Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Capello ready to take on the World

For Fabio Capello, the waiting is almost over, and the England coach is acutely aware that a nation expects.

Capello does have a few issues to solve yet. The issue of his 23-man squad for a start, and the remaining uncertainty over his contract situation.

But tomorrow evening he will board a plane bound for South Africa knowing when he returns, his career will have had its defining moment.

“I cannot wait for the World Cup to start,” he said. “I am focused on everything that I have to do and prepare so I hope the result will be good.

“But the whole thing is very exciting. I know that a whole nation stands behind the team and me. A whole country, with all its fans.

“The pressure is higher in England because the last title was achieved a long time ago.

“But the supporters have confidence in the team because I have it too.”

Capello could not have made it any clearer after Sunday's 2-1 win over Japan in Graz that he sees his immediate future with England.

The break clause in his four-year contract that would have allowed either party to terminate it after the World Cup was due for removal until former chairman Lord Triesman was evicted from office.

Capello talked to Club England chairman Sir David Richards on the telephone yesterday and a source close to the discussions, who did not wish to be named, said they were “very positive” with both parties now hoping to bring a close to the matter by the time the team departs for South Africa tomorrow.

It is understood that improving the terms of the contract is not on the agenda and discussions will only deal with removing the release clause inserted in Capello's contract when he was appointed England manager.

The fact that Richards and Capello spoke on the telephone rather than face-to-face has also been taken as a positive indication.

And, provided the Italian receives assurances similar to those given by Triesman, it seems Capello will ignore overtures from Inter Milan and commit himself to a further two years.

For the 63-year-old, that is the easy part.

Somewhat more tricky are the phone calls he must make this morning informing the distraught recipients they are among the seven players to be culled.

A couple of checks will be made first on the fitness of Gareth Barry and Steven Gerrard.

But providing there is no unexpected bad news on the medical front, Capello already knows the numbers he will be dialling.

Scott Parker, Stephen Warnock and Michael Dawson will surely be out, so too Tom Huddlestone and Darren Bent.

To an outsider, the main problem is whether Capello utilises the guile of Joe Cole at the expense of the pace provided by either Adam Johnson or Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Capello's previous statements on the three players indicate a belief this World Cup has come too early for Johnson, who has made rapid progress after starting the season in the Championship with Middlesbrough but may have to wait to get his chance in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Wright-Phillips did well against Japan, but not as well as Cole, so unless Capello springs a major surprise by omitting Matthew Upson, Ledley King or Michael Carrick, there is no room for the Manchester City man.

Capello has already declared the decisions he has to make to be the hardest part of his job, and he will couch the bad news in the softer wrapping of telling the not-so-magnificent seven they were only in this position because they are among England's finest talents.

Then, as is his way, Capello will move on, and probably not give the destruction he has wreaked a second thought.

His more immediate priority will be to continue the improvement he has seen from the poor first-half performance against Mexico last week, although admittedly it was not that obvious in the opening period as England found themselves trailing to Japan, ranked 45 in the world and fifth worst among the 32 in South Africa.

“Sometimes opponents expend a lot of energy against us in the first half,” Capello said by way of explaining how his side were so obviously outplayed.

“But when they are a little bit tired the quality of the England players is really high, so we play better.

“We are not so fresh at this moment but we have time to recover and we are improving.

“I am really confident, certainly more than after the Mexico game.”

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