Lampard: Crisis, what crisis?

RUSTENBURG - England denied talk of a mutiny in the ranks on Monday when Frank Lampard, the squad's most articulate spokesman, told reporters that there was no plot to loosen the iron grip of coach Fabio Capello.

Midfielder and vice-captain Lampard, 31, said there had been no clear-the-air crisis talks between players and the manager which former captain John Terry had indicated would take place on Sunday evening.

Instead, he said, the squad held a routine meeting to review their performance in last Friday's dismal 0-0 draw against Algeria, their second disappointing Group C outing at the finals. In their first, they drew 1-1 with the United States.

GEAR: Get your Lampard England shirt

England must now beat group leaders Slovenia in their final game in Port Elizabeth to be certain of qualifying for the second round.

Lampard rejected reports of a crisis, schisms in the camp or a no-holds-barred discussion on changes required to turn a pallid under-achieving team into winners.

"It was nothing like that, nothing like the way it has been reported back home," said Lampard, adding he was "baffled" by suggestions that a rebellious "gang of nine" had plotted to overhaul the team's shape and tactics.

"First and foremost, I don't think anybody likes to give too much away about meetings - they are an in-house thing and they should stay like that to a certain extent," said Lampard.

"Really, the manager spoke, himself, and we watched Algeria game. It was a poor performance and we all knew that and the manager addressed that game. From what I've heard, the reports back home have been completely overdone."

TERRY "MISUNDERSTOOD"

Twenty-four hours after former captain and central defender John Terry had said the squad was going to clear the air with Capello and discuss changes, Lampard, sitting in the same place, suggested his friend and Chelsea captain had been misunderstood.

Terry told reporters that nine players met in Cape Town last Friday evening to examine the side's failings and, saying he represented the players and the team, said it was time to air truths that might upset the manager.

But Lampard said Terry had only been talking with his usual passion, more heart than head.

"That is John for you, he is a passionate man and a passionate player, but it was just an ordinary meeting. We have three or four of them each week to look at different things and, no, it was not heated at all," he said.

Lampard denied the squad was split into factions divided by those who supported Capello's strict regime and rigid tactics and those who wanted more freedom on and off the field.

He also said the nine players, him included, who got together for a chat after the Algeria game were not rebels.

"I don't think I am a rebel," he said. "Far from it. It was just a few of the lads sitting there and talking about the game. It's always the same thing with football - and I've been here many a time, whatever the manager, with Chelsea and England.

"There are up and down moments and, in the world we live in now, there are people trying to find different factions, people going against each other, but the truth is that is not the case."

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