Behind the manager

Everyone appears to be in great spirits after England’s crucial 1-0 win against Slovenia which put them through to the knock-out stage of the World Cup, where they will face perennial foe Germany. That’s presumably because no-one has thought about the potential path to the final, which will most likely include Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the quarter finals, and either one of Spain or Brazil in the final. Easy-peasy.

But before the weekend’s terrifying second round match, let the players and fans back in the warm glow that can only come from finishing second to the United States, and missing a hatload of chances that would surely cost us against better teams than Slovenia.

‘This is what I wanted to see - the spirit and to see them fight together,’ said coach Fabio Capello. ‘We'll now go forward. Their minds are free and they can play without fear.’

‘We showed passion, fight and team spirit - we're delighted to go through,’ said Steven Gerrard, who put in one of his finest ever displays for England. ‘We've done it before when our backs have been against the wall but we need to do it all the time. We need to find consistency, especially in the knockout stages. If we perform like we did against Algeria then we won't get another chance.’ Fingers crossed, everyone who isn’t Irish, Scottish, Welsh or German (or anyone else who hates England).

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