James backs new-look England
David James says England are far better prepared for the clash against Croatia than their last trip to Zagreb.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 08/09/08 9:37am
David James believes England are far better prepared for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Croatia than their last trip to Zagreb.
England were left playing catch-up in their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign after Croatia claimed a comfortable 2-0 win in Zagreb two years ago.
Then-coach Steve McClaren opted for a 3-5-2 formation and England put in a woeful performance, which was epitomised by a shocking blunder from Paul Robinson when he completely missed a Gary Neville back-pass to concede an own goal.
Although England laboured to a 2-0 win over Andorra in Fabio Capello's first competitive game in charge on Saturday, James feels the national team is now a different proposition under the straight-talking Italian.
"Croatia are a decent side but I am 100 per cent confident we are good enough to get something out of the game," said the England keeper.
"People go on about last time - but this isn't last time. What is different now? We have a decent organisation behind us and I am sure we will be prepared for this one.
"The manager is no frills and no fuss, he says it the way he sees it and wants it. For a player at international level, you need to know what is expected of you and there can be no ambiguity.
"He's been very clear. He's had a go at me a few times in training over things but I would much rather know that he is unhappy than walk away wondering what he is thinking. Mr Capello's straight, frank manner is superb."
Croatia also put paid to England's Euro qualification hopes in the return fixture, despite having already qualified themselves.
Slaven Bilic's men stunned the nation by pulling off a shock 3-2 win at Wembley last November and England striker Wayne Rooney has vowed to avenge that defeat.
"The players can't wait for the Croatia game after what they did to us at Wembley," he told the Daily Star. "We want to go over there and beat them.
"It was a long summer after we missed out on the Euro 2008 finals. No-one wants to miss out on the World Cup finals in 2010 so it's important we get something out of the game.
"Many people would settle for a draw but I want us to go to Zagreb and beat them.
"Before every big tournament fans expect a lot of big things from the players.
"The players desperately want to give something. We always seem to have a point to prove regarding England.
"We believe we have the players to do well in these major tournaments but we have not done so well in the past few years.
"Hopefully we can make up for that, and beating Croatia would set a huge marker for the rest of the World Cup qualifiers."