The cap must fit for Fabio
FABIO Capello will not be handing out cheap caps during his tenure as England manager. That was the clear message from the Italian coach after watching his team win the first match of his reign against Switzerland at Wembley last night.
FABIO Capello will not be handing out cheap caps during his tenure as England manager.
That was the clear message from the Italian coach after watching his team win the first match of his reign against Switzerland at Wembley last night.
Previous England coaches have been criticised for the number players they have capped, some being brought in for just one or two matches before being discarded.
But things will be different under the highly successful Capello.
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"I believe in order to play for England you need to be a great player but you also need to play well as well," said Capello.
"Not everyone can play for their own country. At first a player needs to have the right qualities to play, then they need to be fit and in good form at that specific time.
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"I think about the substitutions according to what happens on the pitch and what I see. From that I decide who to put on or leave on the pitch.
"If people perform the way I want them too I'll keep them on the pitch. If someone is struggling I'll take them off. Players are all at the same level for me and all equal.'
This will also serve as a warning to the likes of Michael Owen and David Beckham, players in the past considered to be automatic choices for England coaches even if they were not at the top of their game.
Owen was an unused substitute against Switzerland at Wembley where Capello's reign kicked off with a 2-1 win, courtesy of goals from Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Wright-Phillips either side of an Eren Derdiyok strike.
Despite scoring 40 goals for England, Owen's return of four for Newcastle this season saw Capello start with Wayne Rooney supported by Joe Cole before bringing on Peter Crouch in the second half.
Capello's opening starting XI hinted at there being be no favourites, even if he has a player on 99 caps or England's second-highest scorer.
Beckham's lack of match-fitness allowed David Bentley to seize his opportunity to impress on the right of midfield, turning the jeers of his debut into cheers.
The criticism Bentley received for resting during the Under-21 tournament now appears a distant memory, although Stuart Pearce has recently suggested that Capello wants representing England at any level to be considered a huge honour.
Without Owen and Beckham, it was an unconvincing first 40 minutes at Wembley until Jenas tapped in a cross from Chelsea midfielder Cole.
"We were quite nervous at the start and worried obviously,' Capello said. "We probably still at the back of our minds had the failure to qualify for Euro 2008.
"Wembley always generates pressure on the players and they couldn't play as they wished at first.'
Derdiyok levelled in the 58th minute when Tranquillo Barnetta spilt the England defence with a reverse pass, but Wright-Phillips grabbed the winner four minutes later when he got on the end of Steven Gerrard's cross.
"Winning is always good and it's important for the morale of the team but we need to analyse everything in every game,' Capello added.
"I need to analyse the video of their goal.
"I've got an idea of how it happened and why but from the bench you cannot see exactly. I have a couple of ideas about the type of mistakes we made. That was probably the only defensive mistake we made all game.'
Some England fans chanted for Beckham but Capello insists they will not have a bearing on his selection.
"It doesn't influence me at all,' said the Italian. "I'm happy for them to chant David Beckham's name because he is a very good player, I know him very well.
"I'm happy they chant his name. But the things I do has nothing to do with my personal feelings. I reason about things and my decisions are borne out of my reasoning.'