Sunday, 27 June 2010

England's problem lies beyond the manager's office

Football is full of simple truths and philosophies and as we contemplate yet more pain at the hands of the Germans, none could be more fitting than Sir Alex Ferguson's maxim, "Goals Change Games".

Had the referee correctly allowed Frank Lampard's chip over German 'keeper, Neuer, England would've gone in at half-time tied at two-all and Fabio Capello's team talk would've been about pushing for victory as opposed to continuing the fightback.

And of course, the game's shape would've been altogether different too: Germany would never have scored their goals on the break as they did, because England wouldn't have pushed up so much to leave themselves exposed at the back.

But all of that is to ignore the simple facts: our defending to concede the first two was awful, we were second best on the night and England were lamentable throughout the World Cup as a whole.

Fabio Capello's sent out conflicting messages as he comes to terms with why he failed to galvanise the squad so comprehensively. Firstly, he insisted he would not resign in the wake of our heaviest ever World Cup defeat.

But he's softened on that: now he says he'll put it out to the fans. If the mood is negative toward him in the media and on the terraces, I believe Fabio will walk with a few million compensation.

There was certainly a dressing room mutiny after the Algeria game. Voiced by John Terry at a spectacular news conference, he got his own back on Capello for dropping him as England captain.
While the Italian has all the experience in the world of building winning teams at the highest level, he's left wanting over tournament experience. He failed to keep England's squad motivated and focused in the sleepy dormitories of their Rustenburg lair.

As I mentioned previously, England can't win the World Cup while there's such a huge conflict of interests between the Premier League and the England team. The players are too well paid with their clubs - plus it's an all consuming relationship which means playing for England is at best a distraction and at worst a burden.
As my colleague Nigel Bidmead succinctly expressed it, "The Premier League is a great watch. The national side has been sacrificed at its altar".

So until that landscape is truly addressed, the England manager's job will continue to be a poisoned chalice and a graveyard to reputations.

Click here for the current Top Story.

Soccermongery's all about your feedback, so write away, right away!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Capellocam v Slovenia: Fabio's Italian temperament on display

Proving that football really is an international language, this is a video of Fabio's 90 minutes from a Spanish website.

As we won one-nil, perhaps his passion did get communicated to his players, although watch the distance between him, his coaching staff and the players at full-time. Very telling indeed.

What a pity the Group turned out to be Far From E.A.S.Y!

Capellocam v Slovenia

Click here for the current Top Story

Soccermongery's all about your feedback, so write away, right away!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

England will beat Germany thanks to der Kaiser

Franz Beckenbauer's upto his second division mind games again.

Having declared that England had regressed to old school kick and rush after drawing with the USA, the World Cup winning captain and manager croaks that we're too knackered to take them on because of the rigours of our domestic season.

It's true our boys play at full pelt each August to May, but it's the sort of commitment Fabio Capello called for against Slovenia - and got back in spades.

And let's be clear: Germany's class of 2010 hold no fear for England. They looked ordinary in scraping past Ghana by a single goal - and there was a bit of hit und huth about them too. Au contraire as the French might say (if they were still in South Africa), Germany should be more scared of us.

Capello's absolutely right that England can now kick on without fear. The disaster headlines have now been made by other nations. Italy and France are already home in shock and ignominy respectively. Who'd have believed the two finalists of four years ago would be knocked out in the group stages?

Yes, England's World Cup campaign has launched. We're ready for the Germans. In his pre-match news conference, goalscoring hero Jermain Defoe said we'd have to beat the best to win the tournament anyway. But in Germany, their bark's bigger than their bite. Defoe believes we can win in 90 minutes.

Soccermongery says we'll win in 80!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

France, the new Netherlands!

What other conclusion can seasoned football watchers come to? - explusions, resignations and treachery! say au revoir mondial, France!

It used to be the preserve of Holland. Edgar Davids was sent home from Euro 96 and Johann Cruyff refused to play in 1978. The Dutch regularly descended from Total Football to Total Disintegration.

Before kick-off, South Africa's biggest contribution was the vuvuzela, but they raised their game against a disillusioned, dysfunctional French, finalists only four years ago and World and European Champions at the turn of the century.

Jonny Hart's report also includes a rallying cry from Frank Lampard as England face a do or die final group game with Slovenia.

Click here for the current Top Story

Soccermongery's all about your feedback, so write away, right away!

Monday, 21 June 2010

The FA threaten Fabio with the sack if England fail

Fabio Capello will step down as coach if England fail to qualify for the second stage of the World Cup. The Football Association's 'fears' over his future announced to the media, make it absolutely clear to Capello that failure's not an option.

It means power in the England camp has been dramatically transferred to the players for the vital final group game with Slovenia on Wednesday.

Will this group still play for the Italian?

Player power will force Capello into making a much earlier team announcement for Wednesday's game.

At a "crisis" meeting with the players after Friday's awful goalless draw with Algeria, Capello was slated by the squad for naming the starting line-up so close to kick-off.

It caused major tension inside the camp, voiced publicly by 'keeper David James, who only knew he was playing a couple of hours before the game's start. For the first time, dissention in the ranks went public.

The stakes couldn't be higher for both manager and players. A win and the 'crisis' is over and England will advance to the last sixteen knockout stages.

But failure to qualify and the Capello Project is done. The players will come home to a chorus of derision for under performance. Then that'll be forgotten come August as they don their club shirts and embark on another domestic season at home and in Europe. There'll be some low-level taunting from opposition fans as the only reminder of a cruel summer.

And as consternation grows among England fans as to why our campaign threatens to derail again, perhaps we don't have to look further than the struggle between club and country.

After all, why should these millionaires, heroes and leaders at their trophy-laden clubs, bother with such a poisoned chalice as playing for England? They and their families are the suffocating target of tabloid tales and painted as villains for their on-field exploits, rather than as heroes when playing for their clubs.

In this overly-commercialised footballing world, never has playing for England and giving all for your club represented such a large conflict of interest.

I tip England to scrape through against Slovenia, but for the reasons outlined here, we can't win the World Cup until the FA and the Premier League integrate their two clashing business interests more closely.

Click here for the current Top Story

Soccermongery's all about your feedback, so write away, right away!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Maradona: leave my vuvuzela alone!

Trust Diego to find his own use for the Vuvuzela. The much maligned tool has received worldwide criticism for a low-level droning noise - and I guess the Vuvuzela is no different!

Would Coke brand these up for matchday?

Memories of Better Times: The Peter Crouch Robot or Robocrouch!

Do you remember when England dominated games and netted three or four? No, nor do I!

Actually, our run-up to the World Cup Finals was pretty impressive but our best displays were often in mistmatch qualifiers or laid back friendlies.

We've really been shown up in South Africa!

And why's Crouchie been restricted to a last-ditch second game runout - with no sign of Joe Cole at all?

Well, we just wouldn't be able to call ourselves Soccermongers without tipping our Michael Jackson-type hat to Peter Crouch, the International Robot, it's Robocrouch himself! Enjoy responsibly.

Click here for the current Top Story

Here's a man who makes the very most of his physical attributes. A man totally confident and comfortable in his own body.

How else can this extraordinary celebration set be explained.

It might not have earned him a transfer to Tottenham, but it certainly got the Pringles sponsorship team talking!

Friday, 18 June 2010

AUDIO: Capello tight-lipped over team selection

Like Sir Alf Ramsey before him, England boss Fabio Capello keeps the nation and his players guessing about who'll figure in the starting line-up for tonight's game with Algeria in Cape Town.

It was a tactic that always kept Sir Alf's squad on their toes - and performing, and ensures that control remains very much in the manager's office (if they win, of course!)

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, our mayor of London urges fans to master the vuvuzela with some stirring Churchillian words. Statesman or 'Kin State Of That Man? you decide!

And after another World Cup shock this afternoon provided by Serbia's 1-nil win over Germany, maybe England have less to worry about than first thought.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rooney certain of victory over Algeria.

Soccermongery, the home of unbridled England optimism brings you Wazza audio direct from England's training camp in Cape Town.

After the Yanks beat us one-all in the opener, we're looking for a morale boosting win to get our World Cup bid back on track.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, our mayor of London urges fans to master the vuvuzela with these stirring Churchillian words:

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Kiss every trophy available. It's the Football League Championship!

Courtesy of the Football League's new sponsor, npower, I've now added the Football League Championship to my collection of intimate embraces.
It's the one Liverpool created so many great sides for and my own team, Aston Villa won it on seven occasions. Manchester United last won it in 1967 (ha, we've done it more recently, even City have!)

Aaah, the Victorian elegance of it!

When winters really were winters! When a win was worth just two points. When winning the title with 64 points probably would've clinched it most years .... and when finishing third guaranteed promotion to a higher division!

This cup might be awarded to the second tier of the English game these days, but you can't rewrite the majesty of history that surrounds this beautiful old piece of craftsmanship. I'm delighted the Football League still award it. Compared to the modern, nouveau riche lines of the Premier League trophy, this one more than any other personifies where football came from; that great Victorian era of invention and ideas.

End of lecture!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Slingshot Drogba set for the World Cup?

Betting Preview » Blog Archive » Day 5 Lunchtime Update

The World Cup gets interesting today! Didier Drogba may take to the field for the Ivory Coast with his arm in a sling! Given Sven Goran Eriksson's track record of patching up star players and fielding them (remember Wayne Rooney's metatarsal in 2006?), the only thing that can stop the Drog is FIFA disqualifying him!

Andy Clarke's report includes Sven audio.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Torres return bolsters Spain’s World Cup hopes!

Betting Preview » Blog Archive » Torres return bolsters Spain’s World Cup hopes!

Spain's preparations for the Finals look strong indeed. Fernando Torres has had a season dogged by injuries with Liverpool, but just like two years ago when Spain won Euro 2008, he may just be returning to his very best.

Torres was a goalscorer in that Final as the Spanish beat Germany. They remain the bookies favourite to lift the trophy in South Africa.

Listen to Daniel Freeman's podcast as Soccermongery continues to preview the tournament.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Rio out, Drogba doubt for the World Cup Finals

What a bad weeked for England and the Ivory Coast.

Rio Ferdinand has succumbed to an eleventh hour injury with the tournament just a week away. It would have been his fourth World Cup, a new England record.

The England skipper sustained a knee injury in their first training session in Rustenburg in a clash with Emile Heskey. Michael Dawson's been drafted in as replacement; he's the fifth Tottenham player in Fabio Capello's 23-man squad.

Steven Gerrard steps upto take the vacant captain's armband for the first game against the USA next Saturday. But Ferdinand will stay with the England squad for the opener.

But while it's bad to lose your skipper, the England squad can cushion the blow. The Ivory Coast fear they've lost their chief talisman Drogba, the man who gave them a puncher's chance of winning it.

Drogba suffered an elbow injury during their warm-up game with Japan having just scored from a deflection. He's had a weekend operation and his recovery is described as encouraging.

The Chelsea striker, known for his high levels of fitness as the Blues marched to the Premier League title this season, is the difference between success and failure for Ivory Coast, pitted as they are in the Group Of Death with Portugal and Brazil.

Sven-Goran Eriksson can't possibly have a Plan B to replace their best player and one of the world's great strikers. Working with Drogba must have been a major consideration in Sven accepting the post in the first place.

Although given Eriksson's track record, you can expect Drogba to make some kind of appearance. Sven likes to strap up his big stars and play them irrespective of injury. Remember Rooney and his metatarsal ahead of Germany 2006?

Meanwhile, Holland's Arjen Robben sustained a hamstring in their last warm-up game but despite missing the squad plane to South Africa, he's expected to join up with the squad before the tournament gets underway.

Whoever you support, it's a bad day when the World Cup Finals is denied its best players.

Click here for the current Top Story

Soccermongery's all about your feedback, so write away, right away!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

We will win World Cup without Walcott

Fancy making the squad at 16 without a first team appearance to his name, then missing out having hit a hattrick as a full international! Soccermongery reports on Fabio's Ins and Outs as he names our World Cup 23.

So Capello's left Theo and Darren Bent out of his squad for South Africa, with Gareth Barry recovering enough from injury to make the squad. Matthew Upson's got in despite Michael Dawson's excellent season and Tom Huddlestone got all excited ... in vain!

Stephen Warnock gets the nod ahead of Leighton Baines and Emile Heskey's inclusion gives every man under the age of 45 the hope he might still be invited to train with Capello's squad. You'd have got lofty prices at the bookies on Carragher and King getting called up - even a couple of months ago, but the pair of veterans have made it.

But in an astonishing about-face, it's Walcott, an untried teenager without a Gunners game to his name four years ago, who'll be watching the telly like you and me!

Now, as a Premier League and Champions League star, hitting a hattrick in Croatia, so laying the ghost of Wembley to rest, the Gunners winger is dumped in favour of Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Many will say on form, the Tottenham and Manchester City players are worthy of their places ahead of Walcott, dogged by injury and loss of form this season.

But for my money, Walcott is a special player capable of brilliance - and worth inclusion.

But I'm not England manager, that bloke from Italy is.... Forza Inghilterra!

Click here: Robocrouch dances off to South Africa.

Soccermongery's all about your feedback, so write away, right away!