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Capello facing big decisions

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Phil McNulty | 06:15 UK time, Wednesday, 8 September 2010


Fabio Capello's major calls all came off as England swept past Switzerland in convincing style to complete a perfect start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign - leaving the coach with even bigger decisions to contemplate.

Capello insisted Wayne Rooney was mentally equipped to put allegations about his private life on one side to focus on inspiring England to victory in Basle. And so it proved as his early goal set the platform for an impressive 3-1 win.

And the confidence Capello detected between Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, built in their days together at Everton, convinced him they would make the best pair from his depleted central defensive resources. Spot on again Fabio.

Now though, with the business of getting six points from England's two opening games successfully concluded, Capello must get it right all over again by the time surprise package Montenegro come to Wembley next month.

Capello must make a decison over the destination of the captain's armband, with Rio Ferdinand on schedule to return after the knee injury he suffered in England's first training session at their Rustenburg World Cup base.

Even if Ferdinand is in the team, and this should not be automatic after the performance of Jagielka in England's wins against Bulgaria and Switzerland, I do not believe he should return as captain.

Ferdinand was next in the line of succession after John Terry was stripped of the captaincy, but this does not mean Capello's pecking order should be set in stone forever.

The Manchester United defender's fitness has seemingly become a permanent issue in his career these days. Ferdinand did make a contribution of sorts to England's win in Switzerland, choosing to Tweet after Rooney's strike: "I told u my boy would get a goal!!"

More importantly, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has demonstrated that he now has the stature on and off the pitch to be given the role on a permanent basis. He has been outstanding in both areas in the last week and the time is right for Capello to make that choice.

Gerrard, at last playing in his favoured central midfield role as opposed to being pushed around the margins of the game on the left flank, has been a dominant presence for England in their three wins following the World Cup fiasco.

Again in Basle on Tuesday he was literally a central figure, controlling the tempo of the play and producing moments of class, best illustrated by the pass that created England's second goal for Adam Johnson.

He has also produced a series of mature displays off the pitch, giving measured but firm backing to the besieged Capello before the win against Bulgaria and speaking calm common sense on the vexed question of his close friend Rooney out here in Basle.

Gerrard was commendably honest enough to admit he had made mistakes of his own in the past, and has emerged as a fine ambassador for the England team.

This is one part of the captaincy package. Performances on the field is the other and he has led by example in both areas. There is no sound logic in removing the captaincy from him now - indeed Capello can use this move to symbolise a new era for England.

Gerrard's partnership with Gareth Barry was a feature of the win in Basle, opening the door to another dilemma for Capello.

If, as expected, Chelsea's Frank Lampard is fit enough to return against Montenegro, should he be recalled automatically to his long-held central midfield position?

I have never bought in to the antipathy Lampard seems to attract from supporters outside Stamford Bridge. He has been an outstanding contributor to Chelsea's success and one of the finest players in recent Premier League history, but again my feeling is that he should not get his place back against Montenegro.

Setting aside all the old arguments about the ability of Lampard and Gerrard to play together, a problem never satisfactorily resolved, England's midfield balance has looked so much better in their last two games.

Lampard must be in the squad if fit, but he should start on the bench because Gerrard and Barry - or Gerrard and a more defensively minded player, should be the way ahead in the immediate future.

The last two games have made one decision for Capello. Central midfield must now be Gerrard and A.N. Other.

So what of Ferdinand and his long-time defensive partner John Terry, who also missed England's maximum haul with a hamstring injury?

Jagielka, significantly described as "the 'driver' of the back four - the marshal", by Capello, has made a powerful case to keep his place against Montenegro. The Italian has been suitably impressed, singling out his link with Lescott for praise after beating Switzerland.

Again, there is no sound reason to leave Jagielka on the sidelines, so one of Terry and Ferdinand - maybe even both if circumstances dictate - must miss out. What sort of signal would it send out for a player to produce two more or less flawless performances and then watch the old guard stroll straight back in? Not exactly the indicator of a brave new dawn for England.

The days when an England coach simply pencilled the names of Terry and Ferdinand on his teamsheet without a second thought have gone. And that is no bad thing.

Rio Ferdinand and John Terry

Should Ferdinand and Terry continue to be automatic choices for England?

If Capello does wish to move forward, and surely he does, then the Montenegro game presents him with the perfect opportunity to at least confirm the start of a new England order.

James Milner will be suspended for the Wembley game, and it is to be hoped Capello resists any temptation to revert to type by playing Lampard in the centre and placing Gerrard out on the left.

The answer to that equation was on show in Basle in the shape of Adam Johnson. Some players look born to play on the England stage, and the rangy Manchester City youngster is one of them.

He can play on both flanks, although he is a serious threat cutting in on his left foot from the right. If Theo Walcott is fit after the ankle injury he sustained on Tuesday, then playing Johnson on the left will give England's midfield the balanced and flexible appearance that served Capello so well as the Swiss were outclassed for long periods.

Johnson has made something happen every time I have watched him. Manchester City - who flouted the suggestion that they are a ruinous influence on the English game by having six players in Capello's line-up by the final whistle - pulled off a real coup when they captured Johnson from Middlesbrough.

Capello could take other positives with him on the flight back to London, as the slow process of recovery from South Africa took another step in the right direction.

I was critical of Glen Johnson's defensive performance against Bulgaria. Here he did what he had to do defensively and gave England an extra dimension in attack, setting up Rooney's goal and almost scoring himself.

And there was a first England goal for Darren Bent to wrap things up after a thunderbolt from Xherdan Shaqiri gave Switzerland hope of a point they did not deserve. Bent has, on occasion, had a raw deal with England and the confidence with which he dispatched his late goal will have brought both relief and delight in equal measure.

England's first 45 minutes in particular was their best since the wins against Croatia in World Cup qualifying.

And while, as with the win against Bulgaria, it is too early to even start to forget about South Africa or talk with any serious optimism about Euro 2012, it would be both churlish and incorrect not to accentuate the positives in these performances.

If the visit to Switzerland had been ringed on the calendar as England's most testing assignment in their group, they made it look very comfortable for the most part. Montenegro may now set the sterner examination.

Capello deserves a respite from the pressures that have surrounded him since England's capitulation in South Africa, but he must soon tackle tough choices that have to be made before his squad meets up again.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Agreed. Capello stated he would play players based on form and fitness. Hence, although you should never write off 'the old guard' as you put it, if we want a decent team for the future, his team selection should reflect the positives we have seen in the last 2 matches.

    How much do you want to bet that at least one of Lampard, Ferdinand and Terry will be straight back in though?

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Gerrard has to remain captain, he seems to have been lifted by the appointment, his performances for england have been poor by his standard but since hes been the captain hes played really well, i would still bring terry back as soon as hes fit, i think people need to remember that if he was fit he would be first choice, so because of an injury and 2 good games against bad opposition they lescott and jagielka should not be hailed as the new cb pairing, one of lescott and jagielka will definately have to make way.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's a bit ridiculous to say that Rio and company lose their spots when out for injury based on performances against the likes of Bulgaria. How, then, does one re-establish their position after injury if they don't get time in the side? Am I to understand that for Ferdinand, Lampard, etc. to regain a place in the England side that England must first lose matches?

    And what if the selection is done, as should be, based on what he sees in training? Will you lot calling for the "out with the old" be satisfied that they earned their position on merit. Or will you (as is far more likely) presume that Capello chose based on reputation, since you weren't there to witness training?

  • Comment number 5.

    Thank you Terry, Lampard, Ferdinand, you've been good servants to the team....

  • Comment number 6.

    Can I just remind everyone that this is Switzerland. Yes, they beat Spain in the World Cup but they also lost to Chile and drew with Paraguay. This was a decent England performance (although not everyone could witness it due to the F.A's brilliant decision to give it to Sky). But it will take a lot more than this to convince the world or me that this side is better than the one that played Germany. Let's hope this is a corner turned, but I won't hold my breath just yet.

  • Comment number 7.

    @ backpassgoal:
    if it is so boring why do u spend time on writing ur opinion? it is such a waste of time.

    @ CaliManc:
    no, it is not ridiculous and yes they should get their chances if there is a change (lost game or injury) but not before as they had their shots and we all know their scores... remember Germany?

    Phil, I was waiting for 2 years to write it but agreed. :-) Capello should never change the winning team except: injury.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes, everyone performed well and the results were good. But shouldn't the national squad be made up of the best players? Lots of people have perfect, flawless games but they don't all play in the premier league. One swallow does not a summer make.

    That goes for the team performances as well as the individuals.

  • Comment number 10.

    Lampard has effectively ended the international career of Paul scholes by forcing him out left (Sven) it is critical we don't let it happen to gerrard. Lampard is good club player but disrupts shape of England. Should lampard get in again anyway having chosen to have a groin operation during international week ( big question of commitment)

  • Comment number 11.

    A good article. I don't believe Terry should ever play for England again. I believe Gerrard should make this point to Capello. As for Ferdinand well he's not even played for his club this season. Far too injury prone to rely upon. The young players must be retained. Lampard isn't a holding midfield player if there's someone better play him. Time the old guard were shown the door - didn't exactly win anything did they? How laughable that Ferdinand's role is limited to sending a Twitter message.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well said Gerrard should keep the band. Some of the old guards should leave the scene. They depend on their name. Their playing days are over and should honourably leave like Carragher and the big flop striker

  • Comment number 13.

    CaliManc, spot on.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Gerrard, at last playing in his favoured central midfield role as opposed to being pushed around the margins of the game on the left flank, has been a dominant presence for England in their three wins following the World Cup fiasco."

    you make it sound like gerrard's been playing wide left his whole career! he's been central for most of that time with frank, and they've both largely disappointed in (in gerrard's case) 10 years of international service.

    the ONLY match of importance i remember gerrard having performed in his entire international career was the 5-1 in munich, or maybe the 5-1 over croatia but they were woeful that day. and it's not because he's been out of position!

  • Comment number 15.

    Phil, I think your allegiance to Liverpool is clouding your judgement! How can you say Ferdinand should not walk into the team as Captain. Be real! Do you really think Jagielka and Lescott can play against top strikers in International matches? I think, what's killing England hopes is people like you who think you know what's best for the team, instead of the coach.

  • Comment number 16.

    Very good blog, Phil about a classy England performance in Basle.

    It seems to me Fabio is less distant to his players after the WC and more relaxed what can only be good for the team spirit. And with new players added to the squad and fitting in very well, the future doesn`t look as bleak as some weeks ago.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    Gerrard must have played even better than Phil McNulty thinks, because Barry did not have one of his better games for England. Look at a tape of the 2nd half for the mis-controlled or misplaced passes that stopped or slowed the flow, and slow covering. Barry needs an old-Anfield style fitness regime (Finished vomiting? Good, now do four more sprints) to get back to the level of his 2007 performances, when we were far better with him than without him. But as the Huddlestone experiment failed so dismally against Japan (also due to slowness) and Rodwell is an unknown quantity above U21 level, it's hard to see an alternative without pulling the rest of the team out of shape.

    As for the main theme of the blog, I agree but would be more specific about the reason why Ferdinand and Terry may not cut it any more - pace. Against Bulgaria, Jagielka was left ahead of the ball by quick passes a few times, but his speed allowed him to recover all except once, when Hart had to save.
    Terry was never the quickest and was woefully exposed against Germany, which raises at least these questions. Will Rio ever again be fast and agile enough to tidy up for Terry? Should England play a CB who needs a minder anyway?

    Capello has just now found a system that works, 4-4-1-1 with Rooney playing between the lines. This system calls for the central midfielder to withdraw to his traditional position instead of pushing up as Gerrard or Lampard have so often done.
    Gerrard still has just enough pace, plus speed of thought and quality of pass, to be a big asset in this position. Can't help thinking though, that Lampard in that spot would slow things right down and we'd return to the square pass. Not only that, but Gerrard would be consigned back to the left or to the "free" role (i.e. wandering about aimlessly). Lampard's only England future imho would be as a sub for Gerrard - definitely 2nd best - or not at all.

  • Comment number 19.

    and @4 CaliManc agreed entirely - Jakielka and Lescott/Dawson may have done well against Bulgaria and 10-man Switzerland, but let's be fair, so could Bramble and Coloccini have.

    beating these sides has been impressive, yes, and good for the morale of the team, but our flaws won't be exposed by this sort of opposition

  • Comment number 20.

    Looks like your "old guard" faces the same problem as Ballack in Germany, with the captaincy, too. It is always painful to take away such a position from an accomplished person, but you can't deny new leading figures to grow and replace the old guard. Löw did a cop-out by saying Ballack remains captain - but only when he's playing. If he's not on the field, then Lahm is the skipper. I am curious what solution Capello will choose.

  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    Having read a few reports on this match, I can only assume I was watching a different game. Apart from his goal, I thought Rooney was awful after such a good display last Friday. I don't think I have ever seen him give the ball away as much as he did last night. Wright Phillips also demonstrated why he should never get near an England squad by the cross to an umarked colleague in front of goal that he managed to direct straight to a defender. Good first half when England should have been out of sight, poor second half.

  • Comment number 23.

    "Thank you Terry, Lampard, Ferdinand, you've been good servants to the team...."
    Dont be so ridiculous! hahaha! No national side in the world would be without
    the quality of the captain and deputy of their own domestic league champions.
    Really people really do need to get a grip! England just beat the equivalent of
    2 mid English Championship sides and if we look back it was said Captain and
    deputy Lampard that led England through one of their best qualifying campaigns
    ever before yet again the media decided papers sold were more important than
    winning the world cup and dropped a typical team destroying story just before
    (as they always do before every major tournament!) it started.
    So i think the answer to winning the Euros is not the team or the manager,
    its restraining the media from destroying any chances we have by running a
    front page sleaze story just before the tournament starts then and only then
    England might just win something!

  • Comment number 24.

    Have to agree with you on the Lampard playing with Gerrard issue, for some reason that one has never really worked. But I think we should not get carried away with the new defensive members present for the last two games. Bulgaria and Switzerland were both vastly inferior opposition, and neither Jagielka or Lescott have really proved themselves against decent teams.

    Granted Ferdinand is far from the player he was, and needs to prove himself before being an automatic choice, but surely the experience of Terry is preferable in central defence to all others as he has on several occasions been a rock for England in past games against the sort of teams we will face in the Euro finals.

    And generally regarding the England performances of late, lets not all succumb to the misplaced euphoria shoved down our throats before the world cup. England still need to perform well under real pressure in the finals, after a long domestic season... etc.. etc

  • Comment number 25.

    Phil, Rio Ferdinand was England captain before his unfortunate injury prior to the world cup. For me what that means is that Gerrard is only deputising in Rio's absence so if Rio returns he should be captain. Simple.
    Secondly, it is too early to be debating who should or should not be dropped for the game against Montenegro. In the next one month, some players may get injured, others may lose form, while others may improve their form. If Rio and Terry return from injury and perform spectacularly for their clubs in the league and CL would you still suggest that Jags and Lescott continue in defence because they performed well as back up against Bulgaria and Switzerland?

  • Comment number 26.

    9. At 07:27am on 08 Sep 2010, Utd_fan_down_under wrote:
    Yes, everyone performed well and the results were good. But shouldn't the national squad be made up of the best players? Lots of people have perfect, flawless games but they don't all play in the premier league. One swallow does not a summer make.

    That goes for the team performances as well as the individuals.

    I agree that the national squad should be made up of the best players and that Terry, Lampard and Ferdinand should all return to the squad but they should not automatically return to the team. More by luck than judgement Capello has stumbled accidently across a very good English team.
    I hope when everyone is available he now picks the best TEAM and not just the best players.

  • Comment number 27.

    Phil, whilst Gerrard was my choice of captain after Terry was dethrone, I dont think it would be sensible for Mr. Capello to suddenly reshuffle the leadership heirachy. Gerrard is the type of player that doesnt need the armband to inspire his taem mates. Stevie 'G' leads by example. Another point is that Rio cannot be punished for having a few injuries. Let's see what Rio is like as a captain, and also not refer to Rio as part of the WC disaster, because the poor sod wasnt in it! Give Rio a chance!

    Secondly, Lampard is my nomination for someone who definately should not be allowed to walk into the team. He is holding our most creative player - Gerrard.

  • Comment number 28.

    Could't agree more. I have wanted to see Lescott and Jagielka resurect their Everton partnership ever since England went out of the World Cup. The understanding they have should not be underestimated in its importance to the team. Could you see them being dragged terribly out of position as Terry and Upson were against Germany?

  • Comment number 29.

    agree totally with what you say, but we all know enough of the way things really work to know that at least one of the 3 will "walk" straight back into the starting line-up.

    Based on form, fitness, and results, this should never happen, but Capello has shown before that his mind can be stubborn, with his pre-conceived ideas etched in concrete. That is his biggest shortcoming as a manager.

    With England performing well, and being in a strog positio already to secure qualification without too much trouble, what better time to stick with the young players and let them gain further experience and confidence? Dropping any of them after such performances will send the wrong message and will undermine their confidence; it will, in all probability, also impact on their desire.

    While Lampard is a "quality" player, he is not going to bring anything extra to the team; exactly the opposite, actually, as the inclusion of Frankie & the Slap me Face will unbalance the midfield.

    There is one player that should, I feel, be dropped from the squad, never to return .... Mr Wright-Philips who just never seems to really get it right, and is more of a Light-Philips lightweight. I seriously can not fathom why he continually gets called up. Many have proven themselves to be better options, and he has had more than enough chances without showing that he deserves his place ahead of others.

    Come on Capello - show us that you can pay more than lip service to the promise of bringing in young blood, and that your mind is not as inflexible as we have come to believe it is.

  • Comment number 30.

    I know it sounds like a soundbite for the 606 homepage, but we didn't see anything last night to justify recalling Ferdinand, Terry or Lampard.

  • Comment number 31.

    Other than the comments I made that got removed as possibly defamatory:

    All that (removed stuff) said, in the same sentiment as you give here, Phil, I do not see why the captain has to be permanent. He was not the first to be tarred with this brush, but there was many an occasion when Terry would be included 'because he's the captain' when he was nothing like one of the best two CBs in the country on (that) current form. Pick the 11 that work best together and make the best leader out of them the captain for the match. It works slightly differently at a tournament, but that's only 4 / 5 / 6 games every two years.

  • Comment number 32.

    "What sort of signal would it send out for a player to produce two more or less flawless performances and then watch the old guard stroll straight back in?"


    It would send a message nearly as demoralising as the one he sent Gary Cahill, who after playing flawlessly when coming on as a sub to partner Jagielka, was dropped with no reason other than that his replacement used to partner him before spending a year or so bench warming.

  • Comment number 33.

    This blog only confirms what everyone already knows - journalists excel at hindsight.
    The majority of the 'old guard' in the England team should be replaced as they've disappointed for far too long.
    Players such as Terry, Ferdinand and Barry should make way to younger, fresher and fitter players.
    Capello's role should also be reviewed as a matter of urgency as he is blatantly not the right man for the job. When things start to go wrong, the manager should be capable of putting the team back on track or implementing tactical changes that are beneficial to the side. When things have gone a bit pear-shaped for England, Capello has shown himself to be utterly clueless.

  • Comment number 34.

    I wouldn’t call England’s win in Basle ‘convincing’. We dominated the first half but had few good chances to show for it. At times in the second we were really struggling to contain Switzerland. As with Bulgaria, the final score was flattering. We are falling back into old bad habits – three decent wins against mediocre teams and we think all is well again.
    Having said that, all the opposition in our group is mediocre. In fact, yesterday saw the hardest fixture done and dusted. Therefore one could agree that there is no need to change the team – we are not up against decent teams, therefore we don’t need to bring backl the players from the top clubs.
    The problem comes when we eventually meet a decent team, which won’t be until the finals of 2012. It may be that the current England team develops into something good by then, but frankly we are still very lightweight. Milner and Barry are both very average (Milner’s crossing is poor at times), SWP is abysmal. A Johnson, Jagielka and Lescott are nothing to get excited about. Despite his hat-trick on Friday, Defoe showed how wasteful he can be last night.
    But you can only beat what is put in front of you. England have done that well so far and should have no problems in the rest of qualifying. But please let’s not get carried away – we have been here before!

  • Comment number 35.

    And in the same theme as my earlier post, don't write off Ferdinand yet! I DO NOT say that he should be back for the Montenegro game, but let him come back for United; if he shows that he's one of the best pair in the country then, bring him in. In the same way as 'if you are good enough, you are old enough' it must be said that 'if you are good enough, you're not too old'.

  • Comment number 36.

    Come off it Phil, what's the point in having a squad if you can't get back in, would man u keep ferdinand out for evans if both were fit and playing, would chelski keep terry out if he was fit, simple fact is that if both of them are playing well they are the best we have got, so they should play.
    I could just imagine you, and everyone else come to that, having a right go at capello if we lose a game with them two on the bench or not in the squad.
    If capello was to pick purely on form, half the team would be changed every game.
    BTW What happened to Cahill, thought he looked impressive when he came on against bulgaria.

  • Comment number 37.

    @#24 Rifki Jones

    in fact, Terry has been a rock many times, but against the sport of teams we face in the Euro QUALIFIERS.
    In the Euro finals 2012 we will face several teams more like Germany 2010.
    Terry was completely found out both for lack of speed and poor tactical discipline against these counter attackers, and in 2012 he'll be two years older and slower.
    The real question is; if Rio is unfit, will Terry do a job with Jagielka in the next few games, or would Lescott/Cahill do better? If Rio stays fit (unlikely imho), Capello should pair him with Jagielka anyway as he'd then have speed to spare at CB, and he has to think ahead to the tournament.

  • Comment number 38.

    Couldn't watch the match, but did see the text version on BBC.

    Seemed to generally a decent performance by England, or so it seemed. Weather this transcribes down into other performances against harder/better opponents is just a judgment we'll have to hope and wait.

    Terry and Ferdinand im afraid need to just be ambassadors to the team and let the younger defenders take their place as proven they have what it takes to become England regulars, staying fit permitted.

    Lampard is however in a different keg. HE should retire from the international stage, we have Milner, Young, Johnson, Walcott, Wiltshire... All these have qualities which surpass Lampards overall International ability. If he is in the squad, the England team lose the quality and feel they have so far produced in the last 2 games.

    I do wish Beckham luck and hope he forces his way back into the squad, he's totally under rated as a player, and the England team IMHO seem to gel and play better when he's in the field.. HE cant do no worse then SWP now can he :-)

  • Comment number 39.

    For once Phillip i actually agree with you, however i would not have pussy footed around the issue like you. John Terry is a "head it and hoof it" merchant and whilst you do need one defender to put his body on the line, you also need to be able toplay the ball out of defence or you lose posession easily. I'm not saying Jageilka is a huge amount better, but he is better. Lescott should not have a place at centre back nor should Dawson. Cahill is the future of the centre back position and should be given his chance now to establish himself.

    Lampard and Gerrard can not play together and that has been glaringly obvious to see for the last 8 years, but manager after manager has perservered with it, when its clear that they both have the natural instinct to drive forward from midfield and therefore leave us short at the back. I've never rated Lampard, yes he's bagged goals from midfield, but half of them are penalties ansd the rest are scuffed and deflected efforts. Ironically, one of the times he does hit a ball true and its ruled out by a blind referee.

    To say he is one of "greatest Premier League players" is an overstatment. You are putting him up there Henry, Cantona, Zola, Bergkamp,Shearer, Scholes, Keane etc and he is not in their league.

  • Comment number 40.

    No Terry, no Lampard, no Ferdinand - no need

    for any of them to come back. We are finally playing like we mean it, and the reason is that these 'big stars' have fallen to earth and it has allowed people who will 'try' to play instead.

  • Comment number 41.

    Funny how the only people disagreeing with leaving out 'the old guard' are Chelsea and Man U fans....

    I say keep the winning team together, those that are not playing now were part of the SA fiasco, and are all the other side of 32. There are younger, fitter and faster, (not to mention technically just as capable) players in possession of the spots, and barring injury, they should remain so.

  • Comment number 42.

    There's plenty of room for improvement but the thing that impressed me was the level of composure. There were 10 mins in each half where England wobbled a little but overall a very positive performance

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm a Chelsea fan and would usually be in full support of Lampard and Terry. But on this occasion i have to say that i agree with Phil and most people on here that Frank should now be used as a squad player with Gerrard first choice. Would love to see Jack Rodwell given a call up as a potential defensive minded partner for Stevie in the middle.
    As for Terry, he's not got the full backing of England fans, seems to disrupt the dressing room and as he comes up to the 30 mark he's becoming more injury prone. Still a world class defender but it may be better for everyone (especially Chelsea fans) if he was just dropped from the squad now. Players like Phil Jones, Cahill, Shawcross etc are the future so lets give them experience now.
    Rio is coming up to 32 but if he can regain fitness and form he should be given more of a squad role as well. I can see a solid partnership with him and Jagielka until a younger player emerges or Michael Dawson returns.

  • Comment number 44.

    I agree with you Phil, Capello must use his younger squad as much as possible during the qualifying campaign. This will then give the newer players some decent international exposure to perform better in the tournaments.
    Sure, it would be nice to at least qualify for the European cup this time around, but an international teams priority must always be the next world cup, even if it's almost four years away! Out of Ferdinand, Terry, Lampard and even Gerrard and Cole, who is still going to be at the peak of their game in 2014? So don't write them off immediately, their experience still counts for a lot - but don't let them smother out the new generation of players who might only start gaining several caps come 2012-13.

  • Comment number 45.

    " The days when an England coach simply pencilled the names of Terry and Ferdinand on his teamsheet without a second thought have gone. And that is no bad thing."


    So you can read Capello's mind can you Phil?
    I think you need to wait for the teamsheet for the next match against Montenegro before making such a statement. I hope you are right but, personally, I wouldn't bet on it.

  • Comment number 46.

    ferdinand and terry are massively over-hyped on all fronts. terry is slow and dirty, ferdinand fast and plain stupid. neither should be guaranteed a spot in the team.
    as for lamps......for many years, it should've been him, or gerard in the middle of midfield, and for too long, any manager has shied away from making the decision for fear of upsetting anyone. but, everyone knows that the only person to ever completely change any game by himself, has been gerard, on numerous occasions, so it has to be him. lamps should start on the bench, at best. gerard should be captain on a permanent basis.
    as for you dopey man utd you'll be saying gary neville should still be playing!! give it up! clowns!

  • Comment number 47.

    Footy fans are the most fickle and unbelievable bunch sometimes, and the sports media aren't much better - I guess to sell stories right?

    Lampard has nearly never been played in position for England. He does not play a holding role and is always unadventurous - because he takes responsibility for the team which Captain never does. Gerrard will regularly produce a top performance against weaker opposition, but can be a match loser against the best.

    If you want a better view than training and the odd England match look to their club performances. Lampard is a world class player without a doubt that has had his entire international career shackled. The fact is that most of the time neither Gerrard or Lampard have been played in their favoured position where they do the most damage.

    And as for the captaincy Stevie is hardly a role model is he? He sulks, has had off field trouble, and pubicly declares that our opposition who got to the world cup on merit and nearly got a result from us had their 'cup final' match - such arrogance!

    There may be cases to answer in the defence and midfield this is true, but by far the biggest is the continued use of crazy selections like SWP who would manage to find a defender to run into even if he had to dribble the ball into the dressing rooms to do it.

    Sometimes you need to switch out big players, but don't discredit them and don't change history. Capello caused that World Cup flop by taking injured players, poor players, continuing to put key players out of position and failing to cover our weaknesses with tactics. Individual excellence will take care of the weaker teams most of the time but the well organised and technically superior ones will continue to expose us.

  • Comment number 48.

    The last time we played decent, world-class opposition, John Terry - and to an extent Gareth Barry - were hopelessly outpaced time after time, and we lost 4 - 1.
    After Ferdinand's prolonged injury lay off, his future inclusion can only exacerbate this problem area, unless he proves otherwise in training and for Man Utd.

  • Comment number 49.

    "The days when an England coach simply pencilled the names of Terry and Ferdinand on his teamsheet without a second thought have gone. And that is no bad thing"

    When will the BBC hire someone with genuine footballing knowledge and experience aside from the respectable Lineker & Hanson.

    How is someone like McNulty hailed as the bbc's footballing blog messiah still in work? Lescott started last night, who can't even get into the city team; the reasoning behind Ferdinand and Terry not playing... erm perhaps because they are both INJURED!
    To make a Pro Fabio sentiment like that when both were unable to play is just idiocy - You might as well mention that Capello is a genius for not playing Lampard last night!

    James Richardson, Sid Lowe, Rafael Honigstein!? Christ as said you have the likes of Hanson on board, bloody use him!

  • Comment number 50.

    Your spot on McNulty, Terry should not play for england again let alone walk back into the squad. He has been a destructive influence in the camp and this was one of the principle causes of poor morale in South Africa. What was good last night was the movement and pace of passing which Lampard would not have contributed to in anyway. What a shame that Milner's suspension will now no doubt allow Lampard to waltz back into the team, probably at the expense of Stevie G being shunted out to the left again, thus resetting any progress made over the last 5 days. But we'll wait and see.

    Also, regarding your comment about Manchester City providing lots of players...Well done them. Buying other peoples England internationals (some for extortionate amounts of money). Wright Phillips shouldn't be in the squad as he can be added to the Dyer-Jenas-Carrick mould of players who have a ridiculous number of caps despite doing absolutely nothing for England. The only reason they know Hart is a class keeper is because they loaned him out to Birmingham last season because they bought Given in to replace him. The only one they deserve credit for is Johnson (who I believe was Marwood's signing) who, ironically, was bought for very little, yet is probably their best player at the moment in amongst all the obscenely over played and overrated squad players.

  • Comment number 51.

    Fair article... I agree.
    Those that disagree are missing the point entirely. The point being... not that they shouldn't play for England again, but that they need not be automatic selections anymore.
    The point also being that those that are perfoming best should be first choice,... and not having to rely on the old guard because there is no choice.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm not usually a fan of your blogs Phil, primarily because you tend to be one of the many doom-mongers who heaps unecessary pressure on the national side. But in this case, I think you are pretty well spot on.

    Someone mentioned here that the best players should play in the National side - the simple answer to this question is NO. Not if these so called players don't deliver consistently at international level. Terry has looked poor ever since 'bridge gate'. Ferdinand is injury prone and has always had the ability to switch off in an England shirt. Jagielka in particular has been magnificent in these two games and has earned the right to play. It is time to bed new talent and and remove the 'ageing order'.

    Like many people, I was dismayed when Johnson wasn't named in the World Cup Squad because he definitely has some of the X factor about him and so it proved. I also (like many) could not believe that Hart wasn't first pick and again this has been proved. Hart could play in goal for England for the next 10 years. He is potential world class.

    Rightly we should not get carried away. But Mr Capello should remember this is a 'team' gain and 11 prima donnas don't necessarily make a cohesive unit as has been plainly seen in the past.

    If there is any need for proof of this theory then Steven Gerrard is it - without Lampard, England are a better team. Not because Lampard isn't a class player but because Gerrard is a better option when put in his prime position.

    Time to put some of the tired professionals out to grass I think.

  • Comment number 53.

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

  • Comment number 54.

    Though I have read far worse knee jerk type articles from Phil I do think that there is some short termism in the text here.

    Yes last night was a decent result and yes the stand in centre halves played well but lets face it both Switzerland and bulgaria have been limited opposition. I can understand the 'new broom' cravings after the stuffing by Germany but don't jump too soon just because of two victories. Watching bits of both matches (whilst also tracking my other team Holland) there were still signs of the problems from the summer. There were periods on the back foot where better teams would capitalise and ball retention is still an issue even with a Barry/Gerrard combination in midfield whose key strengths are their closing down and competitiveness rather than creativity.

    However i must say i was impressed with Adam johnson-ia had to pinch myself after seeing and Englishman that can dribble-he MUST stay in the team. Re rooney he had a decent game of course aided by the more sypathetic response from all and sundry despite doing far worse than Terry allegedly (who's allegations have remained just that). anyway as a Chelsea fan should Lampard and terry get more rest by not playing for england (who i am largely indifferent to) then so be it. Given the media fuelled attitude to chelsea why shouldn't we be more selfish-in fact go on boys retire from internationals and bring Ashley with you :-)

  • Comment number 55.

    Totally agree about the old guard but Lescott is not the same class as Rio or Terry not even Dawson. Not dissing Lescott but he is only back up for the other 3.

  • Comment number 56.

    The bottom line is that players like Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Crouch and Heskey all go missing in England games. The foreign contingent in Premier League teams makes these players look far better than they actually are, so much so that when International matches come around, they look distinctly average. It isnt rocket science that they cant replicate club form on the World Stage, they arent good enough.

    It's a myth these players add class to the England team, a case in point is that we have never reached the final of a major tournament when we are supposedly the greatest collection of players in the world.

    The new youngsters look hungry, proud and show want to wear the shirt, I say we reward them with starting places on fitness and form. The likes of Johnson and Walcott are the future whereas players such as Wilshere, Gibbs, Agbonlahor and Jagielka are the real Golden Generation.

  • Comment number 57.

    My point is proved over Lampard playing for England, the midfield plays far better without him & if golden boy is selected should be on the bench. Gerrard has proved we're far better without him.

    How can the selectors ignore how well the central defenders have played without Terry & Ferdinand so thank them & put them out to grass in their international career

  • Comment number 58.

    Your sentiments are about right Mr McNulty unforunatily they won't be heeded. Lampard will return due to Milner's suspension and Ferdinand and Terry will again limp around the central defence...Let us hope Beckham isn't fit...

  • Comment number 59.

    I agree with your view on selection entirely. On discussing the game with friends there was a consensus, after some debate, that Terry may well be a bad influence in defense. There is no doubting his effort on the footballing side, but we consider his 'captain in all but name' attitude could be disruptive.
    I was alone in thinking that Ferdinand seems a little suspect at times against fast forward players and can get caught out of position at times. Consider his performance against Torres a couple of years ago.
    If it ain't broke then don't fix it. Let the old guard as you call them play for their places, especially as they are coming back from injuries.
    Let us forget the horrors of the World Cup now and get behind this revitalised England team.

  • Comment number 60.

    Bit early to write off Ferdinand imo. Hasn't had a consistant run of games to get up to form or full fitness for about 18 months due to the recurring back problem he had, but none of us know conclusively whether that's fully chronic or still existing today.
    It wasn't that that put him out of the world cup; was the unfortunateness that Heskey fell on him, and so can't be said to have failed this summer like some would argue; Terry etc.
    Age may well have already caught up (who knows?) but Rio's games often been about his reading of the game and anticipation as opposed to Terry's more last ditch challenge style. From that, I think Rio would handle a slight loss of pace better than Terry, who was never the quickest to start with.
    Equally Rio's confidence on the ball is important, nothing worse than the CBs making great challenges and then hoofing it back up the pitch to the opposition to invite another attack.
    Question marks definitely over his health but wouldn't write him off.

    As for the others, Terry's not been at his best for a while, but can still recover to be a useful asset to the team. The Chelsea systems always got better out of both him and Lampard than the International one though. Lampard's generally had two more defensively adapt midfielders behind him (Essien and Mikel, previously Makelele) allowing him more freedom to get more involved further up the pitch, and Chelsea's strangling - especially in the mourinho era with Makelele pressing - often saw opposition run out of time/ideas and punt aerial balls into the box which Terry lapped up all day. With England the two man midfield and attacking fullbacks (Cole, Johnson etc), we're generally more exposed to the counter, where Terry suffers.

    Lampard still a good player aswell. Probably shouldn't start, but always find the criticism that he never performs for England as he does for Chelsea, slightly unfair. It's not his general role, and he just doesn't have the freedom to drive a game in a two man mid like he can in a three.

  • Comment number 61.

    Stevie G has to remain as captain and the 'old gaurd' should have to earn their stripes again. This could be the best thing that happens to England or Don Fab.

    So good to see the younger players getting a chance, and Steven Gerrard has been oustanding as captain on and off the field (world cup performances - not his fault)

  • Comment number 62.

    Capello has dome very little for England other than taking a team picked by Sven Goran Erickson and trying to get them to play better by shouting at them.

    It's an approach that failed spectacularly this summer. Let's not make the same mistake again. In the two years we have left with Don Fabio, he should be instructed to build a team out of talented youngsters who can grow into the role ready for 2014 or 2016.

    This does mean that a lot of the old guard need to be told 'thanks but no thanks'.

    'Depth of experience' counted for nothing in South Africa. John Terry's 'depth of experience' didn't prevent him staging a ludicrous one-man mutiny in front of the world's media. On the pitch, Lampard has always been flattered by strong midfield partners (Makelele, Ballack, Essien) and simply does not play well with Gerrard. It has to be one or the other and now that Gerrard has risen to the occasion, he should be allowed to get on with it. As for Ferdinand, he hasn't played well for club or country since 2008, so I can't see why he'd even be selected.

    Wright-Phillips should be next in line for the chop. He'll be thirty-two at the next World Cup. Plenty of young forwards out there who could who could do with some playing time. Next out for me would be Barry. He's good, but not that good. He'll be thirty-three in 2014. Give Jack Wilshere a run. I bet he'd do just as well.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a fan of The Daggers, I think I'm pretty neutral and here is my view...
    Lampard, Terry and Ferdinand should be dropped to the bench when they come back. We have looked much more like a settled, balanced team in the last 2 games than we ever did at the WC. The defence has hardly put a foot wrong, the midfield has pace, creativity, defensive capabilities and great vision, and the strikers now look a threat, so why change it?

    Start giving some more of the younger players a chance from the bench also. Wishere, Rodwell, Richards, Carroll etc should all get 10 minute cameos now so that they are ready to make the step up. To be honest, I'd rather not qualify for Euro 2012 with a young, inexperienced squad so that we're ready to mount a serious challenge at the 2014 WC than qualify with 'The Old Guard' and expect these youngsters to come in cold to get us to the WC.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think Rio should start as captain alongside Jagielka. Terry's lack of pace and deep defending is a liability. You can't strip Rio of the captaincy just because Gerrard has a few good games. What if he were injured and someone else did well? Would that person then be captain? I think the captaincy needs a degree of consistency.
    I'm still not convinced by Walcott at international level. But for lack of alternative i'd play him and Johnson out wide.
    If there were tougher tests i'd have played Huddlestone and Barry deep,with Gerrard behind Rooney. But for what lies ahead Barry and Gerrard behind a front two would suffice. As you've guessed,Barry doesn't convince me as a holder. Its a shame Cattermole is so apt to bookings.

  • Comment number 65.

    @#24 Rifki Jones

    "...but surely the experience of Terry is preferable in central defence to all others"

    If experience is all that matters then lets bring Tony Adams back!

  • Comment number 66.

    Okay England fans here is the truth again.

    Gerrard always should have been appointed captain of your national side, even before the disgraced Terry got it. As a Man Utd fan I am not a fan of saying this but the guy is a talisman and natural leader. Something bereft of Ferdinand for sure and Terry prefers his captaincy to be one of puffed chest with an air of aloofness, no doubt built up by himself based on his Chelsea record.

    Gerrard should not have to endure being misplaced by Frank Lampard ever again. I have been watching Lampard's performances very closely for Chelsea and country and I can assure all you English fans that this guy brings nothing creative to your national side. I have also been saying for years that these two cannot and i stress CANNOT play together in midfield. Michael Carrick would even suit Gerrard better as partner but Barry will get picked and should do ahead of Lampard. I don't want to hear it from Chelsea fans on this issue please about how good he is. Fact is, he is extremely detrimental to Englands' midfield. Has limited vision, chooses to play square ball or behind far far far far to often, does not bring balance and fluidity to Englands attack and does not produce himself or for others with any great level of efficiency or consistency.

    Its time press and fans alike stopped clammering for players from the top teams just because they are performing in PL. Lets face it these English lads are surrounded by some of the best international footballers at club level and without them massive flaws appear in their game.

    The defensive issue is a harder conundrum but Ferdinand walk back into the team? Lets see if he can stay fit and perform at club level for any number of games before he can even be considered. Terry has been an exceptional player for club and country but as many non blinkered football fans will know over the past 18 playing months there are growing number of instances were he has been caughtout and exposed when isolated at the back and it is a growing and worrying trend. As a few posts have mentioned, he was hung out to dry against Germany in the WC.

    The major points from the qualifying victories so far

    1. Gerrard is captain and main man in midfield
    2. Milner starts every game possible ahead of Lampard
    3. Rooney plays in his most effective role of lead striker but with a partner ahead of him

    Finally the most impressive factor of last nights game is Adam Johnston, This kid is reveling the game at international level and I really believe that these games are going to be the making of a very very good wide attacking player. This kid really seems to enjoy the big stage and is visibly growing in stature from playing in the England side, more so, than he is at club level I reckon. Again not happy with this as man city are going to reap these rewards too. Oh and well done Darren Bent, should have had a brace if not for SWP's pathetic pass to an unmarked player!

  • Comment number 67.

    Terry to walk straight back into the england team at some point. He will regain his position. R. ferdinand ..... i am not sure will make the England set up,but in the starting 11 not yet and maybe not featuring regularly at all. Lampard, great midfielder and doing well as always at club level but that mixture of him and Gerrard dont mix well for England, but experience will always be needed and could push someone out of place.But who???

  • Comment number 68.

    41. At 08:48am on 08 Sep 2010, HMMurdoch wrote:
    Funny how the only people disagreeing with leaving out 'the old guard' are Chelsea and Man U fans....

    Hmmm... I find that most United and probably Chelsea fans prefer their players to concentrate on their club football. There's nothing worse than having a player come back from internationals with an injury, especially when you're fighting for a title.
    99% of Football fans don't ever experience the thrill of winning a title and hence pin their hopes on an average England team winning something/anything!
    So I don't think your comment is very accurate...

  • Comment number 69.

    Terry and Ferdinand are just too slow... good players, but a more dynamic central pairing is essential in order to stand any chance against the likes of Spain/Germany. They certainly should be in the squad, but not first choice given the form and performance of Jagielka and Lescott.

    Same for Lampard - good player, Gerrard needs to be in, meaning Lampard is on the bench. The balance of the team is so much better than it has been in years.
    Dont change a winning side....

  • Comment number 70.

    It seems some people are suggesting that both Switzerland and Bulgaria are of a much weaker quality than Slovenia and Algeria.

    Yes, let's not over-hype the last couple of performances, but come on, at least this England team is playing football.

    And totally agree re: Lampard. We look much better balanced without him.

  • Comment number 71.

    Agree with practically everything in the blog. Shame you then get slated for being boring. Never mind. As a Spurs fan, very disappointed to see two of our stars getting taken off on stretchers, but fair play to Man City. All of their boys (apart from SWP) played well. Lampard is a great player, but great players don't necessarily make the starting line up if it unbalances the team and he should not play if Gerrard - who should remain capt - is fit.

    You can't ask more of Rooney and Capello than what had been achieved in the last few days.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'd have no problem with Ferdinand coming back if he starts regularly for Man U and shows his past form...his is a class act and would have been solid for us at the World Cup if not injured. You have to think the Germany game would have been a lot different with him alongside Terry in defence...that is however in the past.

    Johnson (A not G) was class last night. To come on as he has in the last two games and show the confidence to attack players down the wing like he has, keep control of the ball and provide crosses/goals was very impressive. Our problem for the second half was again some wasteful possession. Time and time again when the ball comes out form defence to the likes of Barry in midfield it just bounces around or gets passed around poorly until we lose it again. Players seem to want to pass in the air or knock it over an opponents head which puts a team-mate in a difficult position. This happens time and again...keep it simple. Play triangles if you have to but retain possession for a while. It would have stifled the Swiss attack and given us a prolonged spell of possession.

  • Comment number 73.

    Enjoyed the game last night. I agree that the 'old guard' should not walk back into the side.

    CaliManc wrote: How, then, does one re-establish their position after injury if they don't get time in the side? Am I to understand that for Ferdinand, Lampard, etc. to regain a place in the England side that England must first lose matches?


    Suits me!!

    There are 2 key things that I would love to see Capello adhere to and NEVER move away from.
    1) He plays players in the position that they play week in week out for their club. For me that means Gerrard OR Lampard, and I would go for Gerrard. At international level so much is instinctive, and I think players have got to be in the mindset of the position as much as possible. I also would avoid Adam Johnson on the left as you say Phil - he's better on the right so it's a straight fight between him, Theo and Aaron Lennon. Spain have one of the best players in the world in Cesc Fabregas but don't try and crowbar him in on the right or something!
    2) He plays players on form. My biggest disappointment over the summer was when Fabio went crawling back to Carragher after one of Carra's worst seasons in years, when Dawson had been one of the leading centre backs in the Premiership last season.

    If he sticks to these principles and we lose, then I'll hold my hands up and say I was wrong, but I really feel that it's the right way to go.

  • Comment number 74.

    Gerrard might benefit even more if he has Tom Huddlestone playing in behind him...

  • Comment number 75.

    With Milner suspended the difficult decision for Capello, Lampard, has been made easy for him. Lampard is a good player, no doubt, but he is NOT better than Gerrard. However, this situation gives Capello the excuse to move Gerrard left, claiming he is effective from the left.

    Lampard has been average in the centre for England for a couple of years. Gerrard, albeit against average/poor opposition, has been very good in the last 2 games. It's fair to say, Lampard has had his chance and should now come off the bench.

    Spain play their best players in their best position. As such, world class players cannot get into the team (Fabregas for example). We have to do the same. Gerrard is our best central midfielder. Lampard should not come back into the side. My bet is he will though.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think you are wrong Phil....and this seems the the typical view that the tabloids have i.e. out with the old but you need a balance. England would have potentially done better in the world cup with Ferdinand there as he is one of the few defenders who is world class but plays like a European and reads the game well.

    Terry is definately droppable - he seems to be out of position a lot consistently and gets torn to shreds by anyone with pace.

  • Comment number 77.

    @56 Rory

    If players like Lampard and Terry are 'covered' by the foreign players at Chelsea, why do Chelsea miss them so much when they don't play? Your statement is a wish, not a fact.

  • Comment number 78.

    Players at club and international level should be picked on merit rather than reputation. It will do no harm to let these players warm the bench, if they are the players the are reputed to be they will respond positively. Injury can strike at any time, all of the centre backs have had their problems of late especially ferdinand, so it makes sense to expose jagielka and Lescott at international level as much as we can.

  • Comment number 79.

    Imagine a tournament with the 7th rank team Liverpool (ranked 7 in England based on 2009/2010 finishes) in a qualifying group with West Ham (17 - Switzerland), Plymouth Argyle (43 - Bulgaria), Rotherham United (73 - Montenegro) and Hereford United (84 - Wales). Wouldn't you expect Liverpool to win all of their games with the possible exception of West Ham away?
    Last night was the toughest and we did well. But don't tell me Montenegro is the big test! Liverpool v Rotherham at Anfield!!! Don't be silly. It is unthinkable that we ncould od other than walk it.
    Trouble is that qualifying from such an easy group misleads us into thinking we are world beaters. And allows us to overlook weaknesses that top teams will cruelly expose. Terry, Ferdinand, Upson and Lescott lack pace and will get mudered by Torres or Villa. So keep playing Jagielka to give him the experience he will need when we meet top opposition. Glen Johnson is great going forward but pretty rubbish at defending.
    I thought Rooney was disappointing last night. Playing midfield in a 4-5-1 works well for him though and Defoe does well at holding up the ball - particularly for a midget. But Rooney has to start every game simply because he is world class on his day. But take him off if he's not cutting it. And if he can't put his personal problems behind him on the pitch then he has to be dropped till he sorts it out in his head.

  • Comment number 80.

    A classy performance, against a poor swiss side so nothing to get excited about really, the key with these games is to find the right mix of players playing as a team in the right posistions!

    Agreed that the 'old team' shouldn't come waltzing back in as has been done in the past and it has to be either Gerrard or Lampard, more the former on the England these even if Gerrard has been poor for liverpool over the last year.

    Out of Rio and Terry, drop Terry completely, he's been extremley poor by his standards ever since his affair was made public knowledge (including for Chelsea). If Rio can sort his injury problems out and gets back to top form then we don't have anyone better at controlling a defense, Jagielka to partner him.

    A Johnson looks brilliant at international level, like he's been there for years and could well be an integral player come the finals.

    For me, the line up for Montenegro and beyond should be,
    G Johnson, Rio/Jag, Jag/Lescott/Cahill/Dawson, A Cole (need to find more RB/LB's)
    Lennon/Walcott, Gerrard/Lampard, Barry/Parker/Wilshire, A Johnson (switching wings with Lennon)/Milner
    Rooney/Crouch, Defoe/Bent

    Foster, Upson, Terry, Wright-Phillips, Carrick, Rodwell, Carroll,

  • Comment number 81.

    At 08:06am on 08 Sep 2010, Blueflame66 wrote (extract):

    "So i think the answer to winning the Euros is not the team or the manager,
    its restraining the media from destroying any chances we have by running a
    front page sleaze story just before the tournament starts then and only then
    England might just win something!"

    Blue, I disagree with some of your previous comments (in your comment), but this last one is spot on. The Media seem to take no responsibility for their disruptive actions, and this in itself if profiteering from sleaze. What difference would holding onto the story for another week if it was so important to publish it.

  • Comment number 82.

    Phil - Your comments are correct - If this is to be a new begining, then no-one should be written off, but equally no-one has the right to automatic selection. After the last two England results its right that everybody has to 'play for their place' and if you are playing well and contributing to the success, you keep your shirt!
    Despite the hype around Rooney's private life, he has come out and delivered and as you point out, Gerrard has been a different player on the pitch and a different man off it - in both cases looking and playing the part of England's Captain effectively.
    If messers Terry, Lampard and Ferdinand want their places back they must demonstrate their form and fitness (in particular in Rio's case) and (me thinks) they will also have to wait until one of the present first 11 has a stinker!

  • Comment number 83.

    All those calling for the "old guard" to be left out, and "don't change a winning team" seem to be thinking in club football terms, and not allowing for the very real difference in running an international side.

    Not changing a winning team is a valid approach to take when you are playing at least one game per week. International football, when you are generally playing less than one game per month is never so straightforward.

    Leaving aside the possibility of players getting injured playing club football, there is plenty of time between games for the players currently in form to go off the boil. If, by the start of October, Phil Jagielka's confidence and form is shot due to a few bad errors playing for Everton, you wouldn't pick him to lead England's central defensive partnership. For example.

    Picking him because he was great in the previous two England games a month ago, and taking no account of current form, is pretty much in the same ballpark as the assumed selection of the "old guard" based on reputation ... which I don't subscribe to.

    International managers can only select their squads based on what they see players doing for their club sides. They can then only select their teams based on what they see on the training ground. Basing selection on the last international game would be foolish, especially when you consider that after the October international against Montenegro it is a full 5 months before England play again.

    For what it's worth, I thought England's performance last night was exactly what was required ... beat a potentially tricky opponent on their own turf with a minimum of fuss and alarm, and it showed that Jagielka, Lescott, Bent and Johnson (particularly Johnson) have potentially bright futures at international level.

    I remain unconvinced that Darren Bent is genuinely an international striker, but hopefully getting the monkey off his back and scoring his first goal will allow us to see what he can really do at this level.

  • Comment number 84.

    As if it has taken this long to realise Gerrard is world class at centre midfield, and the team should be built around him. He should be the captain, simple as. He can be the driving force. Forget Lampard now. I still think there's a place for Ferdinand and Terry, although the former's injury problems may spell the end of his career before long.

    Has Capello got the balls to get rid of Lampard? Probably not.

  • Comment number 85.

    Why do people feel the need to bash every England performance? What do you want? 10-0 wins against everyone? Yes the opposition was poor, but compare our performances to that off France/Italy/Portugal in this campaign. All they can do is win, but for some people that isn't enough.

    Personally I thoguht England looked good (very good in parts) against both teams. Yes there are issues to iron out (Glen Johnson needs to learn hot to defend, the sooner we replace Barry the better) but on the whole, the team performed well, looked confident and comfortable on the ball, took the chances they created to run out easy winners in both games, and only conceded on goal, which was a cracker anyway.

    Lampard and Rio can't expect to walk back into the team, but Terry will as no one player has put together back to back performances like Jagielka has done. Lampard and Rio, are both good options to have on the bench.

  • Comment number 86.

    The thing about the last games is the amount of options each player has when on the ball, and this is down to Gerrard and Rooney being allowed to roam, having wingers who are exactly that, wingers and not sticking with the tested but highly unsuccesful duo of Gerrard and Lampard.

    Adam Johnson could be the key to this team becoming VERY good.

  • Comment number 87.

    Anyone who thinks that at least 2, if not all 3, of Terry, Ferdinand & Lampard will not walk straight back into the England team are seriously deluding themselves. We've seen it time and again and once more we will be shaking our heads in disbelief, it's all very well and good praising Capello, but he has not chosen to make these changes, they've been forced upon him. TIme will tell and we'll see the same boring selection of the old guard next month.

    On another note if he doesn't drop SWP he is officially a carp manager, no idea how he constantly gets picked.

  • Comment number 88.

    Ferdinand I think has certainly had his day. He seems to be very injury prone, and I feel this is now the time for England to look towards forging the right defensive partnerships for the future. There are plenty of decent younger defenders that deserve the chance to settle in and gain in confidence from becoming regular starters.
    Terry I think is not as injury prone, and would probably be the sort of solid, experienced defender to have in the squad such that you can bring him on to shore things up if things get dicey with injuries etc during a game or a tournament. Having said that he's not going to get any better, and by the time Euro 2012 comes around his time might have passed. He can forget about any more world cups.
    Lampard certainly cannot play with Gerrard, and Gerrard would always be the first choice (including as captain).
    Bent does need to be given the chance with England. For me he's probably joint third along with Crouch, after Rooney and Defoe, so needs to be in the squad.
    Beckham is just good column inches for the newspapers, nothing else anymore.
    Good to see Joe Hart established as no1, but I do feel sorry for Rob Green. That mistake will live with him forever. Everyone should wish him the best and hope he can put it behind him. England will need a reliable no2 goalie, and someone who has had Green's experiences and come through the other side (as it were) would be an asset to the squad.

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    Consider the fact that the team is playing better BECAUSE Terry is out. No disputing his talent but the disruption after his 'playing away' escapade and his attempted coup during the world cup leads me to believe that the guy actually brings team spirit down.

    We've all heard the rumours (ala Mr Bellamy) of the sort of arrogance JT shows in his private life ... and none can disagree that his press conference during the world cup dripped with arrogance having in his own mind elevated himself to spokesman for the entire team. Imagine the team spirit after the backfire.

    Maybe just maybe he doesn't fit in?? Talented or otherwise!!

    Whether any agree with me or not the manner in which the team is playing at the moment WITHOUT JT is fantastic and can only get better. Why rock the boat when it has only just set off?

    All IMHO of course.

  • Comment number 91.

    15. At 07:41am on 08 Sep 2010, Lagogo wrote:
    Phil, I think your allegiance to Liverpool is clouding your judgement! How can you say Ferdinand should not walk into the team as Captain. Be real! Do you really think Jagielka and Lescott can play against top strikers in International matches? I think, what's killing England hopes is people like you who think you know what's best for the team, instead of the coach.


    Whilst I agree it is time to look forward, I think Ferdinand still has a future if he can conquer his injury problems. I would have no issue with Rio and Jagielka as our centre halves, two defenders comfortable on the ball. Lampard is Gerrard's backup from now on and Terry is simply not good enough any more. Will need to impress for Chelsea just to get in the squad ahead of Dawson, Lescott and Cahill.
    The other issue for me is Barry. Seriously think he should be phased out now. It is hard for me to see what he brings to the team, and now he is ageing it is getting harder. Personally I would like to see Huddlestone and Gerrard in the middle, but an in form Carrick, Milner or Hargreaves will do.

  • Comment number 92.


    I know you're an avid supporter of Lampard and I definitely agree he shouldn't automatically regain his starting place but I would go even further and say he shouldn't even be in the squad. I've asked you in the past what exactly you believe Lampard contributes to the England team because I haven't seen anything over the years and you've failed to come back to me. I really think he's a deadweight and the fact he gets goals for Chelsea shouldn't cover that up.

    A 100% fit Rio Ferdinand is an excellent defender, much better than Terry, the problem is a fit Rio is rare. Jagielka deserves to keep his place.

  • Comment number 93.

    Typical media stuff, as soon as England struggle against one of the bigger sides the articles will change to "Was Capello a bit hasty in dispensing with the services of Lampard/Ferdinand/Terry? After all it's one thing to beat Bulgaria etc etc".

    And yet again Stevie G gets a free pass, rubbish in the big games and whenever he's asked to do anything outside his very narrow comfort zone but as long as we pick another midfielder to do the actual midfield work he can be a Roy of the Rovers world beater/flat track bully against the lesser sides and you lot lap it up.

  • Comment number 94.

    False hopes yet again. When will you journos learn your lessons? For God's sake stop counting chickens before they hatch!

  • Comment number 95.

    wish we had reactive moderation!! don't know why some blogs do and other don't. can anyone enlighten me?? it completely disrupts debate!

  • Comment number 96.

    Have to agree with 99% of your article seems Capello has finally realised (perhaps by injuries forced upon his squad?) that actually playing guys in their accustomed club positions has some real benefits! Reforming the Jaglielka/Lescott partnership for a one off game was a no brainer, but I think a fit Rio will return to replace Lescott. Keep Gerrard as captain as he has said and done all the right things since the World Cup, leave him in central midfield with Lamps as back-up on the bench if necessary. Interesting to hear both Terry and Lampard might be back for Chelsea at the weekend isn't it?

    Adam Johnson's been a revelation. Rooney and Bent's goals have somewhat masked their overall scoring contribution in recent games. You say he was right to play Wayne..but he got away with it somewhat as Rooney's attitude wasn't right in the WC but maybe he realises he put in a shift now the poo's hit the fan?

  • Comment number 97.

    The thing I find most annoying is that players like Jagielka are kept out of the team because there is apparently a better player ahead of them. Yet with Lampard, every single manager who has taken charge has felt a need to include him in his favoured position despite the fact there is a better player than him in said position ie Gerrard. We've wasted the best years of Gerrard by screwing him out on the left wing and now he's had three awesome games to show what we've missed with him in a central role he should stay there. Will Lampard start the next game? Probably. Should he? Quite simply, no. He's been terrible in an England shirt throughout his entire international career. The way he casually wanders around the middle of the park, shirking out of tackles, passing the ball backwards and sideways is a joke. Gerrard bombs around like it's his last ever game when he plays in the middle. The midfield of the last two games has been finely balanced; pace on the wings from players not afraid to take a player on, a guy who just kicks people and an absolute beast of a midfield engine in Gerrard who can do it all when he plays there.

    I'm still supporting Capello, I'm not a fickle football fan unlike most of the country who are gunning for his head but please Fabio, get this one right.

  • Comment number 98.


    Good article and I have to say I agree with you on most points. The most important thing is that we don't revert to trying to play Lampard and Gerrard together. Not because Lampard is not in the best 11 players in the country - actually he is in the best 5 but Gerrard is the incumbent and although they are both brilliant I give the nod to Gerrard for his extra pace, which is particularly noticeable when he needs to get back into position defensively.

    Lampard should be like for like cover for Gerrard and believe me, over the next 2 years Gerrard will get injured at some time and also he will have games when he has a niggle or is not at 100% - in which case Lampard is there and there is little disruption to the system.

    In terms of the defenders I really like Jagielka and I would keep him in the side. If Ferdinand gets fit it would be hard to ignore him. Which means Terry is third choice.

    Johnson was wonderful and Capello really must (privately) rue the fact he didn't take him to South Africa.

    And Defoe is playing incredibly well at the moment although he did miss a couple of chances last night.

    In summary given current levels of form this is the best side we can field. Ferdinand will be a useful addition if he can get back to his best. Otherwise - carry on!

  • Comment number 99.

    I have a couple of points around the inclusion of Terry et al.

    With regards to Terry, I feel quite strongly he should not be in the squad. Firstly, his form has been poor for quite some time now and a new face would not have got into the England team based on that form.

    Secondly, the team seem to be playing more as a unit without him there. There were obviously many reasons around the World Cup failure but Terry clearly still considers himself the de facto Captain of the team and was a disruptive influence (to a greater or lesser extent), as shown by his poorly conceived and/or timed press statement. Gerrard looks much happier in the last couple of games both as a player (which is obviously due in a large part to his more central role) but also as a confident and vocal captain. Perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not.

    I feel less strongly about Ferdinand and Lampard. As with Terry, I do feel Ferdinands form has not been international class for some time and the constant injuries (probably the cause of the former issue) are problematic to a settled defence. Lampard should be in the squad but I absolutely agree with Phil, we have to learn to play players that fit our system and in their natural positions and yes, that will mean someone misses out. Lampard is a certainly an option when Gerrard is injured, off form or otherwise unavailable but we have seen time and again Lampard and Gerrard cannot work as a CM pairing.

    All 3 of these players have been good servants to England and certainly deserve our respect for that but maybe time to look at the future rather than pick them based on the past.

  • Comment number 100.

    Mr. McNulty has hit the nail on the head. The only one of those sideleined for the Swiss match that I would consider for starting against Montenegro is Terry. It lies between him and Lescott who should partner Jagielka. For the rest everyuthing is right in the McNulty script.


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