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From the Alps to the top of the world

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Dan Roan | 19:08 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

If Fabio Capello's intention was to get his squad away from it all, then he certainly chose the right place in Irdning.

England's pre-World Cup camp in the Austrian Alps is a vision of perfect isolation. Two hours' drive from the media's hotel in Graz, towering, snow-capped peaks surround the team's luxury hotel, the Schloss Pichlarn. A mile down the road is their training pitch, where, apart from a few security guards and curious locals, the players have the facilities to themselves.

England squad with Fabio Capello in the Austrian Alps
Capello has done what he wanted with the England team and said how he feels about the England bid

This is an opportunity to acclimatise to the thinner air England will discover in South Africa's Highveld, but also to leave behind the various controversies of recent weeks.

To move on from the Capello Index, Wembley's dodgy pitch and Football Association resignations, and focus instead on the United States, Algeria and Slovenia. Above all, to concentrate on winning the 2010 World Cup, rather than the right to host 2018.

And yet, as England granted the media access to their retreat for one day only, attention once again turned to recent events.

Midway through England's impressive training session (in which Adam Johnson and Tom Huddlestone stood out and Matthew Upson provided the only injury scare with a cut to the head), word spread that Capello may be willing, nay keen, to have his say on Lord Triesman's dramatic demise.

And so it proved as the Italian strode into the hotel's indoor tennis courts (converted to host a press conference) and waded into the story that has rocked English football.

This was the FA's first opportunity to fight back against the suggestion that their 2018 bid had been wrecked by the weekend's meltdown, and, far from avoiding the subject, Capello seemed only to willing to answer my questions on the scandal.

England, he stressed, remained the perfect place to host the World Cup, while his sadness at the nature of Lord Triesman's departure was obvious. Stung by Fifa's official inquiry into the affair, the FA is in damage-limitation mode, and Capello has now lent his support as they seek to recover.

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But having had said his piece, Capello's final message was simple - it's time to get down to business. And there's a look in the players' eyes - and in the manager's, too - that tells you that this is where England's World Cup journey truly begins. Places in the final 23-man squad are up for grabs and the stakes are high.

Irdning seems a long way from Johannesburg, but it may be where the World Cup was won.


  • Comment number 1.

    It sounds like Capello has chosen the perfect place to prepare. It's a shame that the Triesman story came out when it did but I think the focus now must be solely on this World Cup. If England are to have any chance of winning then they must avoid any distractions and be at the pinnacle of their game.

  • Comment number 2.

    3 words - come on england.......

  • Comment number 3.

    Highveld - not highveldt

  • Comment number 4.

    Dan, did Ledley King train or are the England team managing him as Spurs have been so successfully this season?

  • Comment number 5.

    England wont get much further than group stages. Unlucky.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Irdning seems a long way from Johannesburg, but it may just be where the World Cup was won. "

    Sorry, but Irdning is a million miles from South Africa - which is where the squad should already be acclimatising.

    There will be a lot to get used to. Note that even the Sun goes from right to left across the sky there! Disorientating at least.

  • Comment number 7.

    smudgey90 actually has the right idea. Before we hype our team to the limit, saying they are better than all competition (as we do in many sports, guess it's a British thing) and unfortunately rather then meeting our unfair expectations, they only do as well as reaching the limit of their abilities and trying their hardest; and that's not good enough for us.

    Set our expectations low, and we can't be disappointed.

  • Comment number 8.

    Irdning will do a lot more for acclimatisation than New Jersey where the US national team currently is. The US will run out of gas and England will score in the last ten minutes of the game. - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 9.

    Spamburger do you honestly think that the sun rises from a different direction in the southern hemisphere? the world as a whole rotates the same direction around the sun north and south hemispheres don't differ.

    Apart from the altitude I believe England Usa game is 1000 odd feet high Austria is only an hour behind Southa Africa and it is probably hotter here currently than it will be in South Africa during the tournement. The players may have more problems when traveling from north to south of the country and visa versa

    come on england

  • Comment number 10.

    I was menat to include Englands current Austrian base is 650 feet high

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 13.

    I think England will do quite well. Coverage has been fairly low key from the press so far despite being less than a month from their first match. They can definitely do something with Capello in charge.

  • Comment number 14.

    I not sure people have caught onto the facts that :-
    1) South africa is moving in winter - some days could be quite cool, (reasonable chance it could, raining and windy for capetown match!)

    2 yes, Joburg is at 6000ft but england's 2nd and 3rd matches will be played on the coast ... at sea level.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can do something special... make the sun rise from a different location. Although that is strictly just standing in a different place

  • Comment number 16.

    @9 Hoopsss. During the northern summer, the sun will be north of the equator, over or near the tropic of Cancer.

    When viewed from further north, looking south, (eg England), the sun will rise to the left, (the east) and set to the right, (the west).

    When viewd from the south, looking north, (eg South Africa), the east where the sun rises is now to the right and the west where the sun sets is to the left.

    How disorientating this actually is, I have no idea, I've never been south of the equator myself. But Spamburger was quite correct about the relative direction of the sun's movement across the sky.

  • Comment number 17.

    Notice, the man who steadfastly refuses to discuss ANYTHING except his squad, the next match, and the coming tournament has waded into the bid issue...

  • Comment number 18.

    @16 Wiz5 & @9 Hoopsss. I'm not a homing pidgeon so can't tell north from south without a compass. Assuming Capello doesn't equip the players with one to help them find the goal, can't see it being particularly disorientating.

  • Comment number 19.

    England plays one of its 3 group matches at 1500m, the other two are around sea level. 1500m is not usually high enough to have any noticably adverse effect on athletic performance. Compare La Paz (3700m) where Bolivian international matches have often been played. Furthermore Irdning is only 670m high. This is not even as high as the Bernabeu so I wonder why Capello is taking his squad there. Maybe the intention is get away from unnecessary distractions. Understandably after a long hard season the players will be tired. Instead of flying back and forth to Austria during this critical period before the World Cup, wouldn't it therefore have been better to have sent the squad to the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus in Rusteburg now to give full commitment to preparation for the first match. Maybe they could have arranged a couple of friendlies there too. Or maybe I'm just missing something?

  • Comment number 20.

    Roll on 12 July when all of this World Cup nonsense will be over.

  • Comment number 21.


    There will be a lot to get used to. Note that even the Sun goes from right to left across the sky there! Disorientating at least.

    Hardly - who do you think they are? Columbus? If you turn 180 degrees in this country then the sun starts going the other way.

    Austria is fine plus by staying in Europe they will avoid the tail end of the South African summer.

  • Comment number 22.

    To 19.: it's probably just a psychological ploy by the management to have them train at what they are telling the players and media is altitude. Anybody who knows anything about the subject (like yourself) know that they are getting very little, pysically, from their current training camp. But when they go to play the match at 1500m Capello can say to his players who perhaps are unaware of their futile 'altitude training' that "we are the best prepared team with top altitude training whereas the opposition have been training at sea level". The hapless players will maybe try and push that bit harder as in their minds they are perfectly prepared?

  • Comment number 23.

    @19 Yes you are mising something, the sold wembley match against Mexico. The FA arent going to drop the chance of making a few million from a friendly.
    I have complete confidence in Cappello but if we reach the semis it will be a good tourny, the final a great one and winning it unbelievable.
    The semis are the target imo, anything better is great but we may need a slice of luck.

  • Comment number 24.

    The media base in Graz two hours away: Can I ask why the media are all based in Graz? Is that an FA impose condition on getting media access or are you all too unimaginative to have booked somewhere that isn't in the team hotel or right next to the airport? Austria is choca with good places to stay.

    Just to add to the debate about the sun - I've lived in the Southern Hemisphere. It is not in the least bit disorientating.

    Anyway, preparation sounds like its going well. Capello comes across as such a professional, if England fail miserably this summer it won't be down to the coach.

  • Comment number 25.

    @6- England can't go and acclimatise in South Africe because FIFA rules state that no team who have qualified for the finals may play in the host country in the month leading up to the World Cup, with the exception of the host team.

    So South Africa could play a friendly against, say, Scotland, in South Africa, because Scotland haven't qualified.

    And there's no point in England training over there because they couldn't play the friendlies which build up their match fitness.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nice to hear from Dan that Huddlestone stood out in training. He's in much better form than Michael Carrick, who has had a mare of a season.

  • Comment number 27.

    England can acclimitise as much as they want, but Spain will win the world cup.

  • Comment number 28.

    21. At 09:28am on 20 May 2010, Heavens2Murgatroyd wrote:

    There will be a lot to get used to. Note that even the Sun goes from right to left across the sky there! Disorientating at least.

    Hardly - who do you think they are? Columbus? If you turn 180 degrees in this country then the sun starts going the other way.


    That's exactly what I was thinking. Not sure what all this talk about being disorientated when you are in the southern hemisphere is all about. It's not like the sun suddenly starts rising in the west!

  • Comment number 29.

    today the sun will set half the time on the left and the rest of the way down it will be on my right but upside down as I will do a headstand after turning around. the average altitude in the village england are training near is around 2000 ft. as a man utd fan i can confirm carrick is pants, most would prefer an untested hargreaves and/or huddlestone. it is summer here winter there, correct, boring. british press yes should be ashamed of staining our host bid and we all know which bidding country will do anything to get the world cup.

  • Comment number 30.

    Re: disorientation. My old boss was a South African, and he could never navigate around town because he was used to the sun being in the North rather than the South as we are. Similarly in NZ - I was there for 6 weeks last year and found it wierd that the est gardens were North-facing. Not disorientating, just weird!

  • Comment number 31.

    Two comments on the amazing Sun debate...
    1)Wherever you are in the world, east is east, north is north, west is west and south is south. This does not change if you cross the equator. As Hoopsss says; because the earth rotates around the sun, the sun rises in the east wherever you are. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that time zones follow the earths longitude.
    2) 99% of the time I have no idea which way north is, so essentially the sun could be rising and setting in any direction and I wouldnt have a clue. I do not get disorientated by this, and equally I do not get disorientated by the suns position when I simply turn around. I hope the same is true for the England players, but I guess you can never tell for sure.

  • Comment number 32.

    The reason why england has never been a good show in most world cups is its media. the media focuses too much on tiny details of the team that it creates pressure on the team as a whole.that said, the major undoing of this england team at the world cup will be their goalkeeping.but there is no way this can be sorted out unless fifa can allow them to play 2 goalkeepers and a reduced midfield

  • Comment number 33.

    @ the_Sluiceterer - Make sure you tell the organisers. It makes sense to stop wasting time and cancel the whole thing now if no-one else has a chance.

  • Comment number 34.

    "England can acclimitise as much as they want, but Spain will win the world cup."

    I think they probably will and if England can't win it I'd like to see Spain win. I think qualifying from the group is the minimum we should accept and a very successful tournament would be getting to the semis.

    We seem to be preparing well and roll on the world cup.

  • Comment number 35.

    It is all well-intentioned but Capello has to be mindful that players have had a very long and hard season and do not need to be trained into the ground. IF he does that then several will break down. What is needed is to acclimatise as residual fitness will remain. Also tactically he has to ensure that England play PL style football which will upset opponents far more than the usual international chess matches we have to put up with. He might lead us further than we had thought if he can get the right spirit in the team which is one fundamental reason why Gary Neville is not there.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why would Crouchie need altitude training...

  • Comment number 37.

    I hope that the sun's at a funny angle and completely disorientates the England players. Then we might have a chance when a game goes to penalties... And Heskey will win the golden boot.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hmmm...all this talk about the sun. I think anyone who is debating the problem with the sun is wasting their time. None of the players will be disoreintated by the direction of the sun because, and I say this looking out of my window, anyone living in England would actually have to see the sun to know where it was...if anything just seeing the sun will be what puts them off.

    Either way, I believe England can do well, but only because of our Italian manager. The guys knows his stuff, that's for sure. I felt for a number of years before Capello arrived that the national squad needs a disciplinarian. Now we have one.

    England to get knocked out in the quarters but it won't matter a jot because we'll beat Germany in the round of 16. You heard it here first.

  • Comment number 39.

    how often do england players play in the sun anyway - think about it, most games are in the winter and at night...

  • Comment number 40.

    Like the water rotating down the plughole in the opposite direction, the sun also rises in the west and sets in the east in the Southern hemisphere. I have sat on a beach in Australia and the sun moves the opposite way across the horizon. Anyone who says otherwise is simply ignorant or doesn't know their facts. Back to the topic, training at altitude wonìt help England, Spain simply have too much class, strength in depth and will most likely win...

  • Comment number 41.

    @32 "The reason why england has never been a good show in most world cups is its media."

    Nah, the reason is we weren't good enough. The media will always try to destroy us, they somehow think it's their job, unhelpful of course but not the reason

  • Comment number 42.

    Fabio Capello has a record, statistically speaking, better than any other England manager in history.

    I don't think England will win the World Cup this year but at a bare minimum we should make the Quarter Finals and anything else after that would be a very welcome added bonus.

    Here the records and statistics of every England manager since 1872...

  • Comment number 43.

    Isolation will do the squad good especially if he confiscates their mobiles and tells them tehy cancall their families on land-lines to keep their agents at bay.

    Will they be singing something like these at teh World Cup

  • Comment number 44.

    40. At 2:41pm on 20 May 2010, Spoonmehead wrote:
    Like the water rotating down the plughole in the opposite direction, the sun also rises in the west and sets in the east in the Southern hemisphere. I have sat on a beach in Australia and the sun moves the opposite way across the horizon. Anyone who says otherwise is simply ignorant or doesn't know their facts. Back to the topic, training at altitude wonìt help England, Spain simply have too much class, strength in depth and will most likely win...


    I hope you are joking about the sun rising in the west in the southern hemisphere - if you believe otherwise I worry for you.

  • Comment number 45.

    mmmm enjoying the posts from the armchair astronomers who think the world turns in an opposite direction south of the equator!!
    I think what they are trying to point out is that at noon the sun at it's northernmost point, which actually can be quite disorientating.

    Anyway, the cosy fireplaces and pretty neighbourhoods of Austria are a VERY long way from life in South Africa, and THAT will take more getting used to.

  • Comment number 46.

    I live at 350 m. I run. I once tried running at 2 000 m. I almost died, even downhill. I just couldn't breathe. Madrid is at 650 m. Joburg is at 2 000 m. So Capello's plan to train at 1 500 m seems good. If you can run well at altitude you can run extremely well at sea level because altitude training makes your body more efficient at using oxygen from the air. (Kenyan marathoners demonstrate this.) I think Capello should be training at 2 500 m, but there likely aren't too many places on the planet that have the facilities. And he's probably researched it better than me.

  • Comment number 47.

    How does writtenbyfans post first on every article? Come on buddy... we aren't gonna read you blog.

  • Comment number 48.

    also, when you get into the southern hemisphere and turn around then east does become west. It's called the Coriolis Borealis Effect. So that is that.

  • Comment number 49.

    "may be where the world cup was won"
    here we go again
    What on Earth are you talking about? The tournament is even close to starting and you're suggesting that England have won it.....tut tut.

    Reality check for Mr. "Sports Correspondent for BBC Sports News". Please take your head out of the clouds.
    Maybe the altitude in Austria has effected you - i hope the players fare better up there! Why does this type of journalism happen before every major tournament England qualify for?
    All this expectation and pressure, pressure, pressure to win, win, win.
    Has 34 years of nothing (and i dont mean underachievement) i mean 'nothing'. Has this taught you anything?

    Now, if German, Brazilian, Italian or perhaps Spanish Journalists were talking about their country winning I could maybe understand it. They are used to winning at this level, not 'competing' (which is where England must start) but actually winning things.

    Time I think for the press to stop doing what they do EVERY SINGLE TOURNAMENT which is sensationalise everything.
    England win, they're the best ever.
    England lose, they're the worst ever.
    Before every tournament, theyre gonna win it (for some reason).
    Why not just realise for once that (as has been for 34 yrs) England
    a - dont have the best squad. A very good squad this time, yes, but not the best.
    b - dont have the best manager. They are closer in that regard with Capello than they ever have been before
    c - dont have the best support. The fans are great but their media always seem to want to murder them after EVERY single performance thats not perfect.

    I think responsible journalism at this stage does not carry any dreamy, wishful premonitions of England winning the tournament. Have they already beaten, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland, Brazil, Argentina etc?? When was the last time they beat any of these nations at a major finals?

    By all means report on Englands training camp and how well its going or not going etc but keep it realistic and, as anybody actually 'involved' with football knows, take it one game at a time.

    And then, if England line up in July to compete in the final, by all means then write about their chances of maybe winning it.
    Until then, the public deserve better

  • Comment number 50.

    jesus enough about the sun, the weather there will be a bit chilly and probably a lot of rain in june, our weather will be better, chances are it will be cloudy and no one will know where the poxy sun is anyway, and dont forget 2 of our group games are at night and after the group stage most games will be at night.

    but dont use my comments to start talking about the poxy moon!

  • Comment number 51.

    i think england have some talented players but the only way they will get to the semis is by avoiding spain Brazil Argentina and Germany on the way. Also by the looks of things cappelo looks like exactly what England need to do well but not taking Ashley young is a joke. Remember i said this though Argentina spain final 2-0 Argentina

  • Comment number 52.

    i live right on the Indian Ocean just 6km north of the new stadium in Durban, the sun came up from the east over the ocean this morning and currently at 10.30 am it is getting high in the sky to the north, anyway england will only play here if they finish second in their group and progress to the semi final which will be played in the evening so no need to worry about the sun, If anybody is going to SA pack your warm clothes for the evening and a big jacket for Cape Town, Rustenberg and Joburg. Dont think the teams going past the quarters, after a pretty hard last 16 tie.

  • Comment number 53.

    Seems to me the best prep they could do is not play on the Wembley pitch.

  • Comment number 54.


    the sun and all the rest don't matter


  • Comment number 55.

    I agree with a number of comments about calling it won too early and also that we should forget the sun, rain or whatever. The most important thing is that we have a manager capable of commanding respect from very rich individuals who perhaps occasionally require to be taken down a peg or two when they fail to understand the meaning of working as a team. Not doing silly things such as getting sent off in crucial matches and have a work ethic that can win us the World Cup. He is still working at it, but Capello has demonstrated that, with the right mind set, England are real contenders for the first time. In 1966 they were not contenders but won because they worked together as a team marshalled by Bobby Moore. The flair of Charlton was there but in the Final he was out manoevred by Franz Beckenbauer. That said, Charlton kept him out of the game because they feared what he might do. We now have a team capable of working well together and so, I believe we do seriously have a chance. However, the team has to continue to respect the Manager and work to his game plan, if they are to succeed.

    No - it is not already won. But they the ability to do it and I do not rule out an England win and perhaps an even better win than the 1966 one when there were many criticisms about the way we won. The media should lay off the players aas the manager is needing some space to do his work and not worry about other people trying to impact on his preparations. We should all be realistic. Yes it is difficult to get through a knockout tournament, even when you are Brazil. Let's just be glad we at last have a decent side with a decent manager and a chance of glory.

  • Comment number 56.

    Capello has an aura and discipline about him that has by-and-large united us all with the exception of the mindless media hounds who are still trying to do their worst negatively influencing the England footy landscape by their spin.

    For the first time in a long time, it doesn't really matter what the media do or have us think, the World Cup is very much in the reach of players who have finally realised that if they knuckle down and believe and buy into the gaffer's game plan and instructions, England can go all the way.

    Capello is an exemplary man-manager and an even more astute politician and businessman who has the media neatly tucked away in his back pocket, ready to be used at HIS beckon call and that5's the way it should be.

    By the way, Capello is the sun. :o)

  • Comment number 57.

    for once and for all the explanation for sun rising and sunsetting issue which has risen.
    There is no difference for players on the pitch or for any other human in the southern hemisphere from where does the sun rises or sets.
    The sun rises from the east FACT
    The suns in the west FACT
    For a player facing the grandstand in SA or in Wembley or San Siro what difference does it make if the sun sets from the left or right of him

    A goal keeper who faces the sun in the first half would face it all the same in any ground all over the world regardless where it is played on earth.

    No effect whatsoever

    think of it

  • Comment number 58.

    great points in posts 19 & 22 above. love that fact about Madrid being higher than this pathetic training base in Irdning. surely if you're doing altitude training, you have to do it properly and prepare for what you are facing. - you don't ride a motor bike in advance of a driving test for a car !. Irdning is 2200ft - about the same height as the yorkshire 3 peaks- ingleborough, penyghent etc- you don't feel the effects of altitude on them at all. i've been up Snowdon at 3500ft and you don't feel it there either. according to wikipedia, you'll only feel it at 5000ft+ . i saw today on SSN, that Holland are training at seefeld in tirol- funnily enough the only place in austria i've been too. would have been at a much better base at almost 4000ft . n.b. rustenberg is approx 5000 ft up, and jo'burg is not far off 6000ft.

  • Comment number 59.

    The sun never moves or 'rises' or 'sets'. It has stayed in the same place for about 5 billion years.

  • Comment number 60.

    I'm sorry Dan but that's a really bad soundbite at the end. Let's think that through - not meeting the media for one week will have no effect during the hubbub of cup.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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