Best and worst from the week­end . . .

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - World Cup -

UN­DER-PER­FORM­ING play­ers, baf­fling se­lec­tions, even more mind-bog­gling sub­sti­tu­tions and some wor­ry­ing state­ments from a man­ager fast los­ing his Mi­das touch.

An ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment of Eng­land’s World Cup ad­ven­ture so far. Hardly a recipe for suc­cess, is it? More like a ticket to an early exit.

We are not ex­actly alone in fluff­ing our lines, but aside from the fee­ble French, no other coun­try has looked quite so badly out of sorts.

A lack of courage and a lack of de­sire were abun­dantly clear on Fri­day night in a cru­cial World Cup clash that could have been con­fused for a pre-sea­son friendly.

And so was a lack of class. No won­der Al­ge­ria’s play­ers looked gut­ted at full-time, they missed a chance for vic­tory.

Our multi-mil­lion pound foot­ballers were sud­denly in­ca­pable of ex­e­cut­ing a sim­ple pass or trap­ping the ball. What my­self and the mil­lions of other arm­chair fans want to know is, why?

Can Capello be right - is fear re­ally a fac­tor in Eng­land’s strug­gles?

He claimed in the af­ter­math of the Al­ge­ria shocker that his play­ers are un­able to cope with ‘the pres­sure of the World Cup’.

He reck­ons they look like world beat­ers on the train­ing ground. But send them into bat­tle and they hide.

Ba­si­cally they bot­tle it and he can’t work out why.

Well Fabio bet­ter find a quick fix, be­cause come 3pm on Wed­nes­day the pres­sure and ex­pec­ta­tion will be greater than ever be­fore.

Eng­land have one chance to put it right, an hour-and-a-half against Slove­nia to avoid last­ing em­bar­rass­ment.

THE fall­out is be­com­ing far more in­ter­est­ing than the foot­ball.

No sooner has our na­tional numb­skull Wayne Rooney had a pop at Eng­land fans for dar­ing to boo him and his bungling team-mates than it emerges all hell has bro­ken loose in the South African soap opera that is the French squad.

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has been sent home (or spared fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment, depend­ing on which way you look at it) af­ter al­legedly let­ting rip at their clue­less coach Ray­mond Domenech.

Anelka ap­par­ently didn’t take too kindly to be­ing sub­sti­tuted at half­time in the Frog­gies’ de­feat against Mex­ico on Thurs­day night.

A heated row and a loose-lipped leak later and the finer de­tails of their slang­ing match are in the pub­lic do­main.

Anelka is off to the air­port while cap­tain Pa­trice Evra is busy track­ing down the ‘traitor’ re­spon­si­ble for tip­ping off the press. But that’s not the end of it.

The French yes­ter­day re­fused to train in a show of sup­port for axed Anelka while their team di­rec­tor Jean-Louis Valentin quit his post claim­ing he was ashamed of the play­ers.

Price­less. Judg­ing by the stan­dard of the two French per­for­mances so far, Anelka will prob­a­bly beat his team-mates home by about three days.

Sug­gest­ing him as a de­cent out­side bet to be top-scorer (66-1 each-way) wasn’t one of my bet­ter bet­ting mo­ments, but I had no idea that France were re­ally this bad.

I know they needed the ‘Hand of Henry’ to beat Sean St Ledger and his pals to qual­ify, but I felt sure their big play­ers would shine on the big stage.

In­stead their big-time Char­lie’s have been a big em­bar­rass­ment. They now have to over­come atro­cious hosts South Africa in their fi­nal group game to­mor­row and hope that at the same time Mex­ico and Uruguay don’t draw.

It’s dif­fi­cult to have any faith in the French ful­fill­ing their half of the bar­gain, let alone wor­ry­ing about what hap­pens else­where.

They look like be­ing the most no­table ca­su­al­ties in the open­ing stage – un­less Eng­land turn in an­other stinker.

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