It’s interesting to see that while England have (before Brazil beat Argentina) scored the most goals in the WCQ’s, they have shown their defensive errors a- plenty. Capello’s men have only managed clean sheets against Trinidad & Tobago, Andorra, Slovakia, The US and Kazakhstan- hardly teams with great attacking threat.
Although I feel that England have improved greatly under Capello, with Wayne Rooney finally hitting some clinical form, and goals looking more and more likely from the likes of Walcott and even Lennon, the Three Lions have done well. Complacency is something that Capello will not stand for, especially after McLaren and Eriksson were found out and hounded by the British media for being too “laid back” which eventually transpired into the teams’ performances. Pitiful is a word that could be used to describe the England performances of old, and is one that Fabio Capello will not stand to see.
“He is probably the first England manager I’ve played under when you know that if you don’t play well there’s a chance you’re not going to start the next game”, said Wayne Rooney speaking recently about Capello. One can only imagine the minimum effort shown in training and as we know- on the pitch when the previous two managers were in charge, with players not playing well for several games at a stretch and still getting played because of their reputation.
Even though England have an excellent qualification record thus far, with the 4-1 scalp of Croatia a worthy inclusion of any WCQ England DVD, it doesn’t matter how you get to the World Cup, it’s what you do there what counts. Capello himself will remind naysayers about his own experience at the 1974 World Cup, after unluckily going out on goal difference with a group that constituted Argentina, Poland and Haiti. Considering that the Italians were one of the favourites for the tournament and with Capello in his prime in central midfield for Real Madrid and Italy, it was a very disappointing tournament for the Azzurri and its famous central midfielder.
History states that teams that do brilliantly in qualifying will never win the tournament, only the God –like 1970 Brazil team defying that statistic.
It’s comforting and stirring to think that the England manager will want to banish his own painful memories by guiding the now seemingly restored and hungry England team to glory, and there are plenty of reasons to think that England can do it. Wayne Rooney for example, who is described by Capello as “incredible” hit the net 10 times for England last season, as opposed to the “defender like” 3 goals he managed between November 2005 and September 2008. Perhaps many thought Rooney was better suited to a winger/full back, but the emergence of a revitalised Ashley Cole under all his weighs of cash and a very good attacking full back in Glen Johnson and voila! England are looking good again on the flanks.
With Capello promising to field an experimental team that will “surprise” people, England bit players will be hoping to give a headache in picking the first X1 for the World Cup proper. Gareth Barry looks the obvious choice at holding midfield, but his recent performance against Holland was pretty diabolical; giving the ball away left right and centre. Possibly a chance for Micah Richards to show his credentials as a holding player, or simply a chance for England fans to ask the eternal question… when will Owen Hargreaves play football again?
Defence wise, Michael Turner has been in fine form for Sunderland this season, prompting manager Steve Bruce to herald him as a future England player. It’s just as well Turner is hitting form at just the right time, as Rio Ferdinand looks unfit to continue his England career for too much longer.
Defence is the best form of attack, as they say…