LONDON – It was the kind of incomprehensible, muddled display we have become used to when England plays.
The country was again left scratching its collective head asking: ‘What on earth. . . ?”
Anyway, enough of Fabio Capello’s post-match press conference.
England’s performance in a fortunate 1-0 win over Wales, its first home victory in a year, showed that the team, too, fluffed its lines.
Euro 2012 qualification may be virtually certain — it needs a point in Montenegro next month to secure a place in Poland and Ukraine — but no one is taking anything for granted.
Four days previously, Bulgaria was so poor The Japan Times sports desk — even with yours truly up front — would have probably won 3-0 in Sofia, too.
Incredibly, England is fourth in the current FIFA rankings, but then Sepp Blatter thinks he’s the most popular guy in football.
With nine months to go to the Euro finals England trails behind Spain (as does everyone), Germany, Holland plus the new-look Italy and France.
Greece is unbeaten in 13 matches and could bore Europe to death as it did in winning Euro 2004. Another quarterfinals exit looms for England.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, tipped as Capello’s successor, said, “of course we can” when asked if England could win Euro 2012.
Well, any of the finalists can win but there is little ground for any realistic optimism. The best player on view at Wembley was Wales captain Aaron Ramsey, the Arsenal midfielder.
Wales manager Gary Speed put Andrew Crofts just in front of the back-four, which limited Wayne Rooney’s space and had Robert Earnshaw not missed the mother of all open goals with 14 minutes remaining, England’s qualification hopes would probably be seen in a very different light.
Stewart Downing and Ashley Young (his goal was the only shot on target, fewer than in any other Euro 2012 qualifier) were the only England players to do themselves justice.
James Milner and Gareth Barry are not going to trouble the cream of Europe, so the fitness of Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere will be crucial.
Capello blamed the pressure of the need to win for England’s mediocre, shapeless, disjointed display, which is nonsense. By that logic England need not bother to turn up at the finals where the pressure will be far greater.
The biggest problem seems to be Capello’s ability, or rather inability, to communicate with his players. Capello said that the lack of intensity during the warmup at Wembley told him it would be a difficult night, but he found it “impossible” to change.
“I tried to do that. I tried,” he said. “I spoke with the players and said things but it was impossible to change.”
So the Football Association pays Capello £6 million a year and the coach cannot get through to his players.
How can we expect fluency on the pitch when the man giving the orders can barely make himself understood?
GARRY COOK, the Manchester City chief executive, has become known as the master of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time.
Example: When Human Rights Watch described former City owner Thaksin Shinawatra as “a human rights abuser of the worst kind,” Cook said the ex-prime minister of Thailand was “a great guy to play golf with.”
Respected inside City for the way he has taken the Blues forward in many ways, Cook’s position as the voice of a club who suddenly had riches beyond most rivals’ wildest dreams inevitably brought resentment and unpopularity, though his £1.8 million salary probably helps him get over that.
Cook is hanging on to his job by his fingertips after a copy of an email from his account, intended for another City employee, was also sent to Dr. Anthonia Onuoha, the mother of City defender Nedum, who acts as his representative.
The contents of the email appeared to mock Dr . Onuoha’s cancer.
Currently on holiday in the United States, Cook is not due to return until next week, but City’s Middle Eastern owners have ordered an urgent inquiry, including forensic examination of computers.
Cook denies sending the email and said someone must have hacked into his account.
Why would anyone want to do that and send such an offensive email?
Why did Dr. Onuoha wait 11 months before making an official complaint?
Who leaked it to The Sun?
Unless somebody knows the person’s password, hacking into someone’s account is a specialized job, a skill known to techno-wizards, police and, sadly, criminals.
To add to a baffling scenario, it seems the email was sent from an iPad.
There may be a valid reason why Dr. Onuoha waited so long before complaining, but I cannot think of one.
It is fair to assume Cook did not pass on the email, to which few people would have had access, to the Sun but someone did.
Sending an offensive email even like this is probably not a sacking offense.
Lying would be. We’ll see.
Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.