Belfast Telegraph

Capello resigned to more fixture chaos

Fabio Capello admits he would be fighting a losing battle if he tried to instigate the changes required in the domestic game to make England a major force again.

Capello is under fierce scrutiny following England's woeful performances in South Africa, which culminated in their early exit at German hands in Bloemfontein yesterday.

It is scant consolation, but as he waits to discover the verdict of Club England chairman Sir David Richards, at least Capello now knows the answer to why England so often fail to perform in major tournaments.

"I understand something which is really important and why England did not win before," he said. "When English players get to the end of the season they are really tired.

"In total, we played seven games in this period and I never saw the players that I saw in the Autumn before the heavy Christmas spell, or two months after Christmas.

"They trained well and were focused on everything but they are not the same fast players that I know."

It may be a new argument for Capello, but the sentiments have been expressed many times before.

Sir Alex Ferguson has called for a winter break so often he has become tired of not being heard.

Reducing the Premier League, axing the Carling Cup and ditching FA Cup replays have all been suggested at various times, but the many competing interests within English football have ensured it will not happen.

"Something has to change," Capello said. "There are too many games and at the end of the season it is Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday.

"You need something different, but it is impossible."

Whether a reduction in games would allow for an improvement in technique is difficult to gauge.

Clear deficiencies were in evidence in Bloemfontein as Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller pulled England apart, helping Germany to record their biggest win over England, who also suffered their heaviest tournament defeat.

Even Capello could not hide his anger at the defensive mistakes that let his side down so badly, although his annoyance at Uruguayan assistant referee Mauricio Espinosa for his failure to spot Frank Lampard's shot had bounced over the line after crashing down off the crossbar still burned deep.

Many analysts believe the issue is a smokescreen, so decisively were England outplayed at times.

But Capello does not agree.

"At 2-1 Germany played with fear, even (Germany general manager) Oliver Bierhoff said that when I saw him at the airport," Capello added.

"But I am also really angry about the defending and our positions on the pitch.

"We conceded five goals in total and three of them were avoidable."

Nevertheless, as he waits to find out whether yesterday's dismal affair will be his epitaph, Capello insists he retains the hunger to take England forward.

He has already identified a number of new players who could be introduced for the friendly with Hungary at Wembley on August 11.

They include Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, Manchester City's Adam Johnson and the more experienced Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Theo Walcott, surprisingly axed from Capello's 30-man provisional squad also got a name check, along with Michael Dawson, who went to South Africa but is still to feature in a competitive game.

Capello also mentioned two more players, one with no international experience, another with plenty.

"Bobby Zamora is not young and was injured this time but he is a player we have spoken about," said Capello.

"Another player we hope that will be fit is Owen Hargreaves. He did not play at all last season."

Capello must get some thoughts into his mind as he heads off on a short break, not knowing whether he will have a job at the start of next season or not.

He still wants it and has no fears about an autumn qualifying programme that begins with a September double-header against Bulgaria and Switzerland and also includes an October home game against Montenegro.

"Yes I have the appetite. I never stop. Ever," he said.

"We need to find our confidence again for the qualification matches but when we play from September to December, I am sure there will be no problems."

Belfast Telegraph


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