Cueto: It isn't fair on the fans
March 17, 2010
England winger Mark Cueto admits 'for one reason or another it is not quite happening for us' ahead of France clash © PA Photos
Mark Cueto last night sympathised with frustrated England fans and conceded Martin Johnson's men have severely under-performed during the RBS 6 Nations championship.
England head into Saturday's clash with Grand Slam-chasing France on the back of a dire performance away to Italy, a last-gasp defeat at home to Ireland and a 15-15 draw with winless Scotland.
The Sale Sharks winger understands why the red rose public are disillusioned by England's performances and constant claims of "progress".
"It isn't fair on the fans," said Cueto. "They are paying their money for the tickets, stumping up every week giving us huge support and we are not giving them a huge amount to shout about or be joyful about.
"We all want exactly the same. It is more frustrating for us doing it than it is for you guys watching it. We are trying to pull this perfect performance out, or at least improve on what we are doing but for one reason or another it is not quite happening for us."
Cueto believes the England players are struggling from information overload and he urged the team management to spend less time analysing opponents and more time working on their own weaknesses.
Asked if the squad was becoming paralysed by analysis, Cueto said: "A little bit, yes, definitely. The game has gone so professional that you spend so much time analysing what other teams are doing that you drift a little bit away from what you do yourself.
"At times it is almost worth purely concentrating on yourselves because we know that if we produce a performance like we know we can then we will be very difficult stop but at the minute it is not quite firing."
Martin Johnson will name his team for the France game at lunchtime today and he is set to ring the changes, having dropped Delon Armitage and left out the injured Ugo Monye. Ben Foden is set to take over at full-back while centre Mike Tindall and uncapped winger Chris Ashton are both pushing for places in the starting XV.
Jonny Wilkinson took a couple of heavy blows to the head against Scotland but his form has been questionable all tournament and Toby Flood is pressing hard for the fly-half jersey. Cueto insisted England can ruin France's Grand Slam party - but only by retaining their confidence and belief.
"We have lost a game, drawn a game and won two. If we beat France we will have performed, on paper, better than we did last year," he said. "We have to go there confident in what we can do. They go into the game as massive favourites, they are going for a Grand Slam and so have everything to lose. We have got nothing to lose. If anything, we can go there and almost cast the shackles off and put in a good performance. "
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton