Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Capello has to go if dreadful England fail to deliver again

Look: 20 years ago in Italy I saw England draw their opening two group matches, admittedly against stronger opposition from Holland and the Republic of Ireland, but they still limped into the knock-out stages and went on to reach the semi-finals. I’m confident they’ll do what they have to do and beat Slovenia in Port Elizabeth.

Yet, clearly, all is far from well. England have lost quite a few games in the two decades I’ve been commentating on them but I’ve never seen them play as badly as they did against Algeria.

They were utterly woeful, players of supposed world class like Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney bumping into colleagues as if they were appearing in pantomime.

Rooney, presumably on the advice of his agent, apologised for his cynical reaction to those England fans who booed when the final whistle went but that doesn’t eradicate the harm done.

In those thoughtless words he accurately represented a generation of arrogant, pompous, over-paid footballers who don’t live in the real world.

On ‘6-0-6’ afterwards I spoke to a man called Jason who’d actually rung in from Cape Town. He was more hurt and disappointed at what he’d seen than ranting and raving. He was keen to know what reaction I was getting from fans back home.

I told him the obvious and asked him what he had spent to follow England to South Africa: £4,000, a fortune to him, a financial pittance to those players who’d let him down.

Fabio Capello runs the England set-up as if it’s a prison camp and he’s the commandant. I’m not ‘inside’ it but I can only surmise that his charges are far from being happy bunnies. Perhaps, they’re bored out of their minds: maybe they’re over-trained and over-coached.

I wasn’t at all impressed by John Terry’s ill-disguised attempted coup d’etat.

Rightly, the former captain, clearly still bitter at losing the armband, was put down but he and many of his colleagues certainly are less than happy. How can they be only hearing what the team is a few minutes before they step on the coach?

Now I know Capello isn’t alone in withholding his selection from his players until the last minute. The Everton boss David Moyes, out here for 5 Live, says he does it and Sir Alex Ferguson is known to tread the same path, but I still ask why. I go with Graham Taylor on this one wondering how proper preparations can be made for games if you don’t know who you are playing with.

Things have turned pear-shaped very quickly. How can we go from a team that took maximum points from all its qualifying games bar one to the shambles we witnessed on Friday night?

How can Capello switch from being everyone’s favourite Godfather to a manager we don’t know we can trust?

Of course, it might not be as bad as it looks.

But some things have to change. I don’t understand, for example, why, on current form, Aaron Lennon and then Shaun Wright-Phillips are preferred to Joe Cole. And when, if ever, will Capello allow Steven Gerrard to play behind Rooney? Hopefully, I’ll waken up on Thursday with a smile on my face. If not, Capello should resign.

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