Regular guest blogger Richard Smith doesn’t pull any punches with his appraisal the current state of the senior squad – we’ll have a preview of the Under 21s posted on Saturday morning.
The situation in the England football camp appears to be worsening by the day with manager, Fabio Capello, coming under increasing pressure, more so than he has ever known before.
The Italian’s comments regarding the tiredness of the English players being responsible for their less than lacklustre performance in their 2-2 Euro 2012 Qualifier draw against Switzerland at Wembley at the weekend has invited the wrath of the media. There have been various negative responses including the suggestion that the â€˜tiredness excuseâ€™ would have been better applied to the fact that the players were tired of him and the media and fans are tired of his excuses. The draw against the Swiss was also the fourth game running at Wembley that the England team has failed to win.
Certainly to only draw against a Swiss side who they defeated easily in the reverse fixture last year is a potential setback to automatic qualification. However, their next match is in September, against an improving Bulgarian team in Sofia, which if they should lose will put them in deep trouble, particularly so if Montenegro defeat Wales on the same day.
The big problem Capello has when he blames the performance on tiredness is the simple fact that should England qualify for the European Championships, then tiredness will be a huge factor again as that tournament comes at the end of the domestic season like every other major international football tournament. He is paid Â£6m pounds per year to find remedies for this problem not to provide excuses which is something he appears not to understand.
Understanding of a different kind is another probable reason why England are failing to produce the level of performance that is expected. Capello has simply not picked up the English language as well as others have from his country. He is almost impossible to understand when conducting media interviews; a fact that makes the mind boggle when thought is given to how he actually conveys his match instructions to the players. Leaving the fans to wonder just how much of his strategy is Lost in Translation?
In the wake of this setback, there have been further rumours of squad unrest with yet another player, Peter Crouch, apparently ready to quit international football. This has prompted FA Director of Football Development Sir Trevor Brooking to lambast the players who want to â€˜throw in the international towelâ€™ but he must know that there is a big problem within the set up and perhaps he would be better to clarify the reasons before â€˜pointing the fingerâ€™. Crouch in fact did not even make the substitutes bench against Switzerland!
The real reason why England could only draw against Switzerland was the fact that they played poorly, lost concentration in defence and failed to take their chances. That all adds up to a player/team/manager problem and not one of exhaustion!
Despite the current plight, bookmakers are still confident that the Three Lions will win Group G, making them astonishingly short favourites at 1/7 to qualify for Poland and Ukraine in twelve months time. They sit joint top alongside Montenegro who also have 11 points after five games but with two of the last three qualifiers on the road for Capello’s men, including a trip to Montenegro in the final game the odds of 5/1 about Montenegro topping the group come October make plenty of appeal for those punters happy to allow sense to prevail and overrule their patriotic heart. The odds on England winning Euro 2012 look even less appealing and it would be the most loyal of fans that are happy to take odds of 9/1 about England ending their 46 year wait for glory.