I think it is fair to say that England manager Fabio Capello’s honeymoon period is well and truly over. A disastrous World Cup campaign hardly did him any favours and last week’s friendly defeat by France at Wembley left some observers totally unimpressed.
None more so than Darren Burgess, fitness coach for Premier League side Liverpool. Burgess was perhaps unsurprisingly incensed that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard faces three to four weeks out with the hamstring injury suffered in the game. Apparently Gerrard was only expected to play an hour of the game but he played on until the 84th minute when he limped off injured.
Burgess complained on his Twitter (it was later removed): “Unbelievable from all associated with England and English FA with regard to SGs [Steven Gerrard’s] injury. Completely ignored agreement and past history. Completely amateurish and now we pay for their incompetence. Absolutely disgraceful.”
The following day Liverpool’s medical chief Dr Peter Brukner said: “Steven injured his hamstring. He’s been for an early assessment and it certainly looks like a significant hamstring injury.”
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson commented: “As Liverpool manager I am frustrated and disappointed to lose such an important player for such a long period of time. Anything I say – other than I am disappointed and even a little bit angry about it – would be dishonest.”
Capello’s excuse for Gerrard playing on for so long was that he needed an experienced player on the pitch as Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry had been substituted because of injury at half-time. He said he will speak with Roy Hodgson to sympathise about Gerrard but he does not intend to apologise.
“I will speak with him [Hodgson],” said Capello. “But to explain what? Afterwards he will be either happy or not happy. I know this because Steven is a really important player. But injuries can happen. We were trying to win the game, he is really important and we had a lot of injuries in midfield. That is why he stayed on the pitch.”
The fact that it was a meaningless friendly and that Liverpool are desperately trying to get their season back on track after a disastrous start seemed loss on the Italian. Gerrard has scored seven goals in 15 appearances for Liverpool this season and two in five appearances for his country.
The England game also left Sunderland boss Steve Bruce chuntering. He reckoned midfielder Jordan Henderson (20) looked “restricted” on his England debut.
Henderson was played in a holding role alongside Gareth Barry but Bruce told BBC Newcastle: “You can’t ask Jordan to just sit because you don’t get the best out of him. You’ve got to let him go and rampage around the pitch because, for me, that’s when he’s at his best. He looked a little bit restricted.”
Spare a thought for the long suffering fans of League Two outfit Gillingham who finally witnessed their team enjoy an away win for the first time since May 2009! A first half goal by Cody McDonald was enough for them to clinch three points at newly promoted Oxford. That stretch involves 35 games in all competitions and the last success was in the final League Two game of the 2008/9 campaign when they won 1-0 at Rochdale.
Mind you, things aren’t looking so good for Oxford who have now suffered five consecutive defeats and were booed off the field by their fans.
It’s obvious that some people in football still don’t realise that the country is beset by an economic crisis and the standard of living for many may well drop over the next couple of years. A VAT rise to 20 per cent comes into force on January 4 and according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Arsenal Football Club look set to pass it on to the ordinary fans which will lead to a £100 match ticket!
The Mail reports that Arsenal’s website booking page warns: “Please note that, with the VAT increase due in January 2011, our matchday ticket prices will be subject to change.”
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, told the newspaper: “A £100 ticket in the present climate is ridiculous. It is proof that football is not living in the same world as the rest of us. The game has more money going into it than ever before and it is not helping fans. Football is no longer a game that is readily accessible to all sections of the community.”
!Note – The honeymoon is over means that the early pleasant beginning (as at the start of a marriage or as here a new job) has ended. More honeymoon idioms here.