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England news

England conflict reports played down

June 21, 2010
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

An insider present at England's clear-the-air meeting has denied reports of conflict on Sunday night and insists Fabio Capello will not make changes purely to placate the players.

Fabio Capello, England
GettyImagesFabio Capello is said to have taken a positive tack at Sunday's meeting

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"Fabio was really sensible and quite brief," the insider said. "He told the players, 'We are here to enjoy playing, so enjoy being here at the World Cup. Forget about all the outside pressures you are apparently feeling: all that we ask of you is that you play well enough to achieve what we all want to achieve. Forget about the last two games which were not so good, and enjoy the games coming up'.

"No player spoke up after that. Absolutely nothing was said to Fabio from one, single player.

"The suggestion that someone spoke to the players before the meeting to warn them against speaking is not true. The players are allowed to speak - they are allowed to ask the manager anything they want. How can you forbid the players not to speak? This is not true, surely. It's nonsense

"They can go to the manager at any time. He is available to them, he listens to them. Sometimes Fabio will go to a player to ask him about things, sometimes a player will talk to Fabio.

"If a player suggests he prefers to play with one player or another player, or in a different system, Fabio will listen carefully.

"He evaluates all the information - then he makes his own mind up. He does not do what players tell him to do - of course he doesn't."

It has also been reported that Capello is willing to change his system of telling the players about selection two hours before a game, but the source said: "Again, absolutely not. Why would he change the way he has done this job for 25 years? He will never change his routine."

Capello's right-hand man, Franco Baldini, talked to deposed captain John Terry in the afternoon ahead of the meeting.

The meeting followed the Chelsea captain's press conference, at which he told the press that he believed Joe Cole should be in the starting line-up but, while the comments were interpreted as a signal that he planned to influence selection, the source says Terry has been misrepresented.

"It is being portrayed in ways that do not exist. JT is entitled to his opinions but it was clear what he said created a situation that was open to interpretation.

"JT was asked about any problems, and he talked about the players not being comfortable in their England suits on a short flight, and would prefer to be in their tracksuits, and he expressed his concern that the players were bored after training.

"The answer was that Fabio was happy for them to wear tracksuits on short journeys, and that the players were being allowed to go to Cape Town every other day - they could play golf, but that they couldn't do that every day.

"There is no split with the players. There has been no row between Rooney and JT. It is not true the players are not happy. The agents are talking, the media has little to write about, as there is little happening, and this is always the case with England.

"At times we wish we might have stronger personalities then those strong personalities would take over on the field. Sometimes the players are too quiet, and that is not good. The result is that the media are looking for something that doesn't exist."

The issue of the BBC announcing that Capello will resign if England do not qualify brought another swift denial.

"Fabio is not even thinking about this," the source said. "This is just not true. He is in the middle of a project, and he has never walked away before, so why should he now?"