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23,699 Posts
Red Devil said:
There is no competition for England places; there is nobody to make them think, "I'd best play my best, or dropped" - the England team picks itself. Its been so bad that if you recall, Phil Neville played more games for England than he did for United!!
Ok, ok, good point for the proposition too. :D

When a regular squad player of a club is filling in for the national team, something must be wrong.

reddwarf said:
We just need a coach who knows how to use them - Sven Goran Eriksson was underated when he was in charge. I'm cautiously optimistic about our future now Capello is in charge.
Me too. I have high hopes for Capello. His spot-on and immediate addressing of Rooney's temperament and potential best position gave me added confidence that he will do something right for England.:)

Smeghead Moderator
13,664 Posts
Red Devil said:
There is no competition for England places; there is nobody to make them think, "I'd best play my best, or dropped" - the England team picks itself. Its been so bad that if you recall, Phil Neville played more games for England than he did for United!!
I've wondered about the complacency issue.

Personally, the thought of being booed by my fans or getting torn to shreds in the press for a poor performance would be enough to motivate me, whether my position is under threat or not.

We rarely played brilliantly under Sven but won football matches and qualified for tournaments. With virtually the same set of players McClaren lost far too many games and failed to qualify from a group Sven described as 'easy'.

I think there are a number of coaches under which England would comfortably have qualified from that group with the players we have.

23,699 Posts
Capello's England in fantasy land

Looks like Capello may just get it right for England as he has demonstrated again, after picking on Rooney's temperament, that he can swoop down and address the weaknesses. Spot on.

the independent, Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Fabio Capello appears a man without artifice. His predecessor, Steve McClaren, had his teeth fixed and took the advice of PR guru Max Clifford. Sven Goran Eriksson wore platform shoes and modish spectacles. Capello has the natural style of any expensively dressed Italian but, in general, he has ego but not vanity. At his core there seems to be a belief that there are no short cuts, that faking gets you nowhere and the individual is part of the collective.

All this is reflected in his football teams. Capello is in Austria at the moment scouting Croatia, England's main opposition in the forthcoming 2010 World Cup qualifiers. He watched their 1-0 victory over Austria on Sunday and, while impressed with Luka Modric's skills, it was the group mentality under pressure which struck him most.

After breakfast in his Vienna hotel yesterday morning, Capello revealed he has asked the advice of Luis Felipe Scolari and Marcello Lippi, the last two men to coach a World Cup winning team (with Brazil, in 2002, and Italy in 2006 respectively). "Both told me that their group was a very, very strong group, a very strong unit. The first 11 and the whole squad of 23 stayed together and were very focused.

"Croatia have a strong group. They work hard together, they suffer, everyone helps everyone and that's very important. In the last half-an-hour against Austria their spirit was very important.

"Without the group, it's impossible to win. You have to be together. Always at a World Cup, a European Championship, the team that wins it has a strong group.”

"I knew (Croatian coach Slaven) Bilic when he was a player and he has the same characteristics as then. All the managers put their personal characteristics on the team. I was chosen for my character.

"I remember in the first game when we played Switzerland, I was very worried because I didn't see the spirit and the English characteristics. But after four games I am very happy because step by step we have moved on and have found the spirit of the group. We fight, we pressed a lot in the last two games and we won the ball back quickly.

"These are the characteristics of the England players, but also I was surprised by the fact a lot of players are very good technically, very, very good.

"There are also players with fantasy and that is very important at this moment. Now, modern football is a 9-1 formation and without fantasy or one player dribbling, with good passes it is impossible to score goals.”

This has been evident in the Euro 2008 so far. Modric's twist and turn to take him away from Martin Stranzl set up Croatia's goal. Portugal's goals both came form individuals who were prepared to run at an opponent, Pepe, then Cristiano Ronaldo.

"You either have fantasy, or you do not," said Capello. "It's impossible to train the fantasy. But we have some players with good fantasy, very interesting players.”

He would not be drawn on who they are, but Wayne Rooney and Joe Cole leap to mind. Capello rarely discusses individuals, but a few players may ponder some of his general thoughts. Asked, earlier, about the possibility of Frank Lampard joining Internazionale he said 'every new experience enriches you'. Gareth Barry and David Bentley, both pondering transfers to Champions League clubs, and Wayne Bridge and Peter Crouch, who are both at such clubs but rarely start games, will be interested in such comments as, "It's very important to see the players every week. It's better for us if they play regularly. It's not important for players to be playing in the Champions League. A lot of players have done very well for the national team without playing in the Champions League.”

The need to be involved in the Champions League was a constant refrain under Eriksson who appeared to agree with the assertion, by Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson, that the Champions League was a higher level of football than the major international tournaments. He selected Ashley Cole - a shock at the time - on the strength of a Champions League performance in Munich.

"It's different," said Capello. "I played in the Champions League (then the European Cup) and managed in the Champions League. It's different." Capello, who also played international football, added: "The level of the games is possibly higher in the Champions League, but the pressure of international football is completely different.

"When you play for the country, with the English or Italian shirt, it's different. All of The pressure is on you from journalists, everyone. Playing for your club is not playing for two million people. I remember the pressure from fans of clubs like Inter and Roma, but with Italy it is everyone and it's the same with England. The pressure is much more big. It's a big difference.

"This is the reason a lot of good players play very well with their clubs, but are not the same as the national team. One example is (Cesc) Fabregas who is one of the best players in England, but does not play often for Spain. It's possible the pressure is very big and he suffers a little bit.”

The pressure of the shirt is one reason why he said he would give Dean Ashton a second chance after his lamentable debut in Trinidad. Capello added: "We try to build more confidence in the players so they can play like they do with their club, but sometimes they cannot do it. You have to choose the player that can play very well for both his club and the national team with the same confidence, the same fantasy and same strong mentality.”

It comes down to character again. Capello added that he will not be picking players on reputation, but all England managers say that. They tend to end up picking the big names because they are the best players, with the strongest characters, that is how they earned their reputations. It explains David Beckham's recall, for example. He may be a show pony but it took character to come back for England after France 98, and for Real Madrid under Capello.

Capello's next match is a friendly against the Czech Republic in August, followed by back-to-back September qualifiers away to Andorra and at home to Croatia. Only one team qualifies automatically from a group which also includes Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan - the eight best runners-up from the nine European groups play-off for the remaining four places. "I am very confident we will qualify," concluded Capello. "I know the players better and they know me now, and I'm sure we have a very good squad with very good players. I have a lot of confidence for the future.”

23,699 Posts
Richards breaks ranks to state the blindingly obvious


The Premier League's chairman will be derided for his remarks, but English football cannot afford to ignore this debate.....

Throughout this remarkably divided time in English football, when the Premier League has asserted its dominance over the European club game on a tumultuous Moscow night yet the England team is painfully absent from the current European Championship, the elite league has insisted that its clubs' growing reliance on overseas stars is not a cause of the England team's failings. The Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, has argued there are enough England-qualified players at the top level to stock a national side, and he rejects any proposal from Uefa or Fifa to encourage clubs to actually field the homegrown talent they hot-house in academies.

Those who deny there is any issue increasingly advance the argument that there were many more English players in the First Division in the 1970s and 1980s but England still failed to qualify for international tournaments, so the preponderance of foreign players now cannot be damaging the England team.

Those arguments have now been comprehensively holed by Scudamore's own chairman, Sir David Richards, at a question-and-answer session in a Dubai conference hall. Richards said categorically that the clubs' urgent pressure to stay in the big-money Premier League leads them to sign ready-made foreign stars and not give their own academy-developed players a chance. Richards' admission that the Premier League clubs have been "a bit lazy" towards their young players will rankle with many parents of boys who devoted their childhoods to academies and were then discarded at 18 or 19 because the first-team dressing rooms are mostly galaxies of bought stars in their 20s and older.

After all the efforts led by Scudamore to deflect analysis away from his clubs for England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008, it now turns out Richards holds the opposing view. "Does the Premier League hurt the national side?" Richards rhetorically asked. "I think the answer to that has got to be yes."

Imagine the condemnation from the Premier League if any other senior figure in football, such as the FA chairman Lord Triesman, were to state that so baldly. Michel Platini, Uefa's president, argues that each club squad should include eight "locally trained" players, not determined by nationality, in a squad of 25 by next season. Scudamore has derided Platini's ideas as those of "a man in a pub" yet now Scudamore's own chairman, Richards, has echoed Platini's thoughts in Dubai's Intercontinental Hotel.

"We've been a bit lazy in the Premier League over the years," he said. "We created a system of academies and every club spends about £3m a year developing young players. But it hasn't worked, because the availability for us to go out and buy the best stars is an easy thing. Anybody who comes into the league needs to stay in it, so needs to buy the best stars. We pick kids up at eight years old, we send them to the academy, then at 16 we make them a student, then at 18 we say they haven't made it."

Of Steve McClaren's failure to lead England to European Championship qualification, Richards did not advance the general view that McClaren was a "wally with a brolly" who was not up to the job. "Steve will tell you that he has to have the best players available, and the Premier League has hurt him. In fact I would probably go as far as to say the Premier League has probably cost him his job. Because what we've done, we've actually bought all these foreign players in."

These remarks are most likely to lead to a bucket of ordure being emptied over Richards' head by his member clubs, and in response the Premier League would say only: "These comments do not represent the collective view of the Premier League." In a calmer world they ought to help promote a genuine debate about how to balance the moneyed club game with a national framework for football development. Triesman is known to be in favour of examining seriously the arguments for Uefa's quota, but he has inherited a stance at the FA, led by the Premier League, to oppose them based on instinct. The Italian and German FAs initiated the quota policy, and have voluntarily introduced them into their domestic football. Those leagues trail the Premier League in terms of cash and global reach, yet both national teams have contenders at Euro 2008.

Platini, hosting his organisation's most prestigious tournament with England absent, resisted the temptation to leap on Richards' admissions. Instead he chose the diplomatic option, calling for this to produce considered discussion, in a spirit of partnership. "This has now come from the horse's mouth," said Platini. "It is very important to give young local players a chance. The whole football family must work together to protect young players, club academies and national teams."

Here, no proper debate has truly begun. A close inspection may reveal that the problem is not that the top clubs decline to play English youngsters, but young players from their academies, of whatever nationality. Unless the academy products are outstanding beyond their years, ready at 17, as Wayne Rooney of England or Cesc Fábregas of Spain were, the clubs cannot take the risk. And the globalised game means that top English clubs now rarely sign promising players from the divisions below them either, as they did before the advent of the Premier League.

The England team which reached the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup was almost entirely made up of players who gained their formative experience in the lower divisions, including Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle who played non-league football, Peter Beardsley who made 126 appearances for Carlisle, and David Platt, who stepped down to Crewe before striding to success with Aston Villa.

That practice has gone now, and the gap between Football and Premier Leagues widened to a chasm.
The answer to the argument about the 1970s and 1980s is that the Premier League was formed in 1992 explicitly to repair the defects, of coaching and fixture congestion, identified then to have weakened the national team. Instead, as Richards said correctly, the Premier League clubs refused to reduce the top division in size to 18, and now do not dare put faith in youngsters they themselves have coached since the age of eight. Instead, they sign mostly overseas players as fully-formed stars. Michael Essien played 116 league matches for the French clubs Bastia and then Lyon, before Roman Abramovich slapped £24.4m down to buy him for Chelsea. Given that the manager, Avram Grant, was sacked for finishing second in the league and not winning a Champions League final penalty shoot-out, it is hardly surprising that he did not feel inclined to give a single graduate from Chelsea's academy a first-team start last season.

The Premier League said of its chairman's remarks: "These comments do not represent the collective view of the Premier League." It says a great deal about the thinness of debate in English football that Richards is likely to face a storm, for the hapless crime of stating the blindingly obvious.

4,946 Posts
Red Devil said:

This fails to take into account that we have Scots, Welsh and Irish playing in the Premiership - all considered "home" players. Do these count as "foreign" players in Sepp Blatters "5 a game" ???

Are Scotland, Wales and Ireland different countries ?

Yes they are ...

So should be treated as such when choosing the 5 ...

United are in better shape than most
Premiership teams for the 6+5 rule.


Some of these will be retired shortly
and some might not eer make the
first team but it's more than Arsenal
and Chelsea and all the other teams
below the big 3.

Of course this is all irrelevant because
the 6+5 rule would breach European
employment law ;)

23,699 Posts
Fabio Capello: 'We need to play like a club'

Just in case you are wondering why I am so active in this thread, it is because I am a long-suffering, lousy, hope-less England fan. Until now. Capello has given me some hope and impressed me so far as he is quick to zero-in on the weaknesses of England that his predecessors don't talk about. We shall see though....

the independent

England manager says his team must kindle the spirit that Croatia showed against Germany if they are to defeat their nemesis.....

No fear. It's the phrase that jumps out as Fabio Capello, in his stumbling but rapidly improving English, explains what he expects of his England team
. Leaning back, relaxed and smiling in a lakeside hotel just a few miles outside Klagenfurt in southern Austria the morning after he had watched Croatia defeat Germany in Euro 2008, Capello is laying down a blueprint. It is, he believes, what will ensure England never again miss out on a major tournament.

Capello has the personnel – he refreshingly dismisses the notion that a Premier League top-heavy with foreign talent does not produce enough skilled Englishmen, and says he needs no more than 14 top-quality players – but now needs to develop the characters. It will, he promises, all come together in just nine weeks' time when England play the Czech Republic in their final friendly match beforethe World Cup qualification campaign gets under way.

"That is what we have been working towards," Capello says. "It will be a very important game before qualification begins. We play at Wembley and in this game I hope the players play like a team with great confidence. And no fear. That is very important. We are getting better with each game and, in August, there will be no problem physically. Everyone will be fresh and not tired so I expect to see big progress."

What Don Fabio expects, he clearly gets. His strategy is clear. England go into September with a double-header – in Andorra, an easy warm-up, and then their old nemesis Croatia in Zagreb. Capello clearly wants to hit the Croatians early and exploit the possible hangover from Euro 2008 and maybe the loss of their talismanic coach, Slaven Bilic.

Capello was impressed by Bilic's team in the 2-1 victory on Thursday. It was certainly more emphatic than their win against Austria. "I have seen two Croatias," Capello explains. "I think the Croatia that we meet in Zagreb will be the same Croatia that played against Germany because the spirit of Croatia, not just Croatia but other teams when they play against a top team, a big team, means they play better."

Despite their absence from this tournament, Capello clearly regards England as a "big team". The failure to qualify gives him a chance to implement what he wants and expects. At first he was disappointed with the players' technical ability but he has reassessed his opinion. Now his main concerns, beyond the need for a right-back and a striker, are "spirit" and "character".

"We need to find the same spirit," he says of Croatia's special ingredient. "I am searching for this characteristic. All the players do play 100 per cent but they need to as a group, not individuals, and that is the most important characteristic of Croatia. We must try and get that spirit also. That will happen through my experience and the experience of the players also." Given his track record, he should not be doubted. "We need to play like a club. We are a very important football nation and we have to play to win. We have some important players, players who are leaders, and that is important for every team and every club. But they need to be leaders on the pitch, not in the newspapers."

Which is an intriguing comment for the Italian to make. Was he referring to the players who like their media profile – or the media who like to profile the players? Despite being urged to, he was not going to expand upon it. Instead he preferred to talk about the "leaders" he has managed in the past. "At AC Milan there was Baresi, Maldini, Rijkaard and Ancelotti. At Roma there was Aldair and Batistuta, and Emerson was very powerful. At Madrid, Hierro, Raul." Quite a roll call. But what about in the England dressing room, who is the leader there? "No," he says. "When I am not the England manager, then you will know."

Inevitably it raises the issue of captaincy. Initially Capello had four candidates in mind – Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Gareth Barry. Gerrard and Barry appear to have been discounted because they are too quiet, which leaves the two central defenders. David Beckham, were he playing in Europe rather than the US, would have been regarded by Capello as the strongest option.

He is slightly bemused by our obsession about who wears the armband. "In other countries, it's normal that the player with the most caps is the captain," Capello says. "But in England it's different, and that's nice. It's interesting. I always say the captain is not just there to swap the pennants before the start of the game. You have to be a leader on the pitch. Off the pitch everyone leads their lives, but all the players need to know the rules and it's important to behave. Everyone makes mistakes but it depends on the kind of mistakes you make. It's impossible to be perfect. Even for the Pope."

Such a comment, made with a laugh, shows how much he is enjoying his job – just as well, when the Football Association are paying him £6 million a year – but he claims to like the "pressure" and now understands "what it's like to be a national team manager". It's why he rejects the hand-wringing and excuses over the number of English players. "When I was a club manager we had 14 players only who were very good," he says. "And I won. It's very important that you have players of the right level. There are 35 per cent of players in the Premier League who are English but if enough of them are of a high level, it's enough."

He might not have been the England manager if a certain Luiz Felipe Scolari had accepted the FA's overtures prior to the last World Cup. But Capello feels it's a case of his gain and Big Phil's loss. "I'm happy," he says. "Thank you Scolari." They know each other well and Capello thinks the latter will succeed at Chelsea. "It's interesting to see a Brazilian manager in the English League. He will have his ideas and style." Just like Capello

23,699 Posts
Hiddink has exploded the myths of English football

the times

David Beckham, asked by The Times to sum up the strength of Fabio Capello, the England manager, came up with the perfect, pithy phrase. “He makes you sit up straight in class,†he said. For tutors, however, instilling discipline is only half of it. The pupils must wish to learn as well.

Education is a partnership. First, the teacher must be motivated to do the job properly. Sven-Göran Eriksson became lazy as head coach and England stagnated as a result. Steve McClaren wanted to coach new ideas, but lacked the authority to make his players listen. Neither of these flaws will affect Capello's regime; but it is the second part of the equation that is the key. The teachers must teach, but the pupils must listen; and this is where English football has fallen down.

We look enviously at Guus Hiddink's success with Russia and wonder what might have been, but this presumes that any coach attempting to push English players beyond their comfort zone would be given a fair hearing. Hiddink still plays a version of three at the back, very similar in style to the way Terry Venables set up his England team at the European Championship in 1996. Russia use four defenders, but when the full backs push on, a holding player drops in to make three. The whole system is very fluid and flexible, and Russia's movement is probably the best of any team at the tournament.

So what would have happened had Hiddink tried that in England now? Venables was fortunate to be favoured by open minds, but that has not been the case of late. How long before it would be decided that three at the back is an outdated system; and English players are comfortable with only the straight lines of their beloved 4-4-2; and you can't coach international players anyway because you haven't the time to apply new ideas; and better to let them do what they know? These are all statements that have been regularly trotted out during the past decade whenever an England manager has flirted with a progressive concept. And where has it got us? Watching from home. Heaven forbid somebody tries to instruct Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard on how to play together. God help us if a coach looks at Rio Ferdinand, Micah Richards or Ashley Cole and sees potential beyond stalwart defence.

Hiddink has exploded the myths of English football with what he has achieved at this tournament, because in two years he has radicalised a group of players, by refusing to entertain the idea that all an international manager can do is make the best of what he is given, rather than taking this raw material and refining it. Capello had it right when he talked of his team needing humility. England does not have bad players, but it does have players that have got out of the habit of learning. Their clubs are so strong, and so successful, that they would appear to believe there is no other way. Challenged by any different approach they retreat to the familiar. No group from the elite end of the Premier League should have had the difficulty that England experienced with an alternative system in Croatia, or previously, in Northern Ireland, playing 4-3-3. It was intellectually weak. Hiddink has had Russia for two years and has built a team that can play five different ways in a single campaign.

He has not lucked out with a new set of players, or inherited a golden generation. Of those Hiddink used against Holland on Saturday, six — Igor Akinfeev, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Andrei Arshavin, Aleksandr Anyukov, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Sergei Semak — also featured in the last competitive game Russia played before his arrival, a 0-0 draw with Slovakia in Bratislava on October 12, 2005. Another two involved that day, Aleksei Berezutski and Vasili Berezutski, are also in Hiddink's squad. The Russia team that Hiddink has coached to one game from the European Championship final is, then, largely the same one that finished third in World Cup qualifying group three under Yuri Semin, roughly 2½ years ago, losing 7-1 to Portugal on the way.

Nobody was talking about Arshavin as one of the best midfield talents in Europe after that. Russia players could not have shown such dramatic improvement without instruction.

As the manager that introduced Vladimir Bystrov as a substitute after 46 minutes against Spain, and replaced him after 71 minutes without a second glance, because he was not doing as told, no doubt Hiddink gets his class sitting up straight, too. It is what is written on the blackboard that is most important, though, and that, each day, his boys are prepared to take these lessons down in their best, neatest handwriting.
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