Fabio Capello refuses to debate tactics with players
England’s disciplinarian boss does not react well after John Terry’s talk of a ‘clear-the-air’ meeting
Fabio Capello stopped short of ordering players home last night but reports from the England camp indicate he didn't react well to the 'clear-the-air' talks demanded by John Terry and other senior players.
Earlier in the day Terry had addressed the press pack in characteristically honest fashion, admitting that England's World Cup campaign needed a radical overhaul. Asked what he thought of the side's performance in drawing 0-0 with Algeria on Friday evening, Terry agreed it had been a dire spectacle: "There was no tackling, no one winning headers, no one winning second balls. Things have got to be upped: tempo, momentum, belief. No player had that fire in the belly the other night. On Wednesday [against Slovenia], everyone will have that. Sod it. It's make or break. We owe it to the fans. If we don't qualify, they can boo all they want.''
Terry went on to say that the players were going to air their concerns about England's uninspired opening to the World Cup during Sunday evening's team meeting. ''If we can't be honest with each other then there's no point in us being here," said Terry. "Whether the manager changes it to go with five in midfield, and Wayne [Rooney] up on his own, I don't know. The manager has the final decision. But something needs changing.''
Terry, who is understood to have the support of several senior players, including Rooney and Steven Gerrard, also wants to see Joe Cole replace Emile Heskey and would like Capello to announce the starting XI earlier in the day, not two hours before the match as has been the case so far.
But according to sources within the England camp, Capello refused to let Terry and others have their say at last night's team meeting. "Fabio made it plain straight away that was not going to happen," the Daily Mirror quotes the source as saying. "He stood up at the front of the room and made it clear to the players he would not tolerate any debate. He just stood there and said 'nobody speak, nobody speak'. He told the players they would be watching the first half of the Algeria game then going for dinner and that was it."
Capello might have been emboldened in his intransigence by the fact several of the England squad believe Terry went too far in what he said to the press on Sunday morning. While a cabal of nine players - Frank Lampard, Rooney, Aaron Lennon, David James, Peter Crouch, Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher and Gerrard – believe change is necessary to avoid England going out at the group stage for the first time at a World Cup since 1958 – the younger more impressionable members of the squad remain blindly loyal to Capello.
It's a messy situation, though at least it hasn't degenerated into the farce now gripping the French squad. But Capello seems unwilling, or unable, to understand the English pysche, so alien to his own Italian culture. As Terry explained at Sunday's press conference there are times when professional footballers – particularly English ones – need a break from the game. "Let everyone have a beer and speak to the manager. Flippin' hell, let's just switch off." ·
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