countries formed there own football organisations on the back of what we did, first to do it claimed! Great that youve been to so many games am dead jealous but people with opinions and critisim like you are part of the reason our team lost belief years ago not helped by our newspapers either! you dont see papers of other top nations slateing and stripping there national team to bits! no matter how good or bad a team is true fans are not measured by how many games or tournys you go to,simply a real fan will always believe that football is coming home albeit wherever you hold that home to be;)

  • Comment number 81.

    Barry has had some good games for England, but didn't play well on Saturday, and the umber of times the ball went backwards because he refuses to use his right foot was ridiculous. Michael Carrick is also too negative. Lampard has a great passing game, and I think asking him to hold the midfield would be a good ploy. For far too long now Steven Gerrard has been asked to do the holding or stuck on the wing when the whole country knows his best position is operating between midefield and the strikers (the old Scholes role).

    I just think England should go after Croatia. This Croatian side is nowhere near the quality side of 2 years ago.

    The lack of pace in the centre of defence is a worry, but Upson is a better defender than Lescott I think. Ferdinand, as you say, is the perfect partner for Terry.

    As for Micah Richards. He should be the regular right back by now, but has had a shocking couple of years at club level.

  • Comment number 82.

    "He was keen not to get sucked in by the knockabout Bilic banter, but Terry can be lined up alongside Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham as obvious symbols of the "Englishness" of Capello's side."

    Rooney, Lampard, Terry, Gerrard and Beckham: why are they 'obvious symbols' of Englishness, and not Rio, Heskey, David James, Theo or Defoe... I'm only asking... when you say 'obvious', do you mean 'white'?

  • Comment number 83.

    " thehandofblog wrote:
    It's a clever comment by Bilic. By "Englishness" I suspect he means that inclination to run around like headless chickens and boot the ball clulessly to the big man up front in times of crisis: what we like to call "passion"."

    how clever will he look if croatia lose by a couple goals?

  • Comment number 84.

    I can't recall the last time I was so fired up for an England game.

    For a team with an Italian in charge, i've never felt more English! Bilic will eat his words.

  • Comment number 85.

    Johnson is the weak link for me.

  • Comment number 86.

    Why has the subject matter partially about whether 'football is coming home'? Who cares? We devised cricket, but we're not the best in the world at that either. Indians invented chess, but the Russians are usually the best at that. In the era of globalisation, sports and pastimes can spread like wildfire and the countries who invest the most in resources and time usually come out on top.

    Somebody mentioned that if England winning the World Cup means 'football is coming home' then surely Uruguay can lay claim to this remark as they were the first FIFA World champions. Perhaps France can too as the trophy is named after a Frenchman (Jules Rimet). Maybe the Swiss should state that 'football is coming home', as FIFA's headquarters are based in Zurich. The list could go on.

    'Football is coming home'. What an asinine statement. I blame Baddiel and Skinner!

  • Comment number 87.'s greatest prize will be back home in England


    We've won it ONCE.

    Brazil is it's home. They've won it FIVE times.

    When will England fans learn to show a little humility?

  • Comment number 88.

    For all those saying that England can't win the World Cup, remember that Germany made the Euro 08 Semi's. and surely can't be classed currently as a better team?.

  • Comment number 89.

    Weaknesses in England's side: Defence and goalkeeping. None of the keepers have the full trust of the defence. Every time the ball gets played in behind, they panic, the goalie doesn't know whether to come or go, communication breaks down between the defenders. Weakest defenders: Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott. The back four should be: Micah Richards, John Terry, Rio (if fit)/Upson, A. Cole

    Midfield is strong, I wouldn't worry if either Lampard or Gerard get injured as we have Barry, Carrick, even Jenas to fill that role if required.

    Up front: as much as I like Heskey's work rate, top defenders will find him out. Play Rooney and C. Cole up front, with Defoe and Crouch as substitute weapons. If Owen has a good season, don't bet against him being in the squad - still as quick as ever.

    Italy showed that winning a tournament is about discipline. England have plenty of skill, but nowhere near enough tactical awareness, defensive discipline and cleverness. Finally all great sides have a great keeper. Ben Foster might be in a few years, but still very green. As for Robert, he makes me go green every time the ball goes near the box. David James has had his chances, too many mistakes in key games.

  • Comment number 90.

    Lol @ all this talk of England winning the World Cup. This expectation and overhype of the team is the very reason why we don't win these competitions. We haven't even qualified yet.

  • Comment number 91.


    We will have to aggree to disagree on Lampard playing the holding role - i dont think he covers enough ground or puts himself about enough to do the job properly and with chelsea he always plays with someone like Mikel / Essien who do all the running and hard work so Lamps doent have to - i think Carrick is a very good passer but doesnt put many tackles in which a CDM needs to do....would prefer Hargreaves to play with Stevie G and Lamps on the bench if Hargreaves could get himself fit.

    Agreed with Upson at CB - he is a good / solid player - Lescott is decent in the air but thats about it and also he was partly at fault for the Slovenia goal the other day

  • Comment number 92.

    #89 Stokerambo

    Jenas in midfield? Is he even playing for Spurs?

    Also, I can't see Owen being 'as quick as ever'. I really can't see Owen making the squad and whilst it will be time to reflect on his contribution in the past I hope the media don't go overboard with statements like 'Owen omitted'. Everyone is omitted by default and those that go are selected. How can Owen be omitted from something he hasn't been a part of for, what, 18 months now?

    I think you are right about the defence though. Uncertainty spreads and I think the players know that the goalkeepers are quite at the level we would like, or certainly that they are used to playing with for their clubs. As the back four itself is pretty good, I hope communication problems and trust don't prove to be a downfall.

  • Comment number 93.

    I for one love England as much as the next guy but why does everyone feel they need to prove their mums mystic meg and not 'predict' the score but tell us what its actually gonna be! I mean shouldn't these people be working with derren brown or something. I'm planting some vegetables at the moment just wondering what exact minute its gonna rain? thanks :)

  • Comment number 94.

    Slaven Bilic is spot on - England have lost some of their Englishness. England still can't string four or five passes together, except sideways at the back, and are still heavily reliant on setpieces for goals. There is still a lot of hype around big stars who unfortunately don't deliver on the biggest stage - the likes of Rooney, Gerrard & Becks. This obviously stifles the chances of genuine goal scorers like Defoe etc. But Bilic is suggesting that England have lost the aggression, the graft, the "kitchen sink" mentality that has made them genuine contenders in the past. Let's face it, England have never had any skill, this fact was exposed under Mclaren and is exposed everytime England play Spain or even Portugal; they would need to make up for the shortfall with graft to have any chance of reaching the semis

    There is not a single star within the England setup who would really worry any of the top 8 teams, no magical player of the calibre of Torres, Villa, Kaka, Messi, Ronaldo, Arshavin who can turn a game on its head when the pressure is on

    England currently looks on form due to poor quality opposition. They have not been setting the world alight despite repeatedly getting the bulk of 50/50 decisions like penalties against the smaller opposition. Current form counts for nought because teams like Brazil always pick their game up when the prize is in sight

    Under Cappello, a draw with Holland plus defeats to France and Spain hardly smacks of world cup winning credentials.

  • Comment number 95.

    No seroius candidate to replace Beckham?

    What about Walcott? I remember a pretty good hatrick against the Croats not so long ago... if he was fit he would be first choice.

  • Comment number 96.

    Oher questions worthy of discussion. Where do England fans think the weaknesses are in Fabio Capello's side? Who is vulnerable and who are the Croatian danger men?

    England will have at the coming world cup the same problems they always have !!

    Problems keeping possession of the ball for any length of time, lack of invention in the last third of the pitch, and the big problem they have with losing energy in the last 20 minutes of matches ( the high tempo game british sides try and play, inevitably means they have little left in the tank during the end period of matches ).
    Capello has got them well organised and prepared, in comparison with the McClaren era (but then traditionally England are a pretty well organised outfit at major tournaments ).

    Over the years, ive seen england coaches come and go, different generation of players come and go, but the way england play at major tournaments is always the same !!
    THAT is Englands biggest weakness in the next WC ! English players are taught how to play and think about football a certain way from childhood, and without the added skill, guile and tactical knowhow added by the high class foreign players currently playing at the top EPL clubs, the England national team suffers from the same weaknesses endemic to British football; lack of technique under pressure, inability to retain possession for long periods, or tactical patience in matches.
    These as ever will be Englands weaknesses at the next WC

  • Comment number 97.

    Nice comment..everyone
    I'm just an England fan from Asia...I would love to see England hold the trophy next year

  • Comment number 98.

    'Bilic might mean England's right flank, where no serious long-term successor to David Beckham has been found, although Aaron Lennon is likely to get his chance to audition on Wednesday'.

    I'm not really sure what this comment is all about, England have great right-wing promise in Walcott and Lennon, A Young and Milner can also play there providing yet more potential possibilities. There's also Wright-Phillips, Gerrard can and has played on the right effectively, Joe Cole could fill the role when back from injury and Beckham is still fit and available for selection.

    Right-wing is not a problem area for England now, or in the future. GK is their biggest problem, easily.

  • Comment number 99.

    SpookyUK wrote:

    For all those saying that England can't win the World Cup, remember that Germany made the Euro 08 Semi's. and surely can't be classed currently as a better team?.
    You cant really compare us to the Germans - they are a team who always do well in competeions no matter what team they put out. Even if they have a crap team they have a strong German mentallity and will always do well - their under 21s also look quality and gave our youngsters a tonking - by next year Ozil will be in the German 1st team and he is one hell of a player!

  • Comment number 100.

    We shouldn't be knocking Bilic - we should be thanking him for getting rid of McClaren & showing up the F.A. for the idiots they were for appointing him!


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