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'WAG' culture turned England into circus, Ferdinand says

Rio Ferdinand Rio Gavin Ferdinand (born November 7, 1978 in Peckham, London) is an English footballer of mixed St Lucian and Anglo-Irish descent. He plays at centre-back for Manchester United in the FA Premier League and at the international level for the England national football team.  has described the 'WAG' culture that surrounded England in the days before Fabio Capello Fabio Capello (born June 18, 1946 in San Canzian d'Isonzo, Gorizia) is an Italian football manager and former professional player who most recently coached Real Madrid.  took charge, as a "circus" and admitted it was central to the squad's recent failures.

In a remarkably frank interview ahead of a World Cup qualifier with Belarus on Wednesday, the Manchester United defender savaged the celebrity bubble which peaked during the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

During the tournament, the wives and girlfriends -- known as WAGs -- of the England squad generated as many headlines as the players themselves.

Underlining the fundamental changes that have been instituted by Capello, England's stand-in captain also hit out at the Italian's predecessor, Steve McClaren For the ice hockey player, see .
Stephen "Steve" McClaren (born 3 May 1961) is an English former professional footballer and the current manager of the England national football team, having succeeded Sven-Göran Eriksson on 1 August2006.
, and his apparent desire to be best mates with "Wazza" (Wayne Rooney Wayne Mark Rooney (born 24 October 1985 in Liverpool) is an English footballer who currently plays for the English Premier League club Manchester United and the England national team. ) and "Stevie G" (Steven Gerrard Steven George Gerrard MBE (IPA: ['stiːvn 'dʒɛɹɑːd]) (born 30 May, 1980, Whiston, Merseyside) is an English football player. He is the captain of Liverpool, where he wears the number 8 shirt. ).

"In the past we became a bit of a circus, if I'm honest, in terms of the whole WAG situation," Ferdinand admitted.

"It seems like there was a big show around the whole England squad. It was like watching theatre unfolding and football almost became a secondary element to the main event.

"People were worrying more about what people were wearing and where they were going, rather than the England football team. That then transposed trans·pose  
v. trans·posed, trans·pos·ing, trans·pos·es
1. To reverse or transfer the order or place of; interchange.

 itself into the team.

"This regime in contrast is very water-tight. It feels as if we're going in the right direction.

"I don't want to speak too soon, but you can see we're at the start of something and, hopefully, there'll be bigger rewards than what we've had in the past. Everyone's very focused and attuned at·tune  
tr.v. at·tuned, at·tun·ing, at·tunes
1. To bring into a harmonious or responsive relationship: an industry that is not attuned to market demands.

 to what we want to achieve."

Ferdinand's comments amount to the breaking of a taboo.

Until he spoke out, England's players had unanimously maintained that the media circus media circus nexcesivo despliegue informativo

media circus n (= event) → battage m médiatique (= group of journalists); cortège m
 surrounding the team at Germany 2006 and subsequently had played no part in their failure to live up to the high expectations vested in what was once termed a "golden generation" of English players.

"I didn't realise it at the time," admitted Ferdinand. "You were caught up in the bubble -- we were in the bubble ourselves.

"I'm talking with hindsight. But being somewhere like Baden Baden (England's base in Germany), walking around the town, there were paparazzi pa·pa·raz·zo  
n. pl. pa·pa·raz·zi
A freelance photographer who doggedly pursues celebrities to take candid pictures for sale to magazines and newspapers.
 everywhere and we were in amongst the press as well - and our families were there too. When you step back and look back at that, you think like it was a circus."

With England on track to reach the 2010 finals after missing out on Euro 2008 under McClaren, Ferdinand is confident there will be no mass influx of WAGS into South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa.  in two years' time.

"I'm not going to tell the other players what you should or should not do. But, I just think that, as a squad, we were a bit too open in 2006, going out in and around Baden Baden, and probably had too much contact with families.

"Some players may think they'd rather have that contact but I think you're in a tournament -- and you don't get many tournaments in your career. To give yourself the best chance, you have to be focused."

With that in mind, Ferdinand was delighted when iron-fisted Capello arrived as England manager and produced a list of rules as long as Peter Crouch's right leg.

"When the new manager arrived I just think that it was very much: 'I'm the boss and this is what is happening.' The lads appreciate that and have warmed to that because that's what happens at their clubs.

"This new regime is a very, very professional regime. It is very result-orientated. You see how he is on the training ground, in our meetings, that there's a winning mentality there.

"He has a new way of doing things. He isn't shy of telling you what you're doing wrong. That's a big step in the right direction for this team, and that's maybe what we've needed in the past.

"This squad is in a different frame of mind to the ones I've been in for a while. We've got a very business-like state of mind."

Central to that, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Ferdinand, is the distance between the players and Capello.

"Do you really know any managers?" he asked. "I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
 the real Fergie. When he comes to football, he's probably a totally different person to when he's at home with his wife and grandchildren," Ferdinand said, referring to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"That doesn't matter. They're not here to be buddies, talk about old times or be great friends. They're here to win football matches."
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Oct 15, 2008
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