BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
« Previous | Main | Next »

Capello still eyes World Cup goal

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 23:00 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Port Elizabeth

England's World Cup has blown so far off course that Fabio Capello felt forced to deliver official confirmation of his sanity before insisting they could still hit their target.

South Africa was parading its pride at Bafana Bafana's gallant failure to reach the last 16 as Capello spoke in a sideroom backstage at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Capello is under no illusions that a similar outcome to England's campaign would not be a source of national rejoicing. Think embarrassment. Think humiliation. At least.

So it was no surprise Capello was in fighting mood - at times literally - as he braced himself for the biggest day of his reign, going in search of the result against Slovenia that will drag England out the group phase.

England, in football terms, would be shamed if they failed to clear the obstacle presented by the smallest nation at the World Cup, with a population of a little more than two million - but on recent grim evidence you would not put it past them.

The brutal reality was not lost on Capello as he stepped out into an array of flashbulbs and the noise of countless cameras, a mark of the increased curiosity caused by England's faltering start to the World Cup and talk of off the field turmoil.

Capello, in a quieter corner later sitting on a table away from the gaze of the world's media, stretched out the palms of his hands in a pleading gesture as he announced: "I am not crazy when I said my target is the final of the World Cup. This is a really good squad."

A couple of firm right-handers aimed in captain Steven Gerrard's direction were used as emphasis for Capello's belief.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Capello predicts Rooney will hit form (UK only)

The Italian is convinced England still have the players to banish unhappy memories of two draws - one a fair-to-middling effort against the United States and the other a genuine "stank the place out" affair against Algeria.

Capello might have wanted to inflict physical force on John Terry judging by his reaction to the former captain's now notorious media briefing, but on this occasion he was merely using Gerrard as a handy prop to demonstrate England still have the players to bring their World Cup alive.

Gerrard wisely decided against using Capello as a punchbag to make his point, but he was not holding back on the emotive language either. He knows his career would carry a permanent scar if he was the captain when England failed to make it out of the group stage for the first time since 1958.

"It would be an absolute disaster for this group of players to go home after the group stage," admitted Gerrard.

After talk of mutiny and 48 hours of an agenda led by Terry's frankness - all justified in my opinion apart from an unwise attempt to select Capello's team for him by advocating the selection of Joe Cole - Gerrard and the coach were anxious to move forward.

It looks like Terry's campaign for the recall of his former Chelsea team-mate will fall on deaf ears, with Jermain Defoe likely to replace Emile Heskey with orders to give England extra pace alongside Wayne Rooney in attack and James Milner getting his chance on the right in place of Aaron Lennon.

Capello's apparent reluctance to play Cole and use Gerrard in tandem with Rooney may represent another signal of his natural conservatism - but he stressed again on Tuesday that the result is all against Slovenia. Nothing else matters.

Terry's apology for what Capello regarded as "a very big mistake" was what England hope will be a line drawn under a traumatic two days as talk of unrest in the camp and a fractured squad followed the dreadful draw against Algeria.

Quite simply England cannot afford distractions on a night that has the capacity to shape international futures, on and off the field.

If England fail to deliver against Slovenia, the country's so-called "Golden Generation" - a generous tag given the conspicuous absence of any tangible success - will be ushered towards the door with only a nation's dissatisfaction to accompany them.

Gerrard would be among a group of players, including Frank Lampard and Terry, who would effectively be playing their last 90 minutes at a World Cup should England go out. If nothing else, this knowledge will drive them on in Port Elizabeth.

And it is almost impossible to see Capello riding out what would be an inevitable storm if England failed to negotiate a group they would have gratefully hand-picked before the draw was made in South Africa.

The flip-side is that for all the flaws on show during England's time in South Africa, they still have the opportunity to rescue respectability if they can navigate their way into the last 16.

The positives have been hard to detect out here, almost from the moment Rio Ferdinand's World Cup was snuffed out before the end of their first training session, but this unpredictable tournament offers hope to any country able to take their place in the last 16.

This was Capello's mantra as he said: "We have got good players but they are not playing at the level you know, I know and they know. We have got good players but they are not playing at the level they played in qualification - but they are still good players.

"If we can win against Slovenia then all the teams will have to fight against us."

It was just the sort of positive message England needed after the days of negativity - and emphasised Capello still has his eyes on his original target, even if some may regard such forecasts as optimism gone mad. Or indeed crazy to use Capello's own word.

Capello has made it his business to speak with Rooney about the striker's form that went from indifferent against the United States to wretched against Algeria.

He has detected signs that England's most important player may finally be ready to shine in South Africa, but Capello has been fooled by performances in training before, as he readily admitted in Cape Town on Friday.

And he dismissed the notion that Terry might pay for his verbal indiscretions with his place. He is too important a figure to suffer that fate - even moreso with Ferdinand and Ledley King injured and Jamie Carragher suspended.

Capello's point has been forcibly made and he was at pains to point out that normal service must be resumed in preparation for this pivotal moment in his own tenure and in the England careers of so many of his players.

It is a night when England must play without the fear that has gripped them, particularly against Algeria - a failing accepted by both Gerrard and Capello.

The good game has been talked by England. Now the good game must be played. The blizzard of optimistic messages will count for nothing if they are on a flight out of South Africa on Thursday.

You can follow me at and join me on Facebook.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    'England have drawn 10 games 0-0 at World Cups, more than any other team in World Cup finals history.'

    If England fail to win one out of three matches, then only one conclusion can be drawn, that no matter who is at the helm, the reality is a lack of talent in the English game. We all know the reasons for this, including the FA, who have sat by, watching money rule the house, while seemingly making zero effort to produce and nurture young English footballers.

    When you look at eh productivity, passion, and commitment of teams like South Korea, it makes you embarrassed to be English. Not out of shame, but out of the failed belief that 'England expects'. England rarely deliver.

    Most European teams have learnt from the giants of football, Italy, France, Germany, that precision, workmanlike attitudes, preparation, and a desire to go achieve can get you great things. They have learnt the back-heels, step overs and those other skills, from the South Americans. England play an international brand of football that simply no longer compares. We are now the pupils, not the teachers, and the sooner the FA acknowledge this, and start investing in the English youth game, the sooner we can see a 'team', not 23 players who all believe their own hype.

    It's nothing to do with money in my opinion, or fame, it’s simply that we do not have the talent, the depth of talent to pick 23 players to take on the rest of the world.

    Okay we're not France, but France will rise again, will England?.
    I hope so.

    I don't see Capello making sweeping changes, if he loses playing 4-3-3 and Joe Cole, he would be seen to have bowed to pressure, and lost, rather than stick to his guns. However, if he does play 4-4-2, and looses, he will be seen as unyielding, uncompromising.
    Sorry to say I only see England loosing tomorrow, 2-0 probably. I am praying they don't, and we can live the dream for a few more days. My bones say otherwise, I just don't think they can handle the pressure.

  • Comment number 2.

    Strong words but only a performance will change things.
    Capello had better get his team selection right and those players had better have their heads right or home they will be going!
    If they play well they will beat Slovenia, no question. If they dont they will be getting only what they deserve.

    But, one performance COULD change EVERYTHING!

    If England play well and do the business no team will want to play them in the next round.
    Good luck to them on Wednesday

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm so nervous about tomorrow. Come on England!

  • Comment number 4.

    Phil, In all frankness just as described with Terry; What's your real desire for England?. Do you want them to progress into next round and further if possible or a debacle causing a complete and full restructuring from head to toe of the National team?.

  • Comment number 5.

    No point at this stage in long winded discussion. I watched Stevie G tonight at Press Conference and saw fear! A rabbit staring at the headlights of a truck about to roll over him! I suspect we are doomed other than the draw gets us through! Hope I'm wrong but the boys have the look of a busted flush to me!

  • Comment number 6.

    3. At 11:31pm on 22 Jun 2010, Scotty wrote:
    I'm so nervous about tomorrow. Come on England!

    Scotty I know what you mean mate. It doesn't bear thinking about not winning does it?

    Am I right that we struggled to beat Slovenia in a friendly recently?

  • Comment number 7.

    While firmly in the camp that England are probably better in some form of 4-5-1, we cannot afford to accomodate players who are unable to keep the ball, fail to retain positional discipline, do not work for the team, and breakdown our own defensive structure.

    Lennon and Wright-Phillips are impact players at international level and not starters, plus they seem to be inferior selections to other possibilities for the squad (Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott). Neither has put in any meaningful service for the forwards, constantly allow the ball to run away from them, but they also have not received an adequate level of passes either when the team is breaking or in the last third. Wright-Phillips retains positional discipline with respect to the rest of the midfield, tries to take on players, and always looks happy to be playing. Lennon seems to be suffering from the Walcott diseases of passing backwards and not taking on players in advantageous tactical position, plus he rarely looks happy to be playing.

    Upson is another puzzling squad choice from West Ham (Players from struggling teams are selected above those inform, is this due to bias from Brooking and Co?), never looks entirely sure of himself at international level, makes at least a couple of poor decisions per game, and seemed to be one of the players adversely suffering from altitude. More worrying still is that Carragher was probably our best central defender in both games.

    Terry was tactically poor in the first game (especially moving the team towards King after 4mins and away from the dangerous Donovan, thus exposing the team and in particular Milner), was lucky not to be at least carded for his obvious climbing on players against Algeria (might have been sent off by one of the other referees), and some major sulking on the pitch in both games. The outburst from Terry, championing Joe Cole might have had merit, Rooney though has struggled to perform, but suggesting the injury prone King was beyond a joke - we do not need yet another liability on the pitch that adversely effects the teams performance, flexibility, and tactics.

    Gerrard was lazy in both games (leaving other team mates to do his defensive running), was unable to retain positional discipline (frequently cramping and exposing other players), gives the ball away too readily, frequently fails in attempting the killer pass, and sulked in the second game until moved to his favourite position displacing Rooney. Gerrard can only play in two positions: right back, or behind a quick all-round forward and in front of a midfield that can actually keep possession. A poor selection as captain, because he looks not only uncomfortable in front of the media but seemingly unable to rouse his teammates when playing poorly.

    Rooney appears to be unfit, looks tired, constantly annoyed with the lack of services, appears to be frequently cramped by Gerrard, frequently double/tripple teamed by the opposition as the only credible goal scoring threat, and seems to be struggling with the pressure of scoring. Are the players expending so much effort in training to be selected, that they are then resting in games to avoid injury for next season?

    Lampard is keeping possession but struggling with his attacking form, some of this is due to restricting his own natural tendancies for the defensive good of the team, but a lot of it is due to Gerrard inability to accomodate the other players, the knock-on effect on the position of Rooney, the corresponding blocking up of typically running channels, plus if you are constantly reacting to what your own players are doing your own actions are never going to be natural.

    Barry was good defensively but poor in passing, gave the ball away far too often, and made our midfield look even more disorganised that in the first game. Some of this can obviously be put down to the recent return from injury and the congestion in our own midfield, but probably at this level would play better with a second sitting midfield player (who is this player in the squad?) or as a member of the defence.

    All these players seem to have believed their own publicity but are not adjusting to the reality of the tournament situation. They also seems to be surprised that the officiating does not favour them as it would normally do so in the premier league. If you look at the FIFA statistics and replays of the games, then we are faced with the reality that dropping various star players that are not performing might actually kickstart our team. The problem is that two of these players are the captain and vice-captain. Strangely the smiling vice-captain was rolled out to support Capello against the rebels not the depressed captain Gerrard. Maybe employing a lip-reader to decipher the Algeria touchline chat with Cappelo and the training ground conversation with Rooney today, might show where Gerrard stands?

    Capello seems to already have gone against his own two hour selection rule several times now by naming Barry, Carragher, and Upson. If the Capello changes results in dropping the underperformers, then the England setup will be making progress from behind the scenes selection by FA officials and star players. The squad selection seems to have not taken account of the chance of a critical failure of key players, was this really a team capello squad? - or was this the price for a renewed contract, interference in squad/team selection?

    Still not convinced that the formation will change for tomorrows game but expecting that some of the tactics will. In reality, I suspect the side will be very little different from what played in the previous two games because of a futile attempt to keep the alledge star players in the team (missing out: Crouch, Defoe; casualties: Heskey, Lennon, Wright-Phillips). We will then struggle as against Algeria, unable to score because of a failure to gain and keep meaningful possession. Crouch will then be thrown on with little time remaining to rescue the situation.

    Brooking/Capello team:

    Johnson, Upson, Terry, A Cole
    Milner, Barry, Joe Cole
    Gerrard, Lampard
    Substitutes: Crouch, Lennon, Wright-Phillip, Defoe

    I am expecting fireworks if England go out, and the FA then attempt to remove Capello. Maybe that might trigger a public inquiry into UK football and in particular the FA. Anyone for a football levy?

    Experimental 4-4-2:

    The ability of Hart to kick the new ball the length of the pitch at goal kicks combined with big/tall forwards are a receipe for causing havoc in any opposition defence. Combine that with a midfield capable of holding onto the ball as well as closing down players. Better still a possession based midfield which has the ability to cross the ball consistently. Give the opportunity for both our full backs to overlap and cross. Heskey as captain, given that he was the best player in both games and is always one of the most spirited and hardest workers in the team. Maybe the stars will then perform if they come off the bench. It would also be a good idea to get the upcoming players (Hart, Dawson) involved now, so we don't have to go through yet another tournament where players don't actually have any experience of playing - a mistake that Sven also made with Walcott.

    Johnson, Dawson, Barry, A Cole
    Milner, Carrick, Lampard, J Cole
    Crouch, Heskey
    Substitutes: Rooney, Defoe, Lennon, Terry, Gerrard

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with your position on John Terry - the reason for these press conferences is for the players to inform us of what's going on in the camp. John Terry was selected for that press conference and, generally, that's what he did. The press conferences, however, aren't there for players to lobby for their own opinions on squad selection.

    Considering our situation compared to that of Bafana Bafana, I think that we, as fans, can learn something from them. As you rightly say, England will feel embarrassed, should the team fail to progress, whereas South Africans, even having gone out, are jubilant.

    I'm not saying the situation of the two teams is the same. The two sets of players come from vastly different contexts. The England players, to a man, earn more than an average person's annual salary every week. England is a nation that does have a rich footballing heritage, whereas I don't think it's too patronising to say that simply being at (and hosting) the party is plenty for South Africa to be proud of, relative to their history.

    Neither am I saying that we should be happy to see 'brave England lose', as we have countless times before.

    What I am saying is that what we have in abundance, as England fans, is expectancy. The general feel that I get is that we have so much expectancy that there's barely any room left for good old-fashioned hope. What's more, there's such an air of expectancy that if results do pick up, the most likely response from the English people will be, "it's about time", rather than, ".......YEEEEEEEESSSS YES YES YES!"

    As Wayne Rooney rightly pointed out, world football is considerably tighter now than it was 4 or 8 years ago. The other groups, as well as our own, have shown that the supposed minnows of the tournament can compete with the seeds.

    To my mind, we have to hope we can progress. Indeed, we have to believe that we have a team that is capable of it. But it's more evident than ever that to simply expect such things is foolish.

    Most importantly, should we get the win that we hope for, we must - for the sake of our own enjoyment as football fans - feel the joy of it.

  • Comment number 9.

    What odds England shooting themselves in the foot by getting a man sent off in the first half!? If I was betting man my money would be on a rash challenge by Terry, Gerrard or Milner. Or Rooney's legendary short fuse blowing spectactuarly!

    I'm not confident for tomorrow whatsover. But honestly a small part of me would be glad to see the end of the so called "Golden Generation. Come on England. I suppose.

  • Comment number 10.

    I hope you are wrong about Defoe playing upfront with Rooney and Gerrard out on the left. If Capello does this tomorrow then they might aswell start planning their flight home from South Africa.

    It's way too obvious now that he has got to put Gerrard in behind Rooney with Milner/J. Cole on the flanks (as SWP and Lennon have seemed pretty ineffective so far). He's just simply got to play this team in order for us to go as far as possible in the tournament.

  • Comment number 11.

    England are pants, ha 8-)

  • Comment number 12.

    Different manager, same team. For how many more tournaments are we going to rely on this Golden Generation (Who on earth coined that phrase?)

    James in goal (even though it was accepted as past his mediocre best at the last world cup 4 years ago and replaced by a young keeper who kept 4 clean sheets in 5 games but is now not even in the squad??)

    Guess what, Lampard and Gerrard in midfield together proving one plus one doesn't always equal two if they bring exactly the same to the table.

    Heskey up front who can't even get into a mediocre Villa team.

    Painfully slow Barry (both in speed of foot and speed of passing).

    No wide left footed payer.

    Panic calls to get Carragher and Scholes out of retirement?

    Germany accepted that their team who finished third (THIRD!!) at last cup weren't good enough, so regularly start with five players who won the U21 tournament last year. England, who they beat in the final, fielded NONE of their u21 squad against Algeria. Does anyone honestly think a team including Gibbs, Wilshire, Rodwell, Johnson,
    Huddlestone, Hart, Milner, Shawcross, Cahill, Agbonlahor, Young etc etc could be any worse than these serial failures??

  • Comment number 13.

    OUT of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

  • Comment number 14.

    For me, it doesn't really matter what team or formation Capello puts out against Slovenia as the simple truth is, if England don't beat them then, it is down to the performance of players and not the manager.

    If we fail in this World Cup then the cause is simple - English players just don't have the skill or technique to succeed at this level. It's sad but it's true.

  • Comment number 15.

    There is one really meaningful line in this report - "England must play without the fear that has gripped them..."

    The intense pressure placed upon anyone when called upon to represent their country can be indeed a fearful burden. It is, of course, magnified by the media and fans who now have opportunities such as this to voice their thoughts. The first touch will be so important to each and every player and the encouragement of his team-mates and the crowd will lift him to that level of confidence necessary to shine on this stage.

    This is a good England team, capable of playing much better than they have shown to date and of going much deeper into this tournament. Whichever players start this game, we may assume that the English resolve to give their all until the final whistle will surface and keep them going under any circumtance.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm actually pretty confident we will beat Slovenia tomorrow. Whether it is a convincing win is another matter, and we really, really, want to be hammering them and winning the group if possible, because that opens up the road to the semi-final much better. Assuming Germany do win their group then we get a probably Serbia game in the second round followed by probably Uruguay in the quarters. While neither game is easy, you would take that any time over Germany followed by Argentina.

    Also if you look at English history in World Cup football, we tend to do better with our backs to the wall, and thats what tomorrow is all about.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dear Phil,

    After several reviews of Terry's "now notorious media briefing", I fail to see, or hear, where he made "an unwise attempt to select Capello's team for him." He was asked a direct question about Joe Cole and answered it by citing one of Cole's strengths and say that he thought he would do a good job "if selected."

    In answer to another direct question he said that Fabio was approachable and that everyone had the opportunity to say whatever they liked. The more likely implication was of universal tollerance rather than mutiny.

    There are also references to "off the field turmoil". None of the player or Manger interviews have revealed such a problem. So; where does it come from? Is it an invention, a rumor? Where and how did you hear it?

    One other thing; if Fabio now selects Joe Cole and pushes Gerrard up field, what happens? It seems he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

    Thank you; your columns sure make one think.

  • Comment number 18.

    12. At 00:11am on 23 Jun 2010, backinwhite wrote:

    Painfully slow Barry (both in speed of foot and speed of passing).

    A bit harsh considering the guy has been out injured for several months. You don't come back and play great just like that. His passing wasn't great but I have seen him play a lot lot better for England - still think him and Gerrard in the centre of midfield is the best partnership.

  • Comment number 19.

    I agree substanially with "backinwhite's" post.

    Capello's biggest mistake is the ultra-conservative selection he made for this final 23. I cannot think of many examples of where an international team has gone on to succeed relying on players who have previously failed and/or selecting a lot of 30 somethings.

    Take France today. Henry, Gallas, Abidal, Cisse, Anelka etc etc. There comes a point when a team has to change and jettison the old guard because all too often the old guard fails. Tomorrow we could join them with names such as Terry, Gerrard, Lampard all representing our old guard which has performed poorly in recent years and arguably peaked in 2004.

    Part of me wonders whether Capello is unsuitable for the task of renewing the England squad for Euro 2012. His conservatism is too innate and is part of the Italian football psyche. Some honorable (whilst there is still time) post World Cup retirements from the likes of Lampard and Gerrard would help force Capello's hand but in two summers time the likes of Gibbs, Wilshere and Walcott must be in the England 23. Ditto Adam Johnson and a more matured Joe Hart and heck, even a reinvigorated Micah Richards. Remember him!? I don't care how we perform in this tournament - the squad HAS to change, fundamentally. This generation were struggling in 2006, woeful in missing out for Euro 2008 and so far in 2010 given compelling evidence that their time is up.

    Indeed, I look forward to the day of "England the new generation."

  • Comment number 20.

    Best team would be


    Johnson Terry Dawson Cole


    Milner Gerrard Lampard Cole


    This is the hardest working lineup that can be selected (Wright Phillips narrowly misses out in favour of Milner)
    Dawson was fantastic for Spurs as was Milner for Villa and both 'should' start.
    If Joe cole doesn't do the business then bring on Carrick in an attempt to get Ashley Cole down that left channel at every available opportunity. The left footed Barry can cove cole while he's rampaging forward and Carrick can fill in in front of the back 4 to provide cover and actually PASS the ball.
    In fairness to Carrick thats the one thing he CAN do!

    Wright Philips, Defoe, and Lennon are brilliant impact substitutes, small, quick, dangerous and in Wright Phillips case, hard working.

    Now people might disagree with me but I am sure anyone who knows anything about Football can see the merit in my selections.....
    This has unfortunately not been the case with capello's insistence of playing Heskey with Gerrard on the left.
    Some common sense please Fabio.

  • Comment number 21.

    I know is hard to be positive after 2 bad performances but honestly, England is a much better team than Slovenia they just need to perform to their standards. The difficult aspect here is mental strength and deal with pressure. I am sure that with self belief this team can beat Slovenia and progress to the next round.

    English fans should be backing the team or just avoid thrashing the team until Thursday.

  • Comment number 22.

    Fantastic post - except maybe a bit harsh on Barry. He was slow the other day but when he's match fit he's much better.
    I couldnt agree more with your comments about the goalkeeper and the young players though and Germany are an excellent example.
    If these players are not brought in QUICKLY after the world cup then the FA need to look closely at some of their decisions and bring in a manager who will begin to develop the next England team.

  • Comment number 23.

    i think that the england players need not worry about who else is on the pitch, or worry about how they have played in the previous games.they need to focus on the game against slovenia and dig deep and find the lionheart spirit that is lurking inside all of us english men and woman. it is this english spirit that has overcome so much in the past and i feel that despite the quality in our ranks we are behind many of the teams in technical ability. I always feel though that the mentality of players has a massive impact on the outcome of match. if they really want it they should come out comfortable winners. I hear that some of the plyers may be fatigued after a long prem season but i also know that if i was fortunate enough to represent my country i would run until my legs buckled. they need to grit theyre teeth and show the desire, passion and hunger that must have got them through to becoming professional footballers in the first place.....come on england boys,fight on behalf of all of us because we would all love to be at war with you!

  • Comment number 24.

    ' After talk of mutiny and 48 hours of an agenda led by Terry's frankness - all justified in my opinion'

    WHAT?????? are you for real? I have read many of your blogs before but this is just laughable. Terry should be put in his place, it is the players that havent performed, not the coach.

    In qualifiying that rules were the same and Capello was great, a bit of hard work and the players think he doesnt know what he is doing.........

    Make the players pay if we dont qualify, drop the 'CORE' of the team and start again with a team that wants to win the world cup, not turn up and be given it. How long before we have a France moment with the mummy's boys???

  • Comment number 25.

    For those who believe England will lose or draw, look at how odds are in most bookies; You may want to take your chances and double your money. I wonder why odds are standing with such advantage if England can't win. Odds are rational rather than emotional so you might want to calm down a bit and enjoy the game.

  • Comment number 26.

    Some of the posts here and on other blogs amaze me. We don't have the talent, we don't produce quality players, our players abilites are blown out of proportion beacuse of the PL. Familiarity breeds comptept, it seems.

    Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry are in the top 5-10 players in the world, in each of their own respective positions.

    Bottom line, we have played two poor games, even Man Utd, Barca, Inter do that.

    We can improve, hopefully we will.

    IMHO, Fabio should have taken Adam Johnson. In the 4-5 months he has been at City, he has been the most exciting English player I have seen at my club ever.

    Come on England

  • Comment number 27.

    A whole bunch of debate about tactics, technique, toughness and temperament can be boiled down to this:

    The day England make passing look easy is the day England can think of the World Cup.

    We pass the ball like gallstones.

  • Comment number 28.

    as usual were getting the common mistake that everyone seems to be getting bogged down in, team selection.

    It shouldn't matter who plays.

    We're talking about slovinia here. Thier best player is robert Koren.

    They would love to have even Wright philips or even players who stayed at home like downing, johnson, walcott, cambell, etc

    It is not about who plays, sure it helps to pick the best players for the job but if we lose it wont be because milner plays instead of cole, etc
    nor is it about what formation is used.

    It will be about ability to produce a performance that is anything higher than about 70%

    and how players implement instructions given and whether those instructions are correct.

    I dont for the life of me understand why players still dont get that possession is 9/10ths of the law in international football and they still believe that they are the only nation in the world that dont need to play themselves into games and into opportunities to attack.

    urgency and high tempo is all i keep hearing and if this is thier mind set going into the game i fear the worst.

    this is exactly what beckenbour was describing as kick and rush.

    If they dont play with composure tomorrow i they will lose.

  • Comment number 29.

    @25 - What do you suppose the odds were for France losing their group or for the Suiss beating the Spanish. Odds may be rational but that does not equate to right.

  • Comment number 30.

    @26 I completely agree with you except for your final comment.

    How many times have you bought a new album off the back of a great first single, only to find you wasted a tenner on a poor mans Stuart Downing!

    You could make a way better case for Ashley Young than Adam Johnson.

  • Comment number 31.

    My take of (all) the games so far is that as teams have got over their nervousness with the new ball, they have played increasingly well. I think the aididas ball is just very unforgiving if you don't play positively. England have played hesitantly at the ball and the first time touches have just haven't been coming off.

    So maybe it's just an attitude issue? In which case let's hope they turn up with the right one tonight.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think you can mistake a lack of passion for plain old nerves. Everyone wants to explain this apparent mental block by insinuating that the players don't care, or that the squad is not united, even that english technique is intrinsically inferior. On the other hand, a good number of sensible people (including Alex Ferguson) have suggested that in fact the players simply need to relax.

    I don't think there is any question the players underestimate how much this means to the country. This weighs only too heavily on their minds when the big moment finally arrives. It seems to me rather that it is fear that is crippling this team.

    The blame at Capello's door is to be expected, but I feel it is unfounded. Regardless of tactics or selection, good players have plainly not played well, and if one is to blame the manager it is only for perhaps underestimating the fragility of his squad and not having a more considered approach to the psychological conditioning of the players. He assumed them to be professionals and was undoubtedly bemused by their puzzling mediocrity.

    But I caution the use of the steve butcher cliche in this moment. A caged lion is more likely to come out and get sent off than play the great football we all want to see. The players ARE good enough. They DO care. The manager IS competent. They just need to relax and they'll be fine. More than fine, they might win the whole thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't like Terry but I agreed with what he said.

    Everyone is blaming the players but Capello picks the team; picked the squad. It was Capello that took Ledley King, knowing he is totally injury prone. He picked Lennon and SWP instead of Walcott. Poor decisions in my opinion. As was recalling Carragher, when he could've taken Campbell, a slightly older but much better player.

    Our 2 best players are sat on the bench; one injured, one unpicked. To me losing Beckham was a blow. It has been shown time and time again that we do not have anyone who can cross like him, and this tournament has just reiterated that fact. Unfortunately, with his achilles injury there is nothing Capello can do about that.

    He can definitely do something about the other though, Joe Cole, by playing him. Ironically, by Terry trying to force Cole's selection he probably ensured he will not get picked. Let's face it, if Capello were to pick him now, it would look as if he had caved in.

    I still think we will win. When we do I hope Capello feels able to include Joe in the next round.

  • Comment number 34.

    Lennon being left out, he hasn't played well, but he's still fashioned chances. He put Heskey through one on one in the USA game, which apart from the goal was the most clearcut chance of the game, and he set up Lampard against Algeria, again probably the most clear cut chance of the game.

    But ask any Spurs supporter who watches him week in week out what the problem is and we'll all say the same, he's not had the right service. Johnson has been crowding him out, by playing like a right winger himself and passes from the midfield have come far too late. He needs early ball otherwise it negates his strengths and the result is what we've been seeing.

    Our midfield combo of Barry and Lampard are very weak compared to other nations. Both are good players but neither are the type to start moves going, set tempo and control games. Lampard is a specialist who looks to finish moves rather than start them & barry is a neat and tidy player, nothing more. This was particularly apparent against Algeria with both players looking directly forward with their passes, the result being a lack of cohesion and shape. Lennon suffered as a result, the fact that Capello addressed this by making a like for like substitute in SWP instead of addressing the problems at root cause spoke volumes. SWP was brighter but encountered exactly the same problems.

    And so we go again with Lampard and Barry into the crunch match. I don't really see how he expects it to be different. Gerrard is a far more rounded player than Lampard, i mean in terms of ability, not girth, he's played defensive midfield early on in his career as well as being the accomplished attacking mid he is today. He's one of maybe only 2 world class players we have and it would improve our team no end to have him play where the action is. And michael carrick hs a greater appreciation of tempo and what pass to make than Barry does. With Carrick and gerrard in the center i feel we'd get far more of a hold on games than with Barry and Lampard. The world cup is different to the qualifiers, tempo is vitally important and having players who understand that is vital.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 12. backinwhite

    I agree entirely with what you have said. I had also made comments along hose lines in earlier Phil's and David's blog.

    I will reserve comments till the match is over. It is time to support. Whatever happens let us will deal with it later.

  • Comment number 36.

    @29 I did not imply odds are always right. What i implied is that odds give you a general picture of who is favourite to win. In this case Slovenia could double your money if they win. In the other hand, how many games do you think go against the odds?. Anyway, this tells you that England has a better chance to win the game; Right or wrong nobody knows.

  • Comment number 37.

    Phil - are you still so adamant that Beckham should not have been selected? Yes I know he's injured and all that, but Phil stated clearly before Beckham's unfortunate injury that he shouldn't be in the squad. He'd be extremely handy right now.

  • Comment number 38.

    All the posts here talk in doom and gloom. I agree.

    The fact is, we're like a proud father with an ugly daughter at a wedding. We so want to make her feel good, and we will, but the truth is, she's a pig. The England players are not world class. Rooney is good for Man Utd only, and the others play alongside players in the premier league who make them look good, and not the other way around.

    It is all about a team, and making a group of individuals work as a unit. We can talk about individuals all day, but it will always be the team. Which is why we always look at other teams and think we are better, when we are not. We see the individuals, but it is the team that counts. And our team is not very good.

    England just aren't very good. We'll shout for them all day, and they may even win tomorrow, but even if they did, they would still be not that good.

    And the teams we beat to get to the world cup were not very good, at all. Face it, England are not very good.

    Slovenia 3 - 1 England

    USA 2 - 1 Algeria

  • Comment number 39.

    When Liverpool went in to the dressing room at half time against Milan in their champions league final, everybody thought they'd lost the game.

    Steven Gerrard came out and played a second half performance that was as good as anybody has ever played in the history of the game.

    Cometh the hour.......................

  • Comment number 40.

    Teamwork is what is required - the players should send their ego home along with any disruptive influences.

    Play as a team and you will bring home the world cup

  • Comment number 41.

    This match is begging for a poacher like Darren Bent and pace on the wing like young Adam Johnson.

  • Comment number 42.

    "It would be an absolute disaster..." admitted Gerrard.

    A scouser resorting to hyperbole? Whatever next?

  • Comment number 43.

    Guys, if we want to get further in this world cup, we need to look at our manager, our players and our FA.

    We need to totally change our way of thinking - our tactics and our team.

    After 2 games, we have only managed to score 1 goal and gain 2 points = Team needs fresh players - with an ambition to win games, not laze about thinking everything is automatic (lesser teams being inferior) cos we're England!!!!!!

    At the rate we're playing we might as well give France a lift back - because in my eyes at this point - we're just not good enough anymore!!!

    I just hope we win this next game, qualify to the next round and hope we get lucky to the finals - And maybe win the World Cup again............


  • Comment number 44.

    England playing in red shirts today...does this bode well or am I clutching at straws?

  • Comment number 45.

    Article 14 Keith

    That for me Keith sums up the whole situation.

    If you have played football or cricket you will know that the players, the good & perceptive players, will adjust their play & their positions to suit the mood & play of the opposition. That in essence is the excitement of playing sport. Out thinking your opponent. The manager can set the scene but he can not play it. Once his team is on the pitch he is a bystander at least until half time but even then he is not aware , as good players,of the strengths & weaknesses of those they oppose.

    So who among the English players are those with brains & imagination as that is the only way that England will progress. It is easy to butt your head against a brick wall in the hope it will topple. It is those who use their brains & imagination to find the way around the wall that will prevail.

    Not to be tossed aside is captaincy. Johnson in Rugby Union ,as captain, showed how a man with mental power, dominance, & thrust can achieve beyond the teams apparent ability.

    Bobby Moore had it & won it.

  • Comment number 46.

    I am nervous. I know England have fought back from similar situations in the past but who knows what will happen today. England lost their opening game in Euro 2000 to Portugal, so we can say it was a slow start, but they went out on the first round in that tournament. Euro 1992 was also similar to that. So slow starts don't work always. As an England fan I just hope Rooney can find his form today against Slovenia. I wish the THREE LIONS all the very best !!! This tournament needs England to proceed at least to the quarters....

  • Comment number 47.

    Good morning from Port Elizabeth. A bit of a shock to the system after the bustle of Johannesburg and the up-country nature of Rustenburg. The Indian Ocean has the sun glinting off it and the England fans are already strolling on the beach.

    To business and the question from multisportstech. My desire is for England to progress to the next round, then the one after that and the one after that.

    There is a myth that us in the media sit around praying for England's failure. Nonsense. There would not be much better in the career of a reporter covering England than to see them win the World Cup.

    Can they? On the evidence of what we have seen so far no, but Fabio Capello clearly thinks so judging from his body language last night.

    We have to leave definitive judgement on this until England have played their final part in this World Cup.

    To backinwhite...agree with you about "Golden Generation" label. Not a neat fit is it? The first time I heard it was to describe a group of emerging Portugal players, led by Luis Figo.

    And to wigan needs more I said a couple of days ago, Adam Johnson's name has been mentioned quite a lot around here after watching the performances of Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

    So what are the issues today? Is Capello right think England can reach the World Cup Final? What team should he play and what approach should they take? And are England's players ruled by fear on the big occasion?

    We've got plenty of time to discuss all things England before the game, so have the debate here.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think 32 has a lot of mileage in it as a theory. It has been there for generations of England's players. This is what Capello has appeared to dispel for a while.

    Phil McNulty is right that "Golden Generation" was coined for a group of Portuguese players (Fernando Couto, Louis Figo, Rui Costa, Paulo Sousa, et al) who moved quite quickly into the Italian and Spanish League's top sides. That group of players never won anything under the heavy weight of expectation. So we should probably stop cursing England with the name.

    Phil, please stop linking to the News of the World. It is a vehicle aimed at making money for Rupert Murdoch. This is the BBC...'nuff said.

  • Comment number 49.

    Suddenly it's post-moderated...what did we do?

  • Comment number 50.

    I meant pre-moderated, doh

  • Comment number 51.

    26. At 02:37am on 23 Jun 2010, davro1983 wrote:

    Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry are in the top 5-10 players in the world, in each of their own respective positions.

    This sums up the problem with the average England fan - they over estimate the abilities of the English players. In my opinion Rooney is the only "world class" player we have and I wouldn't even put him in the top 10 at this moment in time.

  • Comment number 52.


    "51. At 08:50am on 23 Jun 2010, Keith wrote:
    26. At 02:37am on 23 Jun 2010, davro1983 wrote:

    Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry are in the top 5-10 players in the world, in each of their own respective positions.

    This sums up the problem with the average England fan - they over estimate the abilities of the English players. In my opinion Rooney is the only "world class" player we have and I wouldn't even put him in the top 10 at this moment in time."

    No you're wrong. Ask any top manager in the world and they would put these players there or thereabouts.

  • Comment number 53.

    Phil, disagree entirely with your summing up of Terry's comments to the media. i believe he was wrong on all counts. Lets be clear JT was doing this for no-one but himself as he has done at Stamford Bridge -remember it was he who unseated Mourinho. I believe players now have far too much power. It is linked to what they earn -often twice as much as the manager -and the wall to wall coverage football receives in this country.
    They need to be doing what the North Korean players will be doing on their return to their homeland. if theyre not shot by the state they will be sent to work on a farm collective. JT and Cashley Cole would do well to count their blessings-everyday!

    As for some of the points above about how good the England team are. It would be good for us all to get a bit real. We are a very average international team -top 10 at best and will be very lucky to advance beyond the round of 16 nevermind the semi finals.

  • Comment number 54.

    Failure is not an option.

    Let the show begins with a brace against Slovene to Top The Group and possible QF against Uruguay/South Korea!

    Good Luck!

  • Comment number 55.

    "26. At 02:37am on 23 Jun 2010, davro1983 wrote:

    Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry are in the top 5-10 players in the world, in each of their own respective positions."

    Actually, realistically I think this could be true. And you know what's also true? Being in the top 5-10 teams in the world implies you should go out in the quarter-finals or occasionally the second round - our entire World Cup history since '98 right there!

  • Comment number 56.


    Mighty Slovevia, 2 millions souls,
    With USA's luck, they can score lots of goals!

    Slovenla beat Russia for its World Cup birth,
    Beware the best Slavic football on Earth!!

    Mighty Slovenia, they have no fancy WAGs,
    But it's the English football that sorely lacks!

    Slovenian boss Kek is hardly prima donna,
    But as good a coach as Diego Maradona!

    Mighty Slovenia, England's mortal threat,
    Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard - their trousers are wet!

    The Three tame Lions, get ready for a fight,
    A Heathrow-bound plane takes you home tonight!

  • Comment number 57.

    Regardless of the outcome of today's match I feel that Capello needs to step down.

    The reason? Watching Maradona celebrate when Argentina scored yesterday. He was celebrating not only because he was the team's manager, but because he was an Argentinian, and wanted the team to win just as much as any one of the millions of his countrymen watching at home. Fabio Capello will never have that passion for the team and for our country, the desire for English success that beats in so many of our hearts, so how can we expect him to instil it in the players?

    Do I blame Capello for this? Of course not, he can't help not being as passionate about the England team as an Englishman - in fact as he's an Italian I'd have lest respect for him if he did (just like when Gordon Brown used to pretend to root for England). I blame the FA, who have completely messed up the appointment of the last two England managers when if they had half a brain between them they could have appointed Harry Redknapp.

    So, regardless of whether Fabio succeeds or fails can we please give up on this embarrassing trend for appointing foreign managers. If we can't win with the best money can buy, at least we could retain our dignity and lose with the best our country has to offer (and no FA board, Steve McClaren wasn't the best).

    This applies to all countries of course, not just England, because the current system is preventing coaches from smaller countries from advancing their careers - just think, the best coach in the Ivory Coast is sitting doing nothing this world cup because Sven's got his job instead.

    Perhaps FIFA could step in as I don't understand why if all the players in an international team have to be the same nationality, the manager doesn't have to be the same nationality too.

  • Comment number 58.

    I've read a lot of comments about the need for the England players to 'relax.'
    Unfortunately, I don't think any of these players can - it's not in their make-up.

    It's been 20 years since we had a player who had it all and wore an England shirt.
    And he only got in the team out of a manager's desperation - that man was Gazza.

    He epitomized what we need today times 11. He played with passion. He loved the
    shirt. He was proud. He left everything on the pitch (sometimes even his dignity).
    He realized the game was a game, loved it, embraced it, played it. On top of all
    that he was a lion with all the skill and ability in the world.

    Bobby Robson turned to him in 1990 and Gazza set that team alight. For me,
    he was a rare breed. A throw-back. He gave his all with no fear. What I would
    give to field eleven Paul Gascoignes today. If England could show an ounce of
    what drove Gascoigne, regardless of outcome, I'd be happy.

    Sadly, these players don't seem happy to be England players or being at the
    biggest tournament of their careers. And I don't know how you fix that?

  • Comment number 59.

    This team with this manager have to now show some English fighting spirit, courage, ability, bottle, strength, confidence and tenacity and go through to the next round. If they fail, Capello has to go and so do the old players who have so far failed in this World Cup and failed for the past few decades. The qualification games mean nought now!

    They have to redeem themselves and go on to win the tournament or they will forever be known as just another team that wasn't good enough with a mediocre manager. Capello's reputation is just that, it's history and not worth a jot if he fails on the big stage.

    Capello has so far picked the wrong 33 man squad, the wrong 11 on the pitch and of those he has played, he has played them out of position, made a mistake by dropping his No1 goal keeper and brought in the man who gave birth to the term Calamity, played Milner when he was still ill and not started Crouch with Rooney, our best scoring partnership of the strikers he selected! Not good enough by anyones standards!

    They need divine inspiration, guts and glory today and if by some chance they get through, a miracle to win the World Cup!

    Come On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 60.


  • Comment number 61.

    "Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry are in the top 5-10 players in the world, in each of their own respective positions".

    If they are they are hiding their talents among the cabbages.

    Having seen some of the other talents on view in the other teams they would be lucky to get in the top 100 that includes Rooney. Argentina & Brazil have players with ability & imagination & what is more are exciting to watch.

    The only excitement about watching England at the moment is to see if they lose well or badly or if they are lucky & manage a draw. Winning does not seem to be an option.

  • Comment number 62.

    England can reach the World Cup Final if they hit some form and pick up some momentum. I've always believed England play better against the top teams who we always tend to over-hype - a Holland Euro'96 victory would do wonders for belief...we just need more luck in the penalty shoot-outs!

    It's a bit pointless commenting on the team line-up as Fabio will always go with what he thinks not the supporters or media. It's blindingly obvious England's players are and always have been ruled by fear and not just on the big occasion and Fabio said this was the reason for past failure when he took over.

    The end of the so-called 'Golden Generation' won't be catastrophic. They haven't exactly excelled anyway and the U-21's have done pretty well. Time to bring in Joe Hart, Mancienne, Smalling, Jack Wilshire, Adam Johnson and Theo to support Rooney, G.Johnston, Milner and Defoe.

    ..but before that Gerrard, Terry, Lamps...once more unto the breach!

  • Comment number 63.

    I can't see what all the fuss is about. If we were told before the World Cup started that we would only need to beat Slovenia and we would be in the last 16 then I don't think there would be many people who wouldn't have taken it.

    It doesn't seem strange to me that to win a World Cup you need to beat teams like Slovenia.

    Ok, so the team hasn't played well. Whether it is Capello who has played people out of position or left certain people on the bench, or the players haven't been up for it, those last two games are in the past now. Let's move on.

    The team know they can beat Slovenia if they play to their potential.

    What doesn't help is all the criticism and hype.

    It makes me laugh how the media twist everything. Last week everyone was certain that Heskey would be dropped and Dafoe would play. Why? Capello was asked if he had considered playing Dafoe and he responded in a diplomatic way saying that all members in his squad had their strengths and all would be considered. This was translated into Capello loses faith in Heskey and Dafoe is certain to start.

    This week Terry is selected to face the media and it is "symbolic" and he is still captain in all but name because he was selected to face the media. Last week Carragher was selected to give a pre-match press conference and nothing was said about that.

    Like someone corrected earlier, Terry did not state that Capello should pick Joe Cole, he simply said that he was a good player and could do well for the team. Because of the twists that the media made it is as if Terry was trying to influence team selection, so now Capello is forced not to pick Cole if he is to be seen as in control.

    It seems to me that the players are playing with fear. They know if they make a mistake then it will come back to haunt them for the rest of their lives, because of the way everything gets reported. Lets support them rather than criticise their every move and then see where we go from there.

    Unless you work in tourism or the media then England winning the World Cup is not going to change your lives directly. It will simply give a bit of pride and as a nation we may become a little more patriotic. Lets not blow everything out of proportion. I can understand it from the likes of Phil McNulty as journalists' careers are made by big stories (like he said above). As England don't seem likely to win anything then they have to fabricate "big" stories and the public are all drawn in.

    Perspective people.

  • Comment number 64.

    For starters let's leave "where does English football go from here?" talk till after our tournament is over.

    Secondly, we know we have the players, we know they can perform for England under Capello, we saw that in the qualifiers. We deserve a performance from them now, though I'll settle for three points any which way we can. If Switzerland can beat Spain despite looking like a much inferior team then it's clear that you don't need to play particularly classy football to win games even at this level.

    Thirdly, Adam Johnson is not in the squad. Deal with it. He may be one for the future but the fact is, who other than Man City fans had even heard of him six months ago let alone at the start of the season? He would have been one hell of a gamble. Fabio decided to give him a look-see anyway and decided against it. Fine, it's not like Michael Owen in '98 who was impossible to ignore!

    I go into the pub today with desperate hope rather than expectation or anticipation, and yet, I daren't imagine us not reaching the knockout stages, the very idea depresses me.

    Still, that depression is for another day. Today I am still an England fan and though immediate succsess will only bring relief rather than delight I do know that if this group of England players can play like I've seen earlier in the Capello era, that succsess will be ours.

    If they can, but dare they fail?

  • Comment number 65.

    Fact is that Barry cannot cover the midfiled if Gerrard goes and play in a forward role. He doesnt have the skills other players in this position have shown in this WC. Lennon & Wright-Philips are out of their depth. Milner & J.Cole are the only other options, but how good are they defending when they dont have the ball, especilally Cole? Our players may look/sound good on paper, when they play for their clubs, but we all forget they are surrounded by international players who make them look good. Take those international players away, and thats the team we have seen so far in this WC. Gerrard has proven so far within this team that he is the only versatile player we've got. The Rooney hype is just another press garbage.
    Our only chance in the game today is to ensure Slovenia do not score 1st, else we'll be in a big hole. Defoe and Gerrard should start in attack to give the team a scoring chance , while Rooney and Crouch can be brought on as subs. Lennon & Phillips should not play, with Lampard forced to finally show if he is a true midfield player, by taking on th leadership role in this area. We dont need to score a beautiful well worked goal in this game, just the 1 goal and defend it well

  • Comment number 66.

    Steven Gerrard is right,England must now deliver if they are to retain any credibility,but it still remains for Mr. Capello to make some tough choices. For me I would drop the three biggest failures so far in the tea, Lampard is not world class and onlyu looks good at club level because of who he has around him, drop him put Joe Cole in,a vastly better player who will create and produce what England need.Also by dropping Lampard, Gerrard
    can play the roving creative role that all too often is wasted by England.Next drop Rooney to a subs role, sadly he's looked a shadow of the player seen all season,almost as if he's lost interest or needs a good break, in doing so a front duo of Defoe and Crouch can go hunting for goals as they have very successfully all season at Spurs.Thirdly I would drop Terry to sub and bring in Michael Dawson,the best defender in the Premiership all season,alongside Upsom this would be a very strong central defense in fact could be the best back two we have.Clearly Terry is again upsetting the team too full of himself and most of all he's not playeing that well either.The defense has looked vunerable and the back two I've mentioned would be a more solid pair in front of David James.
    Many I know will not agree with me but if we are to go further in this tournament then players,whoever they are who are not performing must be dropped and give others as good if not better than they are to come into the team.Players like Lampard have proved time and again they don't have it at the top level and it's time to ring the changes.Today we have to do something,to even qualify wh trre points out of a possible nine is not worthy or acceptable in any competition let alone the World Cup.I di not in any way blame Mr. Capello but players failing to produce or show any passion on the field.

  • Comment number 67.

    "It would be an absolute disaster for this group of players to go home after the group stage," admitted Gerrard.

    In what sense Stephen ? For the players egos or for the country ?

    The reason why you are here is because the group stage has been treated as a formality, even more so when you opened the scoring in the first game after 4 minutes.

    The Americans play "Soccer" not football so they wont be any great shakes will they ?. Did you not watch the Confederation cup last year ? Who beat Spain, who were 2-0 up against Brazil ? Both England and the US played those teams last year. Who had the better record ?

    Then we have Algeria ? According to David James it was their World Cup Final playing England, thats why they played negatively (thats a new one, keeping the ball is a means you are negative. How then are you going to be positive without the damn thing !!!!!

    And now we have Slovenia who we beat barely 12 months ago so no problem folks, and lets be honest, there should not be a problem.

    Capello is Italian, a country which in the last 7 tournaments going back to 82 has won it twice, been runners up and been third. Three reasons, technical ability, organised and focused, go back to Italian campaigns and they have lived like monks.

    The problem for Capello is that a disciplined culture is more commonplace on the continent, trying to instil that into an English team is impossible. We are the odd man out in Europe, you can laugh at the French misfortune (and after the hand of Thierry, greater Karma could not have been wrought) but lets not forget they, Germany, Italy, Spain, the footballing powers have all won major national titles in the last 15 years, even Greece !!!!!!!

    Stephen, english national football is a laughing stock even if they beat the might of Slovenia and David, maybe playing Algeria was England's World Cup final as well.

  • Comment number 68.

    England definitely needs to clear out their 'Golden Genenration'. The same talk is also being discussed by Australian supporters incidentally. Bad tactics aside, I don't think it was lack of conviction in the previous matches rather than signs of old age from some key players. 7 of the 11 players in the Algeria match were 30+!

    I seriously think Capello should bring Carrick and Cole on to create some stability to the midfield. England need 3 midfielders to have any hope at controlling this game, and hopefully he will address this today.

    Not only will this win give the players some much needed confidence (see Portugal, Spain etc), but it will allow our star players to relax, show their undoubted skills, and with a bit of luck (a Fabiano handball maybe?) make it all the way to the grand finale. C'mon England.

  • Comment number 69.

    Personally, I'm mystified by England's lethargy. This is the World Cup, possibly the last chance for some of these players to play on this stage; how much motivation can they need?

    "Lads, win the next four games by playing like you really can and you'll write your names forever into footballing history at the highest level. Do it and most of all enjoy it".

    At almost any sport, like it or not, everybody else in the World loves to beat England - I can imagine that Slovenia are incredibly up for it. They looked a bit cagey against Algeria and blew a tidy lead against USA (probably lucky to get away with draw in the end); one could argue that this is the biggest match of their international careers, too.

    I hope that the game isn't crippled by the fear of losing. I hope that England have the mentality that it's probably easier to try and win 4-2 than to scrape through 1-0. Slovenia only need a draw but hanging on for 90 minutes is tough work.

    Take it to them, I say, and kick the ball in the net. Frequently.

  • Comment number 70.

    >> “If England fail to deliver against Slovenia, the country's so-called "Golden Generation" - a generous tag given the conspicuous absence of any tangible success - will be ushered towards the door”

    Of course you realise the only people ever to refer to any England side as "the golden generation" are you journalists? The players have never called themselves that nor have the fans. Maybe it’s time some of you journalists were also ushered toward the door?

  • Comment number 71.

    Given we are all worried that England are not able to beat Slovenia and the fact we were clueless, ambitionless and pashionless against Algeria then the thought that we can make it far can only be based on the false alchemy that if we start as pure rubbish somehow we will emerge later as world beaters.

    Lack of depth in squad choice, apparent lack of focussed hunger amongst the players, the general impression they would rather be on their jollies and certainly happier playing for their clubs all makes me a closet SLovenia fan so they put us out of our colective misery, as on this form humiliation awaits in the next round.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm pretty scared about what will happen this afternoon. The two games played in the tournament along with the 3 warm games have been hugely unimpressive. The 3 warm up games are surely used to practise in a game situation, what is practiced on the training ground. Not to try out new things. There is no set 11, so how can a team of very good individuals from seperate clubs perform as a team when personel keeps changing. Tactics used in the warm ups have not been employed in the tournament. The best thing from the warm up games was Joe Cole's 120 minutes - yet he doesnt get a sniff - and Adam Johnson's 8 minutes, yet he is probably going to be watching like the rest of us in disbelief!

    Further more, I am a Spurs supporter and probably biased. But Michael Dawson was the inform English centre back of the Premiership with the heart of a lion who would do as he is told, put his body on the line and do his best without complaining. Yet, he sits on the bench while the slow and past his best Carragher plays (who it was suggested was purely a right back cover player who could play as a centre back if disaster struck), along with an out of form and disruptive Terry and Upson who's team just avoided relegation. Also, here is one for you. Peter Crouch. His goal record for England is excellent, especially against 'lower quality' opposition. Algeria and Slovenia = lower quality. Give him a fair run out and the lanky bean pole with scramble one in for us (who knows, the robot may come out).

    IF we crash out and Fabio leaves with his huge payout. May i be one of the first to throw a curve ball of Stuart (psycho) Pearce to be next manager. He has been around the set up for a few years. He's manager of a very promising under 21s team. He has passion that no-one can argue with. As previously mentioned, this 'golden generation' will not be around in 4 years. Let psycho come in, bring through the youngsters he's been working with for the last 3/4 years and lets move on with a fresh outlook.

    Good luck England. I really hope you can do it and can use today as a spring board. Quarter finals will be an achievement after the performance so far. We're a fickle bunch, win by 2 or 3 today and we'll be unveiling statues of you all in Trafalgar square by Friday!

  • Comment number 73.

    Fully agree with #53 about player power. Sometimes it looks as if they're thinking "we don't like this lark about phones and wives and acting like professionals, tell you what, if we play badly it'll be the manager that goes...". I may be wrong but that's what it looks like. Certain of the players also need to realise that if they were good enough to manage England, they'd be the England manager, and as they're not, how about belting up and doing what they're paid to do instead? Mr Terry in particular would be well advised to stop fancying himself so much and concentrate on playing football.

    Now I've got that off my chesticles...

    One comment JT made that doesn't seem to have been picked up on much was "we thought the group would be a walkover". It showed. That's the same England I've grown to know and despair of over the years, the one that thinks it just has to turn up to win, and comes unstuck when the pickings aren't as easy as they thought and they don't have a plan B.
    Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.

    I'll watch them this afternoon, win lose or draw, and I'll shout for them too, but I expect something in return, and a bit more than just talk. There's another old quote, maybe a bit unfashionable in this day and age, but perhaps a reminder wouldn't go amiss...

    "England expects that every man will do his duty."

    Don't knock it, it worked

  • Comment number 74.

    One thing for sure is that over the last however many years, England have not produced the goods, save for the '90 World Cup and '96 Euorpean Championship tournaments. It's a sad indictment that in many quarters, these were viewed as success'. In relation to so many abject performances pre and post these tournaments, one can see their point. However, the cold truth is, England are simply not good enough. I can't believe I've just typed those words. Recently, when 'we' take part in these major events, I've realised that I shout for England more in hope than anything else. Of course, every supporter 'hopes' their team to win, but for me, the hope is borne more out of the fact that I realise we don't have the skill, passion or technical know-how to do well and one shouts for the team because, well, just because, (to quote a line from an advertising campaign for a major retailer).
    The game has moved on and England are fast becoming a 2nd rate nation. I can't believe I've just written that, either. There are many reasons for England bringing up the rear, too many to go into now, but the Premier League has to have something to answer for, hasn't it?. Average to good players can be elevated in the right company. Too much player power, too much money, too many non eligible players. You get my point.

    Mr Capello, I don't envy you one little bit. It's easy for me to say that I'd change the side completely after the World Cup. Why? Because for too long, the core of this side has continually failed to fulfil its potential. If Mr Capello were to say 'I've had enough, I'm off', who, in their right mind would take the England managers job? Is it really worth all the grief? English press, individuals who think they are something they are not, players under performing. Can't remember this happening to Germany/West Germany and how many World Cups have they won? How many finals have they played in? How well have they done in the European Championship?. They even won a World Cup 9 short years after WW2.

    It'll take a brave man to chop this team to pieces and rebuild from the bottom up. But, in my humble opinion, this is what's going to be needed for England to progress in the next few years. Mediocrity never did anyone any good, any how.

    Touch the badge, don't disgrace it.


  • Comment number 75.

    Come on England- The team need to get their swagger back and a win would deliver that.
    Also I think Steven Gerrard is as good as anyone that has ever played for england

  • Comment number 76.

    What?! Milner and Defoe?! Oh god this has made me all the more nervous.

    Defoe looked good when he came on last week, but how well does he play with Rooney? That's a massive gamble in the most important game of the tournament. Furthmore, Defoe isn't the best at holdling the ball up he's as prone to anyone as losing control of it or getting shoved off it.

    And Milner? WHY NOT JOE COLE?? I don't understand this, why does Capello insist on playing Gerrard on the left. The whole country is clamouring to pay 4-5-1 yet we keep going with this inferior 4-4-2. Lennon hasn't been sparkling in the last few games, but he hasn't been the worse in the team and he's definately more of a threat of Milner. Plus, if he is going to play Defoe - it is proven that Defoe and Lennon link up really well together at Spurs. Half of Defoe's goals at Spurs last season came from converting Lennon crosses. And when Lennon got injured Defoe went off the boil!

    I can't see how these tactical changes really help things.

  • Comment number 77.

    Did he really have to prove his sanity phil? Classic media garbage writing to exagerate things

  • Comment number 78.

    The fact of the matter is England will win today. There is no way they will follow up their performance against Algeria with another piss-poor game. England will win today, and the "Where do we go from here" talk can resume after the tournament is over. Hey, at least England's not in Frances position:

  • Comment number 79.

    How many times has Capello managed England at a major international event ?

    How many times have some of the players represented England at a major international event ?

    I think a lot of us would be a lot more undestanding of these players if the fawning adoration and gross over estimation of their abilities disappeared. The next guy be it fan or press who refers to these players when the premiership starts as "World class" should be !@!!!!!!!!!!

    They are fortunate to live in an era where wages are obscene, that is not their fault. However, please lets have some perspective on how good they are.

  • Comment number 80.

    Capello should do what Aragones did before Euro 2008, He dropped Raul, there most influential/disruptive player, he was slaughtered by the press but when the question was put to him, the answer was what has Raul won, nothing so he's not as great as you think he is, they went with a youthful team who played for each other and their country.

    First off I think the whole team has been pedestrian at best but I'm surprised by how many people on these blogs are backing Gerrard as saviour, he had a very poor season and is still living on glories from 5 years ago.
    He in this formation is one of your main problems, yes he scored your goal but thats all. Instead, even though he's captain and should be leading by example, he continually pays no attention to the formation and drifts into the middle reducing width and helping the opposition become compact and clog the middle of the pitch. He also completely nullifies Cashley getting forward because there is no protection, cover or anyone to overlap with, he did this against Mexico and Baines got savaged. By going into the middle he takes the space that Lampard uses and also space that Rooney likes to drop into, reducing the effectivness of these 2 players. He also doesn't track back, in the Algeria game he gave away the ball and when they broke it was Lampard and Barry busting a gut to get back and defend.
    The problem is that he will only play his Liverpool position where he has players all around to do the dirty work and for England he doesn't.

    So the big issue is that every only wants to play where they do for there club and in that formation.

  • Comment number 81.

    From what I see in the morning papers, both players and manager appear to think that a high degree of 'fight' is all that is required for us to win this afternoon. I do not think that the attribute of willingness to fight was particularly lacking in the first two games or in any other games when England play.

    What is lacking more than anything is lack of creativity. If only Fabregas was English but we simply do not possess that kind of 'fulcrum' midfielder. The nearest we have is Joe Cole and in my opinion he should be playing so that we have some chance of matching other teams who keep possession and play meaningful passes from midfield which create some danger for opposing defences.

    To do this, passes need to be played into space behind defenders and forwards need to be aware that the killer pass is a possibility. Therefore they need to be running at speed past the last defender and then finish coolly.

    Excellent examples were shown by Portugal earlier this week. Admittedly North Korea were not the strongest opposition but were Algeria before we played them? Portugal's efforts including one goal which was scored from a cross by the left winger crossing with his LEFT foot rather than having to cut back first onto his right foot. Is it too much to expect that our international players should at least make some attempt to strengthen their weaker foot thus gaining a distinct competitive advantage? Perhaps if they are bored within their luxurious surroundings, they could put in a bit of afternoon practice rather than playing snooker, darts etc. If I were in Capello's shoes, I would insist on it.

  • Comment number 82.

    I have been laughing ever since Rob Green let the ball slip past him and into the Goal, and i have no doubt that i will still be laughing come 17:45 as England's world Cup will be over. England have never been good enough to win a World Cup, they always go on about the Hand of God but forget that the were awarded goal in 1966 that did not cross the line!!!

    Don't balme the ball, the manager, or the player's - blame the media for making you think England had the squad capable of winning a World Cup. And yes i am ABE and i'm proud of it!!!


  • Comment number 83.

    I've no doubt that this will be England's best performance so far, but that doesn't guarantee the right result. Slovenia actually represent the easiest team in the group for England to play against. They're European, and play in a style that England will be most comfortable with.

  • Comment number 84.

    Prediction -

    Steven Gerrard to open Scoring -
    Rooney to Get Second -
    Crouch - to come on and get late third
    Terry to have a solid match -

    Were all set for round 2.

    Or we will be winning 1-0 and there is a mistake at the back!!!!

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

    multisportstech wrote:
    "Phil, In all frankness just as described with Terry; What's your real desire for England?. Do you want them to progress into next round and further if possible or a debacle causing a complete and full restructuring from head to toe of the National team?"

    I wouldn't hold out much hope for the latter. After the failure to qualify for the 2008 Euros under McLaren we were promised "a root and branch reform [of English Football]". 4 weeks later Capello was brought in and this was all quietly forgotten.
    Whether we progress or not, 2-3 years down the road nothing fundamentally has changed - we're no better off in terms of available talent, very little appears to have been done in terms of producing and nurturing said talent, and if Capello walked out tomorrow we'd still be scratching about for a Manager.
    For my part, I want to see England go as far as possible, but if we scrape through to the quarters / semis and see that as some kind of vindication then we're just papering over more cracks.

  • Comment number 87.

    ## 80. At 10:49am on 23 Jun 2010, DallasScot##

    Sorry DallasScot I don't agree with you at all and cannot see your arguement against The England Captain - Are you suggesting he should be dropped??

    I think he will score today ,

    Also Steven Gerrard is the most versitile player we have and, one of the most versitile players at the World cup - he can play at international level in a number of different positions - Please name another member of the squad that can do that?
    He can walk in to most teams at the tournement. The biggest and most sucessfull football club in the World are Real Madrid - Guess who is their top transfer Target and their neww coach's top choice in the transfer market?? It is Steven Gerrard the England Captain.

    DallasScott I don't think you know much about Football - or do you call it soccer?

  • Comment number 88.

    The point reaised by Bamz_ftw is probably the closest to the truth of any raised about England and England's performance at this World Cup.

    No bashing of the manager or players but of a system which is inadequate and antiquated. I wish the media and certain so-called knowledgeable pundits had this insight rather than bearate and attack a Manager, who clearly has the credentials and ability.

    I for one would like to see England lose, just so the FA and everyone else wake up to the reality that one England just isn't good enough and two we need to start working on grass roots football.

    Roll on 2018 England World Champions?

  • Comment number 89.

    To Rich Indeed...Regardless of the outcome of today's match you feel Capello should step down? Bit extreme that.

    If England fail to reach the knockout phase then I do feel his position would become untenable, but if England reach the quarter-finals or the last four then why replace the manager?

    If we accept that Capello would struggle to stay in his job if England go out today, surely he should stay if they reach the last eight, or is that to straightforward a viewpoint?

  • Comment number 90.

    Golden generation my a**e, overrated generation more like it. The stevee ME's and Lampards are good players but not world class. That's why they wouuld never leave the comfort of the premiership and go to spain or italy as it would show them up. The best midfield player in the world that I have seem is Xavi and Lampard and Gerrard aren't even close to his level of technique and ability.

  • Comment number 91.

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

  • Comment number 92.

    #87 Dropped or play where he's told not where he wants. Which point do you have the most against, the fact he lives on past glories or that he refuses right or wrong to play the left midfield role he has been given. All the small teams in this world cup are playing as compact defensive units to avoid being hammered so surely by making the pitch narrower you're only playing into their hands. If he can indeed play in many positions and is as versatile as you say then why does he not fill the role he has been given. In terms of others playing in many positions this is not how British players coached, they are trained to excell in one position and fill in in others, so very few members will be overtly comfortable playing out of position

  • Comment number 93.

    The problem with England and England fans is one of arrogance and self delusion. There is already talk that England will reach the simi finals because they only have to beat Ghana/ Serbia and then Uruguay/ S korea in the next round. Serbia are a tough and uncompromising European team while Uruguay are two times world champions, and on current form capeable of beating just about any team in the tournment.Before that however there is the small issue of having to beat Slovenia who may not have any so called world class players in their side but play as a unit and are technically better at passing and holding the ball than England. Come second in the group it is Germany, Argentina and possibly Spain in the next rounds.

  • Comment number 94.

    Two arguments for me here:

    1: re 87 - "Also Steven Gerrard is the most versitile player we have and, one of the most versitile players at the World cup - he can play at international level in a number of different positions - Please name another member of the squad that can do that? He can walk in to most teams at the tournement." Totally disagree. The guy has done nothing for England for a number of years and he lacks any sort of discipline to be a team player. I heard he said that its 'do-or-die' time for England. That basically means he's going to ignore any tactical instructions and run around aimlessly in the search of individual glory. This will make England extremely cramped and lacking any kind of width whatsoever. In my eyes, he's a poor captain and an ever poorer team player.

    2* Re 89 - Phil, I am interested in your point that you think Capello's job will become 'untenable' if England fail to reach the knock-out stages. This is all very well, but replace him with who exactly? Continuity is needed at present, not a chop-and-change policy every time we fail to live up to the billing of our wonderfully-acclaimed press. You completely ignore the fact that the problem with English football lies with too few English players at the highest level, and an under-achieving grass roots game.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hi Phil, sorry, should have clarified that a bit better- I meant at the end of the tournament.

  • Comment number 96.

    Despite the bad results obtained against USA and Algeria plus the John Terry episode, England players should consider themselves lucky to be still in the competition. What England has to do is to win against Slovenia and they can still top up the group.

    It would be a shame to go out at this stage of the competition considering that England can go far perhaps up to the semis because of the favourable draws.

    I think England players should stick to the basic i.e keeping hold of the ball as long as possible and be patient.I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities if they play well.

    If I was Capello, I would have probably dropped Lampart and replace him with Joe Cole and perhaps play James Milner instead of Shaun Wright Phillips.I still believe Aaron Lennon should be given a cameo role.

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 97.

    England have a realistic chance to qualify. By all in all, they deserve to go out of the tourney. One last chance england! Just one last chance!

  • Comment number 98.

    I think there's a danger of blowing the formation discussion out of the water. Joe Cole is a good player and I think his creativity could add to the England side and help them better utilise important players such as Gerrard. But should we go out today, I don't think it'll be because the manager was too stubborn to select him. He's not Messi, after all. He's an injury-plagued midfielder who the Premier League champions have just let leave on a free transfer.

    Put simply, any eleven English men on the pitch today should be good enough to defeat the eleven men of Slovenia. It's only a 4-4-2, and as nobody seems to have mentioned, it is exactly the formation used to such devestating effect in the qualifiers against Croatia. The difference is the execution. Against Croatia, it was with energy, confidence and dynamism. In South Africa, it has looked tired, blunt and timid.

    So the onus today is simply on the players. Each player at this level should know his own mind and know how to prepare himself mentally for an important match. This is where they use their experience and have to make sure they're right on top of their game come this afternoon.

  • Comment number 99.

    With regards to the other questions you raised Phil, I still think he should go if we're out after the quarter finals - poor squad selection, defensive tactics (despite our recent difficulty in keeping clean sheets), unrest in the squad, square pegs in round holes etc etc - for £6 million a year we deserve better. Quarter finals wasn't good enough for us under Sven, why should it be for Fabio?
    At present we are not going to win major competitions with the football and tactics we are playing - having said that I hope I'm wrong, oh please, please let me be wrong......

  • Comment number 100.

    nobody's gonna read down this far, but here I go anyway ...

    It doesn't matter what's gone on in the history of the world, before the last 15 minutes of todays game. all of history since the big bang will have no discernable impact on what will happen in the players' minds ...

    you know those cup games? those games in the knock-out stages of any tournament? those must win games? the ones where the goalkeepers are up for every free kick and corner ... ?
    well once the desperation of possible failure takes over, all egos, pay packets, communication, inter-personal relationships, personal hygene problems ... they all go out of the window.

    at that moment, I'd rather have England's squad than Slovenia's.

    but what you really need, while you're pressing up the pitch and winning those free kicks and corners, is a good target man, and a mobile, nimble, acurate striker.
    at that moment, Rooney can wander around his own personal head-space, and leave England's qualification to Crouch and Defoe.

    until Capello tries pairing players who are used to playing together, in their natural club positions, then it's likely we'll come a cropper. maybe not today, but every game's there to be won. now and in the future.

    Lamps and Joey. Rooney and Gerrard. King and Dawson. (yes I know). Crouch and Defoe. Lennon and Defoe (Wigan 9-1?)

    last 15 minutes, watch the Slovenia goal for a re-enactment of Roake's Drift, starring the Slovenia keeper as Maurice Mickelwhite, and the England team as the Zulu nation.
    (but hopefully with a different outcome).

    enjoy the game!


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.