A little humility goes a long way for England
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