Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 27 March 2008

We're on a road to nowhere

Oh it was woeful. It was inept. Poor, weak, lacking in value. That's my summary of last night's England performance against the French.

I got the distinct impression that the England players suddenly realised that the team they were playing against would be going to Euro 2008 and they wouldn't. What else could justify a ninety-minutes containing such pitiful amounts of enthusiasm, skill and drive.

On the basis of what I saw last night, England got what it deserved by not qualifying for Austria and Switzerland. The very thought of Fabio Capello's side taking one of those valuable sixteen places at the expense of some worthier country is one that makes me slightly sick, so it's rather gratifying that England's current poor standards were confirmed in last night's match.

Whereas Capello's team played in an unexciting fashion to earn a win in his first match, this time they played in an unexciting fashion with not even a goal to show for it. Perhaps we've quickly reached the level without too much need for prolonged ambiguity.

And yes I know England were playing the world-class French side and perhaps you wouldn't expect too much against them, but this was just a complete non-committal to playing in such a fashion that would earn respect from anyone.

All of which leads me to wonder what Capello must now be thinking. Have you ever seen one of those TV shows where a member of the public hands over a family heirloom to an antiques expert and waits to be told all about it? Well I can imagine Capello taking part in something like that. Think of the conversation that would ensue…

Expert: So what have you brought us today?
Mr. Capello: It's a set of sixteen England football players.
Expert: Ah, interesting. And have you had them long?
Mr. Capello: Just a couple of months.
Expert: I see. They must give you a lot of pleasure?
Mr. Capello: Not really. I was told they'd be a good investment but they seem a bit faulty to me.
Expert: Really? Well I can see that some of them are a bit rough round the edges, but they should be OK fundamentally. Did you get them from a reputable outlet?
Mr. Capello: Not exactly. They were a bunch of men claiming to be Premier League managers. Tell me, are they worth much?
Expert: On the open market, they should easily fetch upwards of £200 million, but you'll find this England packaging will lower their value quite considerably. Probably more like £10 million for the lot.
Mr Capello: I see. Is it worth me hanging on to them?
Expert: I'd advise against it. Try to find a new owner for them that is willing to invest in a lost cause and suggest to them that they may one day be a valuable asset.
Mr Capello: Fine, OK. Thank you for your advice.
Expert: No problem… oh, and better luck with your next acquisition.

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