England boss Fabio Capello has warned his players that those who make themselves unavailable for games without a genuine reason will be putting their international careers at risk.
This message has been sent prior to the forthcoming friendlies against the United States at Wembley on 28 May and the visit to Trinidad and Tobago on 1 June.
Capello said: “If someone doesn’t want to come and play for England, it means they don’t love the shirt enough and obviously they must prefer to go on holiday.”
Capello added: “By the time of the two games, some of the players will have been on holiday for a week already. Do I want to see commitment to England? If a player doesn’t love to play for England, then perhaps he should stay at home. Players must love the England shirt and wearing the England shirt. That is all there is to it.”
I don’t know about any other English fans out there but at first this sort of talk is absolute music to my ears. OK, the two performances we have seen from England since Don Fabio took over may not have been obviously full of passion and ‘love of the shirt’ but this is a message that I was so pleased to have heard.
I understand the arguments about whether there is a need to play relatively meaningless friendlies and I understand that players can play too many games. I also understand that the players have a duty to their clubs who pay their wages. However, what I don’t and refuse to understand is why any player would think twice about representing his Country anywhere , anytime.
Capello is absolutely right to have said what he said, but isn’t it an amazing situation we have allowed to develop if it needs to be said at all?
Let’s look at what the boss has actually said. “If someone doesn’t want to come and play for England, it means they don’t love the shirt enough and obviously they must prefer to go on holiday.”
Who is he talking about? Have we seriously reached the point whereby some of our best players would rather go on holiday than play for England?
“If a player doesn’t love to play for England, then perhaps he should stay at home.”
Too blooming right! I can’t believe that any of our players do not love to play for England. That they are not immensely proud and humbled to represent our Country?!
Along with many others I have often questioned the commitment, passion and desire shown by the England team. I have questioned why players cannot produce club form for their Country. I have questioned why players don’t sing the National Anthem before games and I have questioned whether they want to be there at all.
I haven’t really believed it when I’ve said it, because it is a ludicrous suggestion. Like most people, I would play for my Country with a broken leg if I was honored enough to be selected. Of course the players want to be there. We hear experts on the television say that it is nothing to do with passion or pride. We hear them tell us that the players would die for their Country and that they are as disappointed and upset as the fans when things go wrong.
I have chosen to believe that because I want to. I would feel horribly let down by any player who wasn’t thrilled, excited, proud and passionate about representing my Country at football.
So, after first feeling pleased about what Capello has said, I have now had a chance to think about what it means. He has met the England Squad twice now and he feels the need to make this ‘patriotic’ rallying cry. Why would he need to say it?
There are only two possibilities. Firstly, he has said it because he thinks it is what we all want to hear, or secondly, he has said it because he has detected this lack of desire within some of our players.
If it is the latter, I am totally disgusted. I just hope it is the former. England do need a rallying cry. Our performances of late have been little short of a disgrace and we need to show some pride soon.
I truly hope that if Mr. Capello has detected any lack of pride, ‘love of the shirt’, or ‘love of playing for England’, that he tells us who these individuals are and bombs that player or those players out of the squad immediately.
It is just possible that Capello has put out a rallying call to send a message to the players that they don’t need and to send a message to the fans that we want to hear. Unfortunately, the message also supports that horrible feeling about the players that I have tried to keep buried within.
I just hope I have read too much into this.
Graham Fisher writes at Views of a fan. Article originally written for Soccer News