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Capello gets French lesson

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Phil McNulty | 06:43 UK time, Thursday, 18 November 2010


England and France returned from the World Cup as the sick men of European football - but Wembley was left in no doubt which patient is further along the road to recovery.

Fabio Capello's night started with a Steve McClaren-style fashion disaster as the Italian took to the touchline with a baseball cap perched awkwardly on his head. It ended with a Twitter savaging from a furious Liverpool fitness coach.

Sandwiched in between was a defeat by France that was far more emphatic than a 2-1 scoreline suggests, a gruesome exposure of England's current limitations.

Capello, understandably given England's list of absentees, decided to take a glimpse into the future. On this evidence, the future looks no brighter than the past.

In Capello's defence - and not too many were jumping to it at Wembley on Wednesday - it is only right that this result, and indeed the game itself, is placed in context.

It was a friendly and England were stripped of a host of experienced players and the attacking resources of Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent, which meant the manager was effectively forced into fielding a makeshift line-up.

France were closer to full strength, although they were missing the not inconsiderable talents of Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery.

But even these mitigating circumstances cannot be used to disguise the technical and tactical deficiences exposed by France, a nation that had an even more disappointing and divisive South African campaign than England.

The contrast between the accomplished and precise passing, control and movement of the French when set against the lumbering - almost prehistoric - approach of England was so stark as to be painful.

Good use of possession, different points of attack, invention, mobility and variety - all assets France had in abundance but were beyond England on this night, qualities that have often been out of their reach against teams of the highest quality.

Wembley expressed its derision at both the half-time interval and the final whistle, angry at seeing England flounder once more in the face of technically superior opposition, as they do on a regular basis.

England's debutants had varying fortunes. Andy Carroll made a promising start to his international career despite being starved of meaningful service. Wembley's ovation when the Newcastle United striker departed after 70 minutes was well merited.

Jordan Henderson looked like an over-promoted youngster in midfield, which may well be exactly what he is, but this was a daunting occasion and some of his more illustrious colleagues struggled just as badly. His chance will come again.

Samir Nasri and Yoann Gourcuff more or less reduced Henderson to a watching brief as they dictated terms but the Sunderland player received no assistance from the declining Gareth Barry, who must be vulnerable to replacement by Frank Lampard once the Chelsea man is fit, or perhaps Everton's Jack Rodwell.

Gareth Barry is left trailing by Samir NasriThe declining form of Barry must be a concern for Capello. Photo: PA

West Ham United's Scott Parker must have watched Barry's performance and wondered either what he has to do to win England recognition or what he has done to have a line crossed so conclusively through his name.

Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs, winning his second cap, mixed too many mistakes with some decisive tackles, again only to be expected from a youngster who is not even a regular at club level.

Such was France's superiority in every facet of the game that England might almost regard only losing 2-1 as a moral victory. Outflanked and outthought, France sailed serenely into a 2-0 lead with goals from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena.

Peter Crouch's late goal, his 22nd in 42 internationals, applied a veneer of respectability England's performance did not deserve, a display that hinted at stagnation in the face of France's rejuvenation.

While France passed, probed and moved in the classic style, Capello's England - when they actually retained possession - relied on the old-fashioned lumpen launch to unsettle their opponents. It worked in the closing stages but England's track record against teams with pedigree suggests it is not a ploy that wins games - and it was never going to win this one.

As I suggested after England's Euro 2012 draw with Montenegro at Wembley, it may be time to accept that they are a second-rate footballing nation. France might have considered themselves to be in similarly reduced circumstances after the World Cup but their progress appears to have been rapid under the cerebral guidance of Laurent Blanc.

England and France took different routes following their South African debacles. The Football Association stuck with Capello in the absence of any other serious candidate or any appetite for change, while the French Football Federation ended the madcap reign of Raymond Domenech by appointing Blanc.

Blanc did start with an advantage in that the suspicion always lurked that there was a good side trying to escape in France, only to be held back by the eccentricities of an awful coach. Blanc has started by restoring harmony to the camp before applying the skills that made him such a formidable operator at Bordeaux.

England cannot be condemned on the strength of an experimental team's defeat against a French team in renaissance but the gulf in class was so vast that it surprised even the most pessimistic observers.

The FA and Capello are now locked into each other, some might say stuck with each other, until the end of the Euro 2012 campaign. Calls for change are pointless but there is no doubt that Capello's own performance was unconvincing.

Capello insisted he selected the best squad available to him. But did he? Apart from Parker's continued absence, Bolton's Kevin Davies was a preferable option to Cardiff City's Jay Bothroyd who, in the fashion of the veteran striker against Montenegro, presumably won his first and last cap on Wednesday.

And the Italian's decision to utilise Everton's Phil Jagielka, suffering with illness prior to the game, at right-back was tactically naive and flawed, saying little for his belief in Micah Richards. Jagielka was ruthlessly targeted by Eric Abidal and Florent Malouda, but let us hope the folly of Capello's decision does not rob the defender of the confidence accumulated by outstanding performances in his more familiar position of centre-half.

Capello's luck was also out when Steven Gerrard sustained a hamstring injury in the closing stages, prompting a hot-headed Tweetfest from Liverpool fitness coach Darren Burgess, angry at the fact that their captain had been left on for longer than the apparently agreed 60 minutes.

Some sympathy for Capello here, though. As he pointed out, he had already lost Barry and Rio Ferdinand to injury at the interval and needed a senior figure on the field of play to guide the younger generation.

Steven Gerrard leaves the field with a hamstring injuryGerrard's injury prompted an angry response from Liverpool's fitness coach. Photo: PA

And while this is no personal criticism of Gerrard, why should certain England players turn up for international games with pre-ordained instructions on how long they will actually play? It was simply ill-fortune and Capello did not deserve to be on the receiving end of such a rant.

Capello will hope his hand is strengthened by the return of players such as Rooney by the time England play Argentina in February but hopes that the meeting with France might signpost the way to a bright future turned out to be a forlorn one.

France taught Capello and England harsh lessons in front of a disapproving sell-out Wembley crowd. Whether the players are available to learn from them is open to question after this chastening reality check.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Second rate team with second rate players and i don't think the absentees would have made that much difference.

    No doubt many will blame the manager but the players just aren't good enough, technically they were far superior and there's nothing Capello can do about that.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am not a fan of Capello, he should have gone after the World Cup, but a friendly when your team is missing so many key and experienced players is not an accurate barometer.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fair enough Phil, though I think - like most England fans this morning - you're 'what the heck do we do now' sub-text comes through. France were excellent for most of the game last night - Nasri replicating (ironically) his Arsenal form - and made us look very, very ordinary. I do wonder about the policy of selecting players who can't even get into their club sides - Gibbs (Arsenal again) - but we can hardly say there are a load of other England players beating down the doors.

    We do have good young players coming through like Wilshere (Arsenal again - there's a theme here), but just not enough. And Capello's decision to play Bothroyd smacked of desperation - he's a Championship striker and he's 28. What's the point?

    England need a new start and, for club reasons it pains me to say it, but Capello must be fired and 'Arry needs to be given a chance.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm afraid that like Roy Hodgson, Fabio Capello is a coach mired in a previous era. Tactics have moved on from there Plan A only viewpoints and flexbility is now key.

    Phil, I cant agree with your comments about Gerrard's injury. Liverpool requested he played no more than an hour in a meaningless friendly. Now he is injured, and will be sent back to Liverpool for the club to rehabillitate him whilst paying his wages. I inderstand Torres was injured too, for what? Another meaningless friendly.

    There is no excuse. The meaningless friendly was already lost. Why take the risk? After his injury he was substituted anyway. (And yes I am aware of Capello's reason that there werent enough senior players on the pitch).

    "Meaningless friendly" suggests there was nothing tangible to be gained in the first place. Now Liverpool have lost Gerrard (and possibly Torres)needlessly and for naught.

  • Comment number 5.

    If I EVER again see an England defender hoof the ball 70 yards whilst under no pressure, it will be to soon.

  • Comment number 6.

    ''The contrast between the accomplished and precise passing, control and movement of the French when set against the lumbering - almost prehistoric - approach of England was so stark as to be painful.''
    A quite accurate summary of the situation. Even England's 'more experienced' and 'better' players are not capable of such an enlightened style of play - the prehistoric style is a reflection of that adopted by so many of the Premier League teams.

    As for the Liverpool fitness coach, it was Gerrard's decision to lunge into an unnecessary tackle that caused the injury.

    Argentina in February? God help us!

  • Comment number 7.

    Phil, I cant agree with your comments about Gerrard's injury. Liverpool requested he played no more than an hour in a meaningless friendly. Now he is injured, and will be sent back to Liverpool for the club to rehabilitate him whilst paying his wages. I understand Torres was injured too, for what? Another meaningless friendly.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 8.

    Should we really be surprised with this result and the performance? Capello just can't get anything out of an England team, whether it be reserves or a first team. Some needs to explain to players too that just because you have a target man, doesn't mean you need to constantly play hit and hope balls for him, just useless. Once again Walcott just didn't show up, although he wasn't alone. Excuses that this was a reserve team are poor ones, would Lampard/Terry have made any difference at all given their recent performances??

    It's hard to feel anything for this England team at the moment, just lost all passion and ambition for England under Capello

  • Comment number 9.

    To be honest there is one reason we lost this match. The midfield.

    Henderson is a prospect for the future, but his inexperience was shown last night. Unfortunately for him, his guidance was coming from Barry, who has not had a good game for England in a long time (not since his Aston Villa days?

    Gerrard, Milner.... erm.... didn't see much of them to be honest all game. So can't comment much there other than England need a player who plays on the left for their club. Although Johnson plays on the right at Man City, but at least he is a naturally gifted left sided player.

    Walcott was a mixed bag. Ran his socks off as he always does, which noone seems to realise. A tame shot by Milner could have easily been passed to him on the edge of the 12 yard box with just the keeper to beat. But he chose to run inside today more than he would at Arsenal. Suggestions perhaps that he was being instructed to do that?

    Caroll tried his best. You cannot ask for more than that. However a midfield lacking in creativity did not help. When Crouch came on tactics were much the same, but his experience showed, and was able to do more with the ball.

    I have always said a lone striker does not work without 2 wing men who get forward. Walcott did that, as did Adam Johnson, but there was nothing from Milner.

    In my opinion England should go with the tried and tested little and large up front (think of Shearer/Sherringham), but for the next few years have Crouch and Rooney or Defoe.

    Defensively a bit of a mess. Again not much balance. Why play Jagielka as right back? However it does show without Glen Johnson we have no real second option, which is a worry. Richards performed ok, but needs to find the form he had a couple of years ago when he hit the scene.

    Gibbs was a mixed bag. He has had an injury plagued season, and it showed last night. Moments of skill, feeding in Gerrard for which he should have scored, but times when he looked rushed and made mistakes. He needs an injury free remainder of the season, and will push Clichy for a regular spot at Arsenal.

    Ferdinand and Lescott, both good defenders, but looked to be on eachothers toes all night, allowing France to slip in between the centre backs and full backs so a poor display from them.

    What was learnt from last night??? You need a balanced midfield. Without that there is no protection for the back. And you just end up hoofing the ball upfield which is pointless against an organised defence.

    What id suggest is giving Scott Parker a go in the holding roll. Barry has shown nothing lately. And if England are to play 5 in midfield play Gerrard and Lampard centrally, as I feel Parker has the skill to hold is own to free Gerrard and Lampard to go forward. Have Walcott and Johnson on the wings, and suddenly we have 5 players who get forward and regularly score goals for their clubs.


  • Comment number 10.

    All too true your comments on this blog...

    But the greed is good league will reconvene on Saturday with all it's forgein talent on show, telling the world that it's the best league in the world, with the best players....not giving a sod about England.

    And we wonder why we were poor, not unexpected in the slightest.

  • Comment number 11.

    The success of international friendlies has always been judged by how many players from your club come back injury-free and ready for the weekend.

    Nobody really cares about the result in the meaningless England game.

  • Comment number 12.

    after seeing the match, i was completely convinced to see that england has started to become a second nation team. I wouldnt blame completely on the coach, the players should also take some blame. there is more of individual play than team play. for instance, after scoring the first goal, england in the 91st minute was on the counter, and i could see in the penalty box if i m not wrong, crouch waving his hand for the ball, but then milner goes for the shot. if he had passed it to crouch, i guess england could have got the second goal

    Gerrad did play good, and little bit luck on his side, he could have got in some goals. He did his part sincerely as always, giving his best and i feel he loves wearing the england shirt and performing.

    Andy Carroll played well for his debut and given the scarcity of service, he tried to make the best of the chances. I think Barry is now becoming over-rated and Capello should start taking players on the basis of performance so that the already established players also feel the heat and know that to wear the england shirt you have to earn it.

    Goalkeeping is an issue like arsenal team where no permenant solution is found. they got to find out a possible solution for it. and yes i would like to see scott parker being given a chance. If capello wants to give the youth an experince and reality check, i think he should pair Steven Gerrad with Paul Scholes who would help the players understand how to play the game with passion attack and agression. With scholes you might see yellow card, but then you would also see how he gifts the team chances, opens up the game and above all give the forwards what they want, the chance to go for the strike and get goals.

    France played good football of passing which is very similar to Arsene Wengers side and it was nice to see some flowing football.

    all is not over, there is still long way to go, and capello can still experiment for another time to get his combination right and i guess the formattion should change to 2 forwards, one attacking midfilder, 2 wings and one central midfielder and who knows england might win the world cup also ....:)

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm afraid I disagree with quite a lot of this blog. The game was meaningless except as an opportunity for the manager to look at some new players. In England's starting line up only Gerrard, Milner, Barry and Ferdinand could be considered safe in their positions, and having said that, Barry probably has had his day as a guaranteed pick.

    Carroll was a big positive; on another day he might have had the luxury of trying to receive a pass from fewer than forty yards while completely isolated against three French defenders in that Rooney or Gerrard might have been in hailing distance.

    My biggest moan is that my club will be without its captain for goodness knows how long because the manager chose to gamble with his fitness despite a request to the contrary. Considering what a good and faithful uncomplaining servant Gerrard has been to England, frankly it stinks.

  • Comment number 14.

    Just started following you Phil and I agree most of the time, but today...

    As for tactics I certainly dont think capello called for the players to boot it down the pitch (no you didnt suggest that either).

    As for a coaching change, well, if Capello will do more long term harm than good he has to go. End of story. With this current set-up of players and system England will beat no team of inside the top 5. I saw the German match today and they threw in a whole host of new faces. Jogi wanted confidence and self-belief and then see what happens. England did the same but wanted a convincing win...

    And why not set a limit on Gerrard's time? Today was a testing ground and all parties (country & club) should work together.

    Please help your fellow countrymen by continuing to tell them that they arent as good as they think. This might be the first step to a hopefully brighter future.

  • Comment number 15.

    It wasn't just about the limitation of resources it was the limitations of the resources.
    If boot-and-hoof-it-ball is our main tactic why bother with the midfield ?

    And England are sixth in the rankings ?!
    That is clearly a sweetener for not getting the 2018 bid.

  • Comment number 16.

    I didn't get past the second paragraph. Criticising the bloke for what he's wearing? Good grief, man.

  • Comment number 17.

    My God, that was a really really dreadful display by England. Played off the pitch by a young French side being completely rebuilt after the World Cup's torrid debacle (and were responsible for bringing such shame on their own country).

    England players don't know how to play, actually English players don't know how to play simple football, no basic ball-controling skill, no basic playing intelligence or even motivation to play. Well, apart from players who are raised to super-star status just because they can kick a ball hard or throw themselves at every ball they see with so-called "passion", England don't have anything. And people will blame Capello for that, when he isn't in a position to change that himself (or at least could try but the FA higher-ups are so busy counting their money...).

    I hope Laurent Blanc makes a really good team out of this crop of players, at least he's understood that he should be building his team around talented youngsters and encourage them, Benzema, Nasri, Mvila, Gourcuff and others are really getting to grips with how to play at the highest level, he's doing a great work, hopefully we'll go much further in the next major competition and put this atrocious and shameful episode that was the World Cup behind us.

  • Comment number 18.

    Maybe we should try to recall Emile Heskey? Ok no just kidding! Sad to have another poor performance from the lads. I have never been a fan of sacking a manager after a poor game but Fabio Capello has been in charge for decent period and his results have varied. But I don't think that Englands worries are the solely responsible on Capello,not enough has been done to develop young talent. The German model is really looking good, fantastic youth coming through and what I find most pleasing is that they have a team identity whenever they play. England are far to rigid at the moment.

  • Comment number 19.

    Says it all when theres a rant over Gerrard being kept on longer than the "agreed" 60 minutes. Whether you think Capello is the right man for the job or not, this just shows that the clubs are running and managing the England setup.
    Theres no point in having a manager if, whoever you put in that role is dictated to as to how long each puppet can stay on the pitch.
    Until something changes and the order reverts back to country first mentality then England will go the same way as the Davis cub team, ie go from A-list to D-List on the world stage.
    I get the impression that when the guest pundits from various countries, such as Klinsman, Desailly, Seedorf are asked who they think the main contenters are in these major tournaments they say England, whilst trying to keep a straight face, but inside are thinking that the likes of Australia, Ivory Coast, Japan, have more chance than the consistently over hyped and consistently underperforming 11 that England can scrape together.

  • Comment number 20.

    At Last! it seems the English Media is finaly wakeing up to the fact that Cappello is an utter clueless individual when it comes to International Football.

    You should have asked yourself, why if he as so good at club level did the Italian National Team not snap him up? answer they obviously deemed him not good enough and so we have him.

    I said on his appointment that he would prove to be nothing but a waste of space needless to say my view/s have not changed.

    but look on the bright side, in the next game England will proberbly win 2-1 and once again will become the best side in the world

    laughable or what.

  • Comment number 21.

    I must have missed something with regard to Andy Caroll from where I was sitting (which in fairness was right at the back :P) he looked shocking. Poor control half the time, no vision and it was his rediculous back pass from inside the france half back into ours that led up to the first goal.

    There was constantly a ball on over the top for miler/walcott/gerrard to run onto and instead of playing it he just passed back (far too hard making it hard to control) to barry, henderson or a defender. Rooney would have played those balls, but then again he is a world class player (despite his current lack of form).

    I don't think Caroll offered anything more than kevin davies or carlton cole would have.

    But he's younger so hopefully he'll improve his touch and vision over time.

    I tought Richards was probably our best player as his attacking philosophy pushed the french left side back making them far less effective going forward.

  • Comment number 22.

    While last night's game was pretty damning on English football as a whole, people need to stop falling back on the "foreign players diluting the league" argument.
    Take a look at the first 11 that Spain set out in the World Cup final - 10 of the 11 were from the top 2 clubs in Spain (Real Madrid - Casillas, Ramos, Alonso; Barcelona - Pique, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa & Pedro) while in the rest of the squad of 23, there were a total of maybe 4 other clubs represented.
    There isn't a single English player that could be honestly backed to be taken into one of the top 2 clubs in Spain and be played regularly ahead of any of the Spanish internationals there.

    English players aren't good enough technically, full stop.

  • Comment number 23.

    Oh right, so people still care about our national football team?? I'm really hoping that soon people will realise that we are useless and always will be.
    On a positive note, we thrashed the Aussies in the rugby on Sat (2003 World champions and finalists in 2007), so are pretty decent at that. Lets start getting behind the teams who actually do our nation proud. We aren't bad at cricket either :)

  • Comment number 24.

    Says it all when theres a rant over Gerrard being kept on longer than the "agreed" 60 minutes. Whether you think Capello is the right man for the job or not, this just shows that the clubs are running and managing the England setup.


    I was thinking exactly the same!

    As each season goes by, the importance attached to club football over international football just keeps increasing, and as a result any future prospects of success with the national team keep diminishing!

  • Comment number 25.

    I think its very harsh to say that gibbs made too many mistakes. I think he had a promising night. He didn't look awed by the situation and fitted in quiet nicely. OK the final ball wasnt great but neither was milner's, walcott's or Johnson's!

    Gibbs had a positive night. and as you said, he has JUST come back from injury and is not a regular at club level, although im sure he will be very soon because of clichy's lack of form. This can only help him.

    Do you agree that everytime england play carroll, the midfielders will have no choice but to play hoof balls to him? We want to use the players strengths and carroll's strength us his ability in the air. This is why i think he's not good enough to start for england. In my opinion, he is better than crouch but capello cant force crouch out of the squad because of his admirable international record.

    Also what i realised was how the england midfield lack creativity and movement, not matter WHO is playing. I think its time to install a midfield partnership of Rodwell, Gerrard, Wilshere. This will be an exciting midfield for england. Its time to change.

    Wilshere would have started tonight had it not been for injury and i thik he's good enough to walk straight in to the england team. Wilshere has been a regular for arsenal this season and his dynamism and creativity is something we lack in midfield.

  • Comment number 26.

    I liked most of the blog, but I'm going to point out comments on Bothroyd's selection again to aid my main argument. Whilst I accept that Carroll is, or is probably going to become, a fantastic player, I thought both Bothroyd and Carroll looked equals last night more or less, and that this is because of the woeful midfield. Plenty has been mentioned of the long balls and nonsense kick around in the midfield, but it became painfully clear that the class isn't there. Walcott ran around impressively, but I do wonder whether he is in the wrong sport because his delivery is atrocious. Milner was outclassed, barry and gerrard were mostly anonymous. When I saw the formation 451 against the more 'friendly' experiments of Blanc's 433, the result was decided. Tactically, Capello has lost it completely now. It's not so much about the loss than the manner in which England lost, which was completely embarrassing. I'm living in France, and believe me, it's embarrassing!!! We always have Waterloo and Trafalgar though...

  • Comment number 27.

    Basically, the fans need to accept that we aren't that good. The booing after every game seems to have become an automatic reaction now without any consideration that maybe that's simply how good these players are.

    Suppose if, taking it to the extreme, San Marino's fans booed their team every time they lost or played badly. But, I imagine, they don't because they're realistic about how good they are so instead support them and encourage them to improve.

    Our players lack the technical ability and creativity of other European and South American teams, and that has to be down to a mentality and/or training. Maybe because the Premiership is regarded as the best, most physical and quickest, league in the world, our players spend more time becoming athletes and less time with a football at their feet.

    Personally, I feel we've missed out on not being able to play Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves and Dean Ashton, then again, that just suggests we need more strength in depth.

  • Comment number 28.

    Last night was not an enjoyable experience as an England supporter. Whilst it's true we lacked a host of first team regulars, previous matches give me no confidence that the result would have been any different had they been present. France's midfield completely outclassed us last night and lack of experience there is no excuse. The cumbersome Barry and Milner (both regular 1st team picks) yet again expected Gerrard to carry the whole midfield (if not team). I agree entirely that Scott Parker should be given a chance, he has a similar engine to Gerrard and carries more of a goal threat than Barry.
    The French midfield trio of Nasri(23), Gourcuff (24), and M'Vila (20) looked technically superior and all have age on their side and will be in their prime at the Euros, as will Benzema at only 22yrs old. At present I can't see a similar axis developing in English football.
    One plus though is that Andy Carroll did look bright and did as well as could be expected, one would have hoped that Johnson and Walcott would provide him with plenty of service but neither was ever in the game to any great extent. The lack of speed in build up in central midfield meant the French too often had time to fill the space where these players flourish, too often they had to come deep to receive the ball with their backs to goal.
    On a night where many were hoping for enthusiastic youthful display, what was delivered was an all too familiar exercise in 4 passes then hoof football. If we look at the successful teams in recent years such as Spain, Brazil and France, they have all had technically gifted players throughout their teams. England have rarely had this and until the country's footballing philosophy changes, I can't see us winning anything again.

  • Comment number 29.

    Perhaps this current plight of England is what has been bound to happen for a long time given the fact that foreign players prevail in the Premiership (how many English goalkeepers do you have to choose from etc.), given the fact that clubs don't seem to be investing in youth talent and youth academies (Mr Benitez is a case in point when he shut down one of Liverpool's academies run by Steve Heighway) and given the fact that managers forever whine about larger transfer kitties to be spent in the next transfer window (Benitez again was a gerat example, and many others) presumably on French, Spanish and other foreign players, instead of working with the youth talent.
    But then, inflated transfer prices for British-bred players like James Milner or Gareth Barry who are limited in their ability do not help the English/British cause. But then if there were more talented British-bred players prices woul need to go down. And here you come back to the question of nurtuting home-grown talent, which unfortunately, takes time.
    Very sad!!

  • Comment number 30.

    I don't understand all the 'bigging up' of Carroll. For me he was trying too hard. Every touch seemed heavy and he gave the ball away needlessly time and again. The only good thing about his game was flicking the ball on but that just makes him a bit of a one-trick pony. I was watching him when France's defense had the ball and he just stood still the entire time and watched. Jay looked more lively when he came on but didn't really get enough of the ball.

  • Comment number 31.

    Thing is, does anyone really care anymore? Or, at half time, having watched for 45 minutes as england failed to string 2 passes together did everyone switch over to watch the apprentice instead?

    What's more, i'll imagine the only thing anyone is reading the match report for this morning is to make sure that everyone from their team made it back in one piece, sorry liverpool fans.

    Maybe this is why Capello is now picking championship players so that clubs a little further down the league table can worry after an international week? Maybe next time, if he starts picking from league one, Sheffield Wednesday fans will have to boycott news websites altogether in case half the team got injured in the warmup for an england match and they're out of business (which isn't a laughing matter, and my apologies for being flippant - just using it as an example of the pointlessness of it all)

  • Comment number 32.

    Can someone please tell me what Cappello is doing to earn his however million a year? I'm honestly beginning to believe I could do a better job.

    Seriously, please tell me one thing he has done to justify his wage that a manager from say the Blue Square Premier couldn't have done? What is the difference between him, and any other league coach?

    I honestly can't believe that a good working knowledge of English isn't a pre-requisite for the position of manager of England. Does anyone know another top level job in England, paying over a million pounds a year, where you don't have to be able to speak decent English? I'm an English man in Norway, if I want to apply for a job even at Burger King, I have to be able to speak Norwegian. Maybe I should apply for the job as manager of Norway?

    I mean, I know it's in the past but, losing against Germany in the World Cup, he brings on Emile Heskey to 'get that goal'. Come on...

  • Comment number 33.

    45 minutes of low percentage balls over the top. It's a good thing we have such a quality manager who can see the futility in doing this against a team comfortable on the ball and who will delight in picking up possession when we gift it...his 'element of surprise' answer by getting the team to play another 45 minutes doing exactly the same was absolute genius! Capello is a joke, the most one dimensional manager on the face of the planet. If you're going to play wide men on the wrong foot for their side, fine, but at least play a tight 3 up front so they get the benefit of scoring chances on their favoured foot. If you're gonna play them wide then have Johnson on the left and Young on the right since their biggest contribution will be from crosses. Not that it matters anyway since we can't string more than 3 passes together on the floor before someone gets too lazy to even look for a safe pass and hoofs it up to the opposition defense.

  • Comment number 34.

    I said it adfter the World Cup and I will say it again.



  • Comment number 35.

    For to many years we have been told by the media including all those Blog writers that we had world class players.
    We have no world class players ! We will not win the euro's or the world cup.The only chance we have of winning anything, is if the FA bring back the home internationals.
    There is no way forward for England !

  • Comment number 36.

    I think the problem lies more with the atmosphere Capello creates than the physical ability of the players. Yes, I know they are paid absolutely astronomical wages, and should perform wether being coached the Fergusons & Wengers of the world or a clown giving them instructions, however at the end of the day, if you like the boss you work for, the better you play. I think France eptimised this by the way they performed under a new coach who has united the spirit of the club.

    In the world cup, we had out best and most experienced players (few exceptions I know) and we still were lack lustre and lacked creativity. Food for thought....

  • Comment number 37.

    At international level the focus is ball retention, organisation and tactical discipline (many of the minnows do his and so make life hard for the big boys). We need to forget about action footballers like Gerrard & Lampard, forget pacy players like SWP, Walcott & Lennon who have no consistency with end product.

    England lost last night not only because the midfield didn't do it's job, because they failed to do the basics. Wingers not supporting full backs, central midfield not pressing & closing down, is it any wonder we lose whilst we persist in so called superstars like Gerrard who didn't even do the basics. Last night he give the ball away so many times, absolutely shocking for a player of his supposed class. As soon as he went off it was no surprise to me that England played better. Young & Johnson must start next match for England, as soon as they came on they tracked back, helped their full back before going on the attack and trying to create opportunities. What has Scott Parker got to do to be called up?

    For me, Gerrard is the common denominator to England's failures, it is no coincidence in every major failing in the past 8 years has seen him in the starting line up. Great player for Liverpool, not good enough for England as he is not suited to international football. It is a travesty that a better player like Scholes was played on the wing to accommodate Stevie G which is what influenced Paul to retire from international football.

  • Comment number 38.

    Englands worst player by miles was Gerrard, who on this evidence couldn't pass water. In the first half he was supposed to be supporting Carroll but was no where to be seen and England only started to look even acceptable after he went off. Wouldn't at all be surprised if he was playing for his beloved liverpool at the weekend and the injury was to aviod being booed, wouldn't be the first time this has happened.

  • Comment number 39.

    A poor first half followed by a cracking hour on ancient civilisations over on bbc2. The beeb at its best.

    First time in my life I've voluntarily turned over during an England game - I just can't take it anymore.

  • Comment number 40.

    I urge all of you to watch again on YouTube that wonderful night in Munich: Germany 1 England 5 and look at the team, the play, the commitment, the urgency, the passion and then ask yourselves this. If England could play like that then what has gone wrong since. It's true after that we did not pass the quarter finals of the WC with Sven but that one night should be shown repeatedly as an example and an inspiration. Nearly all of that team are still playing now:then a fit Michael Owen, a sublime David Beckham, Scholes et al. England needs an adept sports psychologist to sort out the team's appalling psyche otherwise England will disappear into the third division of international football; the team appears to be a microcosm of the state of our nation.
    Last night the players seemed like rabbits caught in the headlights. I wrote after the WC in SA that Capello should go and I still believe it now. Is there really not one human being out there in the wide world who cannot get hold of the England players by the scruff of the neck and shake them into shape before Euro 2012?

  • Comment number 41.

    Gareth Barry is too slow for international football. Drop him PERMANENTLY please. Bring in a defensive midfielder with a bit more pace to burn, please (i.e. Frank Lampard is NOT A DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER). Carrick is having a run of games with Man U, and should be back to his best soon. Owen Hargreaves is badly missed.
    Theo Walcott should be dropped until he regains his old form back. Replace with Adam Johnson please. If the latter's form suffers due to his lack of club appearance, Albrighton should be seriously considered.
    James Milner lacks offensive guile to break through a well-drilled defense. Replace with Ashley Young who has more pace and is more direct. Jarvis is an option as well.
    Lescott may be solid defensively, but he needs to urgently look into his distribution once in possession. His passing upfield reflected his bench-warming status in Man City.
    The only plus last night was Andy Carroll. His combination with a fit again (and hopefully in-form) Wayne Rooney would be interesting.
    Henderson was outmanned last night, thus a proper assessment on what he has to offer will be unfair.
    Ben Foster was beaten at near post by Benzema from a somewhat narrow angle. Can't see Joe Hart doing the same thing.
    Captain Stevie G played his heart out, but the England team last night was crying for another focal point of creativity, Someone who can create something from nothing (eg. Wilshere, Rooney).

  • Comment number 42.

    Scott Parker deserves to get a call up for the three lions. He has far more talent than Barry and wears his heart on his sleeve, just the kind of player needed. He would fit in nicely into the holding midfield role.

  • Comment number 43.

    Disagree with the comments above about it all being the fault of Capello. Whoever the manager is, he can't spin straw into gold. The fact is that England haven't turned in a top quality performance since Euro 96 and haven't done well at a World Cup since Italia 90.

    All bar one or two of today's players would not get a look into those squads. I remember Ian Wright being judged not good enough for Euro 96, yet Heskey gets 80 odd caps under at least 3 different managers.

    Until young players are trained differently and a cap is introduced on overseas players, we'll keep on churning out this dismal rubbish. Take whatever manager you like, Harry Redknapp or Alf Ramsey, and you'll still get the same as we don't have the Van der Vaarts, the Ronaldos or even the Benzemas. Just cloggers and hitmen.

  • Comment number 44.

    "The declining form of Barry must be a concern for Capello." - Why phil? He could just as easily pick a traffic cone in place of Barry. How on earth does he get into the squad? I wouldn't have him wash the team bus he's slow, devoid of ideas and can't find a meaningful pass!

  • Comment number 45.

    Can people stop with the 'technically not good enough' comments. Teams like The Netherlands and Uruguay are not technically better than us but their manager gets the team to play as a team to the teams strengths hence gets the results and performances. I think people are missing the point with that argument.

    We need a team which plays to its own strengths and that strategy is led by the manager.

  • Comment number 46.

    I must have watched a different game, I thought an experimental side struggled in the first half against a strong french side, then we made some changes at half time and looked much better in the second half. At no point did we deserve to win, but we fielded a b-team to get a look at some young english players.

    The hysterical over-reaction of our media (including the beeb) to every performance is pathetic, any time we look okay we're potential world beaters, every time we struggle we are terrible and the coach should be fired.

    There are shades of grey as well as black and white Phil.

  • Comment number 47.

    It's one game!
    Not Capellos biggest fan but atleast he is trying to bring through the younsters.
    He wont pick Bothroyd next time because he likes picking players once then not again.
    however in regards to the youngsters, Gibbs played well, despite being outnumbered most of the game and Carroll made a strong case for more appearances, and Henderson wasnt to bad in all.
    i just hate the fact with one bad game people get all depressed and complain, we won't come good overnight (or 4 months) but give it time and the results will come along with the performances.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think the criticism of England last night is a bit harsh - our team was made up of debutants, players who are coming back from injury, players who were out of position and players who aren't playing regular football for their club.

    We missed Ash and Johnson last night - the full backs we had on the pitch were more cautious in making the overlaps on the wings, and without them it provides little help to Walcott or Milner, and we get less crosses into the box as a result.

    I'm not bothered about the result at all - it was a friendly, we had half our 1st team missing and it tells us nothing. The one thing that does worry me is that our best prospects need to be playing football week in week out for their clubs - Adam Johnson, Lescott, Micah Richards (who I still rate) - get yourselves out of City to a club where you can play regular football.

    The boo boys last night - get a life, it was a meaningless friendly - save your booing for when we go out early in the world cup or Euros.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think this just shows how far England have come under capello, not very at all. he is a woefully inadequate international manager for England, ver one dimensional and has such a dated way of playing his teams, and doesn't have the capability of setting up the team to their strengths. I can't remember the past game England played where they were a joy to watch and that's capellos football all over again. I can see myself and many other fans just switching off and taking little interest in englands national team. 
    it's not that we lost its the manner in which they played and have played for a very king time.

    I hear people crow about the players but they are only following the commands and instructions of the coach. The manager does make all the difference and capello's negative, authoritatarian style that seems to be devoid of any emotional or motivational methods look more and more like square per round hole for england. I'm not saying he is a had manager, many foreign managers who have excellent pedigree come to the prem and fall flat on their face and if England was run like a prem club he would rightly of been removed a long time ago.
    take redknapp for example, he took a side that were playing very similar football to England under Ramos, one that looked lost and with almost the same team is beating inter Milan in the champs league and finishing 4th in the prem league. it just shows you find the right manager for a team and they can transform. 
    Sad to say it as I thought capello could be the man but he really needs to go. this isnt about players, lack of quality, too much money this is about a manager with a vision that is not working and preventing his sIDE from reaching any potential at all.
    This isnt a problem that can be fixed Nuba wilshere or a Scott parker this is the whole style and approach to the game. players don't want to play for capello and his way of football

  • Comment number 50.

    Sorry Phil, (yawn....) don't agree with the majority of your article. It gets so predictable when you and your BBC colleagues can't wait to have "a go" at an England team.

    Can anyone name a country in the World with the injuries Capello had to contend with that wouldn't have been severely weakened? Suddenly the result matters when England loose a "friendly", when if it was the other way around you would be the first to point out that an England win was meaningless against a severely weakened outfit.

    Is it surprising when you throw a team together like the one last night that there is no pattern or authority to their play, no.... Is it really surprising that a well drilled and cohesive team (that's what they were, not World beaters) make a "makeshift" England look second rate, no......

    But it gives you yet "another" chance to have kick at your national team, you've had enough in the past.

    I'm not surprised at all when the head of the 2018 World Cup bid, brands the BBC as "unpatriotic", oh but then you can put another blog together telling us what a failure this country is after Panorama (on public money) puts the final nail into the bids coffin.

  • Comment number 51.

    "The declining form of Barry must be a concern for Capello"

    to decline from form you must show a level of performance previously. Barry always was and always will be overrated.

  • Comment number 52.

    This blog is a complete over-reaction.......

    Firstly we were missing nearly a full team of first-choice players.....J Hart - G Johnson, J Terry, A Cole - F Lampard, J Wilshere - W Rooney, J Defoe, D Bent.

    Secondly a number of guys who played were doubtful due to injury/illness (e.g. A Carroll, P Jagielka).

    So I accept some of the suggestions as to why we lost but comments like " may be time to accept that we [you are English aren't you phil?!?] are a second-rate footballing nation" are ridiculous. The only 'evidence' provided to back that up is that we have drawn one of our qualifying matches - surely not a cause for panic at this stage.

  • Comment number 53.

    Englang will never, ever progress until they remove the likes of Gerrard, Ferdinand, Terry, Lampard, Crouch, Barry and Milner from the team.

    Gerrard is simply the most overrated player in the world. Last night, if you watched carefully, he gave the ball away every time he had it.

    Not once did he pass short and retain the ball. He has no short game and patience.

    A complete disgrace. Barry is better at keeping possession but in general, he is average.

    No technique,guile, patience or intelligence.

    This is England. Utter rubbish.

  • Comment number 54.


    I am amazed that you think the Netherlands are not technically better than England.

    Have you considered the technical ability of Van Persie against Peter Crouch, Van de Vaart against Frank Lampard and Sneijder against Gerrard?

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

    "Firstly we were missing nearly a full team of first-choice players.....J Hart - G Johnson,...."

    Dear adds42, please don't even try to suggest that having Glen Johnson in the team last night would have changed anything. No, it would not!

    Another overrated playwer. A good athlete, yes. But that is all that can be said about him.

  • Comment number 57.

    The lack of quality in the England team is undeniable, Gerard, Walcott, Milner and Crouch are no more than second rate and they are the better ones. Barry is utterly out of his depth against a half decent team, Ferdinand is finished and Ashley Cole's best days are well behind him. As for the rest they don't even rank as third rate.

    Even with the lack of quality, in the utterly hopeless Capello they can't even play up to the level they are capable of. This is all the problem of the FA, after the disaster that was Erikson and McClaren who would have imagined these dinosaurs could employ anyone worse. To top it all these idiots gave this man a new contract on the verge of the World Cup, in which we were inevitably humiliated.

    All we ever seem to get from England is misery and it's no wonder there is less and less interest in the national team.

  • Comment number 58.

    After the World Cup match against Algeria, out of all the commentators, 'experts' and players. I only heard Chris Waddle say the obvious, that Algeria were better than us technically both at an individual and collective level - and that was with several of yesterday's missing players in the side. Everyone else hid behind a variety of reasons and excuses. Yesterday, we saw the same thing again but against a side which carried a greater attacking threat.

    When are we going to wake up to the fact that football evolves and that we are still obsessed with the macho side of the game, producing powerful, fast athletes with the good old British over-the-top mentality like Gerrard, Rooney who, good players as they are individually in the hurly, burly of the English league have never given the impression that they are comfortable simply fitting into a team pattern at international level where the emphasis is on technical ability, movement, awareness and anticipation.

    We have been great at stopping teams for years, Argentina and the first half against Brazil when it was 11 v 11 spring to mind, but we have appeared clueless at times when we have had to win games against sides who match us physically, (USA, Algeria, Montenegro and 2nd half against Brazil when we had 11 v their 10).

    But we live in an era of hype and spin, so as long as we continue to be told that there is nothing wrong with English coaching methods, that the Premier League is the best in the world, that we have 'world class' players etc, etc we will continue to place the blame on the coach, on FIFA and on match officials and happily carry on living in our goldfish bowl.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am getting totally bored of the same useless tactics from Capello. I like to think I am fiercely patriotic, but am starting to wish I was Portugese!!!

    At least they play classy smooth football!!

    Gareth Barry is a waste of time - I have never been his biggest fan, but lately his performances have been dire.....Lampard, Carrick, Huddlestone, Parker.....should all be a choice above Barry.

    Our impending "second nation" status is purely a result of poor management. Boring in fact. The long ball employed last nite was for too predictable, and although carrol played well in the main, he really needs to work on his first touch.

    Its true, capello has lost his enthusiasm for England - but remember our run of wins during qualification for the poor world cup? I was (although misguidedly) optimistic about our chances at the world cup.

    We need a manager who can re-install the patriotism and hunger of our national team, someone who can make our players want to show off as they do at club level.

    Give Harry a chance!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Nice to see English football is back to normal. England a bit crap, the English gone rabid, and the fans once more in a permanent state of disappointment and despair. And of course it is all the coach's fault.

    All predicated on the arrogant assumption that England has some sort of God given right to be the best in the world. If the English game deserved that status why is the Premier League so full of foreign players?

  • Comment number 61.

    #45 - please tell me which english players these are?!

    I regard technique as - having a 1st touch, an ability to provide a good pass to the feet of someone in your team, movement off of the ball, to be able to look up with the ball at your feet and a bit of dribbling would be nice (and not in the bar afterwards)

    I still maintain the root cause is not Capello - he is a coach not an alchemist!

  • Comment number 62.

    Yet more English news tabloid: BLAME THE COACH! What's the average age of the England team last night? What's the average age of French team? The bare truth is English players are technically inept and cannot hold the ball. Once the opponents figure it out, all they have to do is to stiffen midfield and England is reduced to long ball tactics. NO NATIONAL COACH CAN CHANGE THIS!

  • Comment number 63.

    Last night was an absolute shambles. We were tactically and technically inept - and that is entirely due to the manager. You cant pick a midfield of Henderson and Barry, with Gerrard pushed forward, against the pace and movement of Nasri and Gourcuff. Neither have the mobility or pisitional sense to complete with that! On top of it, Barry again showed he is completely out of his depth against anything like half decent midfielders, let alone top drawer one's!!
    Walcott - as always (except the odd game against a poor Croatia, and a poor Blackpool performance) was useless. No idea of how to play against a top class full back. Milner - just proving how average he has always been.
    Carroll did really well, with absolutely no service, and even showed a nice stepover to beat a man too - bright future for him.
    The defence - Gibbs I thought did well. Expected odd mistakes, but he is young and not playing (what a reflection on Capello's team choice though??!!)
    Lescott actually did better than I expected, but still is not international level - we would have been better off playing him RB with Jagielka CB.
    Rio was superb. Made 4 or 5 key blocks/tackles, and looked to carry the ball forward out of defence/play the ball out as opposed to lumping it forward. An dhe was covering for "ball chaser" Phil J. Never ever should he play RB again - especially against a pleyr like Malouda!

    What annoys me, is that so many good players, who are playing well at the minute were left out:
    Young when he came on was brilliant. Johnson did well (although he needs a right foot desperately!!), and Richards was playing well for Man City, before Mancini obviously decided he was far too attacking to play for one of his teams! He did well when he came on too.
    What about carrick who has found his form again, and surely has to be better than Barry - if only for the fact he's played 30/40 CL games - he has played the best and on his day can be one of the best.
    Where was Downing? He has been superb the last few weeks for Villa - as has Albrighton. (didnt Capello say he was looking to the future??)
    Picking Gibbs over Warnock/Baines/Shorey - all have done well this season so far.
    No place for Scott Parker? Completely mystifying as England are absolutely crying out for a holding midfielder.

    All in all, very poor. Time for Capello to go, and the players to step up. I cant see it happening though!! :(

  • Comment number 64.

    The best team from what was available:
    Richards, jagielka, Ferdinand, Gibbs
    Johnson, gerrard, Milner, young
    Carroll, Walcott.

    4-4-2 with Walcott up front. Everyone knows that's where he should be playing. That team would definitely have given France a run for their euros....

  • Comment number 65.

    comments 37 & 38...... come down from planet old trafford. Complete idiotic comments. At the moment without Gerrard, England have nothing to offer. He's carrying the whole team match after match and if a few of the so called big names Rooney, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand chipped in now and again which anything resembling a decent performance we might have a chance. When was the last time he wasn't man of the match? Barry has to be dropped he gives nothing to the team, get Parker in. Give Carroll some more chances didn't think he was great but pair him up with Defoe and we might have something, i'd say Rooney if he ever regains the ability to put in a performance. Capello looks like Hodgson, lost and bereft of ideas but at the moment we have to face up to the fact the players on the whole aren't good enough

  • Comment number 66.

    I stopped watching football after the World Cup

    Couldn't even bare to watch Man Utd (who I'd supported for 20 yrs) stars like Rooney strutting around like they are No 1 in the world. If they were a runner nobody would know their name -only to complain that we were wasting £20k (a year!) of gamblers lottery money on them

    I'm sure McNulty was reporting last time England had a win that things were improving but reporters change with the wind

    England had there best recent team 5-10 years ago - and they won sod all then!

  • Comment number 67.

    Absolutely agree with post 52, complete "over reaction" from the article writer, through to the posters jumping on the "let's have "a go" bandwagon.

    England win a couple of games and they all go quiet......

  • Comment number 68.

    Qucik question, why is it if a premier league team is reduced to reserves by injury and illness and plays badly it's the fault of the club for not having enough strength in depth and "the manager should have thought about this" yadda yadda yadda, but last night, the result needs to be taken into context apparently, because of the injuries to the squad.

  • Comment number 69.

    When it comes to talent pools the French have a lake of sparkling Perrier while England have a muddy puddle.

  • Comment number 70.

    Watch the first half again and England's midfield five were usually 25-35 yards from their own goal - too far from Carroll to do anythng but lump it upfield. You could see Henderson watching Barry and keeping in line with him. In the second half with Gerrard there they pushed forward to halfway and it made a difference. Henderson played a neat one-touch pass to Milner that showed what might have been if they'd started that way. Not a great night for the debutants but they deserved more help from their colleagues. Having played in Sunderland's win over Chelsea and shown what having a go can do against a technically better side, Henderson must have wondered why England conceded so much territory and possession without a fight.

    The chief lesson in my eyes was that too many of the squad aren't getting enough pitch time with their clubs and it shows.

  • Comment number 71.

    Too many basic problems

    Foster - bombed out of his club side for being not good enough, easily beaten at his near post for the opener. Go cap in hand to Robinson as he's the only one of an acceptable standard behind Hart.

    Jagielka - why on earth was he picked there when he never plays there for Everton, joke of a decision when we need to be looking for a replacement for Johnson who isn't good enough defensively. Richards, Onuaha, Kelly or Simpson should have been selected.

    Lescott - only plays for his club as reserve left back so shouldn't be starting in the middle for England ahead of players who are doing it consistently like Cahill and Jagielka or even young lads like Smalling & Jones.

    Barry - on a day when we are supposted to be looking to the future what is he doing there. Fair enough Rio & Gerrard who have proven international pedigree but Barry is ordinary in every respect. An average Joe premiership plodder who can't play a destructive role or an attacking one at the top level. Inferior to Parker who keeps playing well. Get rid.

    Why not play Young & Johnson who carry a threat and have them swapping wings so they can occasionally get to the byline and cross. There is no point going with Carroll if this footballing basic isn't there. Milner is not an outside left. He doesn't have the pace and again has to cut inside. Walcott isn't a winger and shouldn't play for England until he's broken through as a striker, he isn't as effective as Young or Johnson.

    Gibbs shouldn't really be playing unless he dislodges Clichy or plays regularly on loan. Henderson is a tidy young player but it's surely someone like Cattermole that England need to upset the likes of Nasri and Gourcoff in the absence of Owen Hargreaves.

    Ferdinand & Gerrard have enough in the tank and Carroll looks a very good prospect but how he would relish someone with the delivery of Beckham or even Ashley Cole/Gary Neville to provide service.

    May as well get Redknapp in now. Spurs are great at closing down and he picks his best players in their best positions.

  • Comment number 72.

    Foster – Played Ok not at fault for goals 6/10
    Gibb – Waste of space and out of his depth 3/10
    Jagielka – Played out of position WHY??? Played a bit better when moved to centre half 3/10
    Ferdinand – Played Ok 5/10
    Lescott – Played Ok 5/10
    Gerrard – Played well and led the team well 7/10
    Henderson – played Ok on debut 5/10
    Walcott – complete waste of space 2/10
    Barry – Another complete waste of space 2/10
    Milner – awful 3/10
    Carroll – good debut and worked hard without any service, a positive 6/10
    Richards – showed passion and desire to play 5/10
    Johnson – Some nice touches 5/10
    Young – Some nice touches 5/10
    Crouch – scored another goal for England what can you say 5/10

    Overall tactics wrong again, players had no passion and it is clear to me they do not like playing the Capello way, no respect for the man - he has to go.
    I know this was a friendly and the result not that important but the team offered nothing better or worse than what Capello’s full strength team could have produced the result would have been similar.
    Look at the differences in attitudes between the French players and the English players – the French wanted to play for France and Blanco they respect the shirt bit more importantly they respect and like the manager. Not to mention Blanco is French!!!
    Remember the French team on paper is just as new to the international scene as the English and the players on paper are of a similar standing.

    BTW Gareth Southgate’s comments before the game on Andy Carroll were a disgrace. Andy Carroll was punished in a court of law for his off field behaviour – as far as I am aware you cannot be punished twice for the same offence! For those who missed it he said something along the lines that Andy Carroll should be in the squad but NOT play to teach him a lesson and say to him we want you but you must behave yourself off the field to qualify to play for England.

  • Comment number 73.

    Can the F.A. fine themselves for playing a weakened team? ;)

  • Comment number 74.


    What possible control can the national manager have over the strength in depth of players available to him?

    I don't even rate Capello, but your comment has forced me to defend him!

  • Comment number 75.

    The sad fact is that the criticisms made of England's performance by Phil McNulty could apply to English teams over the last forty years. It's no good blaming Capello because he can't speak English or the Premiership because it's full of foreign players. We had English speaking managers and football leagues filled with predominately English players in the 70's, 80's and most of the 90's and the story was the same. We can't pass, we can't retain possession, we're not as creative and we certainly can't score penalties as well as the successful international teams. Forget all the excuses and look at the facts. We've not even got to the final of any international championship since 1966. That's not the fault of Capello or the Premiership. The FA needs to wake up to the reality of what's wrong with our game and put it right at the grass roots level.

  • Comment number 76.

    For me, Gerrard is the common denominator to England's failures, it is no coincidence in every major failing in the past 8 years has seen him in the starting line up. Great player for Liverpool, not good enough for England as he is not suited to international football. It is a travesty that a better player like Scholes was played on the wing to accommodate Stevie G which is what influenced Paul to retire from international football.

    Think you will find Scholes was moved out wide to make room for Lampard, you also seem to have forgotten Gerrard been in the starting line up when we have won some big games and played well. He did not have a great night last night but yet again he's the one who is moved around the pitch to create something.

    We as a football nation are so far behind

  • Comment number 77.

    A selection of comments from the French commentary last night (I am an embarrassed Englishman in Paris):

    lead commentator [on the long ball, after about 10 minutes] "Its simple [play], its English".

    Bixente Lizarazu, "Its like Wimbledon" [on the long ball approach, becuase he can't have been talking effort!]

    Lizarazu again, "I feel sorry for Gerrard [playing in a team like this]"

    Wenger, "Its not Capello's fault [he is limited in who he can choose from]"

    Lizarazu, "Can you imagine the same situation in France? [on a second tier player being picked in the squad]"

    And finally, all three lamented at some stage - and I paraphrase - "Where is the English spirit at least?"

    -- I must add that these were not sarcastic, or meant as insults. They were genuinely disappointed not to see a decent game. Before the match Wenger had professed excitement at the prospect of seeing a really "good match. A close game..."

  • Comment number 78.

    Quite a blistering article Phil !

    My feeling however is that you are being way over the top negatively speaking about England's prospects, and way too kind about Fabio Capello.

    I'm not going to link to my own 606 article I posted before even the starting line-up was announced more or less predicting what happened last night, but in very precised precis, I just said following on from what Capello had said about trying out so many new young players "Capello must not experiment too much" (against France).

    I think he either doesn't care about this job he's doing, just plodding out his time till retirement, or has made yet another faux pas in that he doesn't understand how seriously the fans take being beaten by big name teams like France, to put out such a 2nd rate starting line0-up.

    You can't put out a whole raft of inexperienced players like that, who aren't even used to playing together, and can easily be overawed by the occasion, and expect anything else than happened last night.

    The one positive for me is that Adam Johnson, who played the principal part in creating danger in the 2nd half showed himself clearly more effective than Walcott, though I'd probably play both Walcott and Johnson on opposite wings, if I was in charge, and either ditch Milner altogether or play him as defensive midfield as opposed to forward midfield, because as someone else here has pointed out he's not a natural winger like Johnson or Walcott.

    But I think the lesson taught was more about England's defensive style of football, which has now very much infected the Premier League also, as now being shown as inferior to the "who dares wins" style French football we saw last night.

    We saw the French constantly running at defenders, being very adventurous, not hesitating to take players on, and it paid dividends, and quickly too.

    We saw the same spirit from Onuoha in the 0-3 Sunderland victory, beating the Premier League’s finest, running at no less than SIX Chelsea defenders single-handed, and scoring a great goal.

    Only Johnson had this spirit of adventure for England last night when allowed on in the 2nd half, and as somebody else pointed out, Andy Carroll needed wingers like Johnson and Walcott to run down the line and put some crosses in.

    Players like Johnson and Walcott also win corners with their penetrating forays down the line, even if they fail to round the last defender, and England did not as I recall get even one corner while Carroll was on the pitch, which was also sorely needed for his brave and powerful heading skills.

    And though Johnson created much danger in the 2nd half, his awful free kick showed that he himself was far from on top form, having spent far too much time on the bench at Man City and seemingly unwanted, courtesy of Mr Mancini.

    If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might start thinking these Italians were here to undermine British football, but quite frankly, I don't think either of them are that bright.

    Capello may have been a good club manager, but top international managers are not necessarily the same breed. Because they get so few games a year except when the finals come, they need to have the ability to see what will work without too much experiment.

    Of course many players were unavailable like Rooney, Terry and so on, but that was the most immature, disorganised and awful display I think I've ever seen from an England team at Wembley, and I think you and others give too much credit to the French, who as recent as 3 Sept, lost at home in Paris 0-1 to 40th ranked Belarus and in a game that mattered, in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

    It's easy for even an averagely good team to look class against an incompetent defence, and the lack of injured Joe Hart was a big minus also, because he imposes his presence on the game and back four, in a way that I felt Robinson failed to do, who also nearly managed a Green World Cup style boob near the start of the game from a French shot on goal.

    Tactics and team selection aside however, what distressed me most about last night's game is the apathy amongst fans, and even journalists like yourself, in that you've said there's no point in calling for Capello's head.

    I think there's every point. I think Capello has done only one brilliant tactical master stroke since taking over England, and that was re-negotiating and extending his contract immediately prior to the World Cup.

    The rumour I heard was that the FA were under pressure from others seeking his services, and still expectant of a good World Cup showing, they caved into the pressure. Without getting into areas of defamation, I find that highly suspicious, that teams are suddenly wading in to grab Capello, just before a World Cup.

    I also find it appalling that he has openly stated his intention to retire and look forward to being "a pensioner" after Euro 2012, regardless of the outcome.

    That translates as far as I'm concerned into - "I have no interest in building your England team for the 2014 World Cup."

    Which surely must be the real priority, because Euro 2012 is surely only a poor second best to the World Cup, just as winning the Premier League at club level doesn't compare to a Champions League trophy.

    It all tells me this man has got no real commitment to England, and he looked to me with his baseball style cap on last night, that he was like some carefree spectator at a ball game, only minus the hot dog and the bottle of Bud.

    Finally, from a purely managerial point of view, this is a manager who has at his disposal the greatest intelligence network available to him of any England manager in history - e.g. can spend all year scrutinising every single Premier League player on video 24/7 if he so chooses on 10 different video cameras at every game - so he shouldn't still be fiddling around trying to figure out who the best players are, and trying to puzzle out what works.

    Then his numerous faux pas, with Beckham and so on, and his unrealistic "we played well" claims after various wallopings, for example by Germany.

    In what other field of employment anywhere in the world would a man get kept on a salary of £6m a year for producing such poor results and incompetence?

    To me, it's a sign of a kind of impotent apathy in our whole nation, that we aren't screaming blue murder, blowing a fuse, smoke coming out of our ears, and ordering a taxi and plane back to Italy for this man who has clearly failed to achieve what he was hired for, and shows no discernible sign of doing so in the future.

    I predicted last night's failure, I predicted the failure before the World Cup, and now I predict a lacklustre performance even if he reaches the Euro 2012 finals, and I don't think it takes a genius to see it, just a fairly obvious realism and commonsense which too many in our nation seem to have lost, or else their voices are constantly ignored.

    I believe Mr Capello has got no real concern for our national team, and has come here only for the money, because he is retiring from football after Euro 2012, and will get nothing but slaps on the back and rounds of applause back in Italy, for fleecing our country out of around £27m by the time he's finished, and sinking all our hopes of Euro or Wold Cup glory in the process.

    Let's get shut now, and give Harry a chance - he's obviously itching for it - because even if we lose that way, at least we'll know we have a man who is 100% committed to our cause.

  • Comment number 79.

    I really do think it's time to bring in the rule limiting the number of foreign players in premiership squads to allow some English talent to flourish in time for 2018 - it is the only way we're going to get these youngsters the experience necessary to even be considered for national selection.

    I would also love to see a change to the age old policy of selecting "senior" and "star" players in favour of selecting players who are actually displaying good form- whether they are new to the international game or not. If you are not playing well, you should not make the team whatever your name is.

    Examples for both points? the Guiness Premiership and the English Rugby squad

  • Comment number 80.

    England's failure to progress further in this years World Cup triggered a torrid backlash of criticism from fans and media alike. The most universal thread was that the 'Golden Generation' should be shelved and youth be given its way.

    In general terms, Fabio did that last night. It can be said that injuries forced his hand but that doesn't diminish the fact that the squad had a distinct new look. However, he is now being taken to task for poor team selection and even vilified for not extending the international career of thirty-three years old Kevin Davies.

    Kevin won his only cap due to last minute injuries and performed as one would expect; with pride, bravery, power, basic soccer knowledge and unlimied effort. England needed an immediate resource and he was very probably the best one available on such short notice.

    Bothroyd on the other hand is an extremely well experienced professional enjoying good current form in a team close to EPL status and is probably in his peak years. The injury plague has presented Fabio with the perfect opportunity to see him at international level.

    Phil begins one paragraph with 'It was a friendly and England was stripped of a host of experienced players...' These so-called friendlies are the life blood of international soccer. How else can emerging talent be tested? How else can players learn how best to use each others skills? How else can tactics be tried to suit the differing skills? How else can a manager devise his vision of style depending on the availability and talents of his squad?

    Also; which of the 'host of experienced players' would be acceptable for selection after their dismal performances in South Africa? (tongue firmly in cheek)

    Anyone given the daunting task of managing the England soccer team must first find the players with the ball skills to match those of the international power houses. England's midfield was totally over-run by the French leaving a back four under constant pressure and a striker plowing a lone furrow. The defensive frailties of the midfield are enormous. It's not just that there is no Styles or Hargreaves in a 'holding role'; there is no real defensive discipline in their overall play.

    One basic difference was apparent in that when the French were in possession, two team-mates immediately went to his aid. Brazil, Germany, Spain, etc. all do this with amazing consistency and speed. When England gained the ball, players were generally moving away from the ball carrier.

    Let's face it; ball players are not always held in the highest esteem in the English game. Even in the distant past, players like Raich Carter and Len Shackleton had very few caps; their work-rate and inability to get 'stuck in' were sometimes viewed with disdain.

    There were indeed some positives from the display. Carroll had a solid first outing with very little support; Johnson has the air of someone who belongs; Young brought an exuberance to the team that was not visible before; the centerbacks did extremely well under constant pressure.

    Fabio will learn from this and will do his best to put together a better squad for the equally stern test in February.

  • Comment number 81.

    Is anyone going to point out that this is exactly what you were demanding Capello do after the world cup? "BRING IN DA YOOF, DEY CAN'T DO MUCH WORSE"

    And after 1 game, the england "faithful" have decided that's enough

  • Comment number 82.

    I was happy with the selection as it showed who had the IT factor to play for England it is now easier to move forward , remember this is what FRIENDLY games are all about exposing the faults.
    And just for laughs is Gareth Barry blind in his right eye he did not pass the ball to the right the entire game. hahaha!

  • Comment number 83.

    I really don't seem any harm in lumping the ball forward and feeding off the scraps - asking the players at our disposal to do anything else is a nonsense. Why not embrace the assets we have and build on them. When we have players with the ability of the French midfield then lets start playing triangles and building through the midfield, Or when we play lesser nations lets try to play through the midfield. When we play the likes of France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Brazil, Argentina et al lets give'em both barrells and not run round like headless chickens for 90mins embarassing the nation.

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

    The last time England won the World Cup there was a Blackpool player in the team; Alan Ball. The only way we can recover from this latest debacle is to pick Blackpool players again...they could not do any worse!!

  • Comment number 86.

    ok i have a solution.

    1st of all to bring some pride and guts grit and determination stop playing the stupid National Anthem! its that good it could not even drown out the Boos.

    a root and branch clear out means just that, get rid of the past and chaff and look to the future i am afraid words like " god save our gracious queen " inspire no one apart from Victorian Butterfly Collectors and Egg Thieves.
    are for the dark ages

  • Comment number 87.

    Oh, I might add, as a personal opinion.. I see Carroll, as much as he tried, as part of the problem, not a solution. If you select a guy who is, to all intents and purposes, a target man (albeit one who is reasonbly deft on the ground) then it follows that you will get direct play. I would much rather have seen either Crouch start (who is better on the floor) or perhaps Young or Walcott played up front instead. Then we would of had to have passed it on the deck. At the very least a big man-little fast man combo might have meant the direct-ball-with-flick-on may have been effective. But play it in the air to Carroll, and what is he supposed to do with it, but flick it on, only for no one?

  • Comment number 88.

    Why has no-one in this country got perspective about the England team? We win a game and everyone's proclaiming us world champions in waiting, we lose a game and it's sack the manager, change half the team.

    Well the manager did change half the team and the formation and everyone's still whinging that it hasn't worked straight away.

    Am I really the only person who's not surprised that a team full of new and recently new players and players who haven't played together before might take a bit of time to gel?

    Roy Hodgson gets 3 months and counting for his players to gel, yet we won't allow Capello 20 minutes - it's totally ridiculous.

    As for this 'burn Capello for long ball heresy' guff, did anyone else notice just how many high balls Carroll won? The French centre backs couldn't deal with him in the air, so why shouldn't we play the long ball game if it works fairly well? Our first clear cut chance came from a Carroll flick. Why abandon an effective strategy just because it's not pretty?

    England got better and better throughout the game and there are some real positives to take from it, Carroll, Richards etc. So we didn't win, who cares? It was only a friendly and we put out an inexperienced team, and next time we have an important game and some of those new players have to step in, games like this will be of vital importance to those players.

    We're not going to win anything by throwing a strop at the manager and the players.

  • Comment number 89.

    It never ceases to amaze me that England fans look to excuse the players and blame the manager. Does anyone really think Capello told the midfield not to bother moving to make a passing option for the man in possession? Does anyone really think he told the defenders to hit 50 yard long balls to Carroll when they were under no pressure and had space to move into?

    The difference last night was pretty obvious, movement and the desire to keep the ball and not just get it forward. France always had players moving to get in a position to receive the ball and then pass it simply to a team mate also moving into space. England's midfield stood in the same position, were easily marked and closed down and would hit long balls. But that's what we have to expect when players who want and are comfortable in possession like Carrick and Huddlestone are completely unappreciated by the English football pundits and fans in favour of the likes of 'all-action Gerrard'. Fans can't complain that we don't keep the ball when they're the one's screaming for players like Gerrard and Scott Parker to be played because they run around a lot. Keeping possession isn't seen as important by pundits or fans until we come up against an opposition that does keep the ball.

    After Phil spent all summer banging on about Gerrard's best position being behind the striker in a 4-5-1, perhaps he'll give it a rest now. Every single England game excuses are made for Gerrard and his inability to keep possession, pass it simple or stick to any sort of position on the pitch. He only tracks back when he can be bothered as well. When he plays behind the striker and doesn't perform the 'experts' say it's because he should be played in the centre of midfield. When he doesn't perform there it's because he should be played behind the striker. He's a selfish player who believes his own hype. He's still head and shoulders above Barry though who was atrocious. Couldn't pass, couldn't tackle, didn't close players down, didn't make tackles and couldn't control the ball. It looked too early for Henderson as well, but hopefully he'll learn from it.

    Walcott was poor as well. If Lennon had put in a performance like that the knives would be being sharpened. As it's Walcott people are trying to avoid criticising him by saying he ran around a lot. Bizarre. Johnson will never be a top class player as he's too greedy. He's got lots of talent on the ball and can beat a man, but he gets carried away ending up in blind alleys and always looks to shoot rather than pass the ball. As Mancini suggested, the hypes gone to his head.

  • Comment number 90.

    I only watched the first half for obvious reasons but it was plain to see we're not in the same class as France. Too many players not comfortable on the ball and players making the wrong choices in the final third (Milner shooting instead of passing).
    I'm not Capello's biggest fan by any stretch but he's not a miracle worker and only has a finite group of similar players to choose from. I still maintain that we should pick a largely youthful team and risk not qualifying for Euro 2012 to have a young but experienced squad going in to the next world cup. Players like Barry, Gerrard and Ferdinand have failed us in the past and won't be around for much longer so replace them with youth, even if that means we have more games like last night.

  • Comment number 91.

    Again we go over the same ground

    Lets be honest Capello has lost it. The selections before the game and the team selection... Ha!!

    The whole idea was to play fit players in form.

    So we turn out with a sick Jagielka out of position, Carrol nursing an injury, Ferdinand only just back and not in great nick for United, Barry is so out of touch it is sad, good pro struggling for form.

    What do we do at the training camp? Does he work them so hard they end up with knocks, EVERY camp there are cry offs after the first few sessions.

    The shape was dreadful under pressure we got so deep we were a flat 7 2 1 so it was incredibly easy for the French to pass through us.

    We need to play to a system, Capello really does not seem to be able to get the team to understand what he wants them to do and as for plan B when things go wrong???

    Forget it, pay him off lets move on.

  • Comment number 92.

    Spot on Phil. The reason France have shown a resurgence is because their whole structure is vastly superior. Their youngsters are encouraged to play the ball, move into space, to be confident in possession and are not castigated by parents and coaches from the age of 8 if they make mistakes. Blame Capello if you like and I certainly don't think he's that great a coach, but he doesn't have the resources, raw materials or the right attitude from the vast majority of the English public, although I sense this latter point may be changing.

  • Comment number 93.

    The usual England performance that has been pretty much constant for the last 10 years under several different managers. As the Premier League has become more influential, the success of the national team has fallen away (Euro 1996 being the "last hurrah").

    It's not surprising really. Most PL fans couldn't give two stiffs about England and are more worried about their players getting injured than the England side winning anything. This affects the players, who now consider Champions League football to be something to aspire to more than playing for the national side. The result is a lot of players going into "International Retirement" long before their top-flight years are over.

    On top of that, the so-called "golden generation" has gone. There are no players coming through who have enough creative flair or technical ability to compete at the world level. Those that are blooded into the side find that their first match is played to a chorus of boos from spectators with ridiculous expectations.

    As long as the PL continues dominating the English football agenda, the situation will not change, no matter which expensive manager the FA wishes to put in charge next.

  • Comment number 94.

    England's failure to progress further in this years World Cup triggered a torrid backlash of criticism from fans and media alike. The most universal thread was that the 'Golden Generation' should be shelved and youth be given its way.

    In general terms, Fabio did that last night. It can be said that injuries forced his hand but that doesn't diminish the fact that the squad had a distinct new look. However, he is now being taken to task for poor team selection and even vilified for not extending the international career of thirty-three years old Kevin Davies.


    Spot on. The 'fans' start howling about giving youngsters a chance. The manager does it and he should have played experience. Perhaps the more vocal of the England fans should perhaps have a long look at themselves as part of the problem instead of squealing about everything else. Too many people on here like to make themselves out like experts - you're not, you're spoilt brats who stamp your feet and demand something and when you get what you want and it doesn't have the desired effect start screaming about the complete opposite. Idiotic.

  • Comment number 95.

    We are in the international wilderness now, its going to get alot worse before it gets better. We had a good team in 86 and 90 and the Euro 96 and France 98 sides played some good stuff but since then its been dross.

    To be fair, I have never in my life time seen an England team pass the ball with the class and assurance shown by the French last night, or the Germans in the World Cup. It seems like an unatainable dream for England to play at that level. The idea of England actually winning a tournament feels like an impossibility.

  • Comment number 96.

    Having read so many comments, just a couple of thoughts. Why Barry? What exactly IS gerard's best position, as it seems we hear the same thing every game about him not being in his best position, usually because of someone else such as Lampard, Scholes, Milner.

  • Comment number 97.

    Capello can at least be commended for making changes and even the woeful starting lineup did _start_ to get their act together after about 30 minutes. But Capello went out with a very attacking midfield which was rendered utterly useless because it was completely disconnected from the back line. Were the defenders just bad at passing or were the central midfielders totally unable to move into space? It says a lot that I thought Ferdinand was England's best player in the first half, even though the first goal went past him.

    When Germany was humiliated 5-1 by England in Munich, German football turned itself around and went on to destroy England at the World Cup in South Africa. Who would have thought a Ghanaian would want to play for Germany in order to play exciting football? If only France had humiliated England with a more devastating scoreline. Who's to say what would have happened if France had played Anelka. As it is, this was just one more defeat.

  • Comment number 98.

    I am currently halfway through reading a excellent book called ' the anatomy of england' by Jonathan Wilson. Yesterdays peformance gave me a shake of the head , as sadly history keeps on repeating itself for the England football team. The players were willing and yes it was a young side but so was France. We have never dominated the international game apart from the very occasional brillant peformance. Conservative tactics, poor techinque and the dominance of club football always result in the same result- a tactical thumping by a better side- such as Hungary in 53, West Germany in 72, and to a lesser extent Croatia 3 years ago. Same as it ever was.

  • Comment number 99.

    Does anybody actually care anymore?

  • Comment number 100.

    I saw the U-21 game between England and France 18 months ago in Nottingham - same story there - France won 2-0, and should have won 5-1. From the 1st minute to the last England were chasing shadows.
    It's not only the control that is inferior to every other team in FIFA's top 20 rankings (how the heck England have been in the Top 10 for the past 10 years is beyond me!), but the movement off the ball. All England players make a pass, and then stand back and admire their own £3m p.a ability.
    The only time England players move quickly is when their Agents offer them yet another endorsement contract. Shameful.
    England will NEVER win another tournamnent again.


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