Despite defeat Capello 'happy' with performance

March 26, 2008

Fabio Capello watched his England team slump to a dismal 1-0 defeat against France in the Stade de France and then announced he was 'happy' with the performance.

He also praised David Beckham, who won his 100th cap to join a club which also comprises Billy Wright, Sir Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Peter Shilton.

Beckham played from the start and true to form in a career which has had its fair share of highs and lows received a yellow card before being replaced just after the hour mark by Blackburn's David Bentley.

Capello also saw goalkeeper David James bring down Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka to allow Franck Ribery to score the game's only goal from the penalty spot.

Capello, however, insisted the performance was better than the 2-1 victory against Switzerland at Wembley last month.

He said: 'I told the players I am happy we made progress compared to Switzerland, even though we won that game.

'I'm happy I saw some very good things against a top-level team. That showed me what our worth is.'

Capello made four substitutions at half-time, John Terry being replaced by Joleon Lescott and Stewart Downing coming on for Joe Cole, Peter Crouch for Gerrard and Michael Owen for Wayne Rooney.

It was Owen's first action under Capello but he had little opportunity to demonstrate the goalscoring form he has shown recently for Newcastle.

Capello also switched formations, changing the lone striker role played by Rooney and partnering Owen and Crouch.

He said: 'I made the team play two different ways so I could see many players. My ideas are now a lot clearer.'

He also maintained that he substituted Beckham, who picked up his booking for tugging the shirt of Ribery, only so that he could take a look at Bentley against top-rated opposition.

Capello said: 'I'm very happy about David Beckham. He played like I know how he can play. I only substituted him because I wanted to see other players and I know Beckham as a player very well.'

The most pleasing aspect for Capello was the way the side refused to give in, even though they were outplayed for long periods by a French side missing several of their biggest stars, including Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Karim Benzema and Louis Saha.

He said: 'I'm happy that the team showed they didn't want to lose the game. They played right to the end. This was most positive thing considering the level of the opponent.

'Anelka and Ribery showed pace for them but I think we had more pace in the first half. We slowed down a bit though in the second half.'

Capello also revealed that his plans suffered a late hitch when Frank Lampard fell ill at the team hotel.