Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

David Healy: England stars don’t care enough

I hate to say that I told you so, but I did. While all you heard a few weeks ago from the English public, English press and some of the English players was that they could go all the way and win the World Cup, I was convinced they did not have a prayer.

And that’s how it turned out.

What a humiliation it was for Fabio Capello and his team as they were ripped apart by Germany in the last 16.

Frank Lampard’s shot may have gone over the line but to those who are saying it would have changed the course of the game, I doubt it very much.

Germany would have won regardless. They were good and the cold, hard fact is that England weren’t.

Having cruised through their qualifying group to get to South Africa, there was big talk that this was the team to follow in the footsteps of the 1966 boys.

But for me the tell-tale signs were there.

None of their goalkeepers were world class; there were question marks against their defence; no-one seemed to know how to get the best out of the midfield and in attack if Wayne Rooney was kept quiet, you wondered if the rest could step up against top class opposition.

Despite all that, people said this team were going to go all the way. In their warm-up games I thought they were very poor. You need to go into these tournaments on a roll and England were miles away from that and it showed in the group games with USA, Algeria and Slovenia.

They were lucky to make it into the knockout stages.

Maybe they’ll wish they hadn’t because it was a total embarrassment against the Germans.

It finished 4-1 but it could

have been seven or eight.

Defensively they were a complete shambles. They had no pace or organisation. In midfield there was no bite or creativity and up front there was no movement or goal threat.

And in every single one of them looked sluggish, especially Rooney. I got the impression watching them that they didn’t care enough.

That’s a big thing to say, but I’ve always been in honest in this column and that’s how I saw it.

In my time as a Northern Ireland player, we have been criticised for some of our performances and results but I don’t think anyone could accuse us of lacking passion and hunger to deliver for our country. Watching England though they didn’t just lack passion and hunger, they lacked spirit as well.

Maybe playing for England is no longer the be-all and end-all for some of these players, who

are constantly involved in big league and European games throughout the season.

Maybe some of them just didn’t put it in for the manager, who ran such a tough camp.

Capello was supposed to be the man to take England to glory. He didn’t even get close.

I have to say I’m not in favour of a foreign manager being in charge of any country. Brazil, Holland and Germany don’t do it, so why should England?

They’ve now had Sven-Goran Eriksson and Capello and despite coming with big reputations, they have failed to deliver.

The FA were silly in extending Capello’s contract even before they knew how the World Cup would go. And if they had wanted to get rid of him, they would have been facing a huge pay-out. Capello would have shown great dignity if he had stepped down saying that international management was not for him, but sadly football doesn’t work that way these days.

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