Fabio Capello last night claimed it would have been "impossible" for 2008, his first year as England manager, to have gone any better. Given the Italian is hardly renowned for exaggeration, or grand statements, and given he is more prone to be critical and sober after winning performances it was some claim. But it also revealed the satisfaction he feels at the undoubted progress England have made under him.
"We've played nine games and, after every game, I've seen the players taking another step forward," Capello said after the 2-1 victory over Germany which means he has lost just one match – away to France in March – since he was appointed. "Today I saw another step forward because a lot of players played very, very well. Like a team. This is very important for me, very important.
"When I started my job, I had to recover the confidence. I think all the players who have stayed with us and in this team understand this. You can see that the confidence is coming back, during training and during games. This is very important."
England's victory means they are also undefeated in eight games against Germany in Berlin. "It was a very interesting game for Germany because they played new players from their squad. The same for us. I saw some players who have not played a lot of games under me," Capello said.
Stewart Downing and Michael Carrick were particularly impressive as well as Gabriel Agbonlahor, the 21-year-old striker making his debut. "I think he played very well," Capello said of Agbonlahor. "He played with movement with the ball, into space. He defended very well." Capello said he was pleased to now have more options available to him, given the concern he has shown in the past that England lack strength in depth and emerging young players.
"I'm happy for these problems," he said. "This is no problem, we have time to decide when we do the next squad. The result is important but the performance was very good because we played here against Germany, a good team, played well and had a lot of chances. I like the attitude of the team, they played with confidence and personality."
England were missing eight regulars and captain John Terry agreed that some may regret their absence. "It's a young squad but they've given the manager a problem there with a lot of good performances," he said. "They've proved a lot. The pitch was really difficult so we didn't want to play too much, too deep, but they had confidence on the ball and were always a threat. It's very exciting."
Germany's goal came when Terry and substitute goalkeeper Scott Carson dithered. Given it was Carson's first appearance since making a terrible mistake against Croatia in last year's European Championships qualifier he will again be under scrutiny – although Terry blamed himself. "I'm disappointed with the goal," the central defender said. "I should have cleared, it's not Scotty's fault at all."Reuse content