Blog originally published on August 22...
England's performance against the Czechs was one of the worst I have seen. Things have not improved under Fabio Capello, they have stayed the same.
When you see that, and then hear the manager talk about how good things are, it's a load of rubbish.
And when you look at the team selection, it's not hard to see why. We are not going to go any further unless we change the personnel.
We have players like David James and David Beckham, who looked like they were consigned to history years ago, but are now pencilled in to start against Croatia next month.
Beckham is in there purely for his dead-ball delivery, and that was not good enough. True, he set up Wes Brown's goal, but his accuracy from free-kicks and corners was no better than 20-30 percent.
He didn't offer his usual supply line from the right. In fact, Brown crossed many more balls, and he is hardly a great attacking full-back.
I can't imagine why Ray Clemence went to the States to watch Beckham for LA Galaxy last week. The FA are paying all that money to see him playing Mickey Mouse football. It's laughable.
We already have good set-piece takers like Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry, so why not replace Beckham with somebody with more pace, dynamism and something to prove - somebody like David Bentley?
Steven Gerrard was one of the few bright sparks last night and yet he is wasted out of position on the left side of midfield.
Capello claims Gerrard was actually one of the two attacking midfielders in a 4-3-2-1 'Christmas tree' formation, and wasn't playing on the left.
Well, all I can say is they must have a different kind of Christmas tree in Italy because Gerrard spent most of the game playing right out wide.
Our players do not have the technique required to cut it at the highest international level. Crossing balls from 35-40 yards out just isn't good enough. We could pick a team of Championship players who could do that.
Coaching standards are improving and we do have some skilful young players coming through, but they will take a few years to mature.
Our present team has excellent individuals, but their club team-mates help to compensate for their technical deficiencies. Wayne Rooney is great when he plays with Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo; Lampard with Deco and Michael Ballack; Steven Gerrard with Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.
But when you put all the English players together their failings become all too clear.
We need to play with more passion and heart. That is English football's strength.
We weren't the best technically at the 1990 World Cup or Euro '96, but we made up for it by playing a typical English game based on pace, aggression and commitment.
The World Cup qualifier against Croatia is going to be a tough, tough game. They are technically good but more importantly they play with immense pride.
Their manager, Slaven Bilic, is getting paid 30 times less than ours, but he does it because he loves his country and is completely dedicated. Can we really say the same about Signor Capello? Of course not. It's ridiculous.
He was meant to come in and be his own man, a tough guy to sort out our overpaid stars, but at the moment he is serving up the same mess we had under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.
- David Beckham
- Fabio Capello
- Steven Gerrard
- Frank Lampard