England's World Cup campaign began to unravel last night after the worst performance of Fabio Capello's two-and-a-half-year tenure was followed by Wayne Rooney verbally abusing the nation's travelling fans and a supporter bursting into the dressing room to confront David Beckham.
The Football Association has demanded a Fifa investigation into how the fan, wearing an England shirt, forced his way past stadium security to launch an abusive attack and potentially put them at risk. Beckham escorted the fan out. Princes William and Harry were near the dressing room, where they met the players after the game, adding to the seriousness of the security breach.
But nothing should detract from the dire display against Algeria, a side ranked 64 places below England, or Rooney's abuse – delivered via a television camera and prompted by the boos directed at the England players at half time and full time.
"Nice to see your own fans booing you. If that's what loyal support is... for fuck's sake," said Rooney, who marched out of the stadium without commenting but who is likely to be told by Capello to apologise for his outburst, and may be fined. Capello also dispatched Shaun Wright-Phillips back on to the field at the end of the game to haul Rooney away from his protestations to the Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov.
Jermain Defoe said he understood Rooney's outburst, which means England will most likely exit the World Cup at the group stage for the first time since 1954 if they fail to beat Slovenia on Wednesday in Port Elizabeth, on a pitch of dubious quality which was cutting up yesterday. "We are trying our best out there," he said. "You are running and you are throwing yourself at every ball and you are trying to keep going." Peter Crouch expressed a greater understanding of fans' frustrations. "We know they've made a big effort to be here," he said.
Capello was left unable to explain England's performance and suggested the pressure of the tournament is turning them into a side previously unknown to him. "I think the pressure of the World Cup does not help, probably," Capello said. "These players train very well, at a fast speed, but in these two games it was not the same team that I know. We missed a lot of balls when we had to control. We missed a lot of passes, and also when we arrived close to the box, sometimes with a possibility to shoot at goal, we decided to pass instead. We missed everything. I didn't see the spirit of the team in this game."
Neither could Capello explain Rooney's performance or behaviour. "I don't know," he said. "I don't like to speak about one player, the performance of one player. I prefer to speak about the performance of the team. Rooney didn't play like Rooney, but it's not just his problem."
Asked why he believed England could change by Wednesday's 4pm kick off, Capello said: "I hope that [on] Wednesday, [I will] see the England team. This is not the England that I know. I remember when I started to be England manager, I saw the same things when we played at Wembley.
"I hope, when we play the next game, we forget this performance and we forget to play with fear and without confidence. It's incredible, the mistakes of the players. When they can't control the ball, or miss easy passes. We missed everything. This is incredible given the level of the England players. Normally it is the pressure that is so big, the performance of the players was not so good as I know."
Capello deflected the question of whether he would resign from his £5m-a-year job if England failed to reach the knock-out stage. "It's too early to speak about this. You have to wait," he said.
He also batted away suggestions, levelled by the former England manager Graham Taylor, that "the proper preparatory work" was not being done and "the body language" is wrong. "I don't understand what Mr Taylor says. "I don't understand."
Captain Steven Gerrard declared: "I'm not happy with performance. I need more. We weren't good enough in the final third to get the breakthrough."
Of the dressing room break-in, FA director of communications Adrian Bevington said: "It is unacceptable. Thankfully there was no serious harm done. We have complained strongly to Fifa."
Man for Man: England
Collective gasp around Green Point whenever the ball went near him, but not a shot to save: 6/10
One of the better ones but pretty much summed up the paralysis and lack of ambition: 7
Not his usual compsed self and booking for foul ensures he will miss England's final group game: 5
Received a painful bang in the mouth but looked more competent than any other England defender: 6
Foued Kadir was given far too much space and Cole was left to to fend off attacks that came his way: 6
Can be devastating winger but could not stick to flanks and kept cutting inside to no great purpose: 5
One of England's few world-class players but failed to connect with Gerrard and Rooney: 5
Quite simply not fit. Awareness and distribution were nowhere near levels he is capable of: 4
Surrendered possession wantonly and seemed unable to raise himself or his team: 4
Looked a shadow of the player he can be. But for his reputation he would have been substituted: 4
Does not score goals which, for an international centre-forward, is a serious defect: 6
Substitutes: Shaun Wright-Phillips (for Lennon 63) 5; Jermain Defoe (for Heskey 74); Peter Crouch (for Barry 84).Reuse content