World Cup 2010 – Talking point: Just how bad were England?

They all had different ways of putting it, but Fleet Street’s football correspondents agreed on one thing: England failed to impress against Mexico at Wembley on Monday night.

Here are the verdicts from the country’s top football writers – and remember to have your say in the comments box down below.

Brian Woolnough, Daily Star: “As England did a lap of honour and waved goodbye to an expectant nation before heading off to the World Cup, Wembley played Take That’s ‘Rule the World’. Somehow, I don’t think so. Not playing like this, they won’t. If Fabio Capello’s team defends like this in South Africa they will struggle to get out of the group… He has work to do and England is a long way from a happy World Cup ending. So, farewell and good luck England. You are going to need it. Rule the world? I wish.”

Steven Howard, The Sun: “Hands on hips, shaking his head and then scowling, Fabio Capello was as unhappy as we have seen him. And all this as his team led Mexico 2-0. Yet the man who frog-marched England to South Africa in such convincing style must have been wondering whether he was watching someone else’s team… On last night’s performance, it won’t have too many charging down to the bookies.”

Sam Wallace, The Independent: “Fabio Capello will not be the first England manager who finds himself on the eve of a World Cup finals privately wondering why it is that his players seem so intent on posing him problems rather than solutions the closer that they come to the reckoning… Historically, England teams have a unique knack of going off the boil when it matters most and as they applauded a half-empty Wembley last night everyone was thinking the same thing: can Capello iron out all the problems in the 19 days before they face the United States on 12 June?”

Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph: “Fabio Capello can wave goodbye to any hopes of winning the World Cup unless he deploys Steven Gerrard centrally and his team learns to keep possession. The half-time scoreline was so riddled with fraud it should have been taken in for questioning.”

Matt Lawton, Daily Mail: “After a performance that lacked the urgency and intensity England’s manager has demanded in training for a week, Gerrard must be considered in a more advanced role in support of the irrepressible Wayne Rooney. It was behind them, however, where the serious problems presented themselves… A better team with better strikers would have punished England last night.”

Oliver Holt, Daily Mirror: “England looked good going forward against Mexico and there were encouraging performances from Theo Walcott, Peter Crouch and, as a raiding right full-back, Glen Johnson. But England also looked worryingly vulnerable at the back and shorn of inspiration in the centre of midfield.”

John Dillon, Daily Express: “If this performance was the product of a week’s intense training the Fabio Capello way, at high altitude in Austria then Wembley, we have a problem… Surely, in South Africa next month, they would not escape so lightly against another Latin team with more ruthlessness.”

Richard Williams, Guardian: “What Fabio Capello’s side lacked against Mexico was the composed decisiveness of John Terry, the dynamism of Ashley Cole, the connectivity of Frank Lampard and the imagination of Joe Cole… It would have been nice to see, along with the energy and the eagerness to please their coach, just a little bit of joined-up football, something to suggest that they had spent a week on the training pitch. Most of that sort of thing came from Mexico, a reminder of the times without number when even England’s most ardent admirers have despaired of seeing the white shirts pass the ball with the intelligence and accuracy shown by their opponents.”


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