Capello has open mind on England captaincy

Fabio Capello gave no assurances to John Terry yesterday that he would remain the England captain – even hinting he would make a temporary appointment while he makes up his mind. In an uncompromising mood, the England manager said that all his players would be subject to a character assessment and none of them could take anything for granted.

Capello was in Zagreb to agree England's qualifying fixtures for the 2010 World Cup and, in only his second official appearance since getting the job, made it abundantly clear that the age of the big-name reputations in the England team was over. There were no promises David Beckham would win his 100th England cap in the friendly against Switzerland on 6 February and barely did Capello praise an individual player. In fact, his only specific comment about the games he has watched in England thus far was that he was impressed with the standard of refereeing.

The Italian had come straight from a seven-hour meeting with officials from the federations of England's Group Six opponents – Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Andorra – in which he negotiated to play Croatia in September this year and next year. Capello wanted that because, he said, he believed English players were at their freshest in that month.

While Capello felt that he had won the day on the fixtures he was not prepared to give his senior players any reassurance. He said he would not be meeting the players, either individually or in groups, before the squad convenes on 4 February for the first match next month. "I am accustomed to meeting managers," he said, "although there might be an exception if a player is injured."

The new England manager's no-nonsense approach is a welcome departure from the old pals' act of previous regimes – and he is taking nothing for granted. On Terry's position he said: "The captaincy is a very important decision. The captain issue is a very important one for England. There are many things I have to evaluate and I must come up with the choice that is right.

"A captain must be a leader, someone who carries the team, somebody that in every moment is important for the team. I am evaluating whether to decide on a definitive captain, or to appoint a provisional captain. First I have to know the candidates well. Please don't take this is as indecision. I want to get to know the players well."

The 61-year-old Capello gave his answers through an interpreter but understood the majority of the questions in English. Nevertheless, he kept the superlatives to a minimum. On Beckham's future, he was non-committal. "We still have time to decide. He is important for England and can still give a lot, but all the players are equally important. I consider them all on the same level. A manager has feelings, but first and foremost he has to take decisions."

There will be five friendlies – including the Switzerland match and meeting France in Paris – before September's qualifying games against Andorra and Croatia away. The 10-day squad meeting in May, which includes two friendlies, will be crucial for Capello to get to know his players. There are free Saturdays before the home games against Ukraine and Croatia that could also be used for friendlies.

Evident from Capello's words was his desire to get to know the England players before he makes any long-term decisions. He may not be a man who kowtows to the big names but he is a student of footballers and their characters. He said that some aspects of English football had "gone beyond my expectations" while others had "perplexed" him. Although he declined to name the latter, it is worth remembering that he has visited Kenilworth Road this month.

"There are two main things I want for the five friendlies: first to try to create a team and second to try to discover new players who can be integrated into the group," Capello said. "The team I want is in my head, taking into account what I have seen so far, and the England games I have watched. But to have an idea of what I can achieve, I first need to know the players well – not only their characteristics with the ball but their tactical sense."

On the question of the bad behaviour of high-profile players, Capello said that footballers should be "an example to the young", although it is not thought that he had Joey Barton in mind. He also said that the England job was bigger than managing Real Madrid – "I was accustomed to the great pressure that comes with Real Madrid but Madrid was a club – this is a whole nation."

And he liked English referees because they "whistle so little compared to the rest of Europe".

Road to South Africa

* 2008

6 Sept: Andorra (a)

10 Sept: Croatia (a)

11 Oct: Kazakhstan (h)

15 Oct: Belarus (a)

* 2009

1 April: Ukraine (h)

6 June: Kazakhstan (a)

10 June: Andorra (h)

9 Sept: Croatia (h)

10 Oct: Ukraine (a)

14 Oct: Belarus (h)

For Sam Wallace's discussion of England's World Cup qualifying fixtures go to blogs.independent.co.uk/extratime/

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders