SO Slaven Bilic thinks our national football team lacks fighting spirit.
Well the answer is in the players hands at Wembley tonight.
They should ram the words back down his Croatian throat and start filling in visa forms for South Africa.
The World Cup beckons and Fabio Capello should thank Bilic for doing his team talk for him. England will be going to the finals and Croatia should be destined for the play-offs.
As Frank Lampard rightly observed Bilic is indulging in managerial mind games, and if he’s using the evidence of a ‘friendly’ performance against Slovenia for his allegation then more fool him.
Everyone knows that international matches involving wholesale substitutions and changes of formation are notoriously misleading and not even pulling on a shirt with three lions on the chest can act as motivation for some players.
Within touching distance of the prize of playing in the sport’s premier competition, the likes of John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Lampard and Steven Gerrard will be full of fire, so Bilic can forget his notion of spotting a weakness to exploit.
There’s also the little matter of revenge for that 3-2 defeat at the hands of the same opposition two years ago.
Capello has got most things right since he took over the reins from Steve McClaren, now of FC Twente Enschede, and latterly Sven Goran Eriksson, now of Notts County, and I think he will get it right tonight.
It’s far too early to start speculating on how we might do in South Africa, but we can take a huge stride tonight simply by guaranteeing qualification.
HOW about the England ladies? Haven't they done well!
Women's football in this country has been treated like a joke in the past.
I know one famous commentator who loved to tell everyone that if ‘girls’ started kicking a ball about in his back garden he’d close the curtains.
Well he’s not so cocky now that England has qualified for the final of the European Championships when they face Germany in Helsinki tomorrow night.
I know I’m biased because I’ve covered the last two Women’s World Cups in the United States and China, and even the Under 17s in New Zealand last year, but I can honestly say I’m not the only one astounded at the improvement in skill levels.
Franz Beckenbauer admitted to being a converted sceptic having witnessed a captivating tournament in Oceania.
Yes, there are still schoolgirl howlers by goalkeepers, and yes the pace is slower than the male equivalent, but you can still see wonderful goals scored from all distances and angles, and no the players don’t worry about messing up their hairstyles.
Women’s football is coming on apace and the players deserve to be recognised for their skills – so come on Sue and Kelly, Kate and Alex – win a trophy and let England celebrate.
I AM going to indulge myself ever so slightly here, if you don’t mind.
Since I was let out of the pram I’ve been connected with Baildon Cricket Club, as player, committee man, and for the last 29 years President.
The last time we won the Bradford League First Division title was in 1952 and I was the ‘tin boy’ in the scorebox.
There is only one player from that auspicious season still alive – George Moore – and we’d both rather like to see the club take the crown again before we pass on.
It should have happened on Sunday, but Baildon lost by one wicket to Manningham Mills on the last ball of the match.
We have a second chance on Saturday, six points against East Bierley would see us over the line, but we aren’t counting any chickens, or popping any champagne corks until we know the only other challengers Bradford & Bingley can’t catch us.
Fifty seven years is a heck of a long wait though, so I’m keeping fingers firmly crossed that the President is sipping some bubbly at Jenny Lane on Saturday night.