A little humility goes a long way for England

October 16, 2008

Wayne Rooney

England have made their best start to a World Cup qualifying campaign and Wayne Rooney thinks he’s playing at his best, so why haven’t Fabio Capello’s men been bragging about how they’re going to bring home the trophy in 2010?

What has been striking about the Capello era is a new sense of humility and realism that England players had long lacked.

Frank Lampard finally admitted last week that he and Steven Gerrard had failed to reproduce their club form when playing for England.

Rio Ferdinand said this week that the national team set-up had been like a circus until Capello’s arrival and that players had been obsessed by their celebrity lifestyles.

Under the new Italian coach, newspaper column inches now focus more on the skills of the footballers on the pitch rather than the shopping prowess of their WAGS off it.

Yes, Capello seems to have found a way to get the best out of Rooney by playing him alongside Emile Heskey and yes, he is becoming more successful at solving the how-to-play-Gerrard-and-Lampard-together conundrum.

But could it be that the main reason for England’s improvement is simply a change in attitude? Is that down to Capello or the players themselves?

Mind you, it is hard to get carried away by victories over Kazakhstan, Belarus and Andorra, which should not even come as a surprise.

The Croatia win was class but what about the defeat by France in a friendly – they may be World Cup runners-up but France’s dismal efforts at Euro 2008 and since hardly suggest they are ‘difficult opponents’.

So are we looking at the start of a bright future for England and has Capello really changed them?

PHOTO: England’s Wayne Rooney fights for the ball with Belarus’ Igor Stasevich during their World Cup 2010 qualifying match in Minsk Oct. 15. REUTERS/Vladimir Nikolsky


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I think that Capello understands that there is a very fine line separating confidence and arrogance. For too many years England believed that they could just turn up and show these johnny come lately foreigners just how to play the game. That attitude has got the England team to the point where it found itself watching the Euros at home – on the telly. Equally, the England players have suffered from a paralysis – brought about by a fear of failure – that has rendered decent players useless in an England shirt. Capello has recognised this and that would explain the fact that he entered the England dressing room following the win in Zagreb and told the players to enjoy themselves – for an hour and a half – and then to forget all about it. He’s trying to instil a winning spirit- with humility. A bit of a juggling act but he seems to know what he is doing.

Posted by Lee@GuillemBalague.com | Report as abusive

Fab makes no bones about tactical changes either. Eriksson and McClaren would hardly change anything during a match but Capello is right on to it if it’s not working. That’s a big difference I think.
Plus the core group of players are older and more mature. Rio Ferdinand sounds more like a grandad everyday and Rooney’s impetiousness has died down.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Humility goes a long way for all of us. http://www.soccershop.com

Posted by karen | Report as abusive