Early Doors

Capello’s own ‘Walcott moment’

Early Doors

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Well, that's what you get for trying to second guess Fabio Capello. He DID have his Walcott moment after all.

This time yesterday Early Doors was looking ahead to a day without any surprises, with Capello revealing his England squad in a timely and business-like fashion.

But, as it was, Theo Walcott was one of the seven men from the provisional England squad to get the chop ahead of the trip to South Africa, and it was inevitably the most headline-grabbing exclusion, just as it was four years ago for Sven-Goran Eriksson.

It's all so far removed from his hat-trick in Zagreb in 2008, after which Capello called him "my special player", but there is plenty of evidence to back up his axing.

Like most of the seven who were cut, Walcott pretty much played himself out of contention across the two friendly matches with the sort of frustratingly fruitless performances he has been serving up for much of the season.

He only notched up three goals and two assists in the Premier League last season, and was reportedly the subject of great criticism from the England boss when the team reviewed DVDs of their matches.

Something else that could have been telling was a story recounted by Matt Dickinson in The Times yesterday. After getting the scheduled time of a team meeting wrong and sleeping through it, Walcott raced to Capello's office to apologise.

"He shrugged his shoulders, gave a little bit of a smile and just closed the door on me," Walcott said. The manager shut his office door without saying a word, but evidently did not forget.

Walcott told the Daily Mirror after getting the call while on the golf course: "At the last World Cup, I was in the squad but I didn't get the chance to appear at all. This time, I thought I'd play a proper part. I thought I deserved my place. I respect Mr Capello's decision, of course. There's no point me sulking about it. I've just got to get on with it." Wonder what he carded at the end of that round.

Walcott must be left wondering if this whole World Cup business is worth all the hassle. His shock selection in 2006 has been something of a millstone around his neck ever since. His selection last time was a big story then, just as his rejection is the biggest line from this particular squad (sorry, Stephen Warnock, it's true). The events of those last two World Cups also ensure that whether he is part of the next tournament squad or not will also become a big talking point.

Early Doors is a little annoyed at itself for feeling so much sorrier for Walcott than the other six who lost out. Well, except for Leighton Baines. Revealing that you suffer from homesickness the week before you could be selected for a potential six-week trip to the other side of the world is not the smartest move.

However, a bright, humble, polite young chap with an impossibly neat haircut Walcott may be, but it is difficult to argue with Capello's decision. Fans in many other countries seem to rate him higher than in his own, and his dazzling pace certainly looks good on a highlights reel. But, aside from that speed, the truth is that there is currently little else to his game. Despite all his early promise and time under Arsene Wenger, he is just not good enough.

It's just a shame that it's not someone better than Shaun Wright-Phillips going in his place - such as the genuine left-footer who has been out-performing him at the same club this season, for instance.

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Capello's plan had been to release the list of 23 in understated fashion on the FA website, after speaking to the other seven players and gaining assurances over the fitness of Gareth Barry. Of course, that's not how it turned out.

The drama was whipped up as throughout the day news leaked out through a variety of sources about who had got the dreaded call from Capello. Wright-Phillips texted Manchester City to tell them he was going, Darren Bent revealed his disappointment at missing out again on Twitter, and the agents of various other players let it be known if their man was in or not.

Sky Sports News went into overdrive, especially when the Walcott news broke. All the time the yellow bar scrolled along ED was hoping that he had made the squad after all. It would have been the greatest bit of pre-World Cup egg-on-face since the channel reported Wayne Rooney would miss the 2006 tournament, before realising they had miscalculated the timings over the length of his injury.

Anyway, Bent was not the only one on Twitter. It was a bonanza on the social networking website to rival Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time as journalists from every major paper tweeted themselves into a frenzy as they revealed what their sources were saying.

After a good few hours of rumour, counter-rumour and 'fact', the FA deigned to write on the site at 13:45: "Plenty of speculation about #EnglandSquad but rest assured this and TheFA.com will be the first place you hear confirmation of final 23." At that particular moment in time, the FA's website had crashed.

As the slated time of the official announcement was put back by an hour to 16:00, many writers began to get impatient, complaining about the 'drip-drip' delivery of news rather than a prompt statement. Already rather put out that there would not be a news conference held for them to question the manager immediately, many journos began, for the first time, to seriously question Capello's wisdom.

However, the boss had done exactly what he said he would do, reveal his squad on the final day once he had spoken to those involved first. He did not anticipate the 'sideways' leaking of news via agents, clubs and the players themselves. After all, let's not forget that when it comes to international football management, he is still a novice.

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During all the excitable chatter on Twitter about England yesterday, every now and again someone would mention the impending decision on the future of Crystal Palace.

There would be a flurry of sympathetic lines, agreeing that the potential demise of a 105-year old club was, of course, the bigger issue, before reverting to 'King out! Dawson in!' once more.

Once it had got over the urge to shout "get a job" at its TV, ED was happy to see that Palace fans' protests on the streets of The City throughout the day were not in vain.

CPFC 2010 - the consortium of local businessmen who were trying to strike a deal with the bank that owned Selhurst Park - finally managed it after the 3pm deadline which could have sounded the Eagles' death knell.

However, administrator Brendan Guilfoyle was satisfied enough that an agreement was going to be reached that he allowed the negotiations to continue, and it now looks as though the club will be saved. It's just a shame that the good news was buried somewhat by events elsewhere.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It looks to me someone's going to make a great free transfer, if he doesn't stay at Chelsea. I genuinely don't know who that is. I don't think it's going to be Tottenham. I've got a feeling, I may be wrong, that he's already agreed a deal with someone, and it's not Tottenham. I'm not saying if he hadn't agreed a deal with someone and he was available and didn't stay at Chelsea that we wouldn't be interested. I'm a big fan of Joe's, but the feedback we've had is that he might well have already done something." - Harry Redknapp is up to his old tricks again.

FOREIGN VIEW: France's Nicolas Anelka was the latest player to suffer a nasty fall when he slipped off his mountain bike as the squad went for a jaunt around the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. It's the latest team bonding exercise to backfire after William Gallas rolled over his vehicle during a dune buggy race, while Germany's Thomas Mueller also came off his bike while out riding with his squad. Whatever happened to pre-tournament squads bonding around the dentist's chair?

COMING UP: Today's World Cup warm-up action sees live text commentary of Zimbabwe v Brazil (14:30), Greece v Paraguay (17:30) and Poland v Serbia (19:45).

And, of course, there is also live commentary of all the action from the French Open. With Federer out of the way, can Rafael Nadal regain his Roland Garros crown? Find out by watching live on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & on the Eurosport Player.

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