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Bad luck scuppers Capello's meticulous preparation

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David Bond | 18:35 UK time, Friday, 4 June 2010

For all the meticulous preparation manager Fabio Capello has put in to England's training camp here in Rustenburg, the injury to Rio Ferdinand goes to show you can't eliminate bad luck.

Capello saw his captain limp out of the tournament a week before it even begins with an injured left knee suffered in a tackle with team-mate Emile Heskey during training.

The loss of Ferdinand, who took over as skipper from John Terry back in February, shows that for all the discipline the Italian has introduced, England's squad remains vulnerable to injury and rotten turns of fortune.

Ferdinand's injury will have ruined a good first full day for Capello and his team in South Africa.

And as Camp Capello threw open its doors to the media for the first time since they arrived on Thursday, there is no question it is a very different atmosphere to Germany four years ago.

The first open session Sven-Goran Eriksson's team held in Baden Baden involved a picture opportunity with local schoolchildren and there was a much more relaxed feel among the players - with many of them laughing and joking as the then assistant coach Steve McClaren put them through their paces.

Ferdinand in training before his injury
Ferdinand takes part in training before his knee injury

Not this time. Capello was out early with his coaching staff preparing the training pitch, barking orders in Italian to one of his assistants who had placed a plastic disc in the wrong place.

Such is the attention to detail that on previous trips to the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus, Capello had even taken out a ruler himself to check the length of the grass on the Fifa grade A pitch (good enough to stage World Cup matches) met his 18mm requirements.

As Terry, Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and the rest of the players and staff - including David Beckham decked out in the strict red Capello coaching uniform - made their way to the pitch they looked business-like.

It's the way Capello likes it. No expense has been spared in building the complex here in North West Province. And it's all been prepared to the Italian's specific and meticulous plan.

One member of England's 23-man World Cup squad had revealed recently that in the past players were able to help themselves to bits of kit provided for them by suppliers Umbro - and wear what they like around training camps.

But such is Capello's attention to detail nowadays that they are told exactly what to wear and when.

Lateness is not tolerated and players now show up to meetings and training at least 10 minutes early (yes, they were early on Friday too).

They must even wear the right footwear when told. After the more laid back days of Eriksson and McClaren - when the players were essentially in control - many England supporters believe Capello's hard line style is exactly what the nation's best (and highest paid) stars need.

But the key question is - will it make any difference? Does a world class pitch with 18mm grass help solve the perennial problem of getting Steven Gerrard, who will step in as captain, and Frank Lampard to play together in midfield? Does being on time to dinner and not using your mobile when told give players an advantage when it comes to the dreaded penalty shoot-out?

And as the Ferdinand injury shows, can it bring you better luck?


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  • Comment number 1.

    "Does a world class pitch with 18mm grass help solve the perennial problem of getting Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard play together in midfield? Does being on time to dinner and not using your mobile when told give players an advantage when it comes to the dreaded penalty shoot-out?"

    of course they don't, what they do is create an atmosphere of professionalism and seriousness that success requires.

  • Comment number 2.

    fingers crossed its just a scare or a grade 1 sprain and he will be 100% within a couple weeks!!

  • Comment number 3.

    It shows Capello has the tendancy to be a bit of a nutter. I think the FA were wrong to extend his contract without knowing how he'll perform in South Africa. It remains to be seen if his squad selection was correct (what was that he previously said about "not taking players with injuries"?) and if England do woefully underperform, then the FA have just held themselves to ransom.

  • Comment number 4.

    It had to be a tackle on Heskey didn't it. A player who shouldn't even be there.

  • Comment number 5.

    Man, big loss if he's out.

  • Comment number 6.

    Although this news is worrying, let's not start making excuses in advance. Other teams have injury problems - Spain comes to mind. As Capello surely knows, you have to do your best with what you've got.

  • Comment number 7.


    Has anyone started a "bring back Robbo" campaign yet?

  • Comment number 8.

    He's hardly played all season and even when he has, he's looked shaky and has been injury prone. This was an accident waiting to happen and may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Yes, he is a fantastic player when fit but he hasn't been 100% for a long time now.

    I just hope Ledley King (if needed) can handle the number of games that may come his way.

  • Comment number 9.

    This is definitely a blessing in disguise. King is the more on form player and I would have him in the team ahead of Rio any day of the week. He was only playing because he has the armband.

    Against Japan, Rio was woeful and he clearly isn't fit!

  • Comment number 10.

    Knew it was a mistake taking Heskey!

  • Comment number 11.

    4. At 3:02pm on 04 Jun 2010, Helen wrote:
    It had to be a tackle on Heskey didn't it. A player who shouldn't even be there.


    I reckon he did it on purpose to give himself a bigger chance of starting. 1 down...etc etc...

  • Comment number 12.

    Reports are that Ferdinand is definitely out of the world cup.

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    does that mean if he cant play gerrard will be captain? i think thats better because rio ferdinand was never proven to be a great leader whereas gerrard has been liverpools attacking drive/centre-peice for years

  • Comment number 15.

    It's not bad luck. It is the result of to-many-games-per-season. Why can't the English Premier League at least take a Christmas break or something? The Spanish league can manage it, why can't we?

  • Comment number 16.

    emile heskey's fist impact on the world cup not a gud sign of whats to come

  • Comment number 17.

    Well, our slim chances just got slimmer.

    Still hope though.

    Any way he can bring in Hargreaves?

  • Comment number 18.

    "It had to be a tackle on Heskey didn't it. A player who shouldn't even be there"

    rather heskey was there than rio personally, and if this gets carragher in the first 11 then good on heskey, i was quite confident of doing well in this wc but rio for me gave me a few doubts.

    with johnson carragher terry cole at the back i really think we'll be much better off.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think England will be fine. If Rio is out, there is Ledley King and for the games that King will undoubtedly need to rest (or gets injured) there is Carragher who can do a decent job in central defence.
    Worse case scenario, the underrated Dawson will take Rio's place and he will have a point to prove and want to do well for England.
    Heads up, it's not that bad.

  • Comment number 20.

    Yeah I agree with you RedRooster. Ferdinand has looked poor - he's definitely a confidence player and this new injury will just add to his mental burden.
    That said, potentially he could be ok for the latter stages...

  • Comment number 21.

    Happy for Ferdinand to come home, he hasn't been at his best, put Carragher in the middle, who has played particularly well at the end of the season alongside Ledley King.

  • Comment number 22.

    17. At 3:23pm on 04 Jun 2010, ManUnitedRooney10 wrote:
    Any way he can bring in Hargreaves?


    Why not an extra goalkeeper instead?

  • Comment number 23.

    A player who would never have been droppable otherwise, but should have been, is injured.


  • Comment number 24.

    Rio was never going to fit so not so bad news. He was a prime example of Capello not adhering to his "must be playing and in form" rule.

    Can Heskey train with Carrick tomorrow ?

  • Comment number 25.

    Ferdinand has been either injured or rubbish this season , either King or Carragher should do a better defensive job than him and Gerrard should have been appointed captain when Terry was so he can lead from the front like he does for Liverpool, so this could be a blessing in disguise on both fronts

  • Comment number 26.

    absolutely gutting for rio on a personal note - set to captain his country in a world cup, only to get injured a week before it all kicks off. gotta feel for him even if you don't like him or didn't rate him.

  • Comment number 27.

    ref fabios style, no it wont address directly things like gerrard and lampard geling, penalty shootouts etc, but sure good old hasioned discipline can focus the minds of the players and that can only be a good thing. i think his approach is fantastic

  • Comment number 28.

    captain out but get king to partner terry and call up dawson - you know it makes sense

  • Comment number 29.

    Sorry but the people who somehow think this is a good thing take a long look at last season. King doesn't train in the week with spurs only manages match days. Carragher was poor last season and his team finished worst the finished in a long time. Upson was in a relegation battle!

    So whatever you people think Rio was still best England had to offer. And thats not including Terry's private life which led to him losing the captains armband.

    Not Good news at all. Gerrard and Lampard often under-performe for England will it be good news if they get injured?

    It's about time some people left there club issues aside and just got behind every player.

    I'm not very happy Gerrard will captain england when he under-performes for us all the time but ill still be chanting for him to score a 30 yard screamer and it's pathetic that England fans don't get behind the entire team.

    Things like this will make our bid to host a world cup weaker. Fans happy one of there better players are injured all because he doesn't play for there club. Kinda Pathetic Imo.

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm really sorry for Rio, however if the warm up matches showed anything it was that our defence was poor. When Rio was subbed for Carragher the defence looked more solid and I think Rio's bad luck will turn out to be England's GOOD LUCK. Get fit and see you next season Rio.

  • Comment number 31.

    Shame for Rio but from a team-england point of view, better this happened now while he can be replaced than during the first match of the tournament.

    He's not had a good season and should spend the summer getting himself sorted.

  • Comment number 32.

    Stevie G new captain - get in there

  • Comment number 33.

    First Drogba and then Ferdinand?! Whats going on?!

  • Comment number 34.

    Emile Heskey. Dear me.

  • Comment number 35.

    Did Siditeque actually watch Rio in the Japan game? He was hardly woeful and his presence in defence would have made a huge difference to our chances....

  • Comment number 36.

    32 said: "Stevie G new captain - get in there"

    Indeed, he has a better chance of being the captain of a team that wins something!

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with what a lot of people have said. It was an accident waiting to happen. But as usual the fans and the media in this country are going to blow it up and make it more then it is. In a monumentous event like the WC injuries are going to happen and you just have to deal with it. Ivory Coast look like Drogba isnt going to play, Ballack isnt playing for Germany and Spain have had their problems to. I think we need to focus on the positive instead of the negative which is what people always seem to do do here. Barry is back in training which in my opinion is great news. We have one of the best if not the best striker in the world playing on great form to so why not try and focus on those things instead?

    I think its great that Fabio works with such a strong discipline ethic. And will that sort out the Gerrard and Lampard problem? Will it make England win on penalties? No, but its giving them the desire and will to do all those things, which no other manager has done before. And in the event of a dreaded penalty sshoot out its down to the players not the manager. Its not a matter of managerial tactics its a matter of players holding their nerve. And who knows, if that dreaded scenario rears its all too familiar ugly head then maybe this time we will get throuigh it and win. It frustrates me because I feel like people are already looking at every possible negative outlook a hundred miles down the road before the balls eve got rolling!

    So lets stop with all the needless negative energy and get behind our team more! If Rios gone thats not great news, but England will move on and still have a great chance in this World Cup.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well that's one less crock!
    Heskey is like a 'brick wall' - perhaps that's why he's in the squad as a rock solid target man, to win/control the ball high up the field (which he is very good at) instead of England trying to play all the way up the field through a team like Spain or Brasil?

  • Comment number 39.

    great reply rob and couldnt agree more! this must be the most negative and pessimistic nation at the world cup!

  • Comment number 40.

    “for all the discipline the Italian has introduced, England's squad remains vulnerable to injury”

    And here I was thinking discipline – in as much as no WAGs and no mobile phones would mean there would be no injuries.

    Oh. Wait a second. That’s not what I thought. What a nonsense statement.

    Bring back Robbo!

  • Comment number 41.

    Well if they don't think that Rio won't be in full training after the USA game he has to go home, at least that was Capello's rule.

  • Comment number 42.

    Bad Luck Rio, England can cope, but it is essential John Terry stays fit to lead the back 4 now that Ferdinand is out.

  • Comment number 43.

    Ironic that a player who has had injury problems was included, despite Capello's insistence players would be picked on form and fitness, but then gets injured. I really hope that the preparations aren't disrupted by an injury crisis but, with King also having well-documented problems, central defence may become a problem area for England.

  • Comment number 44.

    England don't have any worse luck than any other countries. The problem is the small pool of really world class players to pick from so any injury looks worse because of the lack of replacements. The premiership doesn't exactly help matters. Bryan Robson in the 80s, Beckham metatarsal 2002, Rooney metatarsal 2006, Ferdinand .. its just the law of averages. Do injuries hit the likes of Spain, Brazil, Argentina, etc as hard with their strength in depth??

  • Comment number 45.

    Rio's been injured and out of form all season; many would say he's either over the hill or dangerously close to it. And who is Capello going to replace him with? The "teenager whipper-snapper" Jamie Carragher? Ledley "Mr Fitness" King?

    He was the wrong choice of captain - as a totally non-Man United fan, I can say that it should have been Rooney and it would have been in any other country. The best player, the cleverest player, an inspiration to others - no doubt about it. People who think he's a liability waiting to get sent off are about 3 or 4 years behind the times.

    But if Rio is ruled out, the captaincy will go to Gerrard. Ah, Gerrard: a player who's been out of form all season, whom many would say is either over the hill or dangerously close to it...

  • Comment number 46.

    This sounds exactly like what England need - to be put through their paces in training by a harsh task master with a keen eye for detail, rather than the players swanning around like they didn't need to try which appeared to be the case back in 2006.

    So what? A player got injured in a training ground tackle? At least it shows they both showed some commitment and they are going to need plenty of it if they are to avoid another disappointing quarter final exit.

    Rio Ferdinand's departure is not that big a deal. He has been plagued by injury this season and hardly been on form when he has played.

    This tournament could be the making of Michael Dawson, a hungry, often-overlooked defender who is set to become even better next season when Spurs enter the Champions League.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 47.

    Get that overrated egomaniac Beckham away from the England camp

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry, Ferdinand is no great loss to the squad. He has been poor all season and struggled with injuries. Dawson or King or Carragher will do just as good a job if not better. I find it funny that the big lump of lard Heskey was involved. Probably the only positive thing he will do in the World Cup.

  • Comment number 49.

    This is the best thing that happened for England since Capello took over!

  • Comment number 50.

    I think that Capello's demand for professionalism and accountability are exactly what England need, but I am not sure on his squad selection. Though full marks for taking Joe Cole, I think he will reward for that faith.

  • Comment number 51.

    all you heskey knockers go and look at the stats.
    when heskey plays with rooney , rooney scores. when he doesn't play, rooney doesn't score. there's more to being a striker than scoring goals. it's about about having a balanced front pair.

  • Comment number 52.

    Capello is right to be so meticulous in his preperations. After all, this is the World Cup, and even a small aspect such as the length of the grass may make the difference in what is a competition where the margin between success and failure can be so narrow.
    His attention to detail may even have a positive mental effect on the players.

  • Comment number 53.

    Okay Rio's has been injured a lot and his form hasn't been spectacular (due to the inability to get a good run of games going), but he is a tournament player.

    He's shown that in previous tournaments, where he's consistently been one of our better performers.

    The worry is that if King gets injured, there is a lack of depth - Dawson hasn't played for England, Carragher hasn't dealt with the pressure of playing for England in a long time and Upson is poor.

    Definately hurts our chances but there is always hope with Rooney and Lampard on form.

  • Comment number 54.

    So who gets to wear the number 5 jersey?

  • Comment number 55.

    When UEFA change the rules of football so that games are won by having the best-balanced front pair rather than by the side that scores the most goals, as pompey-fritter suggests, I might understand why Emile Heskey should be in the Engalnd team ... even then ... no, it still doesn't make any sense at all to pick a carthorse ahead of an in-form proven goalscorer.

  • Comment number 56.

    It was a mistake to take Rio and John Terry. Rio has not been fully fit all season and John, with his off the field travails, has looked a shadow of his former self. This could be a blessing in disguise.

  • Comment number 57.

    I haven't paid much attention, what's happened to Robbo?

  • Comment number 58.

    @51 - Thats what she said.

  • Comment number 59.

    Rio's 'fitness levels' and his availability for selection have been something of an issue all season, both for club and country, with a series of seemingly 'simple' injuries suddenly becoming more serious; you cannot help feeling that this was pre-ordained, almost inevitable! Whilst it is a personal setback for Rio himself, for the England Camp however it means even before the competition starts there is need for the 'team spirit' to start building - which is no bad thing especially in that period prior to the first game when nerve ends are stretched and a collective focus is needed for concentration... out of adversity!!! Come on England!

  • Comment number 60.

    Rio is going to be a massive loss.. He is a BIG game player and there is not really many who have performed like he has in the past World Cup !

    Of course we all need to be positive though. Lets just see what happens before making judgements.. Personally Carragher shouldnt even be there, if you retire from the country its like refusing to play for them.

    Put in King at best.. but the rest ? Upson not really good enough, Dawson, good season for Spurs but can he step up ?

    Carragher is the only other choice.. Going to be tough for England now..

    Lets all be happy though :) we are not out yet...ha ha

  • Comment number 61.

    Bad luck for England and Ferdinand.Can we get something positive out of this,like getting the Grade A pitch makers from Rustenberg to accompany Ferdinand back home, via Wembley of course!

  • Comment number 62.

    I don't get Capello to be honest. No WAGs and no mobile phones is going to really revolutionise the performances on the pitch isn't it?

    This injury means there is now an even greater lack of depth in the England squad. Dawson isn't proven at international level, don't know how Upson managed to get in the squad, which leaves Carragher. Not great is it?

    Mind you its good to see Heskey making some sort of impact now, cause he ain't gonna during the tournament! :)

  • Comment number 63.

    I forgot to mention King but he'll probably get injured trying to get on the team bus.

  • Comment number 64.

    Where's the Jag when you need him?

  • Comment number 65.

    ~Despite the nay sayers this is NOT a good thing for England.

    Ferdinand has been in and out all season but at the very top level he has proven to have the tactical knowhow to get the job done alongside Terry.

    Look at the alternatives objectively and you see the problem.

    Ledley King - DOES NOT TRAIN. How can anyone expect him to form a unit with the rest of the back four if he is incapable of training with them or playing three games in a row.

    Jamie Carragher - Perhaps worth a place 2 years ago but seriously off form for 90% of the year and if he plays alongside Terry England will have the slowest defensive pairing in the competition.

    Matt Upson - Confidence is shot to pieces based on his West Ham performances.

    Matt Dawson - Playing well during the season but totally untested internationally, a big risk.

    Dawson is the best option to start the first match I think, with the option to yank him off for Carragher if he doesn't look to settle in the first half. King just can't take the burden of playing every game.

  • Comment number 66.

    This is a blessing in disguise about ferdinands injury, as capello said it was a normal tackle from heskey so what if we was playing USA and someone wanted to hurt him? atleast now we can get dawson in.

  • Comment number 67.

    Firstly the pitch will not make a difference to Gerrard and Lampard working together or whether we will score all the goals in a penalty shoot out. However, dicapline and respect for the manager will help. Gerrard captained Liverpool to champions league effectively on his own and king and carragher can share Rio's place (King needs the rest and whilst carragher has not had the best season the recall will leave him something to prove.

    Feel sorry for Rio but we always have an injury, lets hope Rooney stays fit..

    Crouch, Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Barry will all score there penalties...

  • Comment number 68.

    I believe that this sin't the set back and this has been blown out of all proportion.

    For example take ivory Coast who have just lost Didier Drogba. He is a world Class player who can turn any game hes in and he is irriplaceable. Ivory Coasts chances have been seriously dented due to his loss.

    Now take Germany who has now lost there Talismen who as far as i'm aware is very Beckhamesque in that hes a Icon for that team and his loss will be felt keenly in there midfield.

    However now take Rio Ferdinand. Is he the idol that will make or break Englands world cup campaign? not really, hes a world class player but the Idol for us is Wayne Rooney. Is he irriplaceable as a captain and a key central defender? Again not really. John Terry can Marshall our defence as he does for Chelsea and Gerrard can captain England as he has done for Liverpool. We have great replacemetns lined up, wether its King who plays or Upson (Who has played in defence throughout the Qualifying campaign sucessfully) Carragher or even Dawson.

    I'm not saying it isnt a real loss for us. Hes a great player and a great captain. But i'm saying it could of been horribly horribly worse.

  • Comment number 69.

    He was the wrong choice of captain - as a totally non-Man United fan, I can say that it should have been Rooney ...


    God no. Rooney is a fantastic player and an inspiration regardless of the armband but please remember what being England captain actually entails.

    It is purely a media role, the captain is pulled out for every conference and publicity shot, do you really want our best player having to deal with all that rubbish?

    It's a redundancy on the pitch anyway, the team is full of top professionals who don't need anyone else to gee them up once they walk down that tunnel.

  • Comment number 70.

    Boo Hoo. England's rotten luck with injuries. Looks like the excuses are being made already. The fact that Ghana will be minus Essien and Ivory Coast possibly minus Drogba, both countries without the massive resources available to poor old England, is irrelevant I suppose.

    Incidentally, f you want to see an injury list, look at Germany's injury problems - Ballack (captain) out, Taesch, his most ovious replacement, out, Adler (first choice keeper) out... etc etc.

    Now if Rooney were to get injured, then I would worry. No-one else can score against the better teams. Defoe, untried by Capello, Heskey (LOL), Crouch (OK against Trinidad but they wont be there this time).

  • Comment number 71.

    I agree with those who point out that England's biggest problem is lack of depth. As Capello has pointed out only 38% of the players in the Premier League are English where it is closer to 70% in many other countries who are nationals in the country they play in.

    The only issue that I am aware of where I agree with Sepp Blatter is that there should be a rule that an English team should always play with at least 6 English players on the pitch, a Spanish team with at least 6 Spanish players etc.

    This would give the England manager the pool of players he needs and encourage youth development at the same time.

    It would probably also bring down the number of injuries if the Premier League gave the players a deserved 2 week break at Christmas.

  • Comment number 72.

    England have a fantastic chance to do well (Ferdinand or otherwise) From previous WCs your team's mental psyche doesn't suit high pressure, best chance of success is that you just enjoy the fact that you are in SA but don't get hung up on winning it, que sera sera

    Envious Scot :-)
    p.s. Jimmy Hill is still what the Scots fans purport him to be !

  • Comment number 73.

    Totally agree with you Sidioteque. Rio has not been up to the job. I'd much prefer King to Ferdinand and that choice, surely, has now been made for Capello.

    Can someone tell me, does he have to take Dawson as the replacement player or could he have taken someone else? Walcott for example?

  • Comment number 74.

    "the team is full of top professionals"

    That made me chuckle. It really did.

    The fact is, we haven't a cat in hell's chance of winning the World Cup and no amount of sticking ridiculous little flags on your cars or El Tel singing for his supper from the worst rag in the world is going to change the fact that we're a one-man team and, when the going gets tough, that man is more likely to be found faffing about near the left-back position or off the field altogether rather than where he should be.

    Still, canny of Il Gafa to trouser another £12m or so before a ball's even been kicked. Ing-Ger-Land.

  • Comment number 75.

    Although i think losing Ferdinand through injury is a big blow for England as they will miss his leadership skills and experience, i don't however think its the end of the world. This is because England still have at least three world class centre backs in Terry, King and Carragher and i believe they can do just as good job as Ferdinand if not better. I will be opmistic and backing England to win it though i think Brazil will nick it. They just have the extra edge over other nations in terms of skills and experiences. Good luck England.

  • Comment number 76.

    England will have a very slow centre-back pairing now, whoever comes in. If I was opposition manager, I'd pick my smallest, nippiest strikers.

    Means 3-5-2 is a must, they will need screening and to sit a little deeper against decent teams. Thankfully Barry should be match-fit by the 2nd round.

    If we come up against a pacy quality striker (luckily Brazil & Spain in the other half) - say France in the quarters or the Argies in the semis, I would man-mark him with Cole and move things around. Otherwise they'll slaughter Terry and Carra/King/Upson

  • Comment number 77.

    One team not one man. In any good team you can take one man out and an equally good one steps up and fills the slot. We have excellent cover and I believe that this is Kings moment to shine. As a Villa fan I recall a world class defender playing week in week out for us with very little training so this is Ledleys time to step up and prove his worth

  • Comment number 78.

    Capello's discipline is fantastic I think, at the end of the day he is their boss and they need to do and listen to what he says, without this off the park, they would not follow what he instructs on it, it forms a unity and bond within the whole group.

    Ferdinand will be missed but that cant be helped, better out the way now that in middle of first game, he clearly was not ready, more a case of player pretending to himself all was well, just so he would be their.

    In my opinion England’s chances of success are the exact same as they were before, if they play as a team and all produce their club form they can do it, and shouldn’t need to be doing all that much defending anyway, if they are on the back foot more times than not, it will be the sort of typical England display we are all used to seeing and they will be eliminated when they meet the very first decent opponents.

  • Comment number 79.

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

  • Comment number 80.

    Losing Rio is no big deal, out of form and really not a great choice for captain anyway. Dawson is a rising star, he and King have been very solid all season in one of Tottenham's greatest seasons in decades. Capello will start King next to Terry against the USA, and then if King is not fit in time he'll try Dawson against the smaller teams - which is perfect.

    Steve Gerrard being captain is a natural selection. He's in good shape and when he came on at half time against Japan the shape of the team immediately improved, his passing is up to scratch and he's a hard charging professional that would be picked by just about any team in the world.

    Capello being highly disciplined and focused on every aspect of team preparation is EXACTLY what this team needs. If the team respect him and on some level fear him, then they will be focused and 110% committed.

    Dropping Walcott was the right thing to do, taking Rio I always felt was a mistake, he looks burned out to me, I think the expiration date is up on him by the looks of things. I do wish Capello had given Adam Johnson a place, a big, natural left footer whose been in form all season for his club would be a great asset right now, as it is we have a lot of very small, fast and clever players, but having a BIG with a left foot would've been more balanced in the squad.

    Otherwise, the bookies are not stupid, they rate England highly. England even win when they are playing badly - they used to just lose those games. If they find their form, have some luck and stick with Capello's disciplined approach then anything is possible.

    For me, I just sense a difference this time around. I don't think we'll lose on penalties, I don't think we'll have crucial red cards due to indiscipline, this time is different!

    C'mon England!

  • Comment number 81.

    A pretty poor blog really. I don't need to be told that meticulous planning can't control luck and other than that you had very little to say.
    Capello is trying to create an atmosphere of proffesionalism amongst the squad. This means that the players will be better prepared for matches and therefore more likely to believe in themselves and perform well on the world cup stage. If they are practicing penalties with the same attitude then hopefully this year will be able to witness the clinical, ruthless finishing of players who have done it a thousand times. It is often said that 'you can't practice penalties'. This is just a cop out from being as prepared as is possible on the training pitch and I can't see the same mistakes being made with Capello in charge.
    To further disprove the blogger, Capello has actually managed to plan for bad luck by including five centre-backs in the squad. He could see that at least two of them are very injury prone and this is why he took the desperate measure of acquiring Carragher's services. Instead of a back up right back he has a versatile defender who can play anywhere along the back line. This unfortunate situation is where the presence of Carragher really pays off and I wouldn't be surprised to see him start several matches at this world cup, perhaps alternating with King in order to keep them both fresh.
    It will take a lot more than one injury to stop Capello and England!

  • Comment number 82.

    Capello's discipline and professionalism are just what England need. I remember being flabbergasted years ago when England went out of a competition on penalties and the manager afterwards admitted that his side hadn't practiced taking penalties. I'm guessing that Capello won't allow the same naive amateurism.

    Having said that, England are not favourites to win this World Cup. Spain and Brazil both look a class above England, and I'd rate England along with Italy, Germany, Holland, and maybe even a Maradona-led Argentina as dangerous outsiders.

    There were already doubts about England at right back and goalkeeper, so Ferdinand's injury does make the defence look even less secure, especially if Barry's not fit to sit in front of the centre backs. Going forward, though, the likes of Rooney, Gerard, Lennon, Cole, Crouch, and Lampard should be dangerous.

    I'll be surprised if King's able to play all of England's matches (which may well include extra time in the latter stages) so we might see Terry and Carragher or Terry and Dawson together by the end of the tournament?

  • Comment number 83.

    Gerrard as captain is an improvement on Rio.

    King or Carragher could also be an improvement.

    And yes I am a Liverpool fan! So maybe slightly biased.

  • Comment number 84.

    I hate to have to say this but what other premier league team has supplied 5 players to England's world cup squad? Why is Capello in charge when Harry is sat at home doing bugger all, other than being a pundit? Come on you supposedly knowldgeable guys, why are Wenger, Ferguson, Benitez, Mourhino supposedly top class managers BUT definiely not English. It was West Ham that led the way in 1966 - so who leads in 2010? - Come on you Lilywhites!

  • Comment number 85.

    What Terry, King, Carragher and Dawson lack in pace, they make up in intelligence.

    The way the story was being broken today was a travesty. England haven't kept a clean sheet in a long while, and Ferdinand's tendency to lose his focus is a big part of that. King deserves this chance. If Dawson is called upon, I have no qualms about him, as he's a top class centre-back and I knew he was always going to be when, as a Nottm Forest season ticket holder, I saw him week in week out.

    Stay calm and GET BEHIND THE PLAYERS. This only happens once every 4 years!

  • Comment number 86.

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

  • Comment number 87.

    The games have not even started and here we have the BBC and its new collection of sportswriters bleeting about " bad luck "

    add it to the next 1000 excuses you will no doubt come up with to explain the facts! England will be home a lot sooner than planned and the italian shipped back to Italy where he belongs.

    Cue " rrrrooot and branch enquiry " and another "new era" for English Football.

    kind regards:


  • Comment number 88.

    Really don't think Ferdinand's injury is that much of a blow to England. I've never thought of him as the best captain of England, and his injury record this season has robbed him of some of the class he used to have.

    Gerrard will be a far better captain. He hasn't been great this season but the whole form vs class argument is flawed. You need large amounts of both in any squad. Who's to say that Gerrard won't be amazing in this World Cup? Who's to say Rooney won't be awful?

    As for the whole argument about pitch length, punctuality etc., it's to create a sense of professionalism and teamsmanship. It's a clear indication of the discipline now present in the England squad which has been lacking for many previous tournaments.

  • Comment number 89.

    Why so much talk about bad luck re injuries?? Do the names Drogba or Ballack not mean anything? Just get on with playing the game with the players we've got and stop complaining.

  • Comment number 90.

    So the Utd fans think it's a shame while the non Utd fans agree that Rio is rubbish. The Liverpool fans think Carragher is a better option and the Spurs fans think likewise about King and Dawson.

    And so it goes on.........Ho Hum!

  • Comment number 91.

    Lets for once put a stop to all this doom mongering and defeatist stuff days before another major tournament.

    Rio is out which is a massive blow for him and NO excuse for anything. Gerrard is the captain now.

    As long as the team Capello picks to go out there onto the pitch give it their all - lets enjoy it!

    All this chatter about QF/SF exits is all well and good but it strikes of arrogance. Surely the US, Algeria and Slovenia will all want a big say with 'no pressure on them' first (and the small matter of Germany/Ghana/Serbia or the Aussies in a 2nd round match)

    Let's support the team a game at a time. First up the USA who are no mugs - look at their most recent confederations cup history.

    C'mon England up the 3 lions!

  • Comment number 92.

    By the way. The last England team that ran its ship this tightly? SCW's 2003 Rugby Squad. The World Cup winning one; complete with over the top players, streaky wins etc. Take COMPLETE control of what you can and leave the rest to the Gods.

  • Comment number 93.

    Rio is a key player for England, but there are others.

    The main emphasis is on his captaincy, but he also complements Terry's lack of pace nicely.

    Dawson would do just as well given the way he's played for Tottenham this season, and in my opinion should have got the nod ahead of Upson in the first place...we all know that, injury permitting, it will be Ledley and JT, who have great playing history from Senrab.

    Let's not forget this is a cup competition and Germany got third place last time with a team that was publicly disregarded, but at the same time had fantastic team spirit and management, albeit inexperienced in Klinsman

    The prime example for any manager is Arragones and Spain at the Euro's...his morals may possibly be questionable, specifically the Thierry Henry comment, but he left big players on the bench when he thought it was right to, and in turn brought them on when he needed to change things.

    That may be indicative of Spains quality throughout the squad, but the fact he made decisions to leave "big" players out in favour of how the team performed is monumental in the way a manager should perform at that level, and I believe that Capello is a man who will make those decisions.

  • Comment number 94.

    Heskey shouldn't have even been there. No doubt he fell over again and landed on Rio.... Darren Bent had a fairly good season and he's left at home...Heskey hasn't done anything for years worth noting.. nonsensical

  • Comment number 95.

    Couple of things I would like to say. Firstly who on earth is this David Bond guy, this is a terrible blog in my opinion. Of course shouting at assistants for having a cone out of place and checking the length of grass, making people be on time and actually being in charge of the players will not make instantly make gerrard & lampard gel or penalties go in. It shows he is very efficient and will take no nonsense, he commands respect and players will show this on the pitch and want to always give 100% even in training...maybe thats why ferdinand got injured, heskey showing his usual 100% attitude. I think England have done a good thing in securing Fabio on a longer contract, he may not win this tournament but he has the right attitude and he certainly knows all there is about football and is one of the top managers in the world.
    Regarding people who are not bothered about Ferdinand being injured and not seeing him as a big loss I think is a good thing for England. As people pointed out he is a confidence player and and when he is bad he is really bad and when he's good he is world class but he hasnt been in that mode for a long time. As for the person who pointed out carragher and upson have been in poorer teams, the fact they were in such poor teams and still looked good despite being turned over so many times in a season means they very good players - anybody can look good in a team who doesnt have to defend much or lose many games!! Too many times in the past an injured Becks, or a "dodgy" sending of due to "bad" refereeing or someone winking have all been great excuses for not winning a major tournament. The fact most people dont care shows you are still happy with your squad and you should be.
    Honestly I am a scotsman and although I would have picked a slightly different squad from Fabio this is the first time in a long long time I have feared England could go somewhere in this tournament and it might not be this year but i think i might have to hear you banging on about having 2 major trophies under your belts if Fabio stays in charge and continues his strict regime and his footballing philosiphy.

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 97.

    Ledley King can't train and therefore doesn't have time to form a partnership with Terry. So what?!!
    Easy solution - pair him and Dawson together, it's worked for Spurs - and to be honest Dawson/King is my preferrence to Ferdinand/Terry anyway.

  • Comment number 98.

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

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    #15 and #71 speak to the heart of the issue here. Top English players, as well renumerated as they are, play too many games. How many games did Lampard play with Chelsea this year? I would hazard a guess at about 60.

    "Ah! Frank didn't get injured though," you might respond. This is true but it is undeniable more games means there is a greater chance of players who play getting hurt. Players such as Beckham, Ferdinand, Cole, Rooney and Lennon have succumbed to injuries; Lampard, perhaps because of his healing ability, good luck, good preparations, and/or Chelsea physios, seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

    In seeking a solution the question is: how do you reduce the amount of games so a Christmas break is possible? At best one could try to cut the League Cup which is arguably the least prestigious domestic competition these days. But this competition provides an opportunity for "smaller" teams (note: Man Utd won this year) to win and play in the Europa League.

    Next, who or what organization is going to agree to this change? Participation in any competition enables clubs to gain revenue. Why should they limit themselves when they need to pay significant salaries and they can "experiment" with squad/fringe/youth players?

    I believe Richard Scudamore recently described the English Football Association as a group that tries to fairly represent various competing interests in the English game. The crux of it is, how does the FA balance competing interests like the national league, youth development, the clubs, and the national teams? There is clearly some overlap between the league and the clubs, but not with the national teams and the clubs. What does SAF care about England teams?

    The club-versus-country is, at one level, a false choice. Many players see national representation as the pinnacle of their careers -- ditto for fans' expectations concerning player availability and commitment (e.g., Jamie Carragher's recent change of heart). Yet, like the issue of foreign players, there isn't a great deal the FA (or UEFA) can do. The clubs wield considerable power, although they argue players and their agents -- essentially market forces -- exert a lot of control over them in turn.

    Despite it being unplatable for one-eyed English fans, the case (or rather success) of the Germans is instructive. Instead of having a fashionable, best-in-the-world league, Germans have used the Bundesliga to further the national team's interest. Like everyone else in Europe, the Germans are not immune to an influx of overseas players but the overriding goal of the DFB is continued German success at international tournaments.

    The point? There is a choice here: sacrificing status with the national club competitions in order to boost the chance of national success. How so? Smaller leagues with fewer teams, foregoing record signings and a more concerted effort at harnessing national youth development.

    David, instead of talking about luck and the English XI's lack thereof, it would be far more insightful talking about English youth development. When will the English FA finally build a center of excellence? I talked about the Germans, what about the French success with the Clairefontaine National Football Institute in the 1990s? Also, how many of the English club academies are really nurturing promising English youth players? Arsenal, Chelsea, LIverpool and Man Utd all seem to pluck promising players from around the world; the pressure to succeed would appear to trump the need to promote English talent, unless it is glaringly obvious (e.g., a Wayne Rooney).

    I would argue that in the face of challenging issues such as reducing games and boosting the pool of young, worldclass English players, the temptation will be to take no action. The Premier League holds the aces right now and I don't really see what incentives they have for changing a system that is entertaining fans who (if honest will admit they) put their clubs first. Similarly, clubs need to survive in a tough economic environment and they will not sacrifice income streams for the national team's interest. Lastly, players will want to have their cake and eat it; in other words, they will try for domestic and international success, but still pick up a wage packet at the end of the day.


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