Early Doors

Business as usual

Early Doors

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"I'm happy with the draw because of the reaction from the team in the last minute was good. Only one thing I didn't like - when the Czechs had counter-attacks."

While Fabio Capello declared himself happy with all aspects but one of England's 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic, this morning's papers respectfully beg to differ.

"Wasters" (Sun)
"It's not Fab yet" (Star)
"Same old England" (Independent)
"Anyone for cycling?" (Mirror)
"No football gold as Barwick exits with England back in the bronze age" (Times)
"England in disarray" (Telegraph)
"Capello draws cold comfort as Cole rescues dreary England" (Guardian)

The mid-market Mail and Express were so disgusted by the 'efforts' of a foreign-led England side that they deemed them unworthy of back page coverage.

Instead they focused on the ousting of the very British, very bumbling and very jobless Brian Barwick who, it seems, was sacked in between half-time vol-au-vents.

Even Barwick's departure smacked of rank incompetence. The FA intended to keep it a secret but, such was the level of speculation, they informed staff via text message while on the way back from the toilets for the start of the second half.

The Barwick announcement and news of Mikael Silvestre's move to Arsenal were the undoubted highlights of the evening - Early Doors would genuinely have been better off watching the game on Ceefax.

It is nice to get back to some good old English incompetence after the unfamiliarity of so much Olympic excellence.

This is how things are meant to work - complete disarray, on and off the pitch. For all the talk of next month's World Cup qualifier away to Croatia, Early Doors wouldn't be surprised if England come unstuck four days earlier against Andorra.

Worst of the bunch were two men who have already been chopped more times than the French royal family: Davids James and Beckham.

James is, quite simply, a joke. ED doesn't care how good is he for Portsmouth, how many broadsheet columns he writes or what art galleries he visits. He cannot play for England again. He just can't.

As for Beckham, there would have been more movement on the right wing if Capello had picked Stanley Matthews.

Beckham is the football equivalent of one of those bumpers in pinball. He just stands there, motionless, pinging off the ball whenever it comes his way with pace but little or no precision.

The pair took a star turn in the night's most richly comic moment. Beckham stopped playing, thinking he had played his man offside.

Sadly for him, Vaclav Sverkos came racing through from an onside position and pegged it down the left flank where he must have been surprised to encounter a deranged James charging wildly out of his box.

Sverkos nipped past and, with ineptitude almost equal to England's, scuffed his shot miles wide. Sensational. Only Capello knows how he stopped his head from exploding.

The tabloids have not yet superimposed Capello's face onto a vegetable, but he is already being compared to his witless predecessor Steve McClaren.

"Wally without a brolly" was the Sun's somewhat uninspired verdict. But Early Doors thinks the cunning Italian is doing it on purpose.

ED is prepared to ignore the fact that, wherever he goes, Capello succeeds only because he gets to buy expensive, world-class players like Gabriel Batistuta, Fabio Cannavaro and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

At Milan, Capello inherited Marco van Basten. At England, he doesn't even have Raymond van Barneveld.

Yet, despite evidence to the contrary, ED clings onto the faint hope that the Italian is a football genius deliberately crushing his players' spirit.

It is like a military-style 'beasting', in which punishment and humiliation is heaped upon new recruits to whip them into shape.

Capello is intentionally making his players perform dreadfully to make them realise what a bunch of snivelling little wretches they truly are.

Then, when he has banished the arrogance and self-regard, he will take his broken squad and mould them in his own image.

It is a tenuous theory, Early Doors admits, but it will do until England return from Zagreb after the 3-0 defeat they so richly deserve.

- - -

QUOTES OF THE DAY: Harry Redknapp: "We have one of the finest midfielders in Steven Gerrard, he plays for Liverpool and he is like Roy of the Rovers. He shoots, he scores, he tackles. He is not a left midfielder. It is unbelievable. He has to be in the centre. We are killing Gerrard."

Fabio Capello: "I'm sorry for Mr Redknapp, because [Gerrard] didn't play on the left. Sorry. You'll have to ask him. He didn't play left. The movement, he went to the left and to the middle. He never played on the left."

OLYMPIAN OF THE DAY: British boxer Billy-Joe Saunders, who has returned home to a suspension from the ABA following an allegation of lewd behaviour on a pre-Games training camp in France.

The Daily Mail reports: "A camcorder film allegedly shows Saunders confronting a French woman in a sexually explicit and abusive manner while staying in a hotel with the British team." Charming.

TALKING POINT: raulpeeves spent yesterday evening watching Big Brother live on the grounds that: "There is way more chance of an Englishman scoring in there."

Today - Who to blame for England's woes? And any reaction on the other home nations games? Early Doors didn't see them...

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