Capello in Gerrard row after France defeat

LONDON, Nov 18, 2010 (AFP) - England manager Fabio Capello was forced on to defensive after Steven Gerrard limped off injured as his side crashed to a 2-1 defeat against revitalised France.

Capello's management team were branded "amateurish," "incompetent" and a "disgrace" by furious Liverpool officials after Gerrard's injury capped a miserable night for England at Wembley.

Liverpool staff say Gerrard's injury -- sustained as he lunged for a tackle in the 84th minute -- should not have occurred because an agreement had been made before the match that the midfielder would only play 60 minutes.

Darren Burgess, Liverpool's head of fitness and conditioning launched a scathing attack on Capello and the Football Association about their handling of Gerrard on micro-blogging site Twitter.

"Unbelievable from all associated with England and English FA with regard to SG's injury. Completely ignored agreement and past history," Burgess ranted.

"Completely amateurish and now we pay for their incompetence. Absolutely disgraceful," he added.

Burgess's comments -- which were later removed from Twitter -- drew a defensive response from Capello, who said he had been forced to keep Gerrard on the pitch after an injury to Gareth Barry.

"We spoke with Steve and he said he would play one hour, but after Barry's injury we had some problems. That was the reason he stayed on the pitch," Capello said.

Capello also insisted England reserved the right to use Gerrard as they saw fit, saying Liverpool did not have any say over the player while he was on international duty.

"They can't decide how long a player plays with the national team. If it's possible, he'd have played an hour," Capello said.

"I understand why they're upset and I'm also upset. The problem is that, when you play this game on Wednesday after a lot of Premier League, Europa League or Champions League games, it's possible there might be an injury."

The furore was an unwelcome postscript to another disappointing night for Capello, who saw his makeshift team picked apart with ease by a France side who appear on the road to recovery after their World Cup debacle.

Cleverly worked goals in each half from Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena sealed an emphatic victory for France as England crashed to the first home defeat of Capello's two-and-a-half-year reign.

England's lone goal came from Peter Crouch on 86 minutes, the Tottenham striker scoring with his first touch after replacing Gerrard.

Injuries to first-choice players including Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe had given Capello the opportunity to blood several new faces in his starting line-up.

But if Wednesday's performance was anything to go by, England's fans have few reasons to be optimistic about the future after Capello's men were outclassed for long periods by Laurent Blanc's resurgent team.

The selection of Newcastle striker Andy Carroll had dominated the headlines in the build-up, but the 21-year-old with the chequered disciplinary record was barely involved before being substituted midway through the second half.

Sunderland's promising midfielder Jordan Henderson also struggled to find his feet throughout while Arsenal's young fullback Kieran Gibbs, deputising for Cole, was badly exposed for the second goal.

Capello struggled to put a brave face on the loss afterwards.

"France played very well in the first half, we played with a bit of fear and we missed lots of passes," Capello said.

"We played a lot of long balls to Carroll but that's not the style that we like to play. It was interesting to see these players against a strong team like France."

Capello's counterpart Blanc however could reflect on another solid display from France, rebuilding after their calamitous World Cup which saw them bundled out in the first round after a player mutiny.

"I think we won the midfield battle. It's difficult for England to attack if they don't have the ball," Blanc said.

"And that's what really pleased me tonight -- we had a lot of the ball. And not only did we keep the ball we managed to get forward in good positions to do damage when we did have the ball."

Other news