Capello To Remain England Manager

The FA today released a statement confirming Fabio Capello will remain as England manager after a disappointing World Cup.

“We are all still extremely disappointed at our performance in South Africa, and we believed it was important that we took some time to reflect on everything in a calm and considered manner back in England. After fully discussing our performance we remain convinced that Fabio is the best man for the job.

He went into the World Cup with a reputation as one of World football’s finest managers and we are confident Fabio will benefit from his first international tournament experience and this will undoubtedly make us all stronger for the Euro 2012 campaign.”

Capello himself said: “I am more determined than ever to succeed with the England team.”

Man City Sign Toure

Manchester City today announced the signing of Yaya Toure from Barcelona on a 5 year deal. Toure has been at the spine of Barcelona for 3 very successful years. It’s a signing that really signals some intent from Manchester City and coupled with the arrival of David Silva from Valencia has really taken them up a notch in the transfer market.

Last season City were quick to splash the cash on players that were certainly better than what they had but the majority of them were both overpriced and not quite good enough to take them into the Champions League.

Your move Chelsea…

Quarter Finals

Today sees the World Cup quarter finals getting underway in less than 3 hours with Holland meeting Brazil. It’s a game that really should be a bit of a football showcase but the reality is, while both teams have cruised to the quarter finals they’re also both a shadow of their former selves. Total football seems just a distant memory when watching the Dutch play and Brazil have played in patches without ever looking free-flowing.

The other quarter final matches see sleeping giants Uruguay against African hopefuls Ghana, Paraguay against Spain and probably the tie of the tournament so far Germany against Argentina.

If the bookies are to be trusted the semi finals will consist of Brazil, Spain, Uruguay and Argentina. Personally, I think there may be a shock and I’d love to see Ghana get through.

The Lions Forget To Roar

England suffered their heaviest ever defeat at the World Cup finals today with a shambolic performance against a German team that showed fluid movement and some fantastic slick counter-attacking play.

Rarely have we seen England defend so badly. They were sluggish, disorganised and shell-shocked. The back four were constantly out of position and exposed by simple one-twos and that holy grail that the ‘golden generation’ have never found, passing AND moving. Mesut Ozil was England’s biggest tormentor, pulling the strings from midfield with John Terry not quite sure whether he should be picking him up or not.

2-0 up before the interval Germany were cruising when they almost imploded. Matthew Upson rose to meet a Steven Gerrard cross in the 37th and grabbed a goal back for England. Germany were on the ropes. Less than 60 seconds later Frank Lampard lobbed Manuel Neuer, the ball hitting the cross bar and bouncing down inside the goal at least 2 yards over the line. Cue the celebrations. Well, almost anyway. Neither the referee nor the linesman saw the ball cross the line and the goal was never awarded. It was a ridiculous decision in such an important game and one that will no doubt see more pressure on FIFA to introduce goal line technology.

The second half saw England pressing for an equaliser without ever really creating any clear cut opportunities. As Germany soaked up the pressure, England pushed higher and higher up the pitch and were caught on the counter attack with 2 German goals. And that was that.

Despite the reports, at times England played quite well. It’s just when they were bad, they were very bad.

It’s often said before a tournament that England have no chance of winning without Wayne Rooney and despite him playing (and I use the term playing in the loosest possible sense) in all of England’s matches, never a truer word was said.

Every cloud has a silver lining though, and perhaps ours is that it’s very unlikely we’ll see Gerrard and Lampard in the same team at an International tournament again.

Underachievers

Perennial underachivers England lived up to their tournament reputation last night by, well err, underachieveing. In a match that many expected England to easily win, Algeria constantly pressed England, looked more comfortable with the ball and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

I’ve read lot of reports that suggest it’s England’s worst performance in a long time, but anyone that saw them play against Platinum Allstars recently might not necessarily agree. It’s hard to pick out a single player that had an average game let alone played well. Lampard was non existant, Gerrard did nothing, Heskey was pressured into mistakes and perhaps the worst culprit of all Wayne Rooney, looked nothing like Wayne Rooney. He struggled to control the ball, looked a little short on pace and was worryingly outmuscled on a number of occasions.

So what was the problem? This was supposed to be the game where Gareth Barry brought stability as Capello fielded the closest possible team to the one he’d used in England’s qualifiers. The truth is, I don’t think anyone knows, had you asked most fans and pundits before the game they would (and did) predict an easy victory for England. Capello himself in his post match interview didn’t seem to have the answers.

Much has been made of Capello’s disciplinarian approach and the pressure on the players since they landed in South Africa, but are we just looking for excuses? Does Alex Ferguson joke around with his players at Manchester United? In fact, at Old Trafford I’d argue that there’s more pressure on the players to achieve and it seems to work in their favour rather than against them.

On Wednesday, England take on group leaders Slovenia and need a win to make the second round. The bookies seem confident, but I have to admit that at 6/1 I fancy Slovenia to get a result.

Expect changes to the England team…

3 Days In…

We’re 3 days in to the 2010 World Cup and what do we know? As I’m typing this Germany have just run out clear winners in their opening game of the tournament against the Socceroos, who incidentally were down to 10 men early in the second half when the influential Tim Cahill was wrongly sent off for a nothing of a challenge. Still, had it been England playing against the 10 men of Australia you can’t help but feel it wouldn’t have been quite so convincing.

Yesterday we saw Argentina outplay a Nigeria side that looked weak on organisation and belief. It finished 1-0 to Argentina but could have easily been 3 or 4 with Lionel Messi putting in the kind of performance that Barcelona fans are oh-so used to.

And how could we forget England? Last night against the USA, England played their usual game of slightly outplaying the opposition without ever really exerting themselves. After taking the lead 4 minutes in through stand-in captain Steven Gerrard (note the Heskey assist, haters) England, never really in any danger allowed the USA back into the game when Robert Green fumbled a speculative shot from Clint Dempsey and allowed the ball to trickle over the line. England huffed and puffed in the second half but never really looked like winning the game with Wayne Rooney missing in action for the duration of the game.

In other matches there’s been a distinct lack of goals and entertainment that will hopefully be forgotten when we see the likes of Holland, Spain and Brazil over the coming days.

Best moment of the tournament so far? It has to be the front cover of the New York Post. Draw your own conclusions…