CARDIFF, United Kingdom, March 26, 2011 (AFP) - Fabio Capello has insisted he is the right man to lead England to Euro 2012 despite the furore over his handling of the captaincy ahead of Saturday's qualifier with Wales.
Capello, who surprised many onlookers by opting to remain in his job following a hugely disappointing World Cup, has only one year remaining on his contract with The FA and has found shaking off the stigma of such a poor campaign in South Africa increasingly difficult.
|England's Italian manager Fabio Capello addresses a press conference at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff, Wales on March 25, 2011. AFP|
The latest self-inflicted wound came when he opted to re-instate John Terry as permanent captain but leaked his decision to the media before telling Rio Ferdinand, who had been handed the armband after Terry was punished for an off-field scandal.
The fact that Terry, always Capello’s first choice, has been forgiven despite stories that he slept with the ex-fiancee of former teammate Wayne Bridge is not a major surprise; but the Italian’s handling of the situation has added fuel to the fire of his critics and made Saturday’s match in Cardiff even more of a must-win affair.
Capello looked frustrated and irritated as he answered questions in a pre-match press conference in the Welsh capital but remained stoic when asked if he was still the right man to take England forward.
"Yes, I think so," he said. "Because if my mind’s not okay to drive this team, I go home. We played three games, we have seven points and we played some games very well. We drew with Montenegro, only this.
"I still enjoy this job, absolutely. About the captaincy, for me, the most important thing is to be focused on the games. That’s my job.
"The most important thing is not to speak about the captain. The most important thing is the result tomorrow. I decided about this. I’m here to make decisions, to take decisions. Ok?"
The only problem for Capello is he managed to make the decision in public -- and his subsequent failure even to contact Ferdinand has drawn huge criticism over his lack of communication skills.
"I tried to meet him and it didn’t happen. I waited for him in the directors’ box just before the Manchester United v Marseille game started, but it didn’t happen," he said.
"I don’t like to speak about the captaincy on the phone. I prefer to speak personally.
"Yes, it’s possible to do sometimes everything better. Maybe I made a mistake. But I told you, I prefer to speak personally. Sorry, for me, the most important thing is the game tomorrow."
Capello has a point because although some of England’s performances have been encouraging this season they current sit only second in Group G, behind Montenegro who held his side to a goalless draw at Wembley to go three points ahead with a game more played.
And that makes beating Wales hugely important if the current fiasco is not to turn into something far more serious.
"I hope, absolutely, no. We are not here to lose," said Capello, clearly aghast at the prospect of a defeat. "It would not be a good position in the table if we do this."
On the field, England appear to be in a stronger position following news that Wales’ star player Gareth Bale is injured and unable to play at the Millennium Stadium.
They also have Wayne Rooney back to some kind of form and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, a certainty to start the match, emerging as a genuine talent in midfield.
Capello has yet to decide whether to partner Wilshere with Scott Parker, Frank Lampard or Gareth Barry and also has a decision up front where Liverpool’s Andy Carroll is not yet fit enough to play 90 minutes.
Whatever happens, England know victory is crucial in their bid to reach next year's finals in Poland and Ukraine and to save their manager and their captain from any further controversy.
"I'll be very proud leading the team out," insisted new skipper Terry. "These are the things I dreamed about as a kid. To be in that position for the third time is fantastic for me. It’ll be very special for me. But let’s not get carried away - the main thing is to get the three points."