“Fab” Capello Works Wonders with England

Cast your mind back to 22nd November 2007. Steve McClaren had just lost his job after seeing his England team lose 2-3 to Croatia at Wembley and in turn overseeing their first failed attempt at qualifying for a major tournament since 1994. Nobody knew what the future held for the Three Lion’s, and surely no-one could predict it.

Steve McClaren with the infamous umbrella

Enter Fabio Capello.

The tough Italian signed a four and a half year deal to manage England in January 2008 and the turnaround since his appointment is no coincidence. After a slow first two games, ending in a 2-1 victory over Switzerland and a 1-0 defeat to France, Capello’s influence has led the team from strength to strength. They currently sit top of Group Six having qualified with ease after winning all eight games so far.

Fabio Capello has overseen a fantastic revival of the English national team

Having easily disposed of teams like Andorra (6-0) and Kazakhstan (5-1), undoubtably the finest moments of the campaign so far have been the two stunning victories over Croatia, the team who inflicted such pain on this nation just two years ago. Capello’s men became the first ever team to resign Croatia to defeat on their home turf with a stunning 4-1 victory in Zagreb just over a year ago. It was a fantastic team display but ultimately it was the Theo Walcott show. The Arsenal youngster, a much-criticised part of Sven Goran Eriksson’s World Cup 2006 squad, really came of age that night after hitting a superb hat-trick. Wayne Rooney bagged the other goal.

364 days later and Capello masterminded another demolition of Slaven Bilic’s men. England sealed their place at next year’s tournament in South Africa with a crushing 5-1 win at Wembley. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard bagged a brace each, whilst Wayne Rooney seized upon a miskick from Croatia keeper Vedran Runje to round off the victory. It was a fitting result for a team that has witnessed such a fantastic turnaround over the last 19 months, and for the team to have got not one, but two fantastic wins over as country that has become something of a nemesis over the past few years can only be good for team spirit.

Not only has Fabio Capello turned around the results, but he has also overseen the emerge, and indeed re-emergence, of some important first team players. Two years ago could you have honestly seen Emile Heskey playing such a pivotal role for England and almost being a dead cert to be on the plane to South Africa? Somehow I don’t think so. Capello has also given players like Robert Green, Glen Johnson and Matthew Upson chances to stake their claim for a regular spot in the starting 11.

Robert Green: England’s number one?

Perhaps the biggest turnaround though in this campaign has been that in the form of Jermain Defoe. Having been consistantly overlooked by former England managers, Defoe has grabbed the chance handed to him by Capello with both hands. Up until the scoring two goals in the 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago last June, Defoe only had three England goals to his name. Under the Italian, Defoe has flourished and just over a year later, he has now scored 11 times on the international stage, a fact made even more impressive when you consider that the majority of his appearences have come from the bench.

Jermain Defoe has flourished under Capello’s guidance

So there you have it, England’s qualifying campaign in a nutshell. A very convincing march to the World Cup finals, but Capello still believes there’s more to come, saying “For now, playing in it will do, rather than winning it. But if people are asking me what my aspiration is, then it is to reach the final.”

English football is in safe hands.

One Response to ““Fab” Capello Works Wonders with England”

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