Fabio Capello is four matches in to his reign as England coach and has just one more friendly to negotiate before he gets down to the nitty gritty of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
Following the 3 – nil win away to Trinidad and Tobago last night and the 2 – 0 success at home to the USA, it’s worth taking time out to ascertain what the Italian has learnt about his new charges.
Well, in his own words, quite a lot it seems.
Speaking it Port of Spain he said: “I have learnt some players are good in training but not so good when to comes to the game.”
However, the Italian said he was impressed with the attitude shown by his squad.
“I’m happy because it’s not easy for the players to finish the season and then play away,” he added. “All the players did everything that I asked of them.”
When pressed whether he had an idea of what his starting XI would be for the World Cup qualifier against Andorra in September, Capello said factors out of his control may determine the make-up.
“I have the summer to think about my selections,” he said. “I can’t decide on the team because I don’t know which players will be fit. But the captain for the Czech Republic friendly in August will be the captain for the qualifiers.”
So what of the candidates? Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand could well be the favourites after being handed the armband in Capello’s first two games. The Liverpool midfielder led the side out against Switzerland, although some detractors maintain that was about the full extent of his leadership over the next 90 minutes while Ferdinand got the job during the 1 – 0 defeat away to France. Out of the two, Ferdinand probably came out on top.
Versus the USA, it was John Terry’s turn. Not only did the Chelsea defender do a decent job on the back of his heartbreak in Moscow but he also got on the scoresheet too. Probably good enough for a B+ mark from the boss and an extra dollop of pasta at his next pre-match meal.
In Port of Spain, on the occasion of his 102nd cap, it was David Beckham who got his chance to stake a claim. However, with so many players left at home and very much a second string side, there wasn’t much choice for Capello and was a stop gap solution. And, indeed, the debate will continue to rage on as to what part Beckham will play, if any, in those 2010 qualifiers.
As Beckham commented “I’ll always answer the call and be available for my country and captain them as well – it was a surprise but I am honoured to do so.”
Capello has probably already penciled in a skipper and is more than likely to pick a side against the Czech Republic that will go on and represent England over the next year or so. In fact, as the old gag goes, the England coach has already selected his team for the 2010 World Cup finals – it’s Brazil!