John Barnes exclusive: England don’t match up to World Cup favourites

John Barnes won 79 caps for England

John Barnes won 79 caps for England

ENGLAND should not expect to win the FIFA World Cup this summer, according to legend John Barnes.

Barnes, who starred in England’s memorable run to the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, insisted that while Fabio Capello’s men “have a chance”, they don’t match up to favourites Spain and Brazil.

“Sometimes expectations are a little bit irrational. We shouldn’t expect to win the World Cup, “ said the former Liverpool player.

“We can win it with a bit of luck. Say if we play Brazil and they don’t perform and we play as well as we can, then we can do it. But if England are on top form and Brazil play at their best then, hand on heart, Brazil will probably win.”

The fitness of Manchester United star Wayne Rooney will be on the forefront of many fans’ minds as England look to bring 44 years without a major trophy to an end, but Barnes insisted Capello cannot solely rely on the fitness of Rooney or any individual.

He said: “Rooney is a very important player, but so is Steven Gerrard and others. One thing we can’t do, it’s a very English thing, is to pin all our hopes on one man. That’s a dangerous thing to do and a dangerous philosophy to have.”

“You have to  say: ‘We are England. We have the players to win, injuries or not’.“

Under Capello’s stewardship, England won all but one match as they comfortably finished top of their qualifying group to put Steve McClaren’s failed Euro 2008 campaign behind them.

Barnes thinks former Real Madrid boss Capello has done a good job.

He added: “Capello’s got the team playing consistently and maximised the potential of the team. But we’ve played Brazil and lost, played France and lost and played Spain and lost – however, on another day we can beat those teams.”

Barnes is adamant that the injury to Rooney, as well as Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon and Chelsea’s Ashley Cole facing a late rush for fitness and other off-the-field matters, shouldn’t affect the team’s preparation.

He said: “Preparation is a long way away.

“We were very quick in February and March to say ‘he should be in the squad’ and ‘we should pick him’.

“When you get to the first two weeks of May, that’s when you should look at who’s performing well and who’s fit. There is nothing like a long-term injury that should distract our preparation now.”

Barnes is re-filming his famous rap from the 1990 World Cup song ‘World In Motion’, by New Order – as part of a Mars Campaign to get fans singing the team on from home.

The former England man said that the fans vocal backing is crucial, even if it is in your local Pub or living room chair.

He said: “It inspires you. It’s obvious when you’re in the stadium with the fans there, but when you read the newspapers from England or see footage from home and see the passion that even non-football fans have it really helps.”

The chocolate brand is also offering 15 fans the chance to appear in the remaking of the song, which will be filmed next Tuesday. The rap will be in a 30-second TV advert, with a full version appearing online at http://www.marsbar.co.uk/

This was published on the Daily Express official website. The link can be found by clicking here.

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