Owen blames Capello for exit
Bloemfontein - Out of favour England striker Michael Owen said on Monday he knew the side were going to lose their World Cup match against Germany as soon as he saw the team line-up.
Michael Owen (AFP)
England exited the tournament at the last 16 stage with a record World Cup finals 4-1 loss to arch-rivals Germany in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
Trailing 2-1, England had a 'goal' from midfielder Frank Lampard that went in off the underside of the bar disallowed by officials even though replays showed the ball had crossed the line.
But the injury-prone Owen, in a thinly veiled attack on England manager Fabio Capello, said he believed the game was up when the Italian stuck with the 4-4-2 formation.
"There is no-one in the world who can convince me that the German players are better than ours, but after seeing our team line-up I knew we were going to lose," Manchester United forward Owen wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
"I don't think it is down to our players so much; I just feel their formation has basically beaten ours.
"We were outplayed due to being tactically beaten.
"The days of 4-4-2 against a good team are going. I hoped the manager would revert to 4-5-1 as soon as we met stronger teams."
Owen's words were backed up by former England captain Terry Butcher, who also questioned players' commitment to representing the national side.
"We've paid Capello an awful lot of money, we've been under his stewardship for what, 18 months now, and we're still playing 4-4-2, which we were playing in the World Cup in 1982," Butcher said.
The former centre-half added: "Does it mean as much to play for your country as it did before? I don't think it does.
"They don't get paid by England, they get paid by their clubs, so you can understand the manager saying 'don't get injured, you've got a big Champions League match, a big game in the Premier League next week'."
And Alan Mullery, who won 35 caps for England between 1964 and 1971, insisted the players had to take the bulk of the blame for the team's exit, saying: "Throwing everything on the manager is very unfair, he wants the players to go out and play.
"They let the English public down and they let Capello down because none of them played to the level of ability that we know they've got."
Meanwhile injured England captain Rio Ferdinand, who had to sit out Sunday's match, was still trying to come to terms with Lampard's disallowed goal.
"If Lamps' goal had stood it would have been 2-2 and then the game would've turned on its head," the Manchester United defender told the Sun. "I'm sure we'd have gone on to win it."
Ferdinand tried to repair relations between the England team and their fans that were damaged when striker Wayne Rooney, a United team-mate, criticised supporters for booing the side after the goalless draw with Algeria.
"I understand fans' anger," Ferdinand said.
"They pay their hard-earned money to watch us all over the world so that (booing) is part and parcel of it."