Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Look to failures on the pitch before just blaming Capello

Where to start? I think Chris Waddle summed it up perfectly when he said to me that he felt England had played well for 45 minutes during this World Cup, most of those against the might of Slovenia, the other five, the opening minutes against the United States.

So how must those thousands of England fans feel having spent thousands of pounds facing that utterly pitiful return from four games of football? They’re the people I feel sorry for, not the coach nor his players.

I think it’s irrational though to demand Fabio Capello’s scalp even if he plainly made mistakes. Perhaps his regime was too harsh; perhaps he indulged certain key players who let him as well as everyone else down; perhaps he turned to substitutes like Emile Heskey and Shaun Wright-Phillips when no one else saw the sense.

But his ‘percentage of culpability’ is far less than those who played for him.

I’m absolutely certain, for example, that the Italian didn’t coach the Sunday league defending that John Terry and Matthew Upson displayed against Germany.

Think about that first goal: it was a typical (English) punt up the field that two supposed international defenders allowed to bounce between them.

Then David James, who hardly ever gets through a game without making a mistake, came, stopped and was beaten by a striker that can’t get into the Bayern Munich team. Laughable.

Now we can all go on about the injustice of the referee and the linesman not recognising that Frank Lampard’s shot bounced down off the crossbar at least a foot OVER the goal line.

Officials make mistakes and I’d rather point to FIFA for their continuing and scandalous refusal to allow technology to eradicate such errors.

So, yes, 2-2 might have swung the game but could anyone honestly say Germany weren’t far better than England?

No. Who played remotely well? Maybe Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole, but we had the same old chief culprits — Gareth Barry and, particularly Wayne Rooney.

Rooney is such a player for his club but he had a pathetic World Cup. He can’t go back to England still believing he remotely deserves being mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi.

Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt put his arm around Rooney’s shoulders and tell him not to worry but England fans will find it hard to forgive and forget such a lame contribution.

I wouldn’t have opposed seeing him substituted on Sunday. Maybe that would have been the kick up the backside he deserves.

The players let their country down and many in the media should hold their hands up too because they encouraged people to overrate this England team.

Indeed they’ve done that in tournament after tournament. England never go to a World Cup or a European Championship with anything other than the most unrealistic expectations. The truth? England are just not very good, at best second-rate.

Belfast Telegraph


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