Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Steven Beacom: Only Sir Alex Ferguson could turn England losers into winners

England manager Fabio Capello speaks to the media during the England Press Conference at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus on June 28, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa

So, what now for the England football team?

There’s a question.

It’s been asked after every World Cup campaign since 1970.

And no one has come up with any answers.

Since Sir Alf Ramsey’s successful reign, England have tried 13 managers, including caretakers.

Joe Mercer, Don Revie, Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle, Howard Wilkinson, Kevin Keegan, Peter Taylor, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello.

And every single one of them has failed.

I include Robson and Venables in that even though they took England to semi-finals in major tournaments in 1990 and 1996 respectively.

With all the hype that surrounds the England team, the demand and expectation is to win.

They haven’t done that since 1966 and after the pitiful efforts in South Africa the wait goes on.

A look at the players, or more accurately lack of them, coming through the ranks will confirm that it will continue for many more years to come.

Maybe it’s time England accepted their role in world football as also-rans.

Like that’s going to happen.

When the next World Cup starts in Brazil in 2014, assuming England qualify, there will be boasts from players and fans that they’ll finally end the hurt.

By then perhaps only Wayne Rooney of the laughably so called ‘golden generation’ will be around. If his past record in the tournament is anything to go by he will be as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

All the England players under-performed in the competition with Rooney top of the flops. He was more annoying that the vuvuzelas. All that talent for Manchester United, yet a waste of space for England. Did you know before going home he gave the ball away more than any other player in the World Cup?

Conspiracy theorists will suggest there were major problems in the camp that made Wayne play so badly. Rubbish.

Rooney should have no excuses for his shocking displays, even if, as Joe Cole revealed after the humbling 4-1 defeat to Germany, there were “a few issues” in the squad.

If he wasn’t fit, as some have said, he should have told the manager that he wasn’t up to it instead of allowing his ego to get in the way. Alternatively Capello and his backroom team should have been aware of any injury.

The Italian, whose reputation has taken a battering in the last fortnight, said yesterday that his players were tired after playing too many Premier League games. That’s ridiculous.

The Germans played just as many club matches and there was no sign of fatigue from them.

Throughout the tournament England failed to pass the ball, defend properly, create opportunities or score enough goals. Basics.

They also failed to show character, desire and any bottle whatsoever.

I genuinely believe the England players don’t care enough.

The attitude is all wrong. Kids growing up in the celebrity obsessed culture in the UK want the fame and money of being a footballer more than the glory.

Hardly surprising, I guess, given that the overpaid players are more interested in signing another lucrative contract or driving a flash car than playing for their country.

For England to have any chance to succeed in future World Cups, the attitude has to change, but I doubt it will happen.

Capello tried with his disciplined regime, but failed.

As the highest paid manager in international football, the six million pound man has not delivered value for money and despite stating he wants to stay, the sensible thing for the FA would be to cut their losses and start again.

The next question is with Who?

That’s as hard to answer as What now for England?

Proud Scot Sir Alex Ferguson is probably the only man who could turn this shower of losers into a team of winners.

At the very least he might be able to get the best out of Wayne Rooney. It's a shame for England that he would never take the job.

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