England team lambasted for turgid performance
LONDON (Reuters) - England's turgid display in their 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic on Wednesday was predictably lambasted on Thursday by pundits, the press and the public.
Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp described the performance as one of the worst he had seen from England and Italian coach Fabio Capello's tactics and motivation were also called into question.
Many callers to radio phone-in shows said the country's highly paid footballers should follow the example of Britain's medal-winning Olympians and start playing with pride and passion for their country.
England were fortunate to salvage a draw with a scrappy stoppage time equaliser from Joe Cole after being out-played by a far more clinical, clever and adept Czech side who were only seconds away from giving new coach Petr Rada victory in his first match in charge.
Czech midfielder Jan Polak was named as man of the match while thousands of England fans left early on a gloomy, rainy night at Wembley Stadium and missed Cole's goal.
The Daily Mirror dismissed Capello's recent claims that England were a match for European champions Spain as "ludicrous."
"Despite an injury-time act by Joe Cole, England's supposed bright new dawn under Fabio Capello is suddenly looking like all our miserable yesterdays," The Mirror said.
"The Italian coach's ludicrous claims that his England side are a match for Euro 2008 champions Spain were exposed for the hollow irrelevance they were.
"Last night England were shapeless, aimless and hopeless, tactically chaotic and technically stunted, a mess from start to finish."
During the match it was also announced that the FA's chief executive Brian Barwick was leaving his job at the end of the year following differences with the FA's new chairman David Triesman.
The Times commented: "If the smell of blood on the carpet at (FA headquarters) Soho Square this morning is familiar, so too last night was the stale odour of an England performance that carried more than a whiff of the dregs of the Steve McClaren era.
Redknapp, who was summarising the match for television said it was "one of the worst performances I've seen from an England team" and that Capello's decision to deploy Steven Gerrard on the left-hand side of midfield was "killing" the Liverpool captain.
Capello disagreed saying Gerrard had played as one of the two in a 4-3-2-1 formation behind Jermain Defoe.
Dozens of callers to radio phone-in shows said that England's "overpaid and pampered" players continually let the country down and should follow the example of the athletes in Beijing who were celebrating Britain's best performance at the Olympics in a century.
Capello said he was pleased England "played without fear" at Wembley for the first time since he became manager but apart from Wes Brown's first international goal and a brief period of play when England dominated, the Czechs were vastly superior.
Milan Baros opened the scoring for the visitors after 22 minutes before Brown's equaliser just before halftime. Marek Jankulovski put the Czechs ahead just after the break with a stunning free kick before Cole's lucky strike past his Chelsea club mate, goalkeeper Petr Cech.
(Editing by Clare Lovell)
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