Forget the past and watch Capello make history, says Carra

Even in his moment of greatest estrangement from England, when he declared in a searing critique of the national side in his biography that "a superiority complex" has developed in which "it's presumed England should go close to winning every World Cup", Jamie Carragher had a curiosity bordering on fascination with what Fabio Capello might bring, that other managers had not.

Now, after nearly a month here observing Capello ride the World Cup Big Dipper and still not get giddy, Carragher is in a position to tell us what he has seen. "The main thing I've observed is that after the first few games there were questions, but he never gets fazed or looks panicky," Carragher says. "He always looked totally in control as if he always felt we would get through."

This is the most honest account of Capello we are likely to get given that the man himself, with his still broken English and reluctance to offer more than a few minutes of occasional insight, remains more remote to us than any national manager who has gone before.

Grace under pressure is a different proposition today, of course. Look at virtually any of the statistics, as Carragher, the most studious observer in England's squad, has done, and there is a reason to fear. Do we really need to ask whose four penalty shoot-out wins in World Cup finals is a record? Or who shares, with Italy, the record for most losses in them?

Carragher has seen most of those in some shape or form. The 1986 finals were the first he watched and he was 12 on the night of 4 July, 1990, a date still seared on the England psyche. "I remember watching it in the living room and just remember all the things: Lineker's equaliser, Lineker's face when Gazza got the yellow card and obviously the penalties. When it goes to a penalty shoot-out it's a bit more unfortunate but the penalties they took that night were all top drawer. They all seemed to be in the top corner just away from Shilton."

But Carragher's many assets to the England camp – one of them being his willingness to talk with a candour and intelligence which lifts the soul in these days of media management – is an appreciation both of the present and the distant past, where Germany is concerned. Carragher was also a late substitute in Sven Goran Eriksson's greatest hour in Munich in September 2001 and is acutely aware of how injury ravaged the England side was that won 2-1 in Berlin in November 2008 – on Fifa rankings, the best result in Capello's two-and-a-half-year leadership. So this is not a time for us to be dwelling on the games of the VHS era. "It's always seemed that when we've come close they've seemed to stop us," he says. "But all the defeats at World Cups and European Championships were years ago," he says. "If you are facing a team you should look at your recent record against them."

A glance at the team sheet from Berlin – a midfield of Barry, Carrick, Wright-Phillips and Downing; up front Defoe and Agbonlahor – bears him out. It helps when there are no penalties, of course – Carragher, when asked to take his first penalty in competitive football in Gelsenkirchen against Portugal four years back, missed it. You sense he won't be taking the long, 30-yard walk this time. "The same six or seven players take them regularly in training and once you see the team I think it will be easy to work out," he says.

Capello seems ready to keep Matthew Upson in ahead of Carragher today, though England's defensive record with the Liverpool defender back in the fold could not be better – no goals conceded in Carragher's 225 minutes of football for Capello. It was for the promise of days like today that he abandoned his international purdah. In that biography he also said the nation should forget former glories and take strength from embracing the underdog role. But now the day dawns, he – like Capello – has a clearer mind. "Sometimes, when you have an underdog, that team sits back and looks to play the counter-attack," he said. "But this is the kind of game that both teams will think they can win. It won't be a case of us going for it gung-ho, but we will be positive."

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
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

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all