Page last updated at 01:02 GMT, Sunday, 7 September 2008 02:02 UK

'A bunch of overpaid muppets'

By Chris Mason
Europe correspondent, BBC News

England fans
England fans in the streets of Barcelona were critical of the team

"My local team Fleetwood Town could have beaten England today," says Peter Greer with a sigh.

Mr Greer, 50, has travelled to Barcelona from Lancashire with his younger brother Andy.

Like many England fans, they are both disappointed. Again.

"It's the same old story. Same team, different manager. Rubbish in the first half, two goals in the second half and still rubbish," says Andy, 40.

As they pose for a photograph they insist on smiling. They have had a good weekend in Spain - despite England's unconvincing 2-0 win against Andorra's part-timers.

"Get that grin off your face pal - we were dire," shouts a passing supporter as he spots Peter and Andy in front of the camera.

Fans subdued

If you want to measure how much better England are under new manager Fabio Capello than under his much criticised predecessor Steve McClaren, it might be worth counting the minutes it takes England's Premier League stars to score against a side rated below Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the world rankings.

Eighteen months ago in the same fixture under Mr McClaren it took 54 minutes. Tonight it took 49 minutes.

Peter and Andy Greer
The Greer brothers were among those unimpressed with the display

Not exactly a huge leap forward - as England's fans let the team know, booing them off at half time.

Forty-five minutes later England had managed to score twice - and win, but by a smaller margin than they did under Steve McClaren here, in a game that was regarded as one of the many low points of his time as manager.

As the final whistle goes, fans wander down the sweeping stairs outside the Olympic Stadium. It is a stunning ground, dug into the Catalan hills, with the aura of a Roman amphitheatre peering down on the city below.

But England's fans are subdued, walking quietly with their heads bowed and hands in their pockets.

'Can't play'

The contempt for the team is rarely even thinly disguised.

"It's really disappointing. We've travelled all this way to Barcelona to watch what we thought was a reinvigorated, better England side. It wasn't," says Jeff Hill, 41, from St Neots in Cambridgeshire.

Fabio Capello
England boss Fabio Capello was "satisfied" with the result

"England have got some of the best players in the world, but unfortunately they can't play as a team. We have followed them for years all over the world - and we are routinely disappointed."

Vernon Wheatley, 23, from Smethwick in the West Midlands, is more blunt.

"There's a lack of passion, they're not interested, there's no commitment. They're just a bunch of overpaid muppets to be honest with you."

The next stop for many of these fans is Zagreb - for England's grudge match against Croatia on Wednesday.

The recent record against the Croats is bleak. Played two, lost two, and failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

Add that to this most recent performance against Andorra, and optimism amongst the fans is pretty hard to come by.




SEE ALSO
Andorra 0-2 England
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals
'We should score at least four'
05 Sep 08 |  England

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