Fabio Capello’s quiet demeanor and considered words give him an aura of deep intelligence and authority, so much so it can sometimes seems he’s foreseen everything through 2010 and beyond. But this week the aura’s faded a bit under over doubts about his decision last week to call-up perma knee-knacked Tottenham defender Ledley King, and more recently, to exclude Michael Owen from consideration after Heskey and Cole left the pitch injured against Slovakia on Saturday.
While the jury’s still out on the King call-up (personally, I think Redknapp is a hypocrite), criticism of Capello’s decision to leave Owen out smacks of both tactical misunderstanding and hypocrisy. Recall only two years ago when Second Choice Steve McClaren was hung out to dry by the press for his blandly predictable England team sheets, chock full of “Golden Age” players only some of whom continued to live up to the billing.
Despite Owen’s admirable service for his country (forty goals in eighty-nine caps), selecting a Newcastle striker who played Hull and twenty minutes against Arsenal after a seven game absence in the hope that he’ll perform because it’s “England and St. George” defies common sense. Beyond that, a striker of Owen’s traditional talents—quick pace, fox in the box—doesn’t fit with midfield-heavy England. The one-touch, quick passing, fast-winger approach Capello demonstrated against Slovakia requires a big man up front to settle the ball under pressure; just look at Heskey’s opening goal. Playing Owen would force Capello to adjust his approach.
Capello himself said it best when responding to Owen’s international record: “I have to choose players to play against Ukraine, not against history.” England have been playing against history since 1966; it’s nice to have a manager able to adapt to present circumstances and not past glories.