“The gesture felt desperate.”
Peter Crouch has recalled the “grim” atmosphere under Fabio Capello the last time England and Germany went head to head in a major tournament.
The campaign was marred by tensions within the camp, with captain John Terry famously conducting a press conference in which he appeared to undermine Capello’s methods. The miserable atmosphere carried over onto the pitch as England played out bore draws with USA and Algeria before labouring to a 1-0 win over Slovenia.
That was enough to see them finish second in their group and into the last 16, where old enemies Germany lay in wait. England fans won’t need to be reminded about what happened next as the Three Lions fell to a 4-1 defeat, with Frank Lampard having a seemingly legitimate goal disallowed.
“An invitation none of us could believe”.
Peter Crouch only made two substitute appearances in that tournament and ahead of tomorrow’s rematch, he has been reflecting on what he calls a “grim defeat” to England’s old rivals. In his Daily Mail column, Crouch also recalled a fairly bizarre offer put to the squad by Capello ahead of that knockout tie.
Crouch writes: “Fabio Capello, a man who had previously not allowed us to have butter or ketchup at meal time, gave an invitation that none of us could quite believe.
“‘If you want to have a beer or a glass of wine with your dinner, you can,’ Capello told us. Where had this come from? Nobody wanted him to make that offer — nobody even gave a second’s thought to taking him up on the offer. But the very fact he made it showed you how bad things were going for us at the 2010 World Cup.
“Whether Capello had just run out of ideas, I don’t know. This gesture, though, felt desperate, the kind you see an exasperated parent make to a spoilt child in the hope of getting a change in behaviour. You know, deep down, it was never going to work.
“It felt like he didn’t know what to do to improve the situation so he gave us what he thought we wanted. For someone with a big reputation like his, that whole experience jarred.”
“Things are different now”.
Crouch added: “When I look at Gareth Southgate’s squad now and see how they are relishing their opportunity to take on the Germans, it reminds me of how different things were for us in South Africa. We were a squad of which big things were expected. But we weren’t playing well and it led to an increase in tension.”
It would be hard to argue with the ex-Liverpool man about England’s squad harmony being in a much better place than it was over a decade ago in South Africa. Whether that positive atmosphere is enough to help them beat an improving Germany side tomorrow is a different matter altogether.