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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

James hopes clean sheets will catch Capello's eye

Portsmouth goalkeeper David James is hoping his clean-sheet defiance of Arsenal will catch the attention of new England manager Fabio Capello.

At 37, the former Liverpool shot-stopper is the most elderly option available to Steve McClaren's successor.

But James, who helped Pompey to a point from a Fratton Park stalemate on Wednesday night, was aware of an important precedent.

He said: 'Hopefully Fabio Capello will do well for England. He is Italian - and didn't Italy win the World Cup with a 40-year-old goalkeeper, Dino Zoff?

'I always want to be involved with England and wouldn't retire from it. If the new manager fancies it then it would be nice to be in the frame.'

James made it clear he found life under McClaren extremely frustrating as he would be included in squads but hardly ever allowed to play.

The former Middlesbrough boss was sacked as soon as England's failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals was confirmed and James was not too sad to see him go.

He said: 'It was very frustrating for me under Mr McClaren because I played half a game. I wasn't unhappy with my form for my club and wasn't training badly for England so there wasn't an obvious reason for not being involved.'

McClaren's most memorable snubbing of James was his decision to jettison previous first-choice Paul Robinson for the crucial qualifier with Croatia and then hand the gloves to the untried Scott Carson, who produced a nervous, error-strewn performance in the 3-2 defeat that doomed the national team.

James said: 'I didn't have a problem with Scotty playing against Croatia but the way things panned out I had to ask why things happened like they did for me. All I got was a handshake and a cheese roll.'

England were far better under Sven-Goran Eriksson, James insisted.

He said: 'He wasn't the most talkative guy and looked a bit like Mr Burns from the Simpsons but he was fantastic. Straight, honest and organised.

'When we beat Argentina 1-0 at the 2002 World Cup it felt like England had landed on the moon, it was such an achievement.

'We lost to Brazil in the quarter-finals but it was only one game where we failed. It was the same against Portugal in 2006.

'In our last campaign we failed in a series of games. When you lose one qualifier here and stumble there, then it's more than just a one-off thing.'

James had few saves to make as the Gunners failed to conjure up the victory that would take them back to the Barclays Premier League summit, which now sees Manchester United as the leaders.

His clean sheet meant Arsenal had been stopped from scoring in the league for the first time since the final day of last season, when James defied them again in another 0-0 draw. His latest was also his eighth shut-out of the season.

William Gallas and Tomas Rosicky failed to convert late chances to win the game for the Gunners, with James having pulled off a spectacular save to prevent a Rosicky curler from finding the top corner.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has now turned his attention to Saturday's Merseyside clash with David Moyes' in-form Everton side, was critical of Portsmouth's tactics, which he labelled as far too defensive for a side that was playing in front of its own supporters.

He complained: 'Portsmouth didn't play at all in the second half. They didn't come out at all, they just defended. It was surprising to see them just making the numbers with 10 at the back.'

But Pompey boss Harry Redknapp made no excuses and was quick to put his side's point in a historical context.

He said: 'Let's see how many other teams take points off Arsenal. I'm sure 'Moyesey' would be happy to take a point off them on Saturday, even with how they're playing.

'Five years ago, when I first came here, we were playing Rotherham and Grimsby. Remember? I do. And when was the last time Arsenal played any of them? About 80 years ago.'