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Viva Fabio

Robbo Robson | 13:04 UK time, Friday, 12 September 2008

Fabio Capello and co can gee them up all he likes, but I think the key to victory on Wednesday night is that I said that it was time to accept that England were cack. I mean look how well Luxemburg responded to me saying they should have to pre-qualify for the qualifiers. They went and beat Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland.

I'm the first to admit that England looked solid, then settled, then superb, then spectacular, then downright ruddy Samba-esque - but I'm not getting carried away.

Walcott is the swiftest, most incisive attacker since the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, but I'm not getting carried away.

Rooney, on his way from Shrek to the donkey before the game, was more like that Spanish cat on the night: crafty and thoughtful. I have to say it does help the bloke when he's not having a bunfight with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and even Joe Cole for the right to play in the hole. Sometimes you'd think it was a black hole with the amount of players that get sucked in there.

Lampard played miles better in an England shirt than he has done since 2004. I just hope that Capello has the nuts to pick him or Gerrard next time around. Either of them look happier with Gareth Barry around.

Cashley looked all right too, especially as he had to deal with one of the game's serial divers Srna. Happily, the pathetic tumble that saw him lose the ball and concede England's third was some sort of justice.

Croatia didn't look pretty once they got behind. Simunic must be Croat for cynical. When he took out Rooney and Walcott, I was reminded of Tom running into a casually dropped ironing board by the mouse Jerry (I dunno about you but I always wanted that fat brown mouse to get eaten, the cocky little git.) Personally I'd give Simunic a yellow card for having the nerve to walk out on to the pitch given the treatment he hands out.

It was the other centre-back who walked in the end, courtesy of a delayed reaction from Joey Cole. Once he saw there was some blood around, he did an Amir Khan and hit the deck hard. Obviously the ref got a bit squeamish and that was that.


Course while we all like Bilic, he wasn't above some serious skulduggery himself so I'm not that surprised his team get a little... ermm, hard-nosed from time to time.

When I first looked at the teamsheet for England it looked like the first name there was James Brown. And after the first 10 minutes it looked like I wasn't mistaken. At least every time the Portsmouth stopper came off his line I was shrieking 'Owwwwwww!' He was Superbad. Still if It's a Man's Man's Man's World Cup then I think ol' Calamity might just come through in the end even though when he has a real waft at it he's more like Jessie James.

But you have to give credit to Capello. You look at McClaren's timid selection for this fixture a while back. Desperate, really. Fabio's inclusion of Walcott gave England pace, width and a real goal threat. And no one in the country would have reckoned on the tiny lad - speedy, weedy and greedy too - starting both matches and terrifying the opposition.

Becks will not start another game for England, I'm sure. It was great to see him beaming on the touchline when Theo trotted off. Whatever else he might be, Beckham is definitely a team man.

The coach has got the squad members kitted out and smart and applauding dutifully too. Like they're in it together. It's grand stuff. Suddenly you see a side that others are going to want to be a part of. There's a pretty good side who didn't start last night: Green, Richards, Woodgate, King, Bridge, Bentley, Hargreaves, Gerrard, Young, Agbonlahor, Ashton. Not to mention Crouch, Carrick, Lennon, Downing and who was that little fella who scored that dead good goal against the Argies a while back? ...Quiet lad, overpaid, never fit, likes a flutter... Nah, it's gone... Anyway he might be worth a try again.

Me, I'd have a different side out next game. Gerrard'd be in for Lampard. Ashton for Heskey. Woodgate for Terry. Richards, if fit, for Brown. But if he changed nowt, you couldn't blame him. In fact, who the hell do I think I am telling Fabio, a man who reacted to the second goal by his golden boy like a man whose dentist has just told him they're out of anaesthetic. He's never pleased, is he? Isn't it great? Never more will we have a smiling silly man telling you, like a giddy girl, how exciting it is to be training with such clever people. Viva Fabio!!!

(But I'm not getting carried away.)


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