http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/tm_headline=zahavi--players-only-gave-30-&method=full&objectid=18796142&siteid=89520-name_page.html 23/03/2007 THE TRUTH about the fear and loathing inside England's World Cup camp has been hidden for nine long months. But as one of Sven Goran Eriksson's most trusted advisers and a father figure to one of the central players in the England squad finally broke the conspiracy of silence to pin the blame on David Beckham, the real reasons why the former skipper had to go emerged. Pini Zahavi, super agent extraordinaire and a man with a finger in more footballing pies than a master baker, had no obvious ulterior motive in spilling the beans on the World Cup flop. As a close friend of Eriksson and also the man Rio Ferdinand trusts most in football, Zahavi would if anything have gained more by keeping his mouth shut on what he saw and heard during England's month in Baden-Baden. Yet on the eve of the Euro 2008 test in Israel that will make or break Steve McClaren's England reign, Zahavi chose to wash every last garment of the World Cup dirty linen in public and put a totally different slant on the new coach's decision to axe Beckham. According to Zahavi - and, from what he claimed last night, it might as well have come straight from Eriksson's mouth - the England camp, rather than the harmonious and focused group we were asked to believe, was instead a seething hotbed of backbiting and envy. And at the heart of it all, inevitably, was the man who was Eriksson's surrogate son, the captain and pin-up boy whose failure to produce on the pitch was something the manager was simply unable to recognise or concede. Zahavi said: "The problem was that the players who were supposed to give 200 per cent gave only maybe 30 per cent of their abilities. "That was because there was a big problem of jealousy inside the team. "It's something that nobody has talked about before. But the fact is that a lot of the players didn't like the status of David Beckham in the team. They were jealous of David Beckham. "They didn't talk about it but it was the thing that hurt the team, in Germany and generally." Zahavi can only have been mirroring what he heard from those inside the squad. For all the talk of faith and a shared conviction, it is evident that the stresses and strains were tearing the England camp apart. McClaren realised that Beckham had become a shadow of his former self, dropping ever deeper to try to find space and, by consequence, leaving the team far too stretched. The need to move forward into a Beckham-less future was a major factor in McClaren's first big decision as England boss, although it made last month's public agonising over a possible recall for the Real Madrid man even harder to understand More frustrating, nearly a year on from the summer of broken dreams, was Zahavi's suggestion that the man who could have done something about it chose not to. "If Eriksson would ever tell the whole story, and I've talked about it with him a lot, everybody would understand what was going on inside the England dressing room," said the agent, who has the ear of Roman Abramovich and is one of the game's great movers and shakers. "There were a lot of internal problems that Eriksson didn't talk about enough. A lot of the players didn't like the way Beckham was treated as a superstar. "They didn't like his status in the team and felt that he didn't deserve the status he had compared with what he was able to do on the pitch. "One of the problems with Eriksson was that he gave too much respect to just a few players. Beckham, based on his ability and performances at the time, didn't deserve to play. "But Eriksson always put him in the starting side every game. That is probably why McClaren decided to get rid of him from the squad when he took over." The Swede will not be happy at Zahavi breaking confidences in such a public manner, yet even as the agent surprisingly spoke positively about Eriksson's successor, he helped stoke up the pressure on McClaren to prove that a new leaf has been turned within the squad. "Today, under McClaren, all the players are equal before the coach and that makes a much more convincing situation," said Zahavi. With a contacts book that encompasses the great and the good of English football, Zahavi, who has at times virtually overseen Chelsea's transfers under Abramovich, said he had called upon his connections to offer tips to the Israeli coach Dror Kashtan on how to beat England. "From my experience you have to play slow and very slow against England because their players like to run," Zahavi said. "Playing slow is the only way to play against players who cannot play without running all the time. When you slow the pace England players lose their heads. Individually England have the best players in the world if you take them one by one. "Another problem is that [Steven] Gerrard and [Frank] Lampard cannot play together, that is a fact. Lampard cannot play for the England team and shoot all the time like he does at Chelsea." The Swede will not be happy at Zahavi breaking confidences in such a public manner, yet even as the agent surprisingly spoke positively about Eriksson's successor, he helped stoke up the pressure on McClaren to prove that a new leaf has been turned within the squad. "I've met him a couple of times in the last few weeks and he has prepared this game very well. He knows that England's honour is on the line here and that if England stumble in Israel it will be an earthquake in football. "If you look at the teams, man for man, England are three times better than Israel. But McClaren has made the perfect psychological preparation by building Israel up as a team. He's got the players to believe that Israel are a much better team than they are, to ensure they are focused on the game. "I have heard people say that McClaren will stay in his job even if England lose but if that happens they will drink his blood and finish him."