Capello at a total loss over England’s mental state
The national coach admits he does not know how to improve confidence ahead of Hungary game
England coach Fabio Capello's descent from terrifying Godfather figure to buffoon in the eyes of football fans continued yesterday when the Italian admitted, in his still halting English, that he did not really know how to do his job.
When asked about the mindset of his players after their dire performances at the World Cup, Capello admitted that was at a loss about what to do.
He laid some of the blame for their dismal showing in South Africa on the players' physical condition but focused most of his press conference musings on the England team's fragile psychological makeup.
"I don't know what we have to do to improve the minds of the players," said Capello, who is paid about £4.8m a year to grapple with – and preferably solve – such issues.
England were not alone in experiencing mental issues in South Africa according to Capello, who reflected on the Brazilian team, which "played not with confidence, they played with fear" after Holland equalised in the quarter-final. "These are big players", he said.
He went on to speak about the Spanish team, whose confidence was boosted by Iker Casillas saving a penalty in the game against Paraguay, and the referee's failure to blow for a goal when Frank Lampard's shot crossed the line against Germany. If that goal had been awarded it would have changed the World Cup, said Capello.
But it wasn't awarded and England crashed out. Capello somehow avoided the sack, primarily because the FA could not find anyone suitable to replace him. However, the English press have no such concerns and their knives are still very much out for him.
Writing in the Telegraph Jim White says that Capello has "slipped in the wider mind from the unimpeachable master of all he surveys into an Italian version of Inspector Clouseau."
White twists the knife by adding: "His journey from genius to schmuck, from the world's most impregnable coach to a bloke whose most distinguishing feature is his uncanny resemblance to Postman Pat, has been conducted at breakneck pace."
Press criticism is one thing, but Capello's problems - and the players minds - may get even worse on Wednesday night when he and they can expect to run the gauntlet of a hostile Wembley crowd that will exercise its right to pass judgement on the nation's World Cup flops with its vocal chords.
That, in turn, is unlikely to produce an atmosphere conducive to an exhibition of total football against Hungary - which will only make things worse for England.
And as White's colleague at the Telegraph, Henry Winter, points out it's the players' faith in the manager that is key. "Capello can lose the terraces and the media tribunes and survive but if he loses the dressing room he's history," he writes.
Capello appeared to concur when he concluded: "The mind of the players is the engine for everything." The only problem is that he doesn't have a Scooby Doo how it works. ·
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