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Wales striker Craig Bellamy believes the strain of expectation has left England unable to perform to their potential on the international stage.
Fabio Capello's star-studded team were expected to challenge for glory at last summer's World Cup but endured a dismal campaign, finally crashing out 4-1 to a youthful Germany in the last 16.
Bellamy reckons the players were affected by the pressure of being under such intense media scrutiny and could not express themselves on the pitch as usual.
"Before the World Cup you had certain players being lined up to be knighted," Bellamy, preparing to face the Three Lions in a Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff this weekend, told the Daily Mail.
"You're going into it with the best centre-half in the world, the best centre-forward in the world.
"But tournaments don't work out like that. Germany were brilliant because they went with a group of players who were given freedom.
"England just looked - because so much was expected of them - tense, so tense.
"At the World Cup it was just too rigid. I thought they got broken in between the lines. It just didn't look right."
Bellamy does not feel it is just at showpiece tournaments that England suffer such problems, but also in lower-profile matches.
"Are England players scared? I remember Steven Gerrard, before playing Andorra, saying he didn't want to give the ball away because he was afraid of the boos," he added.
"That's Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest players in the world over the past 10 years. He felt that, so imagine that environment?
"You look at the players, they got to Champions League finals. Do the players want it? Of course they do, they don't play for England for money."
Again, I agree. Not to jump on the bandwagon, but in regards to football, I am at times a little embarrassed to be English - not because we 'fail' to win every major tournament - but because of our general attitude to football, right the way from grassroots up to the national squad. We expect to use physicality and a 'warrior' mentality to beat teams like Spain; passion can only take you so far. Freedom of expression is a no-no in England and we show an embarrassing lack of flair at the top level. I don't know the answer to our problem, and anyone who claims to is a little arrogant, but I would certainly like to see an easing of the belief that football is a 'war' and for English players right the way through the ranks enjoy football, express themselves.
Posted 10:41 22nd March 2011
I agree entirely with Craig's comments. The weight of England expectation at the last World Cup crippled the team with fear!!! And what has made matters worse is for individual players having been singled out for boos during international matches in the past for mistakes they've made has been completely detrimental to instilling confidence in your team and lead to a fear of failure. instead of supporting them. With all this negativity how on earth do you expect a team to perform to their best and for this not to transgress onto the players. How ironical in that the media at the time said "England expect", during the world cup. I wonder if this was expect to win, or rather inadvertently expected to fail!!!
Posted 10:17 22nd March 2011
i think bellamy's spot on. the media pressure along with a coach that resembles postman pat. england fell apart.
Posted 09:33 22nd March 2011
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