Fabio Capello's England Illusion, Part Three: The Prestige

James WillisAnalyst IOctober 5, 2010

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  England Manager Fabio Capello attends the International Friendly between England U21 and Uzbekistan U21 at Ashton Gate on August 10, 2010 in Bristol, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Perfectly described in the film ‘The Prestige,‘ it is said that “making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part they call the Prestige”. 

Fabio Capello has presented the English fans with something ordinary, expected, and normal in England‘s comfortable qualifying campaign. He has made almost all trace of that teamwork, skill, and energy disappear during the 2010 World Cup campaign.

Now, he faces the hardest part—bringing it all back.

The blame cannot lie solely with Fabio Capello; the squad remained practically identical throughout qualifying and into the tournament and so arguably the blame is also theirs.

If they wanted to bring back the England team that all the fans knew existed, they would either need a complete overhaul of tactics, players, and/or coaching staff—something had to change.

The squad England took to the World Cup finals in South Africa had an average age of 28.7, making it the oldest squad there.

Straight after the tournament, the FA announced that Fabio Capello’s job was safe and that he would stay on at least until the Euro 2012 finals.

That left Capello with two options: to change the tactics or the players.

Many people were calling for a complete squad overhaul bringing in younger players from the under 21′s to replace the older players who may not even play another tournament; others were calling for Capello’s resignation so an English manager could give the job a try. The media fuss around the team continued for weeks after the tournament.

The next game England were due to play was a friendly against Hungary at Wembley Stadium in August. As the day approached, many people were eager to see who Capello would name in his squad.

When the list of names was released, there was a mixed reception; people were eager to see Jack WilshereBobby Zamora, and Kieran Gibbs playing their first game for England, as well as some playing time for other people like Darren BentAdam Johnson and Carlton Cole.

By the time match day came around Darren Bent, Ben Foster, Paul Robinson, and Wes Brown had all already pulled out for different reasons.

This left Capello with two England under 21 goalkeepers behind Joe Hart as well as less choice in attack.

When the game kicked off, many fans were disappointed to see that the starting eleven was almost identical to that in South Africa; although there had been a small change in tactics, whether it was a good change only time would tell.

In the first half of the game, England dominated but didn’t convert any of their chances; in the second half however, Capello made some changes: Gibbs, Zamora, and Michael Dawson earned their debuts and Jack Wilshere also came on to earn his later in the half.

Hungary scored first through a slight error from Michael Dawson, and although he recovered well by clearing the shot off the line, the linesman and referee thought the ball had gone in.

Despite the fans hoping to see some magic from the new young players, it was Steven Gerrard who got England back level, and then in front with two goals in the space of five minutes.

The young players however could feel proud of their debut performances. Kieran Gibbs particularly caught the eye of many of the reporting media, while Jack Wilshere, Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott, and Bobby Zamora didn’t fail to impress.

Yet, despite a strong performance from the much younger squad, there was still a hidden feeling that the result should have been better than 2-1. After all, Hungary are a side ranked much lower than England in the FIFA world rankings and they didn’t even make it to the World Cup.

The win had however eased some pressure off the coach and players to give them some much needed time to concentrate on the future.

England have a number of friendlies coming up over the next few months, as well as more important games in the Euro 2012 qualifying.

Just who Fabio Capello will pick for these games is not certain but based on the evidence from the Hungary game as well as recent qualifying games, it should be a revived and renewed squad; this is just the tip of the iceberg however, as the long term future of England still lies in the balance.

The influx of foreign players into the Premier League, the lack of respect instilled in many of the players, and the future of the England coaching staff all remain worries.

Fans can only hope that Fabio Capello uses this opportunity to bring back what many people thought he already had before the World Cup and that he helps rescue England from what could be a bleak future.


(Original Story by James Willis on www.sportshaze.com)

(Part One available here)
(Part Two available here