Montenegro manager launches astonishing attack on 'long ball' England
MONTENEGRO manager Branko Brnovic has launched an astonishing attack on England, branding them scared long-ball merchants who foolishly think they have already qualified for the World Cup.
Brnovic and Montenegro captain Mirko Vucinic turned the heat up on what was already a hugely important World Cup qualifier today in a fiery press conference in which the England team and management came under fire for their tactics and organisation.
Brnovic, whose team lead England by two points in Group H, has been riled by criticism from some Three Lions players about the patchy state of the pitch at the Podgorica City Stadium.
"I read in the press today statements from some English players about the way the pitch will look. As far as I know, (it is) the English (who) have always favoured long passes," said Brnovic, who took control of the Montenegro team in 2011.
"This supports the idea that they're more scared of this game than we are."
England's last trip to the Balkan state ended in disappointment after Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic, earning him a two-match suspension that marred England's Euro 2012 campaign.
Former England captain Alan Shearer warned today that Montenegro could resort to kicking, shoving and scratching the England striker tomorrow night but Brnovic hit back at claims his team are dirty.
"As far as I know, Rooney was the one who attacked our player last time, not vice-versa," the 45-year-old added.
"I know that our strikers (Stevan) Jovetic and Vucinic always suffer strong kicks, but they never complain.
"English legends (like Shearer) are already trying to resort to excuses for what happens tomorrow."
Next up in Brnovic's firing line was the Football Association, who are reported to have pencilled in friendlies against Germany and Argentina for November on the basis that England will win Group H ahead of Montenegro and avoid having to go through a winter play-off.
"Perhaps they organised the friendlies before the start of the qualifiers," he said.
"Perhaps after the game tomorrow they will have to cancel them.
"I would say that could be their undoing tomorrow.
"We are aware that we are playing a very strong national team.
"But we are playing in our own stadium, we have very good players and England will really have to toil to beat us."
Brnovic's words may smack of arrogance, but there is a logic as to why he is so confident of pulling off what would be the biggest result in his country's short history.
Montenegro only missed out on a place at Euro 2012 through the play-offs and in Jovetic and Vucinic, they possess two of the most deadly strikers on the continent.
The pair, who play for Fiorentina and Juventus respectively, have scored 23 goals between them and Jovetic has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal.
Montenegro held England to a 0-0 draw at Wembley in the reverse fixture and they will move five points clear if they beat Roy Hodgson's men tomorrow.
Add in to the mix the fact that England will be relying upon two defenders - Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott - who do not play regularly for their clubs, and it is easy to see why the Montenegrins are so confident about their chances of success against a team who could only draw in their last serious away trip to Poland.
Vucinic is licking his lips at the prospect of going head to head with Smalling and Lescott in the absence of defenders like John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
"I certainly do see that as a source of weakness because, if they do not play for their own clubs, I don't see why their national coach should pick them," the 29-year-old said.
"I'm sure the match would be better and more interesting if (Ferdinand or Terry) played because they are certainly among the best defenders in the world today."
Vucinic has been instrumental in guiding Juventus through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and he has scored twice in three appearances during the World Cup qualifying campaign.
The former Lecce and Roma striker, displaying the same confidence as his cocksure coach, fired one last warning shot at England when he said: "We're not scared of them at all.
"I expect to have a beautiful, wonderful atmosphere tomorrow evening.
"Our crowd will carry us on their wings as if they were a 12th player. I'm only sorry that the stadium is not larger and can't hold more people."