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Neville rules out WAG distractions

ESPN staff
May 31, 2012 « Watch TUF Finale weigh-ins live at midnight | Chartbeat test »
Gary Neville has settled into his role with England © Getty Images
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Gary Neville says there will be no repeat of the off-field distractions which he believes damaged England's World Cup campaign in 2006. And according to the England coach, players will also not be imprisoned in the style of their World Cup 2010 boot-camp in South Africa.

Krakow will be no Baden Baden, according to Neville, despite England's location in a picturesque city bringing back memories of the German spa town where Sven Goran Eriksson based his team in 2006. Baden Baden became a haven for paparazzi as WAGs walked the streets during the tournament. Indeed the acronym for 'wives and girlfriends' became popularly used during Germany 2006, and the media circus proved a distraction.

The complications of getting from Krakow to England's matches in Ukraine and concerns about supporters' safety amid worries about racism and crowd behaviour may serve to keep the numbers of hangers-on down, but Neville suggested that these are different times, and this is an England set-up with a very different approach.

"That won't happen again," Neville said. "The FA learned from the experience in 2006. The England team did. The England players did.

"That wasn't ideal for anybody. It was symptomatic of the times. Between 2002 and 2007 everyone got carried away with everything in life. It is a different world now and those mistakes won't happen again under any manager or any regime.

"The platform won't be given. We are managing it this time in a completely different way. We are here to play football. We are here to work."

The 2010 World Cup saw England sealed off from the world in Rustenberg, an approach that caused its own problems. England's players complained of boredom and isolation. One of manager Roy Hodgson's roles in Poland will be to strike a happy medium between the failing approaches of Eriksson and Fabio Capello.

This time, England's players will be allowed a certain amount of freedom, in an attempt to replicate a club culture.

"Players would not pen themselves into a countryside location between a Saturday and Tuesday game for their clubs," Neville said. "That is the big message, to have players doing what they would normally do.

"You can never replicate the home environment but in terms of being free to go for a coffee or to the shops - we should embrace it, even though it has never been done before."

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