Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Fabio Capello to fight on as England manager after escaping the boot

Fabio Capello has been told he is still the best man to manage England.

Five days after the Three Lions suffered their humiliating World Cup exit to Germany and having kept a discreet silence since Capello told the world the Football Association would give him a decision about his future “in two weeks”, Club England chairman Sir David Richards confirmed the 64-year-old would remain in his job.

The decision at least brings some much-needed clarity to the situation, even if the feeling persists, Capello's position has been reinforced for all the wrong reasons.

With a potentially hefty compensation bill to pay should they dispense with the Italian, and viable alternatives extremely thin on the ground once Roy Hodgson agreed to succeed Rafael Benitez at Liverpool, English football's power-brokers knew that retaining Capello was an obvious move, just over four weeks after they agreed a new contract that runs until after Euro 2012.

It might not sit easily with some, including former skipper Alan Shearer, who called for Capello to be axed in the wake of that devastating 4-1 defeat in Bloemfontein, but Richards insists the right decision has been made.

“After fully discussing our performance we remain convinced that Fabio is the best man for the job,” he said.

“We are all still extremely disappointed at our performance in South Africa but he went into the World Cup with a reputation as one of world football's finest managers and we are confident Fabio will benefit from his first international tournament experience.

“Undoubtedly this will make us all stronger for the Euro 2012 campaign.”

The contract issue is bound to be raised in coming days as an example of Richards' folly, given he was one of the men who agreed to removing the break clause in Capello's contract, which could now have been activated.

However, sources within the FA have indicated the matter was not as clear-cut as Capello just being ushered out of the door for nothing, and compensation approaching £6million would still have had to be paid even if it had remained to be activated.

Nevertheless, it was a complication which, coupled with the lack of obvious alternatives if Harry Redknapp was discounted, means the correct conclusion has been reached, albeit with some caveats.

Senior figures within the FA have already suggested Capello

will be urged to introduce new blood for the Euro 2012 campaign, which starts against Bulgaria at Wembley on September 3.

New faces could be introduced for the friendly with Hungary which precedes it, on August 11, with some established men now at risk given the so-called 'golden generation' has so obviously failed to deliver and been largely ridiculed by the rivals that remained in South Africa, with Germany skipper Philip Lahm claiming the Three Lions are not regarded as a big team any longer.

Manchester City winger Adam Johnson can expect a call-up after

making Capello's provisional squad for South Africa.

The same is also true of Theo Walcott, while Arsenal team-mate Kieran Gibbs will probably be installed as back-up left-back to Ashley Cole.

A third Gunner, Jack Wilshere, is also on Capello's radar, along with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Joe Hart, who did make England's World Cup squad but was not called upon to play a game in the tournament.

There is almost certain to be a call-up too for Fulham striker Bobby Zamora, although by putting the 30-year-old forward into his list of young players, Capello merely showed just how desperate the situation is.

Still, having reached the World Cup with nine wins from 10 games, Capello has proved himself capable of steering the Three Lions through a qualifying campaign — and will be expected to do the same again.

“I am more determined than ever to succeed with the England team,” he said.

“Sir Dave Richards has called me to tell me everyone at the FA wants me to continue.

“I explained it is very important we use the disappointment as a motivation in the future.

“I can assure the fans I am now fully focused on our European qualifying fixtures, starting with the friendly against Hungary in August.

“We will look to introduce new players to give the team new energy and I will use all my experience to take England forward.

“I am extremely proud to be the England manager, it means so much to me and I am determined to succeed.”

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