CAN ENGLAND WIN THE WORLD CUP?
The same scenario has been played out in numerous World Cups and European Championships since England’s success on July 30th, 1966. The domestic fixture schedule needs to be rewritten to allow the national coach to spend more time with the international squad. Furthermore, player need more rest between engagements. This might be achieved by having fewer teams in the Premier League, or a winter break in fixtures. However, few clubs would be prepared to stand the loss of income this would involve, with even fewer players accepting the necessary reductions in salary. Not surprisingly, therefore, Fabio Capello has more or less given up hope of seeing the burden on his squad eased.
The Football Association sanctioned the breakaway which led to the formation of the Premier League 10 years ago, to allow Premiership clubs to have more control over their own revenue, and the ability to be competitive in European Competition. The Premiership has been successful in this aim, attracting some of the biggest names in Europe. However, far from benefiting the development of the national side, the Premier League has hampered its progress with foreign imports. Coach Fabio Capello commented, “I’m worse off than (Italy coach Marcello) Lippi. In the Premier League only 35 percent of the players are English, while in Italy it is around 72 percent.”
There is no escaping the fact that among the leading English clubs most goals are scored or made by foreigners, the best passers are foreigners and, with the exception of Rio Ferdinand, the best defenders are foreigners. It would help England if their footballers could play less often. Since taking over the squad Fabio Capello has been pressing the point that no other European country places so many demands on its players. The intensity of the game is as greater as it has ever been. The relaxation of the offside law, for example, means players have to cover more ground at a greater pace. In general, levels of fitness in English football have never been so high. It is just unfortunate that, when the England team needs the players to be at their peak, so many of them are battered, physically and mentally, by the labours of the previous nine months.
Fabio Capello has demanded that his England squad begin to show signs of improvement ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in September. The Italian, who officially took charge of the squad in January, will return to London on Monday and is already planning for the next England friendly, which takes place at Wembley on August 20th against the Czech Republic. England should qualify comfortably from European Group 6, but surely cannot be viewed as prospective World Cup winners, given the standard of the opposition.
Fabio Capello claimed something had been lost in translation after he was quoted as telling an Italian newspaper that he planned to retire after the 2010 World Cup finals, with two years of his England contract to run, but the manager threw up further confusion by sending out conflicting messages with regard to Frank Lampard and David Beckham. Capello suggested that his preference would be for Lampard, who is wanted by Inter Milan, to stay at Chelsea “because he would have less travelling to do that way”, yet he said that Beckham, the Los Angeles Galaxy midfield player, will continue to cross eight time zones to meet up with the England squad before each match. “For as long as he is at a level to play, he will play,” Capello said in an interview.