Part two of Sportsmail’s inside tale on how England’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa fell apart
Recently, former England manager Fabio Capello launched a stern defence of his plans for England’s disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa before, in a Sportsmail exclusive, Joe Cole hit back and questioned how committed the Italian was to the Three Lions.
So where does the truth lie? England arrived at that tournament with several world-class players and were among the favourites.
In the second instalment of a two-part report, Sportsmail’s Rob Draper, who covered the competition from inside the England camp, reflects on one of the most remarkable England World Cup stories, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.
If you missed Part One yesterday, it’s available HERE.
Fabio Capello had a dim view of English footballers’ culinary habits.
‘You English eat too much bread,’ he told his backroom staff as he explained his plans for their Rustenburg training base. Capello insisted there would be no butter on the tables.
‘If there is no butter, then the players won’t eat so much,’ he said. To the players’ consternation, ketchup was banned too.
The England players found they had little to do at their remote base at the 2010 World Cup
England’s Rustenburg training camp was so remote, players struggled to fill their time
The venue was chosen by Fabio Capello’s assistant, Franco Baldini (left), who had a closer relationship to the players than Capello and wanted to avoid the WAG circus
His assistants – Franco Baldini, Italo Galbiati, Franco Tancredi and Massimo Neri – had been schooled in the Italian style of regimented training camps, a fashion attributed to the iconic Inter Milan coach, Helenio Herrera.
In the 1960s, he developed the system known as ‘ritiro’, whereby his teams prepared for games at training camps away from their homes and families.
Now the England players would get a dose of that medicine in Rustenburg, chosen by Baldini and intended to send a signal that the WAG circus of Baden-Baden at Germany 2006 would not be repeated.
Yet this was beyond the back of the beyond. Golf aside – even that was logistically difficult – there was literally nothing for players to do. A safari was arranged at the magnificent Pilanesberg National Park nearby. But with photographers in tow, that was hardly a relaxing day out.
‘In terms of facilities it was the best camp we’d ever had,’ said one member of the team. ‘Everything was first class. But it was so remote.
‘When we got a podiatrist in, he came from a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. By the time he got there and had done his work, it was getting dark so it wasn’t safe to travel back and he had to stay overnight. It just indicated quite how off the beaten track we were.
‘With England we always had a games room, with a pool table, computer games. Glenn Hoddle introduced it in France in 1998 and it was so successful we had to limit its use. We’d find players there at 2am!
‘It had become a space for the players to relax, away from the coaching staff. The problem in Rustenburg was that we put a big TV screen in there. So Fabio, Franco and his staff would come in to watch the games there. And when they walked in, the players would walk out. It was as though it wasn’t their space anymore.’
Then there was the boredom. For some of the more experienced players it wasn’t an issue. I spoke with Jamie Carragher shortly after England’s exit.
One member of the team said that the facilities were as good as any England tournament base
Fabio Capello wanted to recreate the iconic training camps of Inter Milan’s Helenio Herrera
Jamie Carragher (left) relished the set-up for the England squad but for Wayne Rooney, who was only 24 and away from home shortly after the birth of his first child, it was a lot harder
Given his prime reason for revoking his international retirement was that he wanted to pick Capello’s brains, he and Steven Gerrard – appointed captain after Rio Ferdinand’s demise through injury – were two players happy to sit alongside the manager and his staff and watch games.
Carragher was scornful of the players who had complained.
‘To be honest I don’t get that,’ he said. ‘I mean, what do you expect from a World Cup? Are you expecting the fair every afternoon? The lads were playing golf twice a week. What else is there to do? I brought all my DVDs and books. You train in the morning, you have the afternoon off. I enjoyed it a lot more than in Germany in 2006.’
As for Capello being aloof, Carragher was similarly dismissive. ‘I loved him,’ he said. ‘People are criticising him and some players are saying: “I didn’t like this” and, “He was a bit cold towards us”. Well, I think he was fine. I’d had Rafa (Benitez) for six years!’
Capello was also baffled by criticism. Asked what the players might do if bored, he replied: ‘They can go for a walk or read a book.’ The 64-year-old was perhaps not most attuned to interests of the PlayStation generation of 20something English footballers.
England boss Capello pictured playing golf in some downtime during the 2010 tournament
Capello found any criticism of England’s World Cup base in South Africa hard to understand
Inside the hotel, there was no WiFi and a TV room for players was often used by Capello
Not everyone was as easy to entertain as Carragher. Wayne Rooney, 24, in particular, struggled. His first son, Kai, had just been born and the separation hurt, especially without any obvious stimulation to fill the mind.
‘Wayne was finding it tough,’ said one member of the touring party. ‘He was younger then and we really were in the outback.’
The hotel England stayed in wasn’t equipped with broadband, meaning players had to sneak into the nearby media centre in the afternoon, when the press had gone, to use the facilities and get a clear signal for Skype calls – the FA had installed state-of-the art communications there.
As the ennui grew amidst the nervous tension, a distinct split was growing. Gerrard and Carragher were close and accepted Capello’s rule. Others wanted changes.
In the aftermath of the Algeria game, the players stayed over in Cape Town. Even that was a debacle.
Because of the backlash against WAG culture, Capello had insisted there would be no need for rest and relaxation and that they would return straight home to Rustenburg. Eventually he relented and decided on a weekend in Cape Town.
But the decision came so late that families and partners had already made plans to fly back to England. And given the performance and outburst, few felt confident enough to venture out. As such, the players were then criticised for not visiting such a historic sight as Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island!
In the small hours of the Saturday morning, following that goalless draw with Algeria on the Friday, a select group of England players shared a beer in the bar at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town.
Senior players in the England squad were starting to have doubts over Capello’s tactics
There were several players who felt Rooney should start up front with Steven Gerrard in behind
Present were Gerrard, John Terry, Rooney, David James, Peter Crouch, Frank Lampard and Carragher. As Capello dined in one corner, celebrating his 64th birthday in dejected fashion, a clear consensus emerged among the players, who wanted to at least discuss a potential change of formation to 4-2-3-1, rather than the rigid 4-4-2 on which the Italian was insisting.
Crucially, the majority of those senior players wanted Rooney to play up front alone, with Gerrard supporting him from a central position; Rooney and Gerrard were both said to be in favour.
Terry was also lobbying for the inclusion of his friend and Chelsea team-mate Joe Cole but that was a peripheral issue; the key was allowing more flexibility and switching to a formation with which the players were familiar.
Baldini was approached. He promised to raise it with Capello but made it clear it was unlikely the manager would countenance interference. It might have been a turning point of England’s World Cup, the equivalent of the players’ delegation that met Bobby Robson in 1990 to discuss the tactical change that transformed their Italia 90 campaign.
Alas it never got off the ground. Not only was Capello not inclined to encourage debate and democracy but, in an ill-judged press conference on the Sunday, Terry not only revealed the discussion ahead of planned private team meetings, but seemed to frame it as a challenge to the manager.
‘If it upsets him [Capello] then I’m on the verge of just saying, “You know what? So what, I’m here to win it for England”,’ said Terry.
‘I’m here on behalf of the players,’ he added, which many felt undermined the actual captain, Gerrard.
Terry taking control had added pique, given he had been stripped of the captaincy four months earlier after reports he had had an extra marital relationship with the ex-girlfriend of his England and former Chelsea team-mate, Wayne Bridge, who subsequently quit international football.
To say the least, Terry’s leadership credentials at the time were questionable. He was admirably open but hopelessly naive.
With tensions bubbling, John Terry went public with criticism of Capello before the players spoke to him – it meant an attempt to sway the manager was doomed before it had even began
Furthermore, Terry’s outspoken views appeared to undermine the captain, Steven Gerrard, who took the armband after Rio Ferdinand’s injury and respected Capello
‘I went to see Franco (Baldini) after the game and said, “Look, let everyone have a beer and speak to the manager. Flippin’ hell, let’s just switch off”. Eight players sat there talking about the game.
‘It was good to express how we felt. The discussions between players will stay private but it was really nice to unwind and get things off our chest. There was me, Lamps, Wazza, Aaron Lennon, Jamo, Crouchy, Johnno, Jamie Carragher, Stevie, probably a couple more. I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this…’
He did. Terry’s candour meant any attempt to influence Capello was doomed. The Cape Town coup – Terry insisted it was nothing of the kind, just the kind of frank discussions any team needs – was strangled at birth.
Capello would describe the intervention as a ‘big mistake’. Terry apologised. That night at the planned team meeting back in Rustenburg, issues went unaddressed. The closest Capello came to acknowledging concerns was the day before the final group game against Slovenia when he attempted to rally the team.
‘I’m not going to panic and see two years of work thrown out of the window and that’s why we’re sticking with 4-4-2,’ was the message. ‘We will win,’ he added. ‘Because you are a better team than you’ve shown.’
On one issue only did the team did have some success. On the flight to Port Elizabeth, as England travelled to that vital last group game against Slovenia, Baldini told Gerrard that if the players wanted to have a beer with their meal the night before the match, Capello would have no objections.
Gerrard initially thought he was joking. But when the players arrived for dinner on Tuesday night at their plush seafront hotel and saw ketchup and butter laid out on the table, it was clear Capello was softening.
It seemed to do the trick. A 1-0 win with a Jermain Defoe goal was hardly resounding but it secured a last-16 spot against Germany in Bloemfontein.
Jermain Defoe gave England a 1-0 win over Slovenia to lead them into the last-16
There, they’d face Germany, an exciting team with young talents such as Mesut Ozil (centre)
Trouble was, this was a resurgent German team, the nucleus of the side that would go on to win the 2014 World Cup, and included Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil.
Not only that, but they played in a style that was, at the time, still foreign to English teams. A couple of renegade young coaches, Ralf Rangnick and Jurgen Klopp, were transforming German football with their new intense style of pressing the opposition.
This should have been meat and drink to Capello. After all, his own mentor, Arrigo Sacchi, was an innovator in using counter pressing to disrupt opponents and establish AC Milan as one of the all-time greats.
But time had moved on. Germany, under Joachim Low, were more clinical in their pressing than Capello’s teams in the 1990s. Crucially, in a young Muller and Lukas Podolski, they also had energy and pace in their team.
England had Defoe and Rooney, but the latter was not in shape, and with both deployed in a 4-4-2, they were never able to stretch the flanks or test Per Mertesacker.
England were thrashed 4-1 by Germany – game remembered for Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’
The ball was so far over the line, it sparked the introduction of goal-line technology in football
Capello may have been left wondering ‘what if?’ as the score was 2-1 at the time, but few could really complain – over 90 minutes, England were completely outplayed by their fierce rivals
Germany raced into a 2-0 lead playing mainly on the counter attack. A Matthew Upson header brought England back in the game on 37 minutes.
And then came the moment that would define this World Cup for England and change football forever.
Directly from the restart, Germany lost possession. Defoe regained the ball and it broke for Lampard. He struck from the edge of the area, the ball smashed against the bar and rebounded well behind Neuer, who was helpless.
The stadium erupted. Even in real time, it look well beyond the goal-line. The action replay, which showed it a good metre over the line, was enough to shame then FIFA president Sepp Blatter, until then a technophobe, to authorise goal-line technology.
It is true the entire complexion of that game might have changed. Capello believes as much.
‘Germany was a young team,’ he said. ‘Listen: a young team that goes from 2-0 to 2-2 has a psychological problem. For us, that’s a tremendous boost. But that wasn’t to be and I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s still there, still there. I would have liked to see the second half then. We hit the bar, had chances, and on the break they score the third, then a fourth. I could see it: we were growing, getting better, and then…’
Then England were out.
With England there was always a reason, always mitigation to explain deficiencies. It is true that the debate over what might have happened had Lampard’s goal been given is a fascinating counter-factual tangent. Overall, the consensus was England had been well beaten by a better side and their style and tactics looked outmoded.
‘For me to say that moment was the reason we lost would be a lie,’ Gerrard said. ‘Germany were the better team over 90 minutes.’
It wouldn’t prove the end of Capello, who would survive until 2012, when, he would resign over another captaincy fiasco.
FA chairman David Bernstein removed Terry as England captain because he had been charged with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, brother of Rio. (Terry was subsequently cleared in court but later found guilty by an FA disciplinary panel).
For Capello, a big defeat by Germany meant his plans for England had been left in ruins
In the immediate aftermath, the England boss could barely comprehend how things unfolded
With Capello, the sheer madness of the England team off the pitch always seemed to overshadow what actually happened on it. In reality, much of the football was poor and it was never worse than in South Africa.
The day after the meltdown against Germany, Capello sat at his much-maligned training camp in Rustenburg conducting a post mortem with the press. He was desperately searching for reasons, straws at which to clutch, for a failure he seemed to barely comprehend.
Amidst the incoherence, one of Capello’s key points was that Germany beat England because they had imported foreigners into their team. He mentioned Ozil, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng and Podolski. The first three were born in Germany and Podolski moved there when he was two.
It seemed apt. By 2010, Capello was a man out of time, having failed to adapt to the modern Europe changing all around him. He was past his best and trading off former glories. The world had moved on.