Capello defends tactics against critical attack by scornful Redknapp

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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp had certainly seen enough. The Portsmouth manager last night attacked Fabio Capello's England tactics, accusing the Italian of "killing" Steven Gerrard and overseeing "one of the worst performances I have seen" from the national team. "The second half was diabolical," Redknapp, who was working as a television summariser, said. "They didn't play like the same players who perform week in week out in the Premier League. What are we doing to them?"

Redknapp singled out Capello's use of Gerrard, criticising the tactic of playing the Liverpool captain on the left. "We have one of the finest midfielders in Steven Gerrard. He plays for Liverpool and he is like Roy of the Rovers. He shoots, he scores, he tackles. He is not a left midfielder. It is unbelievable. He has to be in the centre. We are killing Gerrard."

Capello bridled at Redknapp's claims, insisting he deployed a 4-3-2-1 formation with Gerrard given licence to roam "between the lines". If that was the case then it didn't work.

Indeed much of the visual evidence ran contrary to what Capello said. He doggedly insisted England would be "ready" come the World Cup qualification campaign, which starts next month, and that his team had taken "another step forward". Or perhaps two steps backwards. Ready for Andorra, maybe, but after last night's display against the Czechs the visit to Croatia is one that might not be made with the "big confidence" that the Italian had hoped to instil by now.

Nevertheless Capello said the first-half performance was full of "good football, good style". "There was only one thing I didn't like," he said. "Sometimes when the Czechs counter-attacked we suffered a lot and we have to repair that problem."

It was a performance – by manager and team – worryingly short of coherence. Indeed there was an early goal for the opposition, plenty of rain ... but no brolly. No one would suggest that Capello is a wally. Not with his record or serial success. But there were perhaps a few too many parallels with that infamous night last November when England lost to Croatia and Steve McClaren lost his job. Capello chose the Czechs as his warm-up because of their similarities with Slaven Bilic's team. Except Croatia are better. And England play them in Zagreb.

There were, five games into his regime, more questions than answers. The David Beckham conundrum, badly at fault for one Czech goal and then the set-piece creator of England's equaliser, the mix in midfield, who to play up front, the vain hope that one of those strikers might just spark... and the perennial underperformance for his country of Wayne Rooney. Even the defence creaked badly. Fabio may not be a wally. But neither he nor his players were too clever last night.