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Gerrard reveals England's inspiration

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Phil McNulty | 23:00 UK time, Thursday, 10 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Rustenburg

England will call on inspiration from near and far to get their World Cup off to a winning start when they face the United States in Rustenburg on Saturday.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, in possession of the captain's armband after Rio Ferdinand's injury, revealed the twin forces he hopes will spur Fabio Capello's squad to success in South Africa.

One is close to England's current home, Wayne Rooney, while the other came from afar in the shape of a moving "good luck" message from troops serving in Afghanistan.

For a low-key personality often portrayed as a reluctant England captain, Gerrard emphasised his pride at reclaming the honour, albeit at the expense of the unfortunate Ferdinand.

If this was someone who accepts the responsibility of England captaincy with a heavy heart, he did a magnificent job of disguising it when he spoke at "Camp Capello" on Thursday.

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And he started by revealing how a message from the troops - delivered via David Beckham who recently visited Camp Bastion - had touched England's squad and added another incentive to their pursuit of glory.

Gerrard, who has also been getting in the mood for combat by watching DVDs of the Lions recent rugby union tour of South Africa, said: "David was sent a DVD by the guys out in Afghanistan wishing the lads all the best. It was very moving and touching. It finally hit home that the World Cup is around the corner and the support back home is massive.

"They were passionate guys showing all the different teams they supported back home in England. We have supported them and they are supporting us. We realise as players what they are doing out there for the country. It puts everything into perspective and drives us on.

"It definitely made me realise how lucky I am to be leading an England side out in the World Cup in the next couple of days."

Gerrard, after a season of domestic disappointment at Anfield, is hoping the world stage will provide the greatest consolation of all as he firmly put all inquiries about his Liverpool future to bed until this campaign is concluded.

And as a man who had an FA Cup final christened in his honour after Liverpool beat West Ham United in 2006, Gerrard believes England possess a rare talent that can put his signature all over this World Cup.

Brazil's Pele made the 1970 Mexico World Cup his own, while Argentina's Diego Maradona achieved the same feat, with much England pain along the way, in the same country 16 years later.

Now Gerrard, as South Africa continues to whip itself into a frenzy ahead of the tournament's opening game between Bafana Bafana and Mexico on Friday, believes the time is right for Rooney to add his name to that illustrious list.

Rooney's darker elements have been probed since his loss of control against Platinum Stars on Monday, but Gerrard believes the overall package paraded by his fellow Scouser, albeit originally from the royal blue half of Merseyside, can stamp his name indelibly across this South African World Cup.

Asked whether he had the talent to follow in the footsteps of Pele and Maradona at previous World Cups, Gerrard was unhesitating as he said: "I think he is in a position to do that. His confidence is sky high. He is physically in great shape and the stage is set for him to deliver."

Gerrard is close to Rooney off the pitch and believes this will help him bring the best out of the talismanic figure who carries the bulk of England's World Cup hopes.

"He is a fantastic age and has come off the back of an unbelievable season, probably his best," said Gerrard. "He is in the category of the top players at this World Cup. I'm just delighted he's English."

Gerrard added: "We have a good understanding on the pitch. We are also quite close off it. I know what Wayne's about. I know his upbringing and his background and that certainly helps."

After taking on the role of captain at such a late stage, Gerrard insists he will be his own man but will have back up from coach Fabio Capello, former skipper John Terry and England coach Stuart Pearce, who listened on intently as he delivered the rallying calls.

Gerrard has never enjoyed the full World Cup experience, He missed out through injury in 2002 and was part of a poor England campaign in Germany four years later. It remains a frustration that an undoubted world-class talent at club level has never quite transferred itself to the great showpiece.

If it is Rooney's time, it could also be said it is Gerrard's and his body language and steely gaze carried all the hallmarks of a player who knows this might be his final opportunity.

He said: "It is a great honour, a superb honour, to be captain of England at the World Cup. I will respect that and to be leader of the pack is an unbelievable honour."

England will have their concluding training session before their World Cup starts at the stadium in Rustenburg on Friday evening before the long wait for serious action is over at last.

Capello told the BBC that he knows the England team that will face the Americans - with Gerrard at its head. The captain's key phrase, repeated constantly, was: "It's time to deliver." The time finally comes on Saturday.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Come on USA

  • Comment number 2.

    Gerrard is the man to take us to the final - he'll concentrate on his game and lead by example, and as he said the likes of terry will encourage the team on the pitch.

  • Comment number 3.

    On a related note Mr Phil, please tell the BBC 3 guys to let viewers outside the UK watch Special 1 TV online (I am based in Rwanda East Africa) .Have been a cult follower of the show on youtube and was happy to know the show will feature on the Beeb. Please let them know the show just like the Premiership is liked by hundred of thousands of people beyond the UK.

  • Comment number 4.

    C'mon England!!

  • Comment number 5.

    At long last, England have a worthy Captain in Gerrard!

  • Comment number 6.

    As Gerrard says: It's time to deliver! England can go a long way if everyone is focused and plays to their best. Rooney and Gerrard have the ability to set the world stage alight......the atmosphere created by the Bafana is electric.....the stage is set......time to deliver......let the games begin!!

  • Comment number 7.

    very inconsistent for England and I believe the captaincy and being played out of position will not help. Expect Gerrard to fail miserably in South Africa, however Lampard is lookin as good as ever and will certainly prosper

  • Comment number 8.

    Capello bases selection on form, statistics, technical ability, determination, discipline, and adaption to various tactics and game plans. If we subscribe to the belief that winning a penalty shootout is key to advancing in the world cup, then you also need to pick a team consistent with that objective.

    Capello uses blocks of players from premier league teams that are playing in european competition. The left hand block is Chelsea, the right hand block was Manchester United (now Liverpool), the striker block contained proven goal scoring threats, and the goalkeeper needed to be performing consistently at a high level. Knitting those blocks together to form a team is easier because the players are already familiar and comfortable with their depth and width to each other.

    Capello appears to have always intended to request Bridge, Scholes, and Carragher join the squad for the finals. That also seems to work best with the blocks of team theory. The reconstructed right hand block is now crucial to Englands success in this world cup, and maybe one of the reasons why Gerrard is now captain rather than a more suitable canididate.

    Walcott, Hart, Milner, and Adam Johnson were groomed to be an integral part of this squad. Younger players are also more likely to score in penalty shootouts. Adam Johnson would probably be in the squad if Bridge had joined the squad and Gareth Barry was fully fit. Walcott was always going to struggle while playing intermitently at Arsenal with no other england player, and seemingly not able to either advance technically or tactically.

    Hart has been developed in the U23 squad to be the leading goalkeeper for penalty shoot out selection (the second best penalty taker by statistics in the U23 squad behind Milner). Hart's technique seems to be better suited to the new Addidas ball than the others. Hart is big, quick, consistent, vocal, but above all these things unusually lucky.

    In all the successful premier league teams, the manager is a big personality that protects the players from interference and builds a fortress mentalility. Probably the fitness of some specific squad members is a concern. I think there is also a general issue within the management team about spying, and especially the tendancy of our media to give away crucial information on englands plans to other teams.

    Squad Concerns:

    The ability to deal with altitude probably determined who was in the squad. Some players are still showing signs of symptoms related to altitude sickness.

    Players who have injuries, or are unable to train with the rest of the team consistently, disrupt the ability of the team to train for various tactics and game plans.

    I am expecting Capello to use the 24 hour rule to replace some players in the squad, either due to injuries or altitude sickness.

    Team Concerns:

    Right hand block unproven as a unit within the crucible of the champions league.

    Playing only risk free backpasses. Gerrard seems to be the one England player that has failed to learned this lesson.

    Defensive weakness at right defence and centre midfield. Both Johnson and Gerrard are prone to make critical defensive errors.

    Recovery speed in the defence and midfield. Tracking back is crucial to deny secondary opportunities when the opposition break. Gerrard seems to be lazy in this regard for both club and country.

    Free kicks in goal scoring and crossing positions. Consistent delivery of crosses and shots on goal.

    Relying on Rooney to score. Heskey to be ultimately employed as a defensive forward, while other players have to contribute meaningful goals.

    Gerrard as captain. Seemingly cannot lift himself when playing poorly. Not a motivator of other players. Immunity from substitution.

    If everyone had been available for the world cup and playing well:

    Joe Hart
    John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole
    Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves
    Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard

    With the injuries and loss of form within the Manchester United contingent, the right hand block now seemingly changes to Liverpool:

    Joe Hart
    John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole
    Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, James Milner
    Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch

    Substitutes: Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson, Emile Heskey

  • Comment number 9.

    It's long, long overdue for Gerrard to be England Captain. Leading his country should bring out the best in him and I'd wager that every player in the squad respects his ability on the pitch and recognises the job he has done leading a faltering Liverpool team over the past 4/5 years.

  • Comment number 10.

    Gerrard will do the same role as captain of England as he does for Liverpool, for which he never gets criticised. So if any criticism comes his way this tournament, it'll be down to the subjective nature of all of the journalists. He'll do the job he normally does, a good job.

    As long as England win their group, they can go far.

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    In Italy the player with the most caps holds the captaincy and it appears that Capello shares this view. This England team is full of leaders and the captaincy doesn't affect the way players play and take responsibility. John Terry still plays in exactly the same way as he did when he was captain and Gerrard will continue to give everything for England. If you were to ask Gerrard if the captaincy would squeeze an extra 5% out of his game, I'm sure he would say "no" as, whether he plays well or not he always takes responsibility and gives his all.

    The maturity he has gained from past experiences will, I believe, allow him to play to his "Liverpool best" and be one of the stars of the tournament. Rooney is young, but it is likely to be the last World Cup for the majority of this squad and I think players like Gerrard and Lampard will be as important as Rooney this year.

    We have more experience than any other team in the tournament, other than perhaps, the holders, Italy. We have some world class players, one of the worlds best managers, and the English spirit! If we get some of the luck back that has gone against us in the past we can win it! - but whisper it for now...

  • Comment number 14.

    How long does it take to moderate? My comments never need a moderator when I send them to YAHOO.CO.UK. Censorship is a thing of the past. If it's not rude or prohibited, it should appear immediately and if it's not BAN the sender, but please, do not take so long to moderate. Thanks.

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 although I haven't seen your comment yet, I'm pretty sure I am going to agree when I do...

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    ...thought so!

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    Ok, we've all had our opinions about the line up, the warm up games, injuries etc. Now it's time to get behind the team 100% and give them all the support and positive energy we can. Come on England!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Gerrard, have a word with Rooney. Please make sure he doesn't lose his rag. That's my biggest worry

  • Comment number 23.

    a nice simple blog after yesterday's "Capello cracking up" debacle.

    Gerrard would have been my pick as captain over Terry and Ferdinand. I think he thrives on it, and if allowed more freedom with where he plays for England he could be the key man. He's been the inspiration for an FA Cup win, a European cup win and now maybe a world cup win.

    Let's hope the Mexicans are generous and let South Africa start off with a win today.

  • Comment number 24.

    Prosper our colours in this glorious fight.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 8. At 00:19am on 11 Jun 2010, Notasquick wrote:

    If that enormous post was all tongue-in-cheek then fair play!
    But if not......you actually believe that 'block of players' stuff?

    Also Phil is on location with the England squad and I am totally unaware of anyone suffering from altitude sickness or 'other' injuries. Rest assured that Capello will be changing nothing the last 24 hours regarding his squad.

    So once again, if that was a wind-up you got me! If not.......dear me!

  • Comment number 26.

    Steven Gerrard was very impressive yesterday - but as he said the talking is not the important stuff it is the performance. The line he kept repeating was: "It's time to deliver." And he is right.

    He is convinced Wayne Rooney can dominate this tournament in the way Pele did in 1970 and Diego Maradona in 1986. Do you agree? And are there any other England players you think can make a major impact here in South Africa?

  • Comment number 27.

    Sorry Phil, but you're just trying to impress everyone by showing you were on the job at 7am.........or did a lion enter your tent and wake you??

    I think that any number of England players could seize their chance to establish or heighten their reputations. Hargreaves did himself a lot of good at the last WC as did Joe Cole. This time Cole has the incentive to re-establish his reputation...especially with a club move in the offing.

    Lennon also could move himslef into the world spotlight; Carrick, if he gets a chance, could be reborn; and whatever keeper is selected could become an overnight hero.

    Even Heskey might score the winner in a penalty shoot-out.....although that said.....there's optimism and there's blind optimism!!

  • Comment number 28.

    I think this is England's best chance in years to win the World Cup. We have players who have played at the highest level and in Gerrard we have a fantastic captain. I won't put past him the repeat of Istanbul 2005 Champions League to this World Cup. There is something about this World Cup and the current England team. Whichever way, the team must deliver given the quality the team posses.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think the whole squad is ready and up for it. Certain members especially, particularly when you factor in the past disappointments e.g. not qualifying for the Euros, Liverpool not qualifying for the Champions League earlier this season, not living up to the expectation of winning the league etc etc, Man U players dumped out of the C. League and not winning the Premier league. As you rightly said Phil, this may be the last World Cup for some.

    In terms of players making an impact; apart from the obvious, like you mentioned, Wayne Rooney, I tip James Milner to shine. He has the physical ability, pace to burn, whips in crosses and contributes in terms of goals. No matter what price tag has been banded about in the media recently, I think he will do well and won't do his reputation any harm whatsoever, subsequently increasing his price tag....the question will then be, can Villa keep hold of him?

    "Come on England!"

  • Comment number 30.

    In response to your question phil can rooney dominate this tournament? the answer is yes if others round him play to his advantages, he is a formiddable force when on form, bags of talent, and shows no fear for a player of his age. However there isnt just rooney who will be trying to mark themselves down as man of the tournament look at messi,(arguably the greatest player alive at the moment if not of all time),kaka,villa,e.t.c... These to are great players. But they lack one thing that rooney has in abundance: PASSION, this man wears his heart on his sleeve and is full of national pride which in turn could inspire rooney to have the competition of his life. there is nothing more i could hope for. As for any other players making an impact everyone else around rooney is just as capable of having just as good a tournament, because like i said before rooney performs best when others round him do the same. how can you rule out any player in the england squad with the exception of 1 or 2 for sheer ability. now actually delivering this ability is another matter but the likes of gerrard,lampard,terry e.t.c.. they know what this is all about and are more than aware that the team around them in theory are a fantastic team with a real oppurtunity of doing themselves and doing the nation proud. C'MON ENGLAND.....!!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Re captains: Rio, Terry and Gerard are their club captains, they're vastly experienced and either one would be fine. The other two have been ruled out so it's up to Gerard, and I don't think it makes much of a difference.

    Re Rooney dominating the world cup like Pele in 1970 and Maradona in 1986, I don't think he's that good. I would more aim for Ronaldo in 2002, which is still pretty damm good

  • Comment number 32.

    #8 - WHAT? i started reading until i realised you're talking utter rubbish, and you just kept going and going and going. young people are better at penalties? hart is lucky - do you honestly think that he is statistically lucky? capello plays in blocks - obviously lennon is starting on the right, not milner and how is terry and ferdinand (his first choice) a club block? how is rooney with anyone else a club block? gerrard not a motivator of players? no, but he has single-handedly won liverpool a great many games as their "inspirational" captain. mate, the list of utter rubbish that you've spouted is endless. if you don't watch football (which clearly you don't), that's fine, but please don't waste our time with essays of claptrap.

    as for the team and game, i think he'll start with a 4-4-2 as it's safe, but he'll probably switch to a 4-5-1 later in the game or the tournament, particularly if we win our first two games. rooney up front with gerrard just off is probably our best option anyway, so he doesn't really have a choice. i'm a spurs supporter but can't stand crouch and defoe is a sub at best, and heskey we all know about. i'm concerned about the altitude and the fact that the US are very fit, disciplined and so determined to beat us. it will be much more frustrating than people think, but i hope i'm wrong and i still think we'll win anyway, just not convincingly and there will be a scare or two. come on england.

  • Comment number 33.

    oh, and one last thing #8, you don't have ledley playing. that's just hilarious. do you really think he's not starting? that's why i say stop writing at such length when it seems you really haven't seen any football at all.

  • Comment number 34.

    It hasn't worked for the past six years or so, so why would it work now? Big egos and different roles at their clubs mean Stevie and Fatboy just cannot gel.

    Further reading:

    http://magicspongers.blogspot.com/2010/06/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go.html

  • Comment number 35.

    It was very interesting to hear Steven Gerrard talk about Wayne Rooney yesterday, not just his comments about how Rooney could influence this tournament.

    He clearly has a close relationship with Rooney, commenting on how he knows his background and upbringing via the Liverpool (the city as opposed to the football club obviously) connection and how this could help bring the best out of Rooney.

    Gerrard was blunt when asked about the possibility of players getting into trouble for swearing - he said the answer was not to swear and Capello had already addressed the importance of discipline with his squad.

    A succession of England players have talked up their chances of winning the World Cup (let's face it, it would be quite a story if they didn't) but what do you think?

    The media, and as ever I include all branches, is often accused of talking up or talking down England's chances, so what do you think? The platform is yours.

    From my point of view, I think England have a chance but Spain are my favourites. I also think there has been an absence of the hype and maybe over-expectation that accompanied England in 2002 and 2006.

    You're in charge of the debate so let's here from you.

  • Comment number 36.

    Whether or not he does we don't know, but that's the kind of Shanklyesque belief we should be trying to instil in the players Phil. You've got to grab the bull by the horns. I think that's why Germany usually have strong tournaments. We've also got to remember this tournament is only 4 weeks of a 4 year cycle and that through injury, peaks and troughs of players' and teams' form, and good luck and bad luck, strong club players can become national spectators, and more unheralded players can become stars overnight, e.g. Gerry Armstrong, David Platt, etc. I'm not sure they will, but if England have a good World Cup, I think it'll be because the likes of Johnson, Lennon, SWP and Ashley Cole were able to contribute down the wings.

  • Comment number 37.

    24. At 05:15am on 11 Jun 2010, mightyemlyn wrote:
    Prosper our colours in this glorious fight.

    ---

    It's "Prosper our colours in this dangerous fight"

  • Comment number 38.

    I believe England will reach the final,it has been predicted
    they will hedge out NIgeria.
    http://fifa2010worldcupguide.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 39.

    I think the journalists are being well behaved this year. The hype from the tabloids comes from the front pages, not the back.

    It's not the journalists fault if his editor in chief decides to give away a poster, flag and one of those infernal trumpets to every reader.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think the absence of any English clubs in the last four of the Champions League may have silenced some of the hype regarding this being Englands year and our best chance for 44 years. This in my opinion is a good thing. Over the last few years the English teams have dominated the latter stages of the champions league but more often than not fallen at the final hurdle. Their earlier elimination this year might have given them the boot up the backside they need and remind them it's hard work and determination thats needed and not some god given right that they will succeed.

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • Comment number 42.

    As much as we like to "big up" and over hype our chances every world cup, it is actually done with reason. We are probably one of the best 8 sides in the World, which means Quarter Finals SHOULD be obtainable and given the way the draw pans out, we really should be on course for a Semi Final meeting with Brazil.

    This isn't English hype as it's also what other countries media believe. I moved to America 5 years ago and the majority of US fans are seriously worried that England will thrash them.

    If you look at the 2006 WC (in which many people has said we had a poor WC) - we made the Quarter Final and even down to 10 men for most of the second half and both periods of extra time still had plenty of chances (especially an open Lampard from a Gerrard corner from 7 yards out) to win the game. We lost on penalties, and a fairly good (but not great) Portugal team got through to the Semi's to play another fairly good (but not great) French team.

    We will make the Semi-Finals unless an upset happens, and then if the draw happens as expected we then need a huge slice (make that a whole pie) of luck against the Brazlians.

    This wouldn't shock most other countries media, so why should it ours?

  • Comment number 43.

    For me England's chances depend on how Capello uses Gerrard. He seems intent on pairing Rooney with Heskey (or perhaps Crouch) which I'm not sure gets the best out of the team.
    4-5-1 with gerrard in a free role up top is where he plays best, it's also the system that rooney played in for utd last season and had his best goal scoring season ever. It also gives lennon more license to get forward and wide, lampard an attacking role with whoever (milner if Barry's not fit) holding, and joe cole on the left.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think Gerrard can be a good captain for the side, as has been said, he will give his all. Terry will still shout and lead from the back anyway. I think Gerrard's iffy form this year has been mainly to do with club unrest, he's been carrying that team for a few years and I think he just couldn't do it for another year.
    While we aren't favourites, we really could win it this year. I think we have a manager astute enough to make sure we play the right way against our opponents. It just may not be very pretty.

    On the moderation front, I don't mind it (and it is the fault of our posts, plenty of which are abusive) but it really oculd be done a bit quicker!

  • Comment number 45.

    7. At 00:03am on 11 Jun 2010, Wheater_bix wrote:
    very inconsistent for England and I believe the captaincy and being played out of position will not help. Expect Gerrard to fail miserably in South Africa, however Lampard is lookin as good as ever and will certainly prosper

    ================================================

    For God's sake get a life and stop sniping. I can't stand Lampard but hope he and the rest of the team have a blinder this World Cup.

  • Comment number 46.

    Gerrard was very impressive during the press conference but it doesn't change the fact that the captaincy is the last thing he needs. There's enough pressure on him to finally deliver at an international tournament.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 47.

    Please Phil, can you get your moderators to speed it up a bit, it makes contributing to your blogs very painful.

    I think if all the England players play to their strengths and play like a team then we can do well. We will also need a big slice of the proverbial World Cup luck that seems to have deserted us over the years. Gerrard will thrive if he is played in the right position. Please Capello, don't play him on the left!!!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    #41

    When will I hear about the further moderation then?

  • Comment number 49.


    28. At 07:49am on 11 Jun 2010, redssg wrote:

    "I think this is England's best chance in years to win the World Cup"


    This is the same cliche that repeats itself every 2 or 4 years come what May. This probably isn't their best chance in years, and if it is it hasn't much to do with the quality of the team. Reasons are:


    No world class goalkeepers.

    The first choice CB is out and the replacement is nowhere near world class.

    England look set to start with Gerrard & Lampard in the middle, which is proven not to work and does not give any defensive solidity in the CM.

    In this case LM will be someone who's hardly played this season (albeit seemingly back in form), when Barry comes back he is not world class either and Gerrard will play out of position.

    Heskey may be 2nd striker.

    The England squad is the oldest in the tournament.

    Key players Terry/Gerrard have had their worst seasons and are almost past it.

    The standard of the Premier League where 100% of the squad plays has been distinctly average for the past couple of seasons.

    7 out of the 11 play in teams that were inconsistent and failed in Europe this season, and the rest have hardly any European experience at all let alone success.

    Losing mentality and defeatist attitude due to failures in recent World Cups and Euro 08.

    Have comfortably lost to Spain, Brazil and France under this management (but beat Germany).

    More important, have been unconvincing in all 3 pre-tournament friendlies.


    Therefore any justification of England's good chances comes from the flukey draw, even more so than 1990 or 2006, which means England not only have the 2nd easiest group, not only they get to play most games in the evening or near their base, but if they, Argentina and Germany win the groups, on route to the semi they'll only meet Sebia/Ghana and the worst France in years (and not even that if France don't win their group -very likely).




  • Comment number 50.

    Phil I am staggered at your claim that Gerrard missed out on the "full World Cup experience". How exactly did he miss out? Maybe if he had played a bit better or stuck to his role on the left instead of constantly coming inside and destroying the shape of the team (with him on the left and Beckham on the right we seemed to spend the entire match with all 4 midfielders playing inside the centre circle trying to spray 50 yard cinematic passes to the poor forwards) then he would have enjoyed more of an "experience".

    It's nice to see that Gerrard says Capello had a word about swearing, now maybe he should have a word with Gerrard about diving! Gerrard is one of the reasons we simply will not get anywhere in the World cup, this is almost the same team that crashed out of Germany 06 with some really shocking displays and for too long the likes of Lampard and Gerrard have been guaranteed a place and create little cliques within the England dressing room. If Capello had stuck to his word and picked players on form (both domestic and international) then Gerrard would be nowhere near the England squad let alone Captain.

  • Comment number 51.

    #8 I am glad everybody else thinks this is rubbish. I was beginning to wonder if every liverpool game i have seen in the last 5 years never happened! Gerrard lazy? Doesnt track back? Personally I have watched Gerrard run himself into the ground, win game after game for Liverpool when they never, in theory, ought to have won.

    Gerrard is the personification of If by Kipling; If he can pass this attribute to Rooney good things will happen.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have a sneaking feeling that England are going to click. Right up until the quarter-finals...........

  • Comment number 53.

    On paper Spain have by far the best team, but how often does that translate into winning the World Cup? Not very: Italy in 1994, Holland in 1974, Brazil in 1982 etc ( as well as, though not the WC, England in Euro 96). We are in the tier slightly below Spain; man for man I don't think that Brazil, Argentina, Holland or anyone else is better than us, and so with the right rub of the green in the right places we could do it. The hype has been less this year, but they hype hasn't necessarily been the problem in and of itself. Its the schizophrenic nature of the British press, switching between hype and condemnation that has been detrimental. Without casting aspersions on the entire profession, our tabloid journalists are an embarrassment and a disgrace

  • Comment number 54.

    @43. At 10:11am on 11 Jun 2010, divingjurgen wrote:
    "For me England's chances depend on how Capello uses Gerrard. He seems intent on pairing Rooney with Heskey (or perhaps Crouch) which I'm not sure gets the best out of the team.
    4-5-1 with gerrard in a free role up top is where he plays best, it's also the system that rooney played in for utd last season and had his best goal scoring season ever. It also gives lennon more license to get forward and wide, lampard an attacking role with whoever (milner if Barry's not fit) holding, and joe cole on the left."

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

    I agree with every word of that.....spot on! And I think many others buy into the Gerrard off Rooney approach too. The only problem is that Capello seems to be blind to it.

    We've seen so much of Gerrard being played out of position for both club and country in recent years that it's not funny. The guys a huge talent....play him where he can deliver his best!

  • Comment number 55.

    What does Gerard mean by 'inspired'?

    If you need a soldier with a gun to tell you 'its world cup time, get a move on' you are on auto pilot as your cognizance faculties have clearly collapsed. Becoming a captain by default doesn't give you much time to collect your wits.

    Cut the oratory, its action stations; the troops would rather you found time to thank them after you reach the semis, at the least. Then the words will be steeped in real gratitude.

  • Comment number 56.

    Sack the moderators!

  • Comment number 57.

    On the moderation....and it's stifling of an interactive debate....could someone graciously explain the process to all of us who regularly post on here?

    It's a constant source of frustration. It takes between 20 and 30 seconds to read most postings and a split second to decide if something breaks the rules.

    Why then does it take endless minutes for posts to be listed? Is someone just checking periodically, is their a team of people on the case.....or what is the reason for subduing your own communication outlet?

    Any answer would be hugely appreciated......but like others before me....I won't hold my breadth.

  • Comment number 58.

    It's good to see that now the tournament has arrived there's an air of optimisim about the comments on hear rather than the miserable face-aches and naysayers that have been doing the rounds in the build-up.

    Saying that I see Nibs is awaiting moderation, I'm going to throw caution to the wind and have a guess that it will be something along the lines of England are technically rubbish and you're all deluded fools. Did I win a prize????!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Oh and good luck to all of the teams involved, especially South Africa. The tournament already feels like it has a great atmosphere surrounding it and it's hasn't even started yet!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Quarter-finals here we come!

  • Comment number 61.

    The main hope for England has to be the kindness of the draw. If everything went as expected which it never does the QF line up would be:

    France v England
    Holland v Brazil
    Argentina v Germany
    Italy v Spain

    Of all the opponents I would much prefer England to be playing France, plus a semi v Holland or whoever looks better if Brazil have failed to win their group (not impossible given opponents of Portugal and Ivory Coast) pitching Brazil into a last 16 clash with Spain and in the opposite half of the draw to England.

    England need to win their group firstly plus any last 16 clash looks very tricky

    COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes, I expect Rooney to have a good tournament, but not sure if to the same level as Pele, Maradonna, Zidane, Cruyff etc.
    In my opinion the England player to watch out for is Joe Cole. He will have a point to prove after Chelsea decided to let him go and will want to play exceptionally well to attract interest from the big clubs he wants to go to. He will be relatively fresh from not playing that many games this season and appears to be starting to rediscover his form.

  • Comment number 63.

    At the end of this contest it will become crystal clear where the ability of English football players rests. Whilst certain individuals would complement any team ,when playing collectively the standards never reach the same heights.
    There can be no criticism of the manager or coaching staff this time - there isn't any one any better than Capello and with more harmony and resolve in the English camp than for many a year - [certainly since Bobby Robson was in charge] it must be hoped that they can be successful. A win against the USA is absolutely key - an emphatic one even better - they key to winning is scoring goals and we need to start a goal fest on Saturday not defending a slender lead.
    All we need is the press to paint a positive picture and stop its usual tawdry revelations just as we look like we might do ok.
    Will we win? Hmmm - I can't see it but if we get to the semi-finals then it is possible - the mantra must be win at all costs - nothing should be left on the table as an option. Semi Finalists is my bet.

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree Phil - The hype and arrogance of past campaigns, has been replaced by a more realistic view point in regards to England's chances. I personally think that quarters should be the immediate aim and anything after that is a success.

    I think it will be Brazil to beat Argentina in the final, with Spain and possibly England as semi finalists.

  • Comment number 65.

    If you're going to moderate every post at the current speed, do you really expect anyone to hang around? You'll end up talking to yourselves!

  • Comment number 66.

    48. At 10:51am on 11 Jun 2010, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #41

    When will I hear about the further moderation then?

    ==================================

    Couple of hours if you are lucky. I don't think I will bother with Phil's blogs anymore, it's too tedious waiting for peoples views to appear. I will stick to the blogs that are retro modded, a much better system.

    COME ON ENGLAND! 3 - 0 I reckon.

  • Comment number 67.

    The media always get a hard time with talking up or down the team, but thats pretty much what you get reading everyones comments. Some are thinking positively, some not backing the team. One persons realistic is anothers optimistic. Good luck to them. If we do make it through it will certainly be a team effort, lets hope Gerrard, Rooney and the rest all perform above expectations.

  • Comment number 68.

    Was very impressed with how Gerrard came across yesterday. I hope that sense of commitment and determination comes out on the pitch tomorrow.

    As for Rooney, if he can reproduce the form shown back in February and March, he has a real chance of stamping his authority on the tournament. Obviously depends on those around him too, and you could see his frustration at times in the friendlies, but let's hope he's given the service on the big occasion.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    If Stevie G can do an Istanbul, and if spain do a well, spain and choke (although slim chance of that methinks)

    then England have a really good chance, They really need to top the group, the really need to beat USA and play well doning it, it will give them confidance going forward.

  • Comment number 71.

    50. At 11:09am on 11 Jun 2010, Richyburger wrote:

    for too long the likes of Lampard and Gerrard have been guaranteed a place and create little cliques within the England dressing room.

    ================================================

    If you really believe that any England player can influence Capello in any way then you are very naive.

    So, who would replace Gerrard or Lampard with?

    Milner, Barry, Carrick - yeah ok!

  • Comment number 72.

    Very best of luck to England. I think you will do well.
    Stevie G certainly has the right attitude.

  • Comment number 73.

    Gerrard & Lampard

  • Comment number 74.

    I still do not see what Lampard brings to the table??!! Yes he does well for Chelsea but i'm sure my 60 year old gran would if she was playing alongside Ballack, Essien, Drogba, Makelele and many more. The fact is that Gerrard has dragged an AVERAGE Liverpool team for the last 4/5 years to the biggest glory in club football and an FA Cup. Agreed he hasnt always been at his best for England but I say give him his chance as I do not believe we have another player like him. Chelsea fans i'm sure will disagree but give Gerrard the licence to a play the way he does for Liverpool and stop building the midfield around Lampard - its boring to watch and over the last 8 years it hasnt brought us any success! C'mon England!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    That's it! My Japanese wife's just bet on England to win the World Cup. Last year her first ever bet selected from my one reading of the 2009 Grand National racecard was Mon Mome, which we got at 200/1.

  • Comment number 76.

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

  • Comment number 77.

    Here we are again then, Only this time instilled with an inherant ability to grind out ugly wins. Everyone has stopped sniping, an air of calm descends as anticipation grows. This is what we have spent the last 44 Years putting together.

    WE ARE ENGLAND!

    The winds of change blow across SA, & if ever the lion king was going to step forward its now. C'mon Stevie, lead our boys to world cup glory. Everyone of them is ready to stamp there name on our countries proud history.

    PLAY HARD BOYS & BRING IT HOME!

  • Comment number 78.

    The last time England won a world cup we also had the oldest squad in the tournament - 2003 Rugby Union World Cup!

    I think England have a chance of doing well. If we can reach Brazil in the semi then the cooler temperatures may allow us to chase them off the park, unlike 2002 when the stifling heat played to their strengths.

    I think Lennon looked sharp in the glimpses of him during the friendlies and if he plays he could be the potent weapon to carry us to glory - the game breaker, footballs Jason Robinson?

    Well we can all dream...

  • Comment number 79.

    apart from rooney i guess lennon could be the 2nd most important player if hes fit and running ..

  • Comment number 80.

    Question for Phil: Who do you fancy for the Golden Boot? My own tip is Torres (assuming he stays fit).

    I'll tune in tomorrow morning to see my posting....and your possible response. Not that I'm busy....but it will take that much time to moderate this and have it posted for your consumption.

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    #49 Nibs - I strongly disagree with your comment about Ferdinand's replacement being 'nowhere near world class'. First of all, your comment implies that Rio should be bracketed in this list, when form alone this year suggests that he has no right to be anywhere near that list.

    Secondly, should Ledley King step-in then England have a centre-back who is arguably better than Ferdinand anyway, even with his injury problems. I can only assume that you, like most the British press, think that because King doesn't play for a 'Big Four' club then he clearly isn't of world standard, when anyone who has seen him play would most definitely say otherwise.

    The press would be raving about him daily if he played for Manchester United or Chelsea.

  • Comment number 83.

    Notasquick - Gerarrd seems to be a favourite of yours lol!! The only candidate really tbh and to say he's not inspirational marks you out as not really having watched that much football. 2005+2006, two major finals in which he picked his team up and drove them to victory-not inspirational enough? Not a high enough level? Or do you just not like Liverpool.
    Glen Johnston, whilst admittedly still learning to defend at the highest level, is an awesome outlet down the right and has made the spot his own.
    So your views would seem to be biased - Gerrard and Rooney along with Terry and probably Barry will be the spine of this team - Johnston and Cole will provide the width.
    Capello is a far better judge of a player than you or I and he doesn't think you're right either.
    Oh and by the way - I'm Irish and I still think England have a genuine chance. Take your blinkers off old boy-it's the greatest event on Earth!!

  • Comment number 84.

    With regards our chances on doing well in the tournament, I hope we continue our "unconvincing" pre tournament form. I admit the team has looked poor at times but it hasn't allowed us to get complacent even though we have continued to win. It has focussed our attentions on what we can do better. I think Capello has lifted a lot of pressure off the players since McClaren as the media have the utmost respect for him.

    If we hammer USA tomorrow the media will get carried away - the optimistic fans will think it is '66 - and the pessimistic fans will claim we have peaked too early. Lets keep our feet on the ground, get behind our team and hope we improve a little every game.

  • Comment number 85.

    #74 exactly. I am not as cynical about Lampard's abilities as you, but if he has a bad day you don't notice so much as he is surrounded by quality. If Gerrard has a bad day then Liverpool fall apart.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think England have a chance but Spain are deservedly favourites. However, the game's not played on paper and upsets always happen. Spain have a tremendously hard route to the trophy - probably having to go through Portugal, Italy, Brazil and then one of Argentina/France/England/Germany. The top 5 sides in the world are all on Spain's side of the draw and their bad luck is our gain. Providing it goes to form, we won't have to meet anyone ranked higher than us in the world until the semi's. Even then it'd be either a weak Germany or an under-performing Argentina managed by a mad man. We're one of 4 or 5 teams that could win it. We just need our big players to stand up and be counted: Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard, A Cole & Terry. These are the ones with thatare capable of making the step up to that extra level - and all undoubted world class performers on their day. C'mon England!

  • Comment number 87.

    ABE come on USA

  • Comment number 88.

    gerrad playing of rooney we go to the final with that

  • Comment number 89.

    #37
    If you noticed i did not use your "quotation marks"...as it will be a glorious fight rather than dangerous....Duh!

  • Comment number 90.

    If we want England to win the Worl Cup dont let John Mottson commentate

  • Comment number 91.

    i love how question marks, and alot of media attention, is raised regarding Rooneys temperament because he picked up a booking in a friendly.

    i always fear England will do well at tournaments but after watching their warm up games i'm not worried. nowhere near as good as the red top media think they are. they'll be out in the quarters, hopefully on penalties, as usual.

  • Comment number 92.

    Im a proud Welshman,I love being welsh but I also love being British, so can anyone tell me why when I went shopping this week for an english shirts, flag you name it I couldnt get any. I ask the shop assistant why and he said because we're in Wales, I had a look around the shop and there where alot of welsh tops, flags and even WELSH "World cup crisps" even tho we'r not in the World cup, doh.
    All im trying to say is if any British team in the World cup i would cheer them on, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England.

  • Comment number 93.

    at 92 Ireland aren't british.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 93

    Ireland is part of the British Isles, but not part of Great Britain

    I think it's a fair bet that when most people say Britain, they mean Ireland too - as they mean it in a geographical sense, not a political one

    anyway come on, England all the way!

  • Comment number 95.

    Everybody is entitled to Phil's opinion, however if you start with the premise that the main factor that leads to a player being selected for the National team is the player's performances for his club. It follows that since at his club he plays in a particular position, it is unrealistic to expect Stevie G to deliver the same performance in a different position even for the club, let alone the national team. SG thrives somewhere behind or just off the striker, and one only has to remember how SG thrived off Peter Crouch in SG's best season (goal wise). So if you expect an ICONIC performance you will not find it out on the left.

  • Comment number 96.

    #91, HeyGlasgowCeltic, "they'll be out in the quarters". Every bit as arrogant as the hypers you're having a dig at. And nothing like a bigot to spoil the party.

  • Comment number 97.

    Capello has got the squad and Team wrong. Green, Wright-Philips, Lennon, King (how on earth did he pick this 'crock), Carragher, should never have been selected for the squad.

    How on Earth Joe Cole cannot get in the starting line up - I don't know. Shows you how great and world class David Beckham was and is. The pretenders, in the useless Lennon and Wright-Philips continue to be selected and deceive.

    Cole and Barry have to come in against Algeria. looks like Capello listened too much to the Harry Redknapp hype about his Spurs players. Lennon, King, Crouch, totally overrated. Paul Robinson should have been our main goalkeeper. Amazingly Overlooked.

    Joe Hart, Joe Cole, Dawson, Milner, have to be picked for the future games. Johnson, Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, all played well.

    Joe Cole is a match winner just like Beckham. Swallow your pride Capello and do the right thing.......

 

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