Capello brushes off criticism as case of 'gods and monsters'

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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello yesterday borrowed a quotation from the 1930s Boris Karloff film Bride of Frankenstein to defend his England regime when he rounded on critics who, he said, branded him a "god" one day and a "monster" the next.

It was a paraphrase of the line uttered in the film by Dr Septimus Pretorius, "To a new world of gods and monsters!" that Capello stumbled upon when he sought to defend his portrayal in certain newspapers – most notably The Sun. Laughing, Capello said: "You create the god, and you create the monster, no? You create a monster."

More accurately, The Sun recently portrayed Capello with a pair of donkey's ears and described him as a "jackass" and "gormless" in an editorialising back page that criticised the England manager for failing to select Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere. It was the surest sign yet that the country's biggest selling newspaper – which once put a turnip on Graham Taylor's head – had fallen out of love with the Italian.

But that attack and other criticisms appeared not to affect Capello yesterday as he prepared his injury-hit squad for tonight's first Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria – a game that is crucial to his future. Having taken England to the World Cup finals with nine out of 10 wins in qualifying it would have been unthinkable three months ago to imagine Capello in such a position.

However, there are strained relations at the Football Association where the manager who previously could do no wrong now finds himself under great scrutiny. Yesterday Capello gave the impression of being a man who was totally at ease with the pressure. He said he had been through much the same during his second spell as manager at both Milan and Real Madrid. On both occasions he was sacked, despite winning the title at Madrid that season.

Capello said: "The pressure is normal for the manager. I remember at Roma, Milan, Madrid, here it's the same. It's too easy to be the best when you win, but when you lose you lose everything. You have to fight. I'm a fighter. Look, I remember what you wrote about me a short time before this period [ie before the World Cup finals]. I live the same moment when you write well of me as when you write badly of me. It's my job. You have to live with the pressure.

"It's my team. We lost one game in the World Cup, against Germany, after one big mistake for the referee. I don't think you don't remember this. But after this, your opinion about me changed completely. You wrote a lot of things differently. But I live with this situation. It's no problem for me."

The England manager also referred to tonight's game at Wembley against Bulgaria as "a big game – for England, not for me". He later clarified that he meant this was a "big game" for "both" him and the team. "I'm the manager of England," he added. But it added to the impression that this was a man who refused to be bowed by expectations.

Another squad member had to leave the team hotel yesterday when Capello lost the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Scott Carson for tonight's game. Carson has suffered a family bereavement and went home. He will return on Sunday ahead of Tuesday's second qualifier against Switzerland and in the meantime will be replaced by Watford Under-21 goalkeeper Scott Loach.

Without Peter Crouch, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand due to injury, Capello said yesterday that he would play Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe in attack together. It is thought he could go with a 4-3-3/ 4-5-1 system with Theo Walcott and Rooney attacking from the right and left wings respectively and Defoe as a central striker.

Capello's captain for tonight, Steven Gerrard, came to the defence of his manager again yesterday when he said that there was no Englishman better qualified for the job. Asked what he thought about the pronouncement from FA officials that the next England manager should be English, Gerrard said, "Not just yet."

Gerrard said: "It's important that Fabio is still given a chance. For me, he's a fantastic manager. Who out there that's an English manager has the CV that Fabio Capello has got? The communication is not a problem. He talks to the players individually, and the team, and the message does come across."

Having been a staunch ally of Capello throughout the World Cup as life became increasingly difficult for the Italian, Gerrard said that it would be wrong to sack him now. "There are still good managers out there, but it'd be a knee-jerk reaction to sack a manager after one bad tournament," he added. "To then think everything will be rosy when you start with a new guy and we'll go on and win the Euros. That's crazy. It's crazy to think it's as easy as that. I wanted him to stay. I have a lot of belief in him."