He's Still Signor Capello, Not Yet Mister Hair

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He's Still Signor Capello, Not Yet Mister Hair
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

You can't get a leopard to change its spots. Or, if you prefer, you can take the man out of Italy but you can't take the Italian out of the man. Either way, Fabio Capello's England showed a little Mediterranean streak on Saturday.

In Milan, Rome and Naples, they call it the "minimo sforzo" (the minimum effort). And it is what teams from that country generally like to expend to qualify for competitions. If you are already home and dry, why bother over-exerting yourself?

Think back to the number of times an Italy side has gone through as best third place finisher in a competion or on goal difference or goals scored.

Heck, they once even won a game on the toss of a coin.

On Saturday, England were already booked for South Africa 2010 while the Ukraine were not. British rules would dictate that you should go out and give it your all and respect the fixture. The Italian approach, however, is a little different.

It's not to say that you don't try or don't give it a good shot. It's just that psychologically there is a piece missing from your mental jigsaw.

The motivation is not quite the same.

And, be honest, if it complicates the life of one of your group rivals, so much the better. Croatia now face a harder time in getting to the World Cup than they would have had England won.

I'm sure that was never in Don Fabio's team talk or approach to the game but, nonetheless, it was a very Italian result his team produced this weekend.

Who knows, that might even be a good thing for the English game. After all, there are worse things in the world than learning from a nation that has four World Cups to its name.

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