The England squad have rejected criticism about their performances in Germany from Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
The Fifa chief used a newspaper interview to criticise performances from Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side so far in the World Cup.
Blatter told the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel: “I am happy that the play is very offensive. The only exception is England who fielded just one striker in their second round match.
“That is not the kind of offensive football you would expect from a title contender.”
England defender Gary Neville, who is expected to return to the starting line-up for Saturday’s encounter with Portugal, rejected the criticism.
“My thoughts are that I don’t listen to Sepp Blatter,” said Neville. “I’ve got a World Cup quarter-final on Saturday and so do 21 other players.
“I don’t want to listen to negative things, saying how bad we are. People can say whatever they want. Our frame of mind as footballers playing for England is to be positive. You wouldn’t expect us to be any different.”
England’s captain David Beckham rejected Blatter’s assessment.
“We feel under pressure to perform and win games, and that’s what it’s all about – winning games,” said Beckham “It’s up to us to enjoy ourselves and win football matches.”
Franz Beckenbauer, the president of the World Cup organising committee, also defended Eriksson, praising the 4-5-1 system adopted by England.
“From the England matches I have seen maybe I have a different opinion to the Fifa president,” Beckenbauer said. “They have played so far with excellent performances. In the last game they had only one striker, Wayne Rooney, who did an excellent job.
“It’s Eriksson’s style and he’s been very, very successful. They are still in the competition and have a very good chance to beat Portugal – it’s a 50-50 situation. I’ve been impressed by the English style and the way they play.”