Capello back in the England spotlight

September 4, 2008

Capello watches trainingFabio Capello’s less than spectacular start to life as England coach has been forgotten of late, as the back pages have been dominated by the petrodollars at Manchester City, the mysterious goings on at Newcastle, where Kevin Keegan has not been seen for three days, and Alan Curbishley’s sudden resignation as West Ham manager.

With World Cup qualifiers coming up against Andorra and Croatia Capello will soon have everyone’s attention again … and he is about to discover the size of the task that awaits him.

The Italian was given a tough time by England’s ruthless football writers after an unimpressive 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic last month, when most of the country’s eyes were focused on the battle for gold medals in Beijing.

Only a 10-0 victory against Andorra in Barcelona is likely to gain him plaudits in Sunday’s papers and should England suffer a third consecutive defeat by Croatia, the team that haunted their doomed attempt to qualify for Euro 2008, all hell will break loose.

The Italian has put his head squarely on the chopping block by choosing a squad without the country’s best striker, Michael Owen.

The four strikers he has selected, Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, Theo Walcott and Jermain Defoe, have managed just 24 goals between them for England. Owen has 40 on his own.

While Capello could select a bunch of park strikers to beat Andorra, not even considering Owen for the Croatia match, one that could determine the outcome of a tough but not daunting group, could come back to haunt the coach.

Sadly for England, just as the domestic game gets richer and richer, the cupboard looks increasingly bare at international level.

With Steven Gerrard injured there is a real possibility that Fulham’s Jimmy Bullard, an honest player but hardly one to set the pulse racing, could be called in to play a midfield role in Zagreb after his shock call-up.

In some ways that is a refreshing prospect.

With all the money sloshing around the Premier League, the idea that a bloke who learned the game playing non-league football in the Thames estuary can be England’s knight in shining armour restores a little faith in the beautiful game.

PHOTO: Fabio Capello attends an England training session in London Colney, August 18, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh


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I guess we’ll discover just how much of a muppet Mcclaren was. If it’s the same old story, 4-0 win over Andorra and a 3-1 defeat by Croatia, we should all forgive Steve!

Posted by lauder | Report as abusive

We’ll get a good sense for the job Capello is going to do for England in the next 12-18 months. He’s got two qualifiers in a week and needs to manage players around an already harrowing schedule, injuries and expectations. Beating Andorra has to be a given; beating Croatia, however, is even more vital. England has to get over the hump that is Croatia, no slip-ups allowed. 09/cannavaro-return-lone-shred-of-intere st.html

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Why would anyone pick Owen at the moment, he is not match fit. Let’s try the kids. They have to start sometime and need the experience to gain the confidence etc.

Posted by wendy | Report as abusive

owen is not the striker he was but we have very few options and players with his goal ratio are gold dust these days. he should at the very leat be on the bench

Posted by martyn herman | Report as abusive

On form alone there is no place for Michael Owen and Jermaine Defoe and Theo Walcott have both scored goals and are hungry and fit. Obviously past experience shows that counts for nothing as both players look out of their depth at international level. Sad to see Crouch over looked but would love your Jimmy Bullard prediction to come true. llos-england-squad-for-the-world-cup-qua lifiers/498

Posted by john | Report as abusive