Pre-match: England v Algeria thoughts

Posted: June 18, 2010 in England
Tags: ,

So Capello is to replace Rob Green with David James. I’m not unhappy with that – I probably would have started James for the first game – but I would’ve stuck with Green all the same as a show of support. The idea that he’ll cock up to that extent two games running is improbable, and to be honest none of England’s keepers are infallible.

 However, of course, I haven’t had the benefit of seeing Green all week in training, so maybe the man actually is shot despite the brave media face he put on post-USA.

 James in and for god’s sake let’s hope he doesn’t balls it up. We’d never hear the bloody end of it.

 All the same, the mask of command is slipping a bit from Capello. The man is a champion and clearly knows what he’s doing but when England need him the most he’s made some questionable calls. First there was the Capello Index fiasco (rapidly and embarrassingly withdrawn), then the selection of injured or retired players (and trying to beg Scholes out of retirement) to fill his desperately thin squad. He probably should have used those two friendlies (Mexico and Japan) to test out his first-choice team, although final auditions for people like Walcott, Joe Cole and Wright-Phillips were clearly beneficial.

 Then there was the strange calls in the USA game. Milner starting on the left? For starters the man had been ill all week, and then he was withdrawn because Capello feared he’d pick up a second yellow. The obvious replacement seemed to be Joe Cole – one of the better players in the squad, and accustomed to the left-midfield slot – but instead the right-winger SWP came on. Equally Ledley King’s withdrawal saw the introduction of Jamie Carragher, who looked an accident waiting to happen (and it almost did; he nearly got sent off and by his own admission let Altidore have a run at goal instead of bringing him down which was his only other option. Never mind though Jamie, as you put it, “that’s what the goalkeeper’s there for”.)

 Now there’s word that Defoe will start up front with Rooney tonight. I don’t believe that Capello would be chopping and changing like this on the basis of one game (in which England performed relatively well, IMO), but then the Milner curveball took me by surprise last week, so who knows.

 Once again I’d like to temper these critical questions by pointing out that Capello has been with these players 24 hours a day, whereas we just get filtered glimpses through the media. That and Capello’s enormous stack of medals.

One thing I definitely agree with, or at least “do not disagree with” is his supposed policy of only naming the team 2 hours prior to kick-off. I almost regurgitated my coco-pops the other morning at some geezer on Sky Sports News ranting about how this puts players ill-at-ease, they need the confidence and security of knowing they’re playing – basically that the reason Rob Green had his episode was because he only found out he was playing 2 hours beforehand.

 Fuck off.

These are professional footballers of the highest level. If every man in the squad of 23 isn’t preparing all week as though he’s on the teamsheet come kick-off, they shouldn’t be there. Surely rather than causing players to worry and not focus, this policy would engender everyone to have their gameface on in readiness?

 It should do, anyway.

Anyway, here’s to an England win tonight (I hope). Just don’t do a France.

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