England goalkeeper David James has fueled speculation of mounting discontent in the team’s camp by publicly disputing manger Fabio Capello’s assertion that the squad played with fear in its 0-0 draw with Algeria.
Instead, James said Algeria had successfully employed tactics specifically designed to frustrate its opponent.
“You are usually playing matches when the opposition wants to win,” James argued. “It is very difficult when you are up against a side who seem not to want to lose.”
With criticism of Capello’s authoritarian regime mounting back home, James also made it clear he was not a fan of the Italian’s policy of not letting players know whether they are in the starting lineup until two hours before games.
The Portsmouth veteran was the beneficiary of that policy on Friday, when he was restored to the side at the expense of Robert Green, who is unlikely to feature again after the mistake that gifted the United States its equalizer in England’s first Group C match.
Despite keeping a clean sheet, though, James does not know whether he will be in goal when England faces Slovenia on Wednesday in a match it must win to be sure of reaching the knockout phase.
“I have been happy with it [Capello’s system] as a starting player and I have to accept it when I haven’t started,” James said. “Now the whole process goes on again for Wednesday. The fact I’ve played one game doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed to play the next.”
Former England boss Graham Taylor said James’s comments indicated all was not well.
“He is very articulate and he was giving us a message there, make no mistake,” Taylor said. “That was a message that all is not right in the England camp.”
Taylor said Capello had made a mistake in attempting to introduce a system of strict rules for the players on everything from the use of mobile phones to what they wear at breakfast.
“Our culture is not, rightly or wrongly, to be so disciplined that you can’t have a drink or you can’t use your mobile,” Taylor said.
“To be told you must do that, you report at this time — we need to have a smile back on the faces.
“Yes, we can criticize our players for not being able to accept this, but it is not our culture to be able to do it. As far as I’m concerned, it is about relaxation. Have yourself a drink, let’s get out and enjoy the next game.”