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Fabio Capello Is Not Learning From Past Mistakes

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 10: Fabio Capello the England football manager watches inside the Ferrari garage during practice for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on September 10, 2010 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
No, you NEED to listen!

In a game like yesterday’s the result is of no consequence. England will still qualify handily for Euros, (but in all probability not go very far), and they weren’t playing their strongest side by any means. Yet, even if the penalty was awarded and it finished 1-0 to England, I don’t think a single fan would be feeling secure about England’s ability to hang with Germany and Spain in the real deal.

While the playing staff is not superb, certainly they are not as good as Spain’s, they cause themselves unnecessary problems by having undefined roles, often that change from game to game. The blame for that rests solely at the feet of the manager, who has been utterly inflexible in not fixing what is obviously broken. After the World Cup, I said that Capello should stay on, so that he can learn from his mistakes rather than getting in someone new who would doubtless have his own adjustment period. I still don’t believe that he should be sacked, but he has got to start understanding that some of his moves have failed, and need to be adjusted.

One of the main gripes during the World Cup was that England’s 4-4-2 was outdated and couldn’t hold up anymore, they needed to switch to a formation that used their players better. Germany passed all around them, and they couldn’t even break down a stubborn Algeria, the one thing that the 4-4-2 is supposed to be good at.

I’m not a huge believer of the 4-4-2, but if any side can have success with it, it’s England. ‘Arry uses it regularly and Tottenham are one of the most entertaining (and successful) sides week in week out. British players and a British style of play primarily resolves around: traditional English wingers, either inverted or not, strong presence in the box and organization in defense and on set plays. The 4-4-2 thrives on width, either from overlapping full-backs or super-fast wingers, and a target in the box to aim crosses at. In that respect Capello seemed to be learning, as his side certainly seemed to match his formation. Starting Crouch was a good move, as he could provide a target in the box for cushioned headers or knock-downs. Two out and out wingers were played, and they were inverted so they could either get to the byline or cut inside, while still leaving width due to the presence of Cashley and Glen Johnson. So fair enough that Capello starts with that formation, even against a 4-5-1.

After some time has passed however, it is unfathomable that Capello didn’t know it wasn’t working. Outnumbered 2v3 in the center of the park, the entire England plan was shot to pieces, wingers came inside to help, balls dried up into the box, Rooney came down into the midfield to get the ball, there was no target to aim at for balls into the box, it was a shambles. For all the strides teams like Sunderland and Birmingham City have made in recent years in the Premiership, to see the national teams main source of offense come from Gerrard in deep positions, hoofing long balls (albeit precise ones) to Peter Crouch, is quite frankly, embarrassing.

In situations like this in the World Cup, Capello did nothing, he waited and waited to try and make something from nothing, yet seemed surprised when it never happened. It’s only reasonable to expect him to have learned from past experiences and tried something, anything, different. Of course, he remained obstinate. Had he noticed the wingers weren’t really getting forward to the byline and tried to cajole them into it, or even switched Johnson and Young to their natural sides, could have done the trick. A move to a 4-2-3-1, moving Rooney into a position on the shoulders of the center backs, with Crouch taken off for Wilshere, would have given the opposition something completely new to adjust to.

After relatively easy victories over Switzerland and Bulgaria, many though Capello had learned his lesson, and make no mistake he’s certainly getting better. The back four and the goalkeeper now look much more confident, and some youth players are getting a look in without placing too much expectation on their shoulders. Also, this was an England team missing quite a lot of impact players, Kevin Davies shouldn’t make it anywhere near the first team in the future. But it’s not enough, at some point when things aren’t working properly, it’s because they’re broken.

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  1. fohighlights

    October 16, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Give him some more.. It will be ok soon.

    I believe that next time he will deliver a better performance.

  2. Keirh

    October 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Well IF this line in your story is true … “I don’t think a single fan would be feeling secure about England’s ability to hang with Germany and Spain in the real deal.” the English hooliga, er, fan has come a looong way, next would be to convince the press … lol …

    However, I don’t think your line is correct, as many English fans delusionally hold on to some imaginary/fantasy time when they could hang with the big boys… that hasn’t been the case since I started watching Int’l footy in ’82.

    England wake up, you’re just a tiny little island country & wouldn’t be able to compete with the big boys even if you went in cahoots with your neighbors & played under the Union Jack!!!

    Once you understand, no scratch that, once you ACCEPT that then you can better enjoy the game & the differences the other nations bring to the pitch.

    And be thankful you aren’t another tiny island country like Malta or Fiji!

  3. Fernando

    October 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    The media have made it seem that Capello is no longer a competent manager and based on their WC performance they may have a point.

    The larger issue, is that the players are not getting it done. Glen Johnson should be allowed to leave his defensive position while he has an England shirt on, he’s got to learn how to defend at some point. Capello probably isn’t loved by all the players but he shouldn’t have to be.

    If we were to sit in on the meetings we’d probably have a very good gameplan to utilize. The England manager, no matter nationality, will never be good enough. Remember when Steve McClaren had no clue? One Dutch title later, he’s having the last laugh.

  4. ish

    October 14, 2010 at 3:42 am

    formation isnt as important as people make it, the importance is that the team can play well together. The reason 442 should technically work for england is that rooney can come deep to bring the ball essentially changing it up to a 4231 when needed but allowing the wingers freedom.

    The problem maybe that having an attacking midfielder in gerrard isnt effective for england, especially as their “left winger” cuts in more often not getting into rooney’s space and compacting the attack but contributing very little to ball retention and control. I think a better option would be to have some1 like barry and carrick in the midfield. They provide a more defensive pairing that can pass the ball around and allow rooney a bit more space while hopefully giving the team more options for passing. a 442 can work fine as long as the strikers arent limited. look at how united won the CL and EPL in 08 with tevez and rooney up front, both could come deep and allow c.ron space as well.

    ideally i think england formations should be a 4231 with walcott and johnson in the more orthodox roles. With wilshere looking the shit and him being a player the in my opinion naturally plays on the right side it means rooney is freed up a bit up front.

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