Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

What can England achieve at Euro 2012?

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Whoever takes over from Fabio Capello either as a caretaker manager or a long-term replacement faces the dauting task of living up to somewhat unrealistic hopes that England will land their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

Let’s face it, the Three Lions have entered every tournament since, bar Euro 1996 on home soil, as one of the dark horses to bring the silverware back home but never as the top contenders among a plethora of more talented if not more resourceful nations taking centre stage either in European Championships or World Cups.

The Capello experiment failed for two reasons. One, as my colleague Mitch Phillips pointed out, was his inability to warm up to the English mindset and language. The other, in my humble opinion as an outsider, is that for all his impressive achievements with Real Madrid, Milan, Juventus and Roma, the 66-year old had never coached a national team during his illustrious career and lacked a certain verve.

There is precious little margin for error in international football and even more so for those who take the unforgiving job of coaching England. Many of Capello’s predecessors found the ever so thin line between success and failure too tough to navigate, amid cries from glory-hunting fans to bring the trophy “back home” to the birthplace of the game.

Mumbling Capello never at home in England

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By Mitch Phillips

Fabio Capello arrived in London four years ago with a sparkling CV but for all his club success he departed still barely able to speak English and with his adopted country frought with division and long shots for success at Euro 2012.

It is ironic that his tenure was effectively ended by an interview given in his native Italian, when he said he disagreed completely with the FA’s decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

4-2-3-1…4-5-1…4-4-2…that’ll be four midfielders and two forwards then?

So Fabio Capello's masterstroke in revitalising Wayne Rooney and turning England from World Cup no-hopers to instant Euro 2012 favourites was....to tell the Manchester United striker to hang back a bit.

That sage advice, if most of the English press is to be believed, transformed England's formation from a prehistoric 4-4-2 to the liquid 4-5-1 that all the modern young bucks were using in South Africa.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Unlike Del Piero et al, at least Beckham may get a farewell game

Fabio Capello's impromptu announcement that David Beckham was too old to play for England has divided opinion across the blogosphere.

Some have said it was typical of Capello's hard-nosed, no-nonsense style. Why should he have informed the 35-year-old? Why should he have made the announcement in a more official way? As coach he has the right to do as he wants and Beckham should have had the know-how to quit the international scene long ago.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England defence crumble in German masterclass

SOCCER-WORLD/

England coach Fabio Capello would do well to take a transcript copy of Germany coach Joachim Loew’s post-match press conference – because in it he would find all the simple reasons why his side were trounced 4-1 and sent packing from the World Cup on Sunday.

In it, Loew rather clinically explained to the international press sat before him that his side were instructed to target John Terry, pull him out of position and pretty much walk into the huge gaps created in England’s snail-paced central rearguard.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

If England’s footballers were matchplay golfers

SOCCER-WORLD/It's a strokeplay knockout golf tournament -- let's call it the World Cup of golf -- and an English player is on the tee box of the 18th hole needing a birdie four to advance.

After struggling earlier in his round he has fought back to be level with his opponent but the best finisher will play Paul Lawrie and then Tony Jacklin in the next two rounds while the loser will take on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Who will rise to the occasion and become a worthy replacement for Beckham?

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SOCCER-ITALY/BECKHAMFabio Capello has plenty of options for the right midfield slot, even if David Beckham’s snapped Achilles rules him out of the World Cup.

Between Shaun Wright-Phillips, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon (if fit) and James Milner there is a wealth of talent at the Italian’s disposal.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England sail through, but how are their World Cup chances?

So, once again, England qualify in style. The garages can start stocking up on plastic flags of St George, the breweries can breathe a sigh of relief and the tabloids can start their gradual shift from cautious support to the crescendo of expectation that will accompany Fabio Capello and his squad to South Africa next year.

But is there any evidence that "this time, more than any other time, they'll do it right"?

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