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Old 15th August 2010, 02:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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JAMIE CARRAGHER EXCLUSIVE: On Capello's coaching, England's shambolic World Cup exit and Liverpool's

]Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/foo...gn-owners.html

Jamie Carragher is nothing if not his own man. It is the season to denigrate Fabio Capello and all his works and Carragher, who had an insider's views of the wretched World Cup campaign but is now by his own choice an outsider again, would be just the person to reveal exactly what is wrong with the Italian.
Players, fans, the media seem to be spotting inherent flaws in the manager, to which we were all blinded until recently, so Carragher's verdict is eagerly anticipated, as he owes him little and has nothing left to lose.

'I loved him,' he says, hopelessly out of touch with the fashion. 'To be honest, he could have done anything for me and I'd have still liked him. I'm a bit like: "That's his CV", so whatever he does, we can't say that's wrong and that's right, because it's what he does. People are criticising him and some players are saying: "I didn't like this" and, "He was a bit cold towards us". Well, I think he was fine. I'd had Rafa (Benitez) for six years!'
It is a typical light moment from Carragher. The infamously aloof Benitez is no more at Liverpool and it seems that by comparison, Fabio Capello was an almost convivial soul. 'I used to watch the World Cup games with him every day, myself and Stevie [Gerrard] and a lot of the staff, and some of the other players would join us. We'd have a chat and he was fine. I liked him. He was very straight, very strong. I like that from a manager.' Yet, what of the severity of the remote training camp in Rustenburg, where the players were restricted to the confines of a luxury hotel with only the occasional golf day and safari to amuse them?
'To be honest I don't get that,' adds Carragher. 'I mean, what do you expect from a World Cup? Are you expecting the fair every afternoon? The lads were playing golf twice a week. What else is there to do? I brought all my DVDs and books. You train in the morning, you have the afternoon off. The only thing I'd say is that we probably got to the World Cup base three or four days too early. I don't know what people think other teams were doing; I enjoyed it a lot more than in Germany in 2006.
When I came back home [after England were knocked out] and read the press on Holland, saying how great it was that their families were mixing with them and that you could see the wives, I thought: "Oh my God! What *****''.
'Everyone has their own way of doing things and if you win, then you can do whatever you want because some of the things that people were getting praised for, we were getting criticised for in Germany. It all boils down to results.'

Carragher is in relaxed mood. The analysis of why England's results were so calamitous will come, but for now he is as excited about a new season as he can remember and a momentous start against Arsenal today.
'It's like going to a new school,' he says, searching to describe the anticipation of a new regime under Roy Hodgson. 'We don't change manager too often, so when it does happen, it's quite a big thing for Liverpool. It's not something I've had too often, so I think it does give you a bit of a boost, more enthusiasm.'
Not least with Fernando Torres and Gerrard recommitted to the club. 'Torres, when he's fit and firing, is the best striker in the world, and Stevie has shown he's the best player the country has. I'm not saying that on the basis of the last performance, for me it's on what he's achieved at Liverpool and England.
'I think he's the best player in the country. I'm not sure with Rio's [Ferdinand] situation, I'm not sure how he'll come back from injury, but I think Stevie could be the England captain until the Euros.'

Carragher is 32 and about to start his 14th season at Liverpool, his testimonial year. All proceeds from the match on September 4 will go to his charity, 23 Foundation, which supports youth projects in the Merseyside area. So far at Liverpool he has accumulated winners' medals for the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, the League Cup and, famously, the Champions League. Only one major club trophy eludes him.
'It's difficult when you're at Liverpool, because if you say we're not interested in the title, people say: "You play for Liverpool!" But I think, realistically, before the first game of the season, we have to try to get back in the top four.
'To go from seventh to first is a big jump; the jump for us would be to look to go from seventh to the top four. But if we make a good start and we're up there with other teams challenging for the title, then why not take it from there?
'For me, the reason for winning the League is really for the club and the supporters, because they're so desperate to win it,' he says. 'But with the takeover bid I think me and Stevie are just looking at our age and thinking: "Jesus Christ! Just hurry up!". Do you know what I mean? Just to give us half a chance.'

Quite naturally, but equally incredibly, it has been talk of sovereign wealth funds from China and Sharjah that has dominated Liverpool's pre-season rather than the arrival of Christian Poulsen or Joe Cole. And while embracing the necessary regime change, Carragher is not craving a vanity purchase by a billionaire ready to use the famous club as a prop to his ego.
'When I was a kid, Everton won the Cup in 1984 and came seventh, then won the League the next year. Now, what's the whole goal of these teams? I know Everton and Liverpool fans whose whole goal is to get the richest man in the world to own the club. It's bit like...'

Soulless? 'It's a bit like we're just hoping for a fella from Abu Dhabi or wherever to come along and spend all his money. And then people criticise if he doesn't spend. Fans want an owner to come over and give us all his money that he's built up over his life and if he doesn't do that, then he's a disgrace.'

Not that he would not welcome some investment, it's just that he see today's opponents, Arsenal, as a model rather than Manchester City and Chelsea.

'I look at them and I think that's the way. Look at some of the money that Chelsea wasted in the early years. You don't want to go down that road. 'I just think if we just got the [new] stadium and get a good few bob coming in … I can't say that I wouldn't want us to spend lots of money, but I think everyone seems to hate you then and everyone wants to beat you. I think it will be very difficult for Manchester City this year - and not because of the manager or players - but everyone will want to beat them and if they lose a couple of games the whole press will be after them.
As is clear, Carragher rarely struggles to articulate a thought so surprise that he is developing an interest in politics and the Labour leadership race. He recently made a £10,000 donation to Andy Burnham, who was born in Aintree and is MP for nearby Leigh.

'Obviously, I know him because he's local,' said Carragher. 'He's an Everton fan, that's the only problem! I got to know him through my charity, where he's been a big help. I found out he was going for the leadership and he asked for a bit of help, we gave him that bit of help, and hopefully he'll do well and take the fight to David Cameron. I voted Labour at the last election but, to be honest, I want local people to do well and it would be great if the leader of the Labour Party was from round here.'
Only once in 45 minutes of conversation does Carragher hesitate and confess his bafflement. Predictably, it is in response to the question that taxes most of English football, that of the national team's consistent failures.
'Er ... it is difficult. A lot of the time we just seemed to lack legs. Some players look absolutely shattered,' he says before moving on to a more detailed analysis of the faults of the English game.
'I just think that when we get the ball we try to score every time. Sometimes there isn't that spell of keeping the ball, just slowing the game down.
'To be honest, I watched in the first game and we got a free-kick just inside our half. John Terry knocked it long for Emile Heskey into the box and I was thinking: "You wouldn't have done that for Chelsea. You'd have passed that straight to Ashley Cole and just started playing again". Is it the fear? I don't know. I can't explain it, but that wouldn't have happened at Chelsea.
'As players, you obviously speak about this. I was sat on the bench with Michael Carrick watching the Germany game. And don't get me wrong, Germany were one of the best teams at the World Cup, but I was saying: "If Man United played them at Old Trafford you'd beat them 2-0". If Liverpool played Germany at Anfield, I think we'd beat them. Chelsea would beat them. If they were a Premier League team, they wouldn't win it.
'We talk about international football so much and I just think that so much of it is up here,' he says, pointing to his head. Carragher will not countenance the thought that England players lack technical skills. 'Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard - technically they are as good as any player in Europe.'
Tactically, though, he concedes, England are lacking. 'I think it's the brain. I think they're cleverer than us. They know not just how to keep the ball but how to slow the game down. Look at Germany in the second half, we were going gung-ho. It was still 2-1 and we're getting the better of it, and we lose another [breakaway] goal like that.

'I think a lot other countries see us coming and think we're just going to want to fight. It's the culture really. My son [James, 7] is playing now and, the first thing in England is that you want your lad to get stuck in. Whereas a Spanish kid, you want him to be skilful. I imagine them saying, "Do this, try this". Over here, you make sure you put your foot in. 'It's difficult to change. In my son's team, if the keeper's got a good kick, you've got a good chance of winning these seven-a-side games. He can kick it and it'll reach the box, so the manager would tell him to kick it rather than pass it.'
Carragher watched the brave new dawn of Capello's England on TV on Wednesday, having resumed his retirement from international football. Such is his fanaticism, he missed the moment when Wayne Rooney was booed off the pitch; substitutions were an opportunity to flick over and see a bit of Republic of Ireland-Argentina.
'I don't think Wayne helped himself with his comments [criticising fans] after the Algeria game. That would have wound people up. He apologised, but if you say something like that, it's remembered and it's going to be around for a bit, and you probably have to take it on the chin for the next couple of months.'
As for the abuse aimed at certain players, he added: 'I was never an England regular and it never really bothered me, but I think some players are tired of it. No one can enjoy that. I think a lot of England fans are from the lower leagues and that's their chance to see the big players, if you like. I think they look at it thinking: "The money they earn! Who do they think they are?" It just takes a couple of things and people let off.
'The only thing I don't like is that people talk about top players like they are film stars with all this money. People forget where you've had to come from to get there. A lot of players who were as good as us have fallen by the wayside and are playing in the lower leagues. People always say lower league players want it more than us, but it's the exact opposite.
'A lot of those players are down there because they didn't make the sacrifices we made when we were 17 or 18, maybe not going out, seeing girls, putting in work on the training pitch. I wish people could see it from that point of view.' Once again, it will not chime with the popular mood, but it is hard to dispute the logic of Jamie Carragher.

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