In Brief

Capello Index could makeFabio a hostage to fortune

England boss unveils player ranking system on eve of World Cup squad announcement

Fabio Capello

England manager Fabio Capello could have scored a rare own goal and handed his critics the perfect weapon should his side under-perform in South Africa - by launching a player rating index on the eve of the announcement of his provisional World Cup squad. His venture, called the Capello Index, will be used to analyse players' performances during the World Cup and in the Premier League next season, and the verdict on each player will be made public within two hours of the game ending.

The software was trialled in April and tracked the performances of half-a-dozen Premier League teams, as well as some in Spain and Italy. It was officially launched on Monday.

The first statistics could make uncomfortable reading for Capello on the day he names a provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup. According to last month's tests the best English central defenders are Ledley King, Michael Dawson and Sol Campbell, who all scored more highly than John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. No more than one of the three is expected to get an England call.

The ageing Gary Neville and the retired Paul Scholes both feature among the top seven English players in the league. Joe Cole, who only has an outside chance of making it to South Africa also ranked highly.

On the plus side, the likes of Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard performed well.

Capello defended the venture saying: "It's not only about money, my interest is in football." He also claimed it would be "good for the fans". But it will also give the media and his critics plenty of ammunition should any of his World Cup selections fail to pay off.

Amid the hysteria that engulfs the country during international tournaments, the index could be used as a stick to beat the Italian and may even make him a hostage to fortune.

Capello set up the project with business partner Chicco Merighi, the founder of online gambling company Goalventures, and his choice of backer does not appear to have gone down well with Capello's employers - the Football Association. It has been reported that the FA is to review the England manager's involvement in the venture.

EDITOR'S NOTE: After this article was published Fabio Capello announced that he would delay the launch of the Capello Index until after the World Cup.

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