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/

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick