Capello gives all players equal opportunities

December 15, 2007

New England manager Fabio Capello has warned his new charges that everyone starts with a clean slate when he begins work next month.

Capello will be officially unveiled as Steve McClaren's successor on Monday after signing a four-and-a-half-year contract.

Amid a long spell of disappointing results, culminating in an embarrassing exit from the Euro 2008 qualifiers, both McClaren and his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson were accused of favouring certain individuals, with David Beckham and Frank Lampard cited as the major beneficiaries of the perceived situation.

As Beckham is the only player he can pick who he has coached at any stage of his illustrious career, Capello is effectively starting from scratch.

And his reputation as a no-nonsense coach - in the game to win trophies and titles rather than popularity contests - suggests no-one is safe if they fail to deliver what the Italian demands.

'Every player has a new start with me - they all have the chance to impress,' he said.

'I will do everything I can to make the England team successful and I expect the players and everyone involved with the team to do the same.

'Playing for your country is the biggest honour for a football player. I know, because I had that honour myself.

'I expect my players to give 100% and be professional at all times.'

In setting down required standards of behaviour, both on and off the pitch, before he has even arrived in England to take up his £6.5million-a-year post, Capello has left none of his players in any doubt negative headlines for off-field activities, which have been so commonplace in the past, will not be tolerated.

It is a welcome statement of intent from the former Juventus, AC Milan, Roma and Real Madrid coach and one his hard-line image suggests he will see through, no matter who it concerns.

However, while Capello's strong words should certainly strike an element of fear into the over-hyped England players, he is equally intent on providing with them with the freedom to express themselves.

It is an on-going subject of debate as to why a squad, seemingly so stacked with talent, should under-perform on such a regular basis.

Although Eriksson did achieve three quarter-final appearances during his time in charge, it was a conundrum the Swede ultimately could not solve, while McClaren did not even come close.

'I want a winning England team,' declared Capello.

'I want the players to play for England the way they do for their clubs.

'I want them to have confidence on the pitch. They need to have belief in themselves and not be afraid of big games.

'Football is all about winning and that is what the England team has to do.

'England is one of the great football countries and it was very disappointing that they did not qualify for the European Championships.

'We now have to work very hard to be sure we qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.'

Capello's first game in charge will be the friendly against Switzerland at Wembley on February 6.

His contract has a break clause inserted which allow both parties to terminate after the 2010 World Cup.

However, given the woeful state of the national team, it would probably be better for everyone if the £30million deal runs its course.

Capello is acutely aware of the requirement for England to start producing not just better players, but better coaches too. And he accepts a large part of his job will be to impart knowledge gained over two decades at the top of his profession to improve the fortunes of his newly-adopted country.

And, after confirming four Italians will form 80% of his backroom team, Capello has insisted there will eventually be a meaningful English presence in his coaching ranks.

'While I have brought some Italian coaches to work with me in England, I will also be working with Sir Trevor Brooking to discuss English coaches,' he said.

'It is very important to me that we have English coaches working with the team.

'I know there is a lot of expectation with the England team, but I am prepared for that.

'There was big expectancy at the clubs I have managed and I enjoy that challenge.

'I am very proud and honoured to be the England manager. It is one of the biggest jobs in world football.

'Brian Barwick and the FA have given me a great opportunity. I am very excited about the challenge, and I am already planning for the first game in February against Switzerland.'