Wed, Dec 17, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Fabio Capello slows England’s runaway optimism for Cup

AP , LONDON

England coach Fabio Capello speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on Nov. 18.

PHOTO: AFP

A year after Fabio Capello was appointed England coach, the nation’s fans have almost forgotten the shame of failing to qualify for Euro 2008, and are convinced they are going to the World Cup in South Africa and, who knows, may even see their team win it.

Not so fast, says the Italian: The job isn’t even half done yet so don’t start dreaming of a first World Cup triumph since 1966 before the team has even qualified.

“I prefer to pick the present not the future and speak of real things, not possibility,” Capello said on Monday. “Ifs don’t exist.”

The coach, who guided AC Milan, AS Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid to major titles, is ideally placed to know whether a team is capable of winning trophies. But he also wants to slow down any runaway expectations.

“I’m happy for the results. I am happy for what we did,” Capello said in reference to England’s first ever streak of winning its first four World Cup qualifying games. “We created a group mentality and a spirit and we recovered the confidence. This is the most important work that we did.”

Appointed a year ago on Sunday, Capello has turned around a team that was on its knees and now has a five-point lead over its group rivals.

“The spirit of the squad has recovered,” he said. “This is most important. Without the group, without the spirit of the squad, the confidence, it is impossible to win.”

Capello says he prefers to stay detached from the players and, halfway through the domestic season, he decided to take a vacation in South Africa, which meant missing two rounds of games in the Premier League and last week’s Champions League matches.

On his return, Capello said he caught up by watching recordings in the same way he analyzes England games.

“After the games I find these mistakes. We have to eliminate them,” he said. “We need time and we will continue to work.”

While the wave of optimism lifting the England team seems to be getting stronger, don’t expect to see Capello riding on it.

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