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Forget the Boo-boys Roo, focus on Slovenia


By Peter Jacobs.

Four days on and the memories of the Algeria game are still as disappointing as they were when the final whistle was blown. The anger and frustration of fans and players a-like where illuminated when Manchester United and England’s shining light Wayne Rooney, darkened the mood further with a sharp tongued comment to the camera,

‘nice to see your home fans booing’.

Although he later apologised, it encapsulated the atmosphere around England’s World Cup so far. The relationship between the normally idolised Rooney and the England fans have gone a little sour, and has left an uncomfortable taste in the mouths of all concerned.

The performance of England and Rooney was drab and uninspiring but the reactions of both parties is understandable, considering the weight of a nations expectations which rests on the shoulders of the 24 year-old striker.

The only thing to do now is to look ahead. Focus has turned to the decider against Slovenia on Wednesday. If people take a step back and have a look at the silver lining to the dark grey cloud of England’s hopes, things are not as awful as what is being made out.

The fate of group C is still in England’s hands, even though they haven’t got out of first gear yet. Also, the draw against USA was over criticised, taking a point against a strong opposition in the first match of a major tournament was a result to build upon. Robert Green’s mistake was the weakness in a fairly strong display, it was a match which England should have won considering the chances they had to grab the winner. But at least they created the chances.

The Algeria game was earmarked as an opportunity to stamp England’s authority on the group and on the World Cup, but this was far from the case. It was a horrible performance but England did escape Green Point stadium with exactly that, a point. Two draws from two games and all of a sudden, Capello’s job is on the line and England are written off. It was a performance which was out of character for a Capello side.

Much of the post match talk is about the factions in the England camp and how Rooney and co are getting exasperated with the tactics of the side. The reported cracks in the solidarity of the squad needs to be repaired and any reports of Capello’s job and player unrest are just side issues. The only thing that matters is securing three points against group leaders Slovenia.

This was exactly the tone of Vice-captain and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard when he spoke about England’s position and the so called divisions within the camp after the team meeting on Sunday evening. Lampard said:

‘it is been over done as a crisis meeting. Franco Baldini (assistant coach) and Capello are very approachable, Capello just spoke and we listened. It’s not about singling out a player or a manager. He is a strong manager, we respect him very much and we have faith in him.

‘We know the performance against Algeria was disappointing. The truth is we are all looking for a way to improve on the Algeria game and kick on for the rest of the tournament.

‘For me personally, we all play in the Premier League, we need to play with that pace and passion. I just want us to play well and for us to win on Wednesday, what matters is how we train, play and getting the result’

England currently sit third, level on two points with the USA with one fixture remaining. Group C is wide open with all four sides having a chance to progress. England will qualify with a win but they will rely on the result of Algeria against USA if they draw their third game on the trot.

England can take comfort in the knowledge that other big names in Europe have had stuttering starts too. After a lacklustre first week, the World Cup sprang into a life with a second week full of upsets. The Swiss beat favourites Spain, Serbia defeated the Germans and New Zealand held the world champions Italy to a draw. It seems that the differences in class between the lower ranked sides and the top teams have shortened.

If fans are still struggling to look on the bright side then just consider this. England players are still training and not accusing each other of being traitors, no one has been sent home and staff are not resigning. It could be worse; England could be in the position of France.

Will England beat Slovenia and qualify from group C

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