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England ease pressure on Capello

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Phil McNulty | 00:50 UK time, Saturday, 4 September 2010


Fabio Capello claimed he was transformed from a god into a monster by England's World Cup failure in South Africa.

The impressive dismissal of Bulgaria in England's opening Euro 2012 qualifier hardly constitutes a return journey to his former status for Capello. It does, however, represent the first steps in the quest to restore credibility to the Italian and his team after that miserable Highveld summer.

Capello made it clear he was supremely indifferent to the tag draped around his neck after England's 4-0 win as he maintained his recent punchy public form, sparked by the critical fall-out from the World Cup.

He claimed he knew what was coming had England lost: "You write enough when I lose. Words are not so important when you win."

True enough, but Capello must also accept - and this comes from a supporter of England's coach - that much of the criticism delivered after the World Cup was fully justified.

Gerrard gives Defoe a pat on the head for his hat-trick

The most emphatic answer to criticism is victory, and England's team spoke eloquently on behalf of themselves and their coach as they made the perfect start on a road they hope will lead them to Poland and the Ukraine in two years.

Capello, irrespective of the major wobble he suffered either side of South Africa, has a reputation that deserves respect not lampooning and also warrants the opportunity to put matters right.

And England began that process with a display that achieved the main priority of three points, but also offered optimism that Capello can take forward into the sterner test that awaits against Switzerland in Basle on Tuesday.

It is no time for tub-thumping. One win will not hide the multitude of footballing sins committed in South Africa, but there was much to admire within the performance against a limited Bulgarian side.

Let's start with Capello himself. What at first looked like the rigid 4-4-2 formation that looked almost prehistoric and brought Capello so much scorn when set against the fluidity of England's opponents in South Africa, offered up something more as Wayne Rooney obeyed Capello's instructions to drop deep to do damage.

It was a tactical adjustment that reaped rich dividends, with a rejuvenated Rooney having a hand in all of England's goals. It reminded England and Capello of his world-class talent, but also of the mystery of his disappearance at the World Cup.

Rooney had a dreadful time at the showpiece, even his most ardent admirers would accept this, but the rush to write him off as a talent worthy of the highest stage was done with indecent haste. When Rooney flourishes so do England - if anything the World Cup was proof positive of this.

Capello's body language also answered questions. His lack of animation in the friendly against Hungary was used as a weapon to suggest he no longer cared for England or his job as coach.

While he remained stone-faced for most of the evening at Wembley, Capello was passionate enough to take his frustrations out on his support staff when matters were not precisely to his liking.

By all means say Capello makes mistakes - but do not say he does not care. It does him a grave disservice.

One of Capello's mistakes may well have been his suspicion of Joe Hart's inexperience, and his distribution, when it came to selecting his goalkeeper in South Africa.

England may have eased to victory at Wembley, but Hart's flawless contribution must not be overlooked. He made saves at crucial times, including one from his own defender Glen Johnson as the right-back threatened to confirm the impression that he is an accident-in-waiting at international level.

Hart's impact was summed up just after the hour, when he saved superbly from Stanislav Angelov to stop a Bulgaria equaliser, with England sweeping forward instantly to double their advantage through Defoe.

The Manchester City keeper's handling was flawless. It was the performance of an outstanding young keeper - and one who has it in his hands, literally, to be England's number one for a generation barring injury.

England captain Steven Gerrard patrolled central midfield with real authority and the relish of a player enjoying his role, while Manchester City's exciting and refreshingly direct Adam Johnson delivered a cameo that brought him his first international goal.

He appeared for Theo Walcott, who did not have the most fruitful night, but the Arsenal youngster's time will come and his start to the season bodes well for club and country.

Johnson and Walcott are two of the younger generation Capello suggested he would count on after the World Cup. In time they can offer width, pace and goals - while remembering all this must be carefully placed in the context of more difficult games to come.

England coped well with the absence of Chelsea duo John Terry and Frank Lampard, although it may be tougher to do so in Basle on Tuesday.

But Everton's Phil Jagielka barely put a foot wrong in central defence and enhanced his reputation in the absence of Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

There was one dark cloud on England's night, and that was the injury suffered by Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, who appeared to suffer serious knee damage when falling awkwardly early in the second half.

As he was stretchered away in agony, it seemed obvious that he is facing a lengthy spell out of the game - a bitter blow to this honest, talented defender who also has a reputation as one of football's most genuine personalities. The concern of his team-mates, and Capello as he spoke afterwards, was clear.

Capello and England now move on to Basle and the encounter with Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland, where they will guard against getting carried away with one victory and will not be lulled by the dismal performance of their opponents in a goalless draw with Australia on Friday.

England's shambolic showing in South Africa will act as a formidable shield against any triumphalism or complacency that may come from a single win. All bets will be off again if England lose on Tuesday.

For Capello and his team, though, the beating of Bulgaria will at least bring a measure of confidence and respectability back to the camp.

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  • Comment number 1.

    1. No coincidence that they performed better without Terry and Lampard. These two need to be dropped permanently.

    2. A good win. Early days but we may well qualify in style. ONE trophy in over 50 years is just not good enough. And you cannot blame these players, this manager or the PL for that! SO who is working on our Psychology for the tournament itself? That is where real work needs to be done over the next two years.

  • Comment number 2.

    Until England scored the 2nd goal on the break against Bulgaria I saw very little that suggests the team has improved since the World Cup.

    In midfield there was no movement, we were static as usual, and therefore our passing was ineffective. As a result we could only resort to chipping hopeful balls over the top, for either Defoe or Cole to run on to.

    It was only when Rooney dropped deep into the midfield area that we showed some vision and creativity.

    If we had been playing Germany, and not Bulgaria last night, we would have got another thrashing, because apart from the fact that we now have a good goalkeeper, very little else has changed.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog as usual Phil.
    If England play like they did in the last 20 minutes then we will have no problems qualifying. Just hope Capello sticks with this team even when Lampard/Terry are fit.
    I think Glen Johnson is rather lucky to have no competition at right back, terrible game last night and if there was another option he would surely be dropped.

  • Comment number 4.

    England's victory disguised weaknesses that the better European teams will exploit. For example, why is Glen Johnson playing for England? He had a poor world cup and last night appeared even less sure of himself. And there seemed to be a reluctance to start attacking moves down the right perhaps because of this. So Walcott was left pretty much to fend for himself with little support from the midfield. Walcott would benefit from a 4-3-3 formation a la Arsenal. And on the subject of midfield, why oh why is Joe Cole not in the team? He would bring guile and innovation to the role. On the plus side, Joe Hart is here to stay, Rooney came more and more into the game, the defence held together and Defoe was outstanding.

  • Comment number 5.

    I see the moderators are firing on all cylinders this morning?

    What is going on?...........Work to rule at the BBC?

  • Comment number 6.

    Not convinced at all. The defence looked slow and Gerrard gave the ball away numerous times. Also Rooney was playing ridiculously deep, deeper than the midfield on occasion.

    England would have been punished by a (much) better team.

  • Comment number 7.

    Question - will Wayne Rooney turn into the next Paul Scholes?

  • Comment number 8.

    A decent enough performance from England. Two very important saves from Joe Hart played a huge part in the victory. The first from Glen Johnson the second which ultimately led to Englands second goal both were when we were 1.0 up had either gone in who knows what this would have done to Englands confidence. I think that we will need another early goal against Switzerland as Im sure they will just look to defend and hit on the break. A good test to see if we can break down a decent defensive side.

  • Comment number 9.

    A very succinct article. It's a shame that Johnson is playing for Man City. I don't think he will get enough minutes on the pitch to enable him to become a better player.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the problem with the world cup england team is FATIGUE. There is nothing much that can be delivered by tired legs.

  • Comment number 11.

    It was Bulgaria. Let's not get excited, this should only have been a formality.

  • Comment number 12.

    Yesterday I was in my local barbers and made the comment that too many England players don't travel well. Last night proved it as Defoe, Rooney & Gerard all had good games after disastrous performances in the world cup. Next Tuesday will be a bigger test than last night. If England seriously want to win a trophy after 40 odd years they have to do the business on any ground, not just Wembley.

  • Comment number 13.

    The scoreline flattered England and papered over significant deficiencies in midfield and defence. Bulgaria could have had three or four but for Hart and the midfield lacked creativity, movement and the ability to close the other team out. The wingers provided an escape route and when they were marked we had the usual long ball from the back which will fail against any quality opponent. This win proved nothing, and Capello's tactics and team selections are still dubious. I certainly never want to see Glen Johnson in an England shirt again.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nice summary of the match. I thought England were quite fluid and proved at times that they can play intelligent football on and off the ball. Our problem is still retaining possession, there is not point being a team who is great at winning back the ball when you give it away the majority of the time through poor touch, control and/or passing ability. Glenn Johnson was proof of this last night with a couple of amateur mistakes, one of them attempting to pass the ball to a team-mate ten yards away and kicking it out for a throw in.

    All that being said it was interesting that Phil linked to Oliver Holt in The Mirror and Richard Williams in The Guardian as an example of what England are up against in the media. The regular and stereotypical bashing of an English manager by the media who seem to believe that they are the voice of the nation and that everyone wants Capello to fail so we can sack him and get a lesser talented but 'English' manager in. It's getting beyond a joke, not everyone has this opinion yet it gets tossed around as if the whole of the country wants him to go. What has the poor guy got to do to get a positive write up after a match they won 4-0 with several of the so called GOLDEN GENERATION out of the team.

    Thought they were ok/pretty good at times to be honest.

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh the British do so love digging up the past. What's done is done. SA was a farce but that is history just like WWII (something the Brit's so love to fall back on for solace) No on can change any of it. Time to move forward with confidence instead of weighing ourselves down with historical ghosts.

    Last night's game was refreshing but let's see now, how England perform against an opponent with some pedigree. Sadly that will not be any time soon because their next match is against another minnow.

    Germany played a mediocre game last night but hey they won and this is what England need to learn to do also.

  • Comment number 16.

    It has now been 1hour and 45minutes since the first posting in response to Phil's article, yet still nothing has been released by the moderators!

    How is it possible to have an interactive blog under such circumstances?

  • Comment number 17.

    Classic English media! A win against a 3rd rate nation has brought credibility and respectability has it? I don't think so!


    You don't even begin to recover from that utter humiliation by beating a 3rd rate nation at home. The golden generation always fail at major championships after looking good in the qualifiers. No amount of good qualifying results or media hype can change anything this time round. No respectability or credibility has been gained by this qualifying result. No amount of credibilty or respectability will be gained by a getting a result against the Swiss. Respectability and credibility are gained at major championships not qualifiers. England last had a credible standing in international football in 1990. Since then it has been nothing but hype, hype and more hype followed by failure after failure, followed by utter humiliation. Keep on hyping them up though McNulty you will be able to do it for a couple of years as usual then another massive failure will take place. We can then have about 1 week of criticisim then it will be back to the hype for another two years before the next failure, all rather sad and a little pathetic if you ask me.

  • Comment number 18.

    It was only against Bulgaria at home so lets not get too excited!! And, lets not start hyping up the players and start this ridiculous bandwagon of "being the best team in the world"!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Just another reason why Fabio should have been sacked after the world cup. Hart was excellent, much better than Green and James. Walcott did more than SWP would have done and Johnson was bright when he came on. Jagielka and Dawson were solid at the back. If those five were to have played at the World Cup....... Too little too late from the Italian Failure.

  • Comment number 20.

    A draw awaits in Switzerland and believe you me it is a good result.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh dear, already 40 minutes after the first comment was posted and not a single one has yet appeared. If you can't handle swift pre-moderation, BBC, please cut it out and post-mod instead.

    As to the football, it does make you spit that Hart, Jagielka and A. Johnson didn't go to S Africa, though maybe in Jag's case he wasn't quite fit (didn't seem to affect the selection of Barry and others, though).

    What did I learn from the Bulgaria game?
    - Hart oozes composure, the first English keeper to do so since before Seaman.
    - Glen Johnson would be better at RM than RB, or not in the starting eleven at all. Kieran Gibbs is so fast that he should be able to block more crosses with his left foot than Johnson will ever do.
    - How reassuring it was to have one fast-ish and one very fast central defender. Jagielka being the better of the two. I hope he continues with Cahill partnering in the next games, and in future we only see Terry on the bench, if ever.
    - Ashley Cole, a big asset as usual although he consistently provides one heart-stopping ball-control error per game.
    - Barry looked good, as he usually does against poorer quality opposition. Definitely the right first-choice for qualifiers, but....
    - Walcott still didn't display the confidence he's been showing for Arsenal in early season. Would be better in a Michael Owen-type role (see where the keeper is, then don't think, just strike), competing with Defoe for the top spot.
    - Gerrard. So much better when not put on the left by the boss, nor wandering about to stay out of Lampard's way.
    - Milner had one of his best games for England, but wasn't facing a top-class opponent. Liked how he kept his head on the counter attck for our last two goals.
    - Did Rooney simply turn his form around, or was it the dropping deep that helped? I still think he'll end up as an attacking midfielder.
    - Defoe reversed his usual chances-to-goals ratio, and then some! At last showed the form they sometimes see at Spurs.
    - Adam Johnson will make that right midfield spot his own soon.

    By the end of the qualifying campaign, I would hope to see this side:


    Dawson or Cahill

    Barry or Rodwell


    Zamora, Defoe or Walcott.

  • Comment number 22.

    Was it Capello's fault that half of the team looked like they were running in treacle, in SA, but last night were back to their old selves. IMO it was poor altitude preparation that caused most of the problems. Too many players couldn't do enough.
    Last night mirrored the WC first game, start well, not know how to play at 1-0, gradually drop deeper and make a bad mistake. If this one had gone in, would we have still scored four, or would it have been USA again.
    Rooney was a different player, and made most of the improvement, but the partnership with Defoe seems to be all one way, and I think Rooney needs, and deserves, a more 50/50 one. I'm not haveing a go at Defoe, he is probably the best we have at doing what he does best, but against better defences there needs to be more interchanging.
    Walcott should be playing a game more suited to his temperament - tiddlywinks!

  • Comment number 23.

    England played well. Defoe was excellent. So was Rooney and Joe Hart. To my mind the simple difference from the World Cup was the absence of Frank Lampard. He's a good player - superb - but playing him and Gerrard together doesn't work and unbalances the team. Capello needs to pick one and stick with him. IMHO, that's Gerrard. This is not an anti-Chesea point. Ashley Cole played very well and I'd bring Terry back if fit, but not Lampard. He should be on the bench ready to fill the role if Gerrard is injured.

  • Comment number 24.

    People are right to say that Bulgaria are hardly the greatest team on the planet but what more do people want? You can only beat what's put in front of you and, with some excellent saves by Hart to help, England did just that.

    People keep talking about the Germany match in South Africa, which we deserved to lose but should have been at least 4-2. Getting embarrassed by a team like Germany is one thing but the real sign of the rot was in the group stages. The dismal 0-0 draw with Algeria was possibly the worst performance I've seen by England under Capello and a performace like this against them would have done wonders for the team's confidence in SA.

  • Comment number 25.

    Phil hyping up the team again i see.

  • Comment number 26.

    i think england are better without terry, lamaprd and ferdinand

  • Comment number 27.

    Rooney clearly wasnt fully fit in South Africa, no "mystery" about it, Fergie rushed him back too soon and he never had the rest he needed. Good performance by England though, difference with no Lampard and a fit Rooney was evident, the Swiss will be a tougher task but I am sure they can get the job done.

  • Comment number 28.

    Morning to everyone...before we get into England performance, just a quick note to say that I have drawn your concerns about the length of time it takes posts to be moderated to the attention of those who can deal with them. Hopefully this means it can be done as swiftly as possible - apologies for any delays but these matters are genuinely out of my control.

    I have to say I disagree strongly with posters who suggest I have over-hyped England. I have been very careful to stress in the blog that Bulgaria were not exactly the strongest opposition, it is only one game, and that much sterner tests lie ahead.

    I do think it is fair, however, to focus on the areas of optimism, which there were.

    What were the high points for you? I thought the real pluses were Joe Hart, Phil Jagielka, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe. Adam Johnson also did well in his brief appearances.

    The big low was Michael Dawson's injury - while on the playing side I still remain unconvinced that Glen Johnson is an international defender.

    Going back to Hart, I thought his performance was quite literally flawless. On this evidence, the goalkeeping position could be his for years, barring accidents.

  • Comment number 29.

    Wonderful start for the England. But come to look at it, there is no much deference in the squared after the absent of the like of LAMPARD, JOHN TERRY.

    Great result and Defoe did a very wonderful hardworking. Rooney seems not inform this season, he has just score his first goal since March via Penalty during the 3-0 winning over West Ham.

    Well the season is still young and i wish them all success. overall a excellent result for the england.

    Femi Odunayo (Nigeria)

  • Comment number 30.

    It still defies logic why Capello continues with 4-4-2 when we have the players ideally suited to play 4-3-3!

    Nothing much has changed,we won our games in qualification last time round too. Something to do with the opposition methinks!

  • Comment number 31.

    The Gerrard Vs Lampard debate will crank up again no doubt, but for me they are totally different types of players, so I don't get the comparisons.

    If England played 4-3-3 with Gerrard in a defensive midfield position, and Lampard in exactly the same role as he plays for Chelsea eg a goal scoring midfield player it would probably work.

  • Comment number 32.

    What's happened to the "if England are going to succeed they need Rooney to score" nonsense that was ubiquitous in the media's coverage pre-World Cup? - the sort of nonsense that no doubt helped cement Heskey's squad position. Defoe or (dare-I-say-it) Bent should have always been playing in front of Rooney so that the latter can worry less about scoring and more about using the bounty of other talents he has.

  • Comment number 33.

    I have to laugh when I see such titles as "England ease pressure on Capello", with the authors telling us what's in their minds rather than Capello's. Capello has been through far greater pressure cookers without any effect, so why expect this one to suddenly find him shaking in the corner?

    What happened in South Africa was without doubt very poor, but Capello has demonstrated he can get the really good performances out of England with a weakened team. Rooney at long last has finally found what he should be doing in an England shirt, though it was into the second half before it really sunk in. You don't have to make the Hollywood pass every ball or win the game on your own, just do the simple, important things when the right opportunity is there. Rooney has been a different, subdued player since Capello laid down the law to him regarding discipline and his behaviour on the pitch. Until now he has struggled to find an effective way of operating under those restrictions, but last night was a breakthrough. Rooney was no good to anyone as his indiscipline demonstrated previously, now I believe he can go on and be the asset we all thought he could be.

    In comparison to South Africa there was a very noticeable difference in England in two aspects, ball control and fitness. I don't believe we and many other teams initially lost all our control, to see so many players from various countries just watch as a pass skipped through for a throw-in. Something was very wrong with the ball or the combination of that ball and the local conditions. Our fitness levels were perplexing. Maybe the hard season but the comments regarding the negative effect the altitude training had when performing in an environment such as South Africa looks closer to the mark. I think those factors had a bigger influence than any Capello issues, when he demonstrated last night that he knows what he is doing and an immediate return to what made him a stand out previously. With Capello still doing things exactly the same way.

  • Comment number 34.

    Lampard and Terry have always underperformed for England, Ive never really rated Terry at all tbh. England handled life without them pretty well by the sounds of it (didn't see the game cos I was watching Scotland be their frustrating selves) but I wouldn't be surprised that if cue the next set of international games Terry and Lampard will walk back into the starting XI no matter what happens in Basel or during the premiership season up to that time.

  • Comment number 35.

    i think england are better without terry, lamaprd and ferdinand


    Rio didnt even play at the world cup. lol. So what a ridiculous statement.
    Yeah i think the win papered over the cracks as well. Rooney stepped up and was probably the best player on the pitch. And Barry, and Glen Johnson showed again last night that they should not be playing for England. Barry for me is over-rated and looks out his depth consistently, and Glen Johnson is just clueless.

  • Comment number 36.

    Lampard and Gerrard have under-performed as a unit for 10 years, despite there obvious individual talent. I am neither Chelsea or Liverpool but rate both of them highly......... will Capello dare to leave Lampard out of the next set of qualifiers if fit? Particularly if England build on last night with another decent performance against the Swiss?

    As for the comments around there being little change to the South African debacle and until we went 2-0 up etc; We could still be playing Algeria now and not score four, and surely confidence grows as teams score - is it really that outlandish to suggest things were nervy at 1-0 but better at 2,3 and 4-0 ??

  • Comment number 37.

    I love it when people say Terry isn't very good - the argument is so flawed its almost beyond belief what they are saying.

    He's won the Premier League 3 times (rubbish defenders generally don't acheive this you know), and he's consistently been picked but every manager he's ever played under i.e. Ranieri, Mourinho, Eriksson, Scolari, Hiddink, McLaren, Capello and Ancelotti. Hardly a who's who of poor managers.

    But no, I'm sure the people on here like arab87 know better and have won more as a manager than all the above combined.

    I'm not a Chelsea fan in any way, I simply have an ounce of common sense and don't have an agenda to follow like allot of people on here. Premier League fans, with their pathetic personal agendas against other teams and players, is what annoys me the most about modern football to be honest.

  • Comment number 38.

    Re The Midland 20 @0933.
    I fully agree with you. Lampard is average at best and impedes Gerrard's style and Terry is certainly no better than any of the other centre halves in the squad. They are both arrogant players who feel that their place is deserved in the team on name and merit.
    We will do well, as proved last night, with both of these players omitted from the squad entirely or on the bench at best.

  • Comment number 39.

    Phil - Fair comment.
    England did go someway to restoring faith in themselves and Capello's management against Bulgaria. The most telling comment I heard last night was the TV commentator's observation that "every England player was playing in his club position" - now there's a thought!
    Rooney, Gerrard and Defoe in particular, all looked 'sharp; Hart looked as though he was born to the job - looks like England may have found it's No.1 at last and there were good performances from Walcott, Cole, Milner, and when he came on, Michael Johnson. Still have doubts about the CB's and if Glen Johnson is our best RB, we are in trouble - talk about being one-footed, not sure he even 'just stands' on his left foot!
    Long way to go yet but the signs are positive, the way England started, not seen the energy and passion like that for many a day -lets hope it continues!

  • Comment number 40.

    The problem is, all the teams in our group are pretty weak, so we won't be playing a top side until the finals where we will no doubt be beaten comfortably. I will only ever be convinced by an England side when we get to a major finals and beat a top team when it matters.

    Possesion is still a major flaw with England. It doesn't help that the space between the back four and the midfield is too big either.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with you PHIL
    These players played well Joe Hart, Phil Jagielka, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe. Adam Johnson also did well in his brief appearances I would also say that Ashley Cole, Milner & Michael Dawson did until is injury
    That leaves Walcott not up to his Arsenal Standard & I must admit that with Glen Johnson he was getting no support.
    Glen Johnson is liability at right back; there's no doubt about is ability going forward but defending he his awful & gets drawn out of position regular as clockwork & wants replacing, I would play Kieran Gibbs & although he his left back he's got to better than Glenn Johnson
    It shows what a difference it make to Gerrard when he's allowed to play in his best position rather on the left to accommodate Lampard who should be dropped; so please manager Capello please don't play him if he's fit for Switzerland

  • Comment number 42.

    Capello needs to change a few things about last night's squad. Walcott didn't look his best and so he should drop to the bench in favour of Adam Johnson, who was terrific to come from the bench and grab his first international goal. Rooney dropping to midfield almost - why, Capello? If he doesn't do well up front, replace him with Darren Bent or, when he returns to being fit, Peter Crouch and have him up front with fellow Spurs striker, Defoe, as these two players can score a goal a game for England, especially Crouchy, who is always magnificent when pulling on a Three Lions shirt. Also, he should start youngsters like Jack Wilshere in midfield and give the young lads a chance, and if things don't go the way he wants, replace them with Gerrard and Lampard, or get some other young players who can shine in the midfield. The back four was great, apart from Glen Johnson, who should be dropped to the bench in favour of someone who won't make the mistake he made last night. Sort it out, Fabio or you will be out of a job before the Euro 2010 tournament begins!

  • Comment number 43.

    Thought Jagielka was immense and the performance without Frank Lampard suggests to me that his days playing for England are numbered. Got to have Adam Johnson, Milner, Gerrard and Barry in the starting line up so Lampard will get a place on the bench as cover for Gerrard. Still think we would have scored even more if Zamora had started in place of Rooney but as he continues to play for Fulham instead of one of the big 4 Rooney will always get picked ahead of him. If Liverpool get a new owner by Christmas I hope Zamora will join us in January-this may help him get more time in an England jersey-unless one of the first choice gets injured which I hope they don't. Fingers crossed for Dawson-him and Jagielka were great until the injury.

  • Comment number 44.

    One of the best things about last night was the fast pace of the passing and link up play from the likes of Gerrard, Milner, Cole and Rooney - the Bulgarians couldn't handle it and they eventually tired and caved in.

    This is why Lampard doesn't work - all he does is side pass the whole time which destroys the initiative. Now he is the one I don't want to see in an England shirt again.

    Not sure why there is the bashing of Glen Johnson - he made one bad mistake, other than that he did fine.

  • Comment number 45.

    Frank Lampard and John Terry polarising some opinions here - again we must not get carried away. Just because England beat Bulgaria does not mean Fabio Capello can comfortably consign these players to history.

    Can't agree with Whiteboi1 that Lampard is "average at best." He has been one of this country's outstanding midfield players for years, although I accept this has often failed to be reflected in his England performances.

    I would have Lampard in the squad at the very least, although I should add that if Capello is not going to play Rooney as a lone striker then Gerrard must be first choice in central midfield.

    Who goes alongside him is another matter, but the midfield partnership for me should be Gerrard and A.N. Other.

    The debate about central defence will continue because it seems to me that the injury troubles suffered by Ferdinand and Terry are more or less here to stay given their recent problems and the length of their careers.

    I feel Upson came up short at the World Cup and clearly Capello felt happy playing Gary Cahill last night when Dawson was stretchered off. Jagielka was outstanding and it was performance that will do his belief that he is worthy of an England place the power of good.

    Here is a slightly left-field suggestion for Tuesday. Jagielka formed an outstanding central defensive partnership with Joleon Lescott at Everton. They played as if they were made for each other until the latter moved to Manchester City.

    Lescott, however, has never looked like he truly believed he was an England player and has struggled at Eastlands. Is it too much of a gamble to risk him alongside his old partner in Basle?

    Who should partner Jagielka in your opinion? And just how good is Joe Hart? Have England finally found the long-term solution to their goalkeeping problem?

    Keep the posts coming. All welcome.

  • Comment number 46.

    The expection some previous posters have of a revolution, playing down the 4-0 as minimal expectations against a mediocre team, is comical.

    Some of the more serious posts in here recognise the fact that we did well, really well perhaps. They know this is the first competative match of a new, youthful England, a changing team - exactly what we ALL wanted after seeing Germany in the world cup.

    This will take time to gel, Fabio will continue to bring more youth in gradually and hopefully by the time of the EUROs we will have that youthful, pacey, dynamic teeam that Fabio is trying to build.

  • Comment number 47.

    As a scotsman, isnt it obvious to you english that your team is better minus Terry and Lampard? Both good players but not in an national context.

    Team built around Rooney and gerrard is far more effective and cunning than some yeller at the back and a midfielder who's only real talent is arriving late into the box....a talent at international level that is minimised given the more technical, less direct nature of the game?

  • Comment number 48.

    The most interesting this about this match were Fabio's pre-game comments "this is a big game for England - not for me". I'm not sure whether this means he doesn't care about England any more but he does seem to have the attitude that it's the players that have redeem themselves after South Africa - not him. He has nothing to prove. And he's probably right, but the problem is that they won't really be able to prove anything till after we get to the Euro 2012 finals!

    Still, there was nothing to complain about last night - was a little bit nervous at times in the 1st half but that fastbreak for the 2nd goal was just perfection.

  • Comment number 49.

    I reckon England is the only team in the world where they can win 4-0 (when not at full strength) and still get stick from their own fans and their own press...

  • Comment number 50.

    Typical Englad getting excited over a 4-0 win against a mediocre team. This doesn't go any way to wiping away the memories of their disastrous world cup performances against what were much better opposition. Qualifying from this group should be a formality for any top side. Capello's managerial prowess at international level will be proved if Enlgand perform well at a major tournnament under his reign.

  • Comment number 51.

    OK, settle down now, they beat Bulgaria (team they were expected to beat comfortably). This is a step in the right direction for the team, but should not take let Capello off the hook. Why does he persist with 442 when he has the players who can play the more flexible 433?
    Last night demonstrated that England don't have to depend on Lampard & Terry. Proof again that with Lampard and Gerard unable to play well together for England, then Stevie G is the only choice. Proof again that England is OK without Terry, with his arrogant sense of entitlement and indifferent international play. Proof again that England is OK without Ferdinand, with his injuries and lack of game time.
    Last night demonstrated that England does have promising younger players who can contribute at this level; Hart, Adam Johnson, Walcott, Jagielka. And for the future there should be opportunities for Darren Bent and maybe Andy Carroll & Huddlestone.
    To gamble & lose with the golden boys in SA was a bad bet. To gamble with the younger boys now is a better bet.

  • Comment number 52.

    There was a lot of criticism of England from the last World Cup and most of it was justified. I do think we're overly obsessed with what system we play though. Football in the end is about players not systems. 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 or whatever are meaningless if the players can't play. For England the problem is we haven't enough quality players in all positions. Glen Johnson comes to mind but like most people I'm pushed to think of a player who's actually better than him.

    England needs players like Schweinsteiger, Xavi and Inestia, players comfortable on the ball, who work hard to get the ball back and most importantly, make the right choices. Where these sort of players are going to come from is another matter. With it's emphasis on commitment and physical prowess and foreign players (however exciting and enjoyable it is), the Premier League is not geared up to produce that sort of player.

    So for England, we're going to continue to rely on having little bits of quality amongst a lot of mediocrity, carried through with the usual commitment we see from players and hope we have a little bit of luck. Much like last night really.

  • Comment number 53.

    Another question for you. I am, as you might have guessed, not sold on Glen Johnson as England's right-back and others seem to share that view. For those who would prefer someone else, who would be your alternative?

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree with Phil about Jagielka and Lescott. I've always been a Jagielka fan and one thing players do like is playing with players they get on with on the pitch. So it's Jagielka and Lescott for me as well. Not so much left field but more of a good use of the players you have available.

  • Comment number 55.

    I thought last nights performance was good from a relatively new group of players and the result represented a great effort. With a few exceptions particularly Glen Johnson (probably because he knows he has no decent competition for right back) they all put in a good shout to be in Capellos long term plans.

    Phil I have to ask you why you consistently champion Frank Lampard? The guy is absolutely useless for England and yet you are always leaping to his defence. You're also very quick to write off Beckham at every opportunity but he has given a LOT more to his country than Lampard ever has or will so what exactly do you think he brings to the team? I'm desperate to know. I for one will be extremely disappointed if (assuming we beat Switzerland or draw with a good performance) he walks straight back into the starting eleven for the next round of matches. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants clarification on your pro-Lampard agenda Phil.

    My only concern would be our defence. We saw how easily Germany carved us open during the World Cup and there were times last night when Bulgaria got in too easily. I thought Jagielka had a good game though.

  • Comment number 56.

    Good to see we have an answer to our Goal-Keeping situation in the name of Joe Hart. The first goal-keeper since David Seaman that actually fills me with confidence when the ball is near him.

    I've never been Rooney's biggest fan but last night he proved his worth. He put in a good performance despite him not scoring. I hope he does manage to get on the scoresheet during the qualifiers.

    I agree with the above comments regarding the fact that it was only Bulgaria. But I'm sure that had we won say 1-0 we'd have seen far more negative comments. But we've got to start somewhere right?

    Germany is over and done with, so can we please stop reverting back to that? I'd like to see us perform against a top-team but it won't come in the qualifiers. Maybe in a friendly at some point? But if we were to face France at beat them, would people still regard them as a Top-Team?

    Good performance but I'll refrain from jumping on the band-wagon. Let's see how we fair against Switzerland.

  • Comment number 57.

    Phil, Couldn't agree more about your comments re: Joe Hart. I've written similar in my article on 606:

    With Adam Johnson on the score sheet and Hart proving his mettle is it any wonder why plenty of observers where questioning Capello's judgement and team selection policy before, during and even after the South African debacle?

  • Comment number 58.

    First steps to restore his credibility? You are having a laugh. If you are a fan of his, I would hate to read what you write about blokes for whom you are not a fan. It's Bulgaria remember? With a Rooney on Form..... and look no lamps? Pretty sure you had in your England teams of past. Come off it, you lot will stroll qualification and go out in the quarters, fire Mr Hat, and install Mr Redknapp! And it will start all over again.

  • Comment number 59.

    I was in attendance at Wembley last night and I thought while the 2nd half was a lot better, England are still far too slow on the build up play. Bulgaria were there for the taking but England are very cautious, but to be fair Gerrard ran the game, Defoe got a deserved hat trick and Hart was excellent when called upon.

    Was interesting to hear the boos towards Rooney in small doses in the game, a few misplaced passes and the crowd was on him, he needs a performance to rebuild his rep with the die hards.

  • Comment number 60.

    what is wrong with this country? we win 4-0 and people still criticise, yeah so it was bulgaria, a mediocre team, but it gives us confidence and belief, the goal from johnson will boost his confidence and same with defoe with his hat trick.

    i do believe however that without terry and lampard we are a better team, more so much lampard, as with gerrard and barry we have that balance, walcott didn't work for me im not sure why although to be fair he didnt recieve the ball much.

    i agree that rooney did come for the ball too deep, but atleast hes hungry and trying to set his team up on the attack for defoe. So overall a much improved performance for england against a mediocre team, joe hart was class as always, definately englands number 1 for years, so lets look forward to tuesday, and hope to get a result from what seems to be a tough-ish game, COME ON ENGLAND!

  • Comment number 61.

    Phil - can you please, please, please, please not use phrases like 'we must not get carried away'.

    I resent supporters being lumped in with the media. Frankly the undermining, spite & bile directed at Fabio Capello from the media since the world cup has been embarrassing.May I remind you & your colleagues the same was done to Bobby Robson after the Euros in 1988.

    If you resent the fact that you are seen as over-hyping England, may I remind you about your prediction of Liverpool to win the Premier league last season - & in case you didn't realise it - you were under no pressure whatsoever when you wrote that copy - so you've got a proven track record of going over the top.

    And can you also ask your bosses at the BBC that when 2 or 3 of your journalist friends come on the radio to chat about England, they open up the phone lines so we can put some testing questions to them - don't let them slink off. It would be so helpful if the media recognised that there are a large contingent of supporters who frankly revile the press for their, "build 'em up but, really we're happier knocking 'em down" approach.

    Arrogance & self awareness rarely go hand in hand.

  • Comment number 62.


    You strongly disagree with those that say you are hyping up the England team yet your very next paragraph labels half the team from last nights game as 'real pluses' then you hype up Dawson and then hype up Hart.

    Just a few months after some of these 'real pluses' disgraced themselves and their country against decent opposition England are amazing again with the exception of Glen Johnson....



  • Comment number 63.

    Your point about Glen Johnson has definitely struck a note. It does require fixing but who is another matter. We seem to have got lucky in other positions by trial and error and this one must be a stand out for change. Although Micah Richards has his faults, I would far prefer that than Johnson.

  • Comment number 64.

    There are a lot of morons slating Frank Lampard on this blog. He underachieves for England because he is effectively played as a holding midfield player. Look at what he achieves for Chelsea when he is given the freedom to truly get forward. If you want Lampard to replicate his form for Chelsea when he puts on an England shirt, play him in his favourite position. You should build your team around your best players - Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard.

    The same morons were also calling for Gerrard to be permanently dropped after he missed the 4-1 win in Croatia a couple of years ago. It's absolute madness to have two world class midfielders at your disposal and to ignore one of them.

    For what it's worth, Gareth Barry is not an international class player, he was poor at the World Cup, match fit or not. Against top quality opposition he cannot cope - a friendly against Spain a few years ago and Croatia at Wembley when we lost 3-2 are good examples. He offers nothing - he is not going to score you goals and he is not the true holding midfielder that Capello wants him to be. Why Scott Parker is consistently ignored I have no idea. Rodwell or Cattermole are better options if England want genuine defensively minded midfielder players in the team.

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the first comment, Lampard in particular needs to go permanently. He's ok at chelsea and can make an impact in a game when they're winning 6-0, but in a hard fought international match (or even an important game for chelsea) he disappears with an alarming regularity.

    Keep him out of the rest of the players way

  • Comment number 66.

    To punkfrock...I take your point, but also add that I don't think tipping Liverpool for the title last season was "going over the top." It was wrong I admit, but tipping the team that finished second the previous season to win the title the next is hardly going over the top.

    On the question of "hype" raised by some posters, I really do not think praising the performance of the England players who played well qualifies as hype. If I had not praised anyone after last night, would that qualify as being over-critical?

    If I had suggested this one win corrected the wrong of South Africa and was ushering in an era of success, then that would definitely be hype.

    I did think there were pluses about England's performance and was happy to highlight them.

  • Comment number 67.

    Just because a player is labelled as a 'plus' does not constitute 'hype'.

    He did not say that those players were among the best in the world in those positions, or anything similar.

  • Comment number 68.

    Dammit, McNulty ...

  • Comment number 69.

    To say glen johnson is not an international defender is a bit harsh Phil. I think he is just out of form at the momement. he hasnt really started well for liverpool this season either but if we can get competition for the place i think this will help the situation. Like or not when his is on his game he is england's best right back. Any suggestions of gary nipple are totally out of the question. As for england only time will tell if they have turned a corner. I am just sick and tired of getting swept up in the qualifying euphoria but then flat-lining at the major tournaments. Good performance last night though!

  • Comment number 70.

    Phil, I think the result flattered us. At 1-0, we looked very uncomfortable and very easily could have conceded the equaliser. The fact was Bulgaria pushed high up the pitch and Hart's save caught the out and showed up the fact that they were tired. Hence we were able to getthe 2nd goal, and from then on Bulgaria's heads dropped and they almost stopped trying.
    As for Rooney, once again, only looked good at 2-0. He failed again to score, and for all his hustle and bustle for the team, as Emile Heskey critics used to point out frequently, his job is to score goals at the end of the day.
    I saw very little genuine class from England before the 2nd goal, so forgive me for not suddenly being convinced that England are again genuine contenders. Typical over-hyped performance.

  • Comment number 71.

    Many posts are downplaying England's win against Bulgaria and saying that it could have been all different if the opposition was 'world class'. A win is a win, especially in a competative match. The England team did what was asked of them, and we can only judge yesterday's performance by yesterday's perfomance, not some hypothetical 'world class' opposition. To all those making these comments, truth is, England are currently in no position to beat Spain, Brazil, Germany or even Holland 4-0 or 5-0, not even if you or I were made the manager. And to the Capello bashers, look at his record for England, not his whole CV, just his England record. How many competative matches has he lost? What did Sven's record for England look like? Both are top managers who did/have done with England what only a few managers have managed elsewhere. Please give the managers a chance to do their best. Let them do things their own way. You may think that Joe Cole is a Maradona who can carry England to victory but the manager(s) don't think so, and they know best.
    I was impressed by the 'youngsters', especially Adam Johnson, and how well they performed during this match but I don't expect them to be in for tougher matches. The national side is not the place to get footblling milage for a youngster. I hope that Terry, Lampard and Ferdinand will soon be back for the remaining qualifiers. Thing is, England has a resonably good team. England will not be European or World champions with the players that are currently available, but can be a top 4 or 5 side in the world - if and only if the team and management is give some peace and quiet, and the whole country is not waiting for them to mess up. If they can get their confidence back, they can make you happy..

  • Comment number 72.

    As a Chelsea fan talk of leaving John Terry and Frank Lampard (and possibly Ashley Cole too) out of the England setup makes perfect sense to me. That way they could focus totally on their club's multiple commitments. There seems to be so much apprehension by way of booing and jeering whenever any of the three players touch the ball (in Cole's case this was evident even last night before he contributed significantly to the first goal) that it has become utterly ridiculous. In my opinion it's not healthy for the morale of the England team in such circumstances. If Terry and Lampard came back from SA with their names tarnished after "their poor" tournament, then this was disproved yesterday merely by the fact that the somewhat impressive win of last night came by way of Wayne Rooney's partial but significant resurrection. As I always maintained during the WC had Rooney been alive in SA England would have fared much much better. There can be few other reasons why England disappointed in the WC. So Terry and Lampard themselves should realize that "your country doesn't need you" anymore and make way for other players to come in, players whom the fans are more comfortable with even if they are not wanted by half of Europe's top clubs as Lampard is and they don't win the "best central defender in Europe" for three times in the last six years like Terry did.

  • Comment number 73.

    ROFL. england beat a bunch of no hopers at home and all of a sudden we look 'good' and have dampened the blow of the world cup. GET REAL. this routine win does not make up for losing 4-1 to germany and only scoring 3 goals in 4 games at a world cup. i se england, the media and all england fans will never break this ridiculous loop of being 'genuine quality' when we win and useless, over paid wannabes every time we draw or lose a game. i can't believe i've mustered up enough enthusiasm to write 60 words about england. just wait to euro 2012 and see them all flop once more. zzz.....

  • Comment number 74.

    I think Lampard should remain on the bench along with Terry. They're good players but we need a team and they looked like one yesterday there's no need to mix that up. Until England beat the likes of Spain, Germany, Holland etc in friendlies then they can't be classed as having a good chance in the Euro's, The 2 years prior to the world cup we played all of these in cluding France and Brazil and I think we only won one of the games but we still thought we could win the World Cup. I only hope that if we draw or lose against the Swiss on Tuesday the media don't start calling for Capello to get sacked because it's a very tough game that even Spain lost.

  • Comment number 75.

    @Phil, if there were a decent alternative to Glen Johnson, I'm sure he would've been tried by now and I'm a Liverpool fan.
    Having said that, he's not as bad as people make out, yeah he makes the odd error but he is still a very good player. All the good things he does like negating the left winger etc goes unnoticed. He's very fast and I don't remember him ever getting skinned by anyone.
    Actually, I think he'd make a top right winger, with his skills and good shooting abilty.

  • Comment number 76.

    ITV's Clive Tyldsely (who overhypes England at every opportunity) kept commenting on how hard to please Capello was - not celebrating the goals. I suspect that the fact that Capello wasn't leaping about elated was because he was thinking "Why couldn't you have played like this last summer?" The standard of commentating is dire: almost as bad as Alan Green on radio 5 live.

  • Comment number 77.

    If Gary Neville were fit and 5 years younger he'd be ideal - England haven't had someone capable or defending and putting the ball into the right parts of the box since from the right back position.

    But as it stands there's not many options. Micah Richards looked powerful when played there under McClaren, but seems to have lost form and favour since. Jolean Lescott made Johnson look assured.

    Danny Simpson, of Manchester Utd youth and currently Newcastle, looked promising before his injury, but it would seem we have to turn to 'unknown's' who are untested at international level before we find a replacement for Johnson.

    Ps, are you not worried by Gareth Barry like a lot of other people. His one excellent cross field ball does not make up for his lack of pace, inability to join in creating decisive movement in midfield and general look of bewilderment at being on the pitch. He's not a liabilty, he's just like we're playing with 10 men for 80 minutes of the match...

  • Comment number 78.

    Again, it's only a qualifier match.. against Bulgaria (not a team that goes past knock-out rounds in tournaments, atm). This proves nothing, except the fact that Capello got it horribly wrong during WC2010 team selection.

    Honestly, SUN journalism amuses me. :)

  • Comment number 79.

    Can anyone who is calling the Swiss team "weak", please do some research. They are a very tough test and an away win would be a very, very good result.

    Take a look at how they qualified for the world cup... or how they managed to subdue and beat Spain. It was not just an off-day for the Spaniards.... the Swiss were tactically equal to them.

  • Comment number 80.

    Why is everyone saying England played a 4-4-2 system? Rooney was playing so deep it was more like 4-2-3-1 just like how Spain played in the World Cup. The problem to me were the following players Johnson (sometimes he played as a centre back not as a full back), Barry (who was so slow and we need proper cover for an inexperience defence, I would replace him with Parker), Dawson (too slow) and Milner (too limited in that position). Everyone else were great. Remember we dont have the most technical players and at most in the football world we are equal to Sweden so lets try and qualify first and take it from there.

  • Comment number 81.

    Dear Phil i enjoy your blogs a lot! Just one small request for future reference to the 2012 event hosts. It would be great if you abstain from using definite article 'the' before the name of country - Ukraine. The simple reason - it is ungrammatical. There are some other reasons which can be googled. The sooner we root out this improper use the better! As for England team i would love them to reach the final of euro 2012 as that is the only chance that they would be able to restore some credibility and meet the rigthfull expaectations of the side that is greatly underachieving, mildly speaking ;-)!!! Thanks for your understanding and hello from Kiev

  • Comment number 82.

    Phil raised an interesting point about Lescott joining Jagielka at CB now Dawson is out of action. I was thinking the same myself when the squad was first announced.
    But Phil also raised the key issue here - about the players' self-confidence. Jags must surely believe he's worth his cap after last night, but which "nursemaiding" task will be easier for him against the Swiss; Lescott his old "senior" partner at Everton, or the less experienced Cahill?
    It's an interesting question. Lescott has always been worth a blunder per 45 min when playing for England, but Cahill and Jags did get badly mixed up once last night and were, literally, saved by Hart. The TV even caught Jags thanking the goalie afterwards.
    I think I'd opt for Cahill because, as we saw last night, the faster the CB is, the better he can recover position when the ball is passed round him.

  • Comment number 83.

    England's problem is not qualifying for major tournaments (they usually do that, save a few exceptions), it's the fact that England haven't for the past 40 odd years known how to play "tournament football".. which is a different kettle of fish from qualifying entirely.
    Last nights match was just carrying on from the WC qualifying campaign, in which England qualified easily and looked impressive, using a 4-4-2 system.
    However, England lack the ability to control possession and control the match , even against 2nd or 3rd tier teams like Bulgaria, and in tournament matches against the better nations this invariably costs England dearly.

    Will Capello gradually introduce a 4-5-1 system as the qualifying campaign progresses (especially if England secure qualification early) ?
    As in the euro finals tournament, if Capello persists with 4-4-2, England will have the same problems they always have in major tournaments.

  • Comment number 84.

    How much have England won recently? We have won 1 world cup in our history and people think it's Capello's fault that we are still struggling! Capello has won far more than England ever have and he is a top class manager! Look at his record in Italy and at Madrid! he said it was a big game for England because it is the players who failed in SA. Yes Fabio didnt change things after the humiliation of drawing against the States - but even Beckham explained that Capello had done all the preparation correctly and he highlighted the players failures! Fabio has recognised its time for a new team to come through and I admire him for that, yes of course he's not a god but he's making the right choices now. Don't get me wrong, England are far from the finished article, but 4-0 against Bulgaria is just as good, or if not better, than Spain or Holland's wins last night.
    As for the Lampard and Terry debate, IMHO, Terry is still key because of his influence on the game, Lampard should be on the bench, leaving Gerrard to roam the midfield, not pushing him out to the left to accommodate a less capable player.

  • Comment number 85.

    I don't think anyone will get carried away with a 'decent' win against Bulgaria but there were some really positive signs for a change..mostly from the 'new' boys - Hart, Jaglielka, A.Johnston and to a lesser extent Walcott. I was particulary impressed with the way Johnston took his goal, cleverley hitting his effort to the left of the keeper moments after his 'sighter' effort went around the right post. There were the usual concerns over 'the long ball over the top' causing problems again just like against Klose in the World Cup. It's a no brainer to pair Jaglielka alongside former Everton temmate Lescott against the Swiss - to add stability. Gerrard's much better in the centre as we knew, leave Lamps on the bench as his back-up. Glenn Johnston had a bit of a nightmare but is effective going forward - usually anyway! Shame Kieran Gibbs can't play on the right hand side heh?

  • Comment number 86.

    Usual boring and incorrect comments re Lampard and Terry's contribution to the England cause... all opinions of course, which are not correct just someone's version of events.
    Was at the game last night and the scoreline flattered us against very poor opposition - that said I'm still very happy given the expectation and the need for a positive result.
    Whilst I'm not going to suggest Lampard should ever return to the team might I remind you doubters that he and Gerrard played together (and contributed 4 goals between them) in a much more dominant beating of Croatia. Still I wouldn't expect everyone's memory to stretch much beyond 24 hours.

  • Comment number 87.

    To mac_knife...I know plenty of Liverpool fans who expound the theory of playing Johnson further forward on the right-flank to utilise his natural attacking talents - how about with the promising Martin Kelly at right-back?

    This will not happen with England obviously because Capello will look to Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon in that area. James Milner could also play on the right - which is why the selection of Shaun Wright-Phillips in the squad mystified me.

    Micah Richards getting the odd shout for right-back I see. He went backwards last season but was very impressive when I saw him in Manchester City's win against Liverpool recently. Is he a contender again?

    How about posting your team for Tuesday in Switzerland which, as Ji-Sung Parks cousin - posting name presumably as opposed to actually being Ji-Sung Park's cousin - stressed will not be easy.

  • Comment number 88.

    dirtydonki-their next match is against another minnow.


    Didn't they beat spain a few weeks back? spain are quite good apparently

  • Comment number 89.


    Richards; Johnson R; Jags; Cole

    Johnson A; Parker; Gerrard; Milner (or Cole for Milner/Johnson)



  • Comment number 90.

    Joe Hart proved all the people who said he should have gone to the world cup right. There is an aura of confidence, almost cockiness about him. I like it. Carson, Green, even David James all looked like they might panic in any given situation.

    At right back Glen Johnson is firmly in the headlights. He's proving time and time again that he is a bit of a liability. Micah Richards was at one point hyped to be England's next right back, he needs to have a good Season this year but could be in contention. Jagielka has also played as a right back before, Cole/Dawson/Cahill/Jagielka might be worth a try, though Jagielka more than justified his position in central defence.

    Have to agree with people saying we didn't miss Terry or Lampard, and I hope neither makes the first team on the back of their reputation.

    As for the people saying it was only Bulgaria - true, but they were a huge banana skin waiting and they did manage to test Hart a number of times. I'm not sure if people seem to expect us to go through games without letting the other team have a shot on goal. Switzerland away is another potential upset, they performed well at the World Cup.

  • Comment number 91.

    The absolute nerve the FA have, for the 'NEW ERA' (exactly the same era as before) to turn out wearing a shirt so shockingly similar to the one thousands of England fans paid out for in the summer!
    All They've done is cut off the collar and changed the the colour of the names and numbers!! The font used for names is exactly the same as the previous shirt, showing how similar it is!
    Naive England fans wil now how to fork out £40 for a new shirt...until we get demolished by a decent team again. Capello is earning so much money, and now I realise how!
    So many times the fans get behind the nation for a fresh start, then we get to the tournament and get embaressed. So whether we win 4-0 or 40-0 against Bulgaria in a qualifier is completly irrelevant.
    The best thing the FA can do is to pay the fans a proper apology for continued belief and to sell that new shirt at £10!

    A very bitter England Fan.

  • Comment number 92.

    Regardless of the result I don't care to have a manager who couldn't give a damn for th country or it's fans.Capello will never forgive the England fans for showing their disgust at his failure in South Africa and he obviously feels no passion for a foreign team.From this point on it's all about defying his critics and nothing else; it's all about Capello.He'll never be the right man for the job.We need an English manager.

  • Comment number 93.

    Everytime england beat a side that's lower ranked than themselves england get all hyped up..

    if england beat the likes of spain, germany, holland, argentina, or even brazil [these are he teams england rank themselves among] then you can say your good and will win the euros or even the world cup..

    don't get hyped over matches against teams like bulgaria

  • Comment number 94.

    Right...first ever comment on 606.

    I'm gonna start with 2 points that are bugging me...

    1 - all this talk about dropping lampard and terry is ridiculous, terry is a great defender who never recovered from the back end of last season, lampard constantly scores 20+ goals in the best team in the country and is loved by mourinho (average manager who is clueless right??)

    2 - I think people will find that no-one is hyping england up after this game. I have heard 2 things from this performance.
    - Its a good result and a good performance (which it is)
    - We can now start to build from this and progress (which we can)

    Away from these facts i think we need to get rid of capello or start being more flexible with our team formation and tactics...this was done in some form with rooney dropping deep making a 4-5-1 on occaisons, and it worked a treat with rooney getting 3 assists and making the first goal with a fantastic pass to cole.
    Plus's to take from last night and our future in general is that we do have some talent finally coming through...

    Hart, Jagielka, Dawson, Mancienne, Gibbs, David Jones, Tom Cleverly Rodwell, Johnson, Walcott, Milner, Lennon, Ashley Young, Daniel Sturridge, Wilshere, Andy Carrol, Gary Cahill, Cattermole, Muamba (who hasn't been mentioned once for some reason, he's a out and out Defensive midfielder and has performed excellently for england U21's for some time now)...This is a good group of players that given the right tutoring and experience may turn out great, people forget that iniesta only burst onto the big scene at about 22 years old (when guardiola retired), so we have hopes for the future. (If i've missed anyone out let me know)

    Criticisms of the england team are the quality's of barry who is too slow and poor technically for the top international level, and johnson who needs to work on his defensive qualities.

    At the moment our team should look like this in my opinion...


    Johnson, Terry, Ferd, Cole (experienced back 4 and best when all fit)

    Gerrard, Carrick, Lampard (experienced and quality players for top clubs)

    Johnson, Rooney, Milner (exciting and skillful front 3)

    With that team we can be a serious threat and we have this team coming through in the future...

    LOACH (not really needed)





    Do not panic people, we have a future, stop fretting and criticising all the time, this is a rebuilding process and we need to let it develop!!

    Also Phil, as i have mentioned, Kyle walker of tottenham, fantastic talent and given game time in the next couple years he will develop as our number one right back, even martin kelly of liverpool could push for a place in the future! what are your thoughts on those 2 players??


  • Comment number 95.

    Some things:

    - Positives should not be confused with hyperbole and read in such a way that even the most innocuous plus point is taken to be synonymous with 'World beaters'. There were some good things to take away from yesterday's match especially in comparison to how poorly England played in the World Cup (faint praise indeed!).

    - Joe Hart was, unsurprisingly, confident and competent in goal. He didn't have much to do but his distribution was good and he looked unflustered by having to play at the mythical 'highest level'. The idea that this would come as a surprise to some is baffling.

    - England started at 4-4-2 but moved almost to a 4-2-3-1 as the match wore on as Rooney dropped deeper and deeper. I'm not sure if this was a tactical move on Capello's part or ingenuity from the players but it seemed to pay dividends as Gerrard moved alongside Gareth Barry and played one of his more familiar Liverpool roles, leaving Rooney to create the chances which, to be fair, he managed to do. I'm not overly pleased to see Rooney dropping off so deep but maybe this is necessary when playing alongside Defoe.

    - Walcott is neither brainless nor brilliant, he is just rather inconsistent and indecisive...maybe his problem is he thinks too much. He did not transfer his sparkling club form and he only put the ball into the 'danger zone' a couple of times. This does not mean that he is rubbish just frustrating.

    - Adam Johnson showed why he should have gone to the World Cup. Shooting...on target...twice, well I never. His inclusion could have justified Heskey as you would have had both him cutting in from the right and Rooney through the middle meaning that there would have been a higher probability of one of the lucky bounces off 'The Log' reaching another England player. Once again, a young lad not overawed by playing at the 'highest level', a home international against Bulgaria.

    - Bulgaria were rubbish. Even so, they still threatened the England goal a couple of times. Were these chances the result of defensive lapses or just the nature of football? Well, a fair few chances came down the right i.e. the Glen Johnson flank. He still needs to improve the defensive side of the game, especially with a winger more intent on going forward in front of him. His 'almost' own-goal was one of those standing leg blunders that, even though it would have been devastating, I tend to find humourous. Who are the altenatives at right back though?

    - The Ashley Cole/James Milner combo on the left worked well as Milner's determination to track back, Herculean work rate and tactical discipline allowed Cole to burst forward. In the absence of a 'proper' left winger (Adam Johnson permitted) this seems to be a good compromise if Cole is in good form.

    - Terry wasn't missed.

    - Lampard wasn't missed.

    - Jagielka and Dawson (and Cahill) were solid but unspectacular, about par for a rookie centre back partnership. Dawson's injury had all the hallmarks of a cruciate ligament problem. Hopefully it was just cramp (!). It's difficult to come to any conclusions in this area as Bulgaria were a little toothless, although it was good that neither of them resorted to hoofing it long. Cahill looked miles better than Upson as he didn't have the turning circle and speed of an oil tanker.

    - 4-0 was indeed flattering but Defoe was clinical, taking his chances've guessed it, aplomb.

  • Comment number 96.

    As for an alternative at right-back, jageilka has played there in the past, the future england should have a back four of jageilka, dawson, terry (being replaced with cahill after 2012) and cole (with Gibbs coming in after 2012). Richards is also a good shout at right-back but after that i cant think of anyone past luke young at villa. Not ou rbest position it must be said (: if we can sort out our defence and become hard to beat, we have the attacking players who can score the necessary goals.

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't see how beating a team as lowly placed in World rankings as Bulgaria, who have a poor history of qualification for tournaments, at home can in any way restore respectability.

    The entire World Cup and subsequent actions of Capello have been shambolic. He acted the tough guy saying it was time for a clear out and younger players to take the stage but in the first competitive game he kept faith with the same players who have underperformed time and time again. If Terry & Lampard had been fit, we'd have had 10 of the 11 players who were responsible for the abysmal showing in the WC.

    I don't think Capello knows what he is doing at international level and his lack of language skills is a really concern. A manager must be able to lead and you can't lead if you can't be understood. I just hope Owen Hargreaves gets fit because then we might finally see the end of the shocking Lampard/Gerrard midfield.

  • Comment number 98.

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

  • Comment number 99.

    oh come on, Bulgaria only have one good player and, surprise surprise for a Man U player, he's retired from international football,

  • Comment number 100.

    for once the team seemed to know what they were doing. Defoe good finishing of rooneys passes is a good sign of people in the right place.


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