Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Capello is losing the World Cup for England

Tactically inept and too many errors, and that’s just Fabio.

Yesterday, I temporarily left Johannesburg behind — thank heavens, I don’t feel safe in that city — and headed via Port Elizabeth (Ivory Coast v Portugal, today) for Cape Town where I wholly expect England to win on Friday and move closer to a place in the last 16.

Yes, they were generally poor against the USA. Something must have been lost in translation when the England coach said the team played “really well.”

But that doesn’t especially bother me. Indeed, I was worried they’d brush the States aside and heighten the hype that pervades the country re the possibility they might actually win this thing.

Since it’s most unlikely that they will, dampening expectations doesn’t do any harm. It’s far better to ‘grow’ through a tournament like this.

However, this isn’t to say that there isn’t cause for concern. Principally, the nation’s trust, including my own, in Fabio Capello is rocking more than a little.

All the key decisions he made for the American game proved wrong.

I don’t get this business of telling his players what the team will be barely before they step on the coach to the venue. What meaning does pre-match training have if individuals don’t know if they’ll be playing together? And this is particularly relevant for a specialist position such as goalkeeper.

Which brings me to Robert Green. He’s a good keeper but far from a brilliant one. His penchant for mistakes, hitherto hidden from the international arena, is as prevalent as that of David James. I’d certainly have gone for Joe Hart.

The problem is a World Cup may only last for three games. Over the course of a season, you can excuse a howler, even one as great as Green’s. But, here, can you risk another one? It depends on the keeper’s state of mind and Capello isn’t a psychiatrist. I’d leave Green out of the Algerian game.

Ledley King’s susceptibility to injury was always a risk. Fit? No problem. But, now, who do you replace him with?

I’ve said Jamie Carragher didn’t have a great season. He’s probably on the ‘downward’ side of a great career but bringing him on for King must have finished off Upson. Michael Dawson should be the only choice to partner Terry in King’s absence.

James Milner? Can’t have been fit or ‘well’ surely? And replacing him with Shaun Wright-Phillips, who proved little better than useless, was an insult to Joe Cole who I had in ‘my team’.

England can’t afford any slip-ups against Algeria and, watching them against Slovenia, there shouldn’t be any. But Capello could do with Gareth Barry back. It’s not that he’s anything special but his presence does release Steven Gerrard.

Actually, the captain played well on Saturday anyway. I’d simply like to see him closer to Wayne Rooney.

And, on that count, is there any chance Wayne could live up to his billing?

Belfast Telegraph


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