And we thought France were bad
Well, what a shambles. From the match in Cape Town to the press conference shenanigans yesterday with John Terry, England are in a mess.
Everyone is to blame; manager, coaches and players. Could it be that Fabio Capello is the right man at the wrong time? Some of his substitutions against Algeria were baffling. Before the World Cup, all the talk was of pace. Everyone seemed to believe that this was what was required to break down the world's best defences (and Algeria's). However, pace is only useful when there is space to run into, and Algeria weren't daft enough to allow that so they defended on the edge of their penalty area. The game was screaming out for Joe Cole, one of the few English players with a bit of cunning, but Capello left him on the bench. He seems inflexible, like a man still defiantly watching his old black-and-white telly, while the rest of us relax in front of our colour HDs.
The players haven't helped matters by behaving like children. Few came out of the Algeria game with any credit. James, Terry and Ashley Cole are the only three that spring to mind. The rest of them looked like they had been drugged. I've never seen Rooney and Lampard play so poorly. Lampard set the tone for the performance by giving the ball away cheaply after four seconds. Four seconds! I don't think he's given a ball away like that for Chelsea in four years!! As for Emile Heskey, even he must think he shouldn't start the next game against Slovenia.
After that terrible performance, you'd have thought the wise thing to do was to keep your head down, work hard, have talks with the manager to try and improve things and concentrate on winning the game against Slovenia. Enter John Terry.
As I said earlier, Capello has made mistakes. Apparently the players are locked up for five hours in the afternoon. This is quite common in Italy but English players hate it. Back in the 60's, Jimmy Greaves lasted only a few months at AC Milan, despite a good goalscoring record, because he couldn't handle the way the players were made to go on this retreat before matches. Now if there is one thing you know about English players, it's that they are children, and children like to have constant stimulus. So it was inevitable this wasn't going to work. Capello and his staff ought to have realised this, even before now, and changed it.
The complaints about Capello being too serious are laughable. Quite why the players were so shocked about this, I don't know. He's not exactly a renowned song 'n' dance man, is he? They wanted Bruce Forsyth, and instead got Bruce Banner.
So anyway, John Terry thought it was a good idea to try and undermine the manager in front of all the press boys. It's easy to understand why he felt he could do it. He's in a position of strength, what with him being the only fit, established centre-back due to injuries and suspension. He's possibly still nursing a sense of grievance over being stripped of the captaincy for off-the-field misdemeanours, for which he has never apologised, and my sources say he still feels he didn't do anything wrong. So perhaps he thought he could get one over the manager who humiliated him, and at the same time look like Super JT, the hero rescuing our World Cup campaign. Except he's now upset the other England players, who are said to be furious that he has dragged them into it.
Terry doesn't come out well from this at all. He appears to be a man totally absorbed in himself. It's the same narcissism which leads Wayne Rooney to think he can mouth off about England fans booing the team after an abject display. If there are grievances, John Terry is right to express them, but in the sanctity of the dressing room, not to the whole of the press corps for your own benefit.
England have a lot of work to do, or the recriminations will be continuing on a flight home to London by the end of the week.