British newspapers were scathing Saturday about England’s lacklustre performance in the 0-0 World Cup draw with Algeria, with striker Wayne Rooney’s form causing particular concern.
Italian manager Fabio Capello was also facing some awkward questions after the embarrassing draw, which came hot on the heels of another draw, 1-1 with the United States.
“What a load of Roobish!” said the Daily Mirror, while the Guardian’s verdict was: “No spark, no spirit, no hope”.
“There can be no excuses, this was as bad as it gets,” said the Sun, which had little sympathy for Rooney’s complaint about being booed off the pitch by fans at the end of the match.
“Drab, dreary, depressing, disjointed, at times desperate and, overall, dull as ditchwater. Thanks England. No wonder you were booed off the pitch by your own fans last night,” the tabloid added.
“Woeful England at point of no return” was the headline in The Times.
It said that players were “haunted by the fear that they will fail to meet” the expectations of a nation which has not won the World Cup since 1966.
“Certainly the pressure seemed to get to Wayne Rooney,” the paper said. “Rooney’s struggles warrant serious investigation.”
It added: “There are times when playing for England must feel like a dream for Lampard, Gerrard and the rest of them but there are times… when it seems to be more like a nightmare.”
The Daily Telegraph said Capello desperately needs to shake up his team to get the best out of players like Frank Lampard and a “dispirited” Rooney before the final group C game with Slovenia.
“The sooner Capello pushes Steven Gerrard up behind a front-running Rooney, the quicker England can shake off the shackles of anxiety,” the paper said.
“Cape Clowns” was the Daily Mirror’s verdict on the match in Cape Town.
“The reign of Fabio Capello which has promised so much for so long came close to ending in ignominy and shame last night,” it said.
“Just when it mattered most, this England team appears to have stopped responding to him.”
Bewildered England coach Fabio Capello was mystified by the dismal performance of his team in the 0-0 draw with Algeria which has seriously damaged their World Cup dream.
Friday’s result followed on from the opening 1-1 stalemate against the United States.
England, tipped as one of the favourites for the title at the start of the tournament, must now defeat Group C leaders Slovenia in their last game on Wednesday in Port Elizabeth to make the last 16.
“This is not the team I recognise from training or from qualifying,” said Capello after another below-par display from his highly-rated side.
“We missed too many passes, lost too many balls. It was not a good game. We have to do better.
“It was incredible the mistakes we made. It was incredible for the level of the England players.
“We have another game to play. It’s our last chance to continue in the tournament. The players know what they have to do.”
Capello hinted that the squad is beginning to feel the strain of trying to deliver England’s first World Cup since their first and only triumph in 1966.
“Probably it’s the pressure. We need to get to the ball quicker,” added Capello.
“It’s not just a question of one player. It’s the team. We can change the tactics if we have to but we have to do better.”
Group C finely poised
With the United States and Slovenia drawing 2-2 earlier Friday, Group C is finely poised.
Slovenia have four points, with England and the USA on two and Algeria have one.
“We’re not happy with the performance, we need more if we want to stay in this tournament to the later stages, we need to improve,” said captain Steven Gerrard .
“We weren’t good enough in the final third to get the breakthrough.
“We know the job we’ve got to do, we’ve got to go and win the last game and that adds more pressure, but to play at this level you’ve got to handle it, you’ve got to play under pressure.
“We weren’t at our level today, it’s not good enough.”
Striker Wayne Rooney showed his frustration as he trudged off the field to the jeers of disgruntled England supporters, saying to a TV camera: “It’s nice to see your own fans booing you.”
Man-of-the-match Ashley Cole said it was fortunate the United States and Slovenia also only drew on Friday, leaving the group finely poised.
“It could have been worse,” said the Chelsea defender. “It’s lucky the USA got a draw today. Now we need to pick ourselves up and get ready for Wednesday which is a big game for us.
“I’m still confident in our ability and we should win on Wednesday. But we know we need to improve and it is down to us now.”
Algerian midfielder Ryad Boudebouz said England had been complacent – and insisted his side were capable of beating the Americans.
“We are pleased with the draw as the English underestimated us in the media over recent days,” he said.
“We were determined to show them we were not just here for the ride and that we have a decent team.
“Now we have to play the United States and if we know if we play like we did tonight we can beat them.”