Lee Dixon: The sergeant major style of management only works for a bit – you also need brains

The Weekend Dossier
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When Fabio Capello came in as England manager three years ago he was exactly what the national team needed. We had a dressing room that had lost its discipline and focus. Player power was at an all-time high. The side needed someone to take control and lead them.

Capello did just that. Everything he said and did at first was just right. He was tough and authoritative, with plenty of rules and regulations about how to behave and what to wear, and it seemed from the outside that England were shaping up as a much more disciplined unit, exactly as it should be. Players were afraid of him, and that kept them on edge. Results also were good, adding to the view that England were on the rise again.

But that authority has been eroded over time, partly by a poor World Cup last year, but also by the mixed messages Capello has made concerning the captaincy.

If he thinks John Terry is the right man to captain England, then that is his decision. I for one don't agree with the view that it is such an important job, certainly not within the team. I don't believe the captain has much to do within the England side, not compared to club level.

When you represent your country, you have been chosen as the very best player in your position, which brings its own air of confidence. It is almost as if you are a captain yourself. And there certainly should be no problem motivating yourself to play for England.

The problem for me is the muddled thinking from Capello concerning the captaincy, and what that says about him as a manager, and also the Football Association as the game's governing body.

First, it is not crystal clear exactly why Terry has been made captain again when the problems – such as the reaction of certain players in the dressing room – will not necessarily have gone away. Accepting someone has served his punishment is one thing, but I worry about what some players in private make of it all. It certainly should have been handled much better by Capello concerning Rio Ferdinand, who deserved a phone call at the very least.

Secondly it highlights a lack of leadership from the FA. They have had a couple of weeks to clear all this up, but even yesterday, 24 hours before an important England qualifier in Wales, the captaincy is still what everyone is talking about.

The FA is Capello's employer and should have taken control of things. Instead we have typically lacklustre management from above and that sets the tone for the whole set-up. Because a lack of leadership by the FA impacts on the England team, just like it would in any other job.

I am not saying England's poor results at the World Cup were all the FA's fault – the players ultimately have to accept responsibility. But for years the national team has performed way below its potential and there has to be a reason for that.

The FA has not helped by announcing Capello will be leaving after the European Championships next year. We are left in limbo and some players will simply be waiting for his reign to end, and Harry Redknapp's to start, assuming the Tottenham manager gets the job. It is all very disappointing, given the encouraging start we had under Capello.

Perhaps it all comes down to his approach. George Graham was a similar character as a manager, someone who liked the sergeant major image of authority. And it certainly worked for him, at first.

But, like Capello, that style only worked for a while. There is only so many times you can be shouted at for doing the same thing wrong, before you turn round and start to argue and state your own opinion. That's even more likely to happen at international level where the players are better, more experienced and more likely to think about the game intelligently.

The authoritarian approach also needs some tactical acumen to back it up. George was brilliant at organising a defence, and had a brilliant football brain. Capello's test came at the World Cup, when he and his players were found sorely lacking.

Capello has not become a poor coach overnight, however. His career shows he can get results, and the only thing that matters really is how England perform at Euro 2012. It may have been a shaky couple of weeks, but ultimately he will be judged by how far the team progresses at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. He still has plenty of time to turn opinion back in his favour.

Lee Dixon's England team to face Wales

Joe Hart

I don't think the Manchester City goalkeeper has done anything wrong in his short England career, and looks to be No 1 for a few years to come. Rob Green has put him under pressure of late but for me Hart is the best.

Glen Johnson

He is playing at left-back for Liverpool but that just shows how versatile he is. The absence of Gareth Bale will be a huge relief to England, and to Johnson in particular. He may not be the strongest defensively but there are no real challengers to his position.

John Terry

People say Terry has lost his pace, but it has never been his strongest suit. His best asset is his positional sense. His injury record has not been great recently, and I think he needs to have a long run without any niggles to prove that he can play at the top until the next World Cup.

Michael Dawson

The Tottenham man gets the nod over Everton's Phil Jagielka – who I like very much – mainly because it's his turn. Dawson's waited patiently for a chance and has not let anyone down. He may not have blistering pace but I think him and Terry should be able to work out a way to deal with Craig Bellamy.

Ashley Cole

I think the Chelsea defender is arguably the best left-back in the world at the moment, and is probably the first name on my team sheet. The way my England side is lining up, I would encourage him to get forward as much as possible to offer another option out wide.

Frank Lampard

I am one of Frank's biggest fans and his goal threat remains a priceless asset. Some say his international career is coming to an end but I think he still has plenty to give. And playing with Parker will bring out the best in him.

Scott Parker

I would play Parker in front of the back four. He has the ability to play this role for years for England. There's no better player in that position. He has been magnificent for West Ham for the past two seasons.

Jack Wilshere

I'd just tell Wilshere to go wherever he likes and do what he wants. Capello said he wants to build the team around him, but I think it would be better just to let him develop as an international footballer first.

Aaron Lennon

Lennon has improved his delivery and his pace makes him very dangerous. I would tell him to attack the full-back and try to make use of Carroll's aerial strength by whipping in as many decent crosses as he can.

Andy Carroll

I'd play the Liverpool man even though he is not fully fit. I've seen enough already at his new club to know he's a handful. We all know he is great in the air but he also has great attitude and chases defenders all day.

Wayne Rooney

I want to play both Rooney and Carroll, and so that means the United striker would have to play like an inside-left, coming in from the flank to support Carroll and allowing Cole to get forward on the wing.

Five Asides

1 Mourinho's Premier League options are narrower than we think

Jose Mourinho has been making whispers about returning to the Premier League this week, and there will undoubtedly be clubs interested in giving him a job. His record is second to none, and I cannot see him staying at Real Madrid for another season, so he will be available.

I am not sure Chelsea will really want him back, even though there are doubts about whether Carlo Ancelotti will remain at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season. The future of Roberto Mancini at Manchester City will also be reviewed, particularly if they fail to reach fourth place in the table, which was the minimum requirement at the start of the season.

Looking further afield, no one knows what Sir Alex Ferguson's plans are at Manchester United and to the outsider it might seem that Arsène Wenger's position at Arsenal is in jeopardy, if they end up going six seasons without a trophy.

But Mourinho's options may not be quite as varied as he might think. "The Special One" always brings plenty of baggage with him, he appears to be a demanding, high-maintenance character, and that may put off more than one potential employer, despite his obvious talent.



2 David Luiz's starring performances add to the lure of Brazil at Emirates

Brazil play Scotland in London tomorrow, and it will be fascinating to see how they play. They flattered to deceive in the World Cup last summer, and their campaign fizzled out.

Whenever they turn up they generate a huge amount of interest, and everyone expects them to put on a bit of a show. Brazilians are suddenly all the rage in the Premier League after the way David Luiz has started his career at Chelsea.

Luiz has shown plenty of flair, but also has the other side of the game, the ability to make tackles, mark an opponent, and do the hard work of defending. If the rest of the team are like him, then they will be great to watch, and very hard to beat.

There also looks like being some Brazilian weather for them at the Emirates Stadium, which will make it a wonderful occasion. The Scots were probably hoping for a howling gale.



3 Lehmann: As mad as a bag of frogs but an asset in the dressing room

On the face of it, Wenger's decision to ask Jens Lehmann to come out of retirement is strange, and doesn't look too good for Manuel Almunia, who has clashed with the German in the past.

Wenger is normally very cautious about upsetting the dressing room when he makes new signings, but with Lehmann he runs the risk of putting Almunia's nose out of joint.

But I think there are more telling reasons for wanting Lehmann that are about more than just a desire to get another goalkeeper. Maybe what Wenger really wants is Lehmann's influence in the dressing room, someone who has been there and done it before. That could be important with only nine games to go. I think that is the bigger picture behind the move. Lehmann is a confident character, and mad as a bag of frogs. I think Wenger believes he could bring something positive to his young team with his experience and attitude.



4 It's pointless for England to play friendlies after competitive matches

England are playing Ghana in a friendly next week but for the life of me I cannot see the point of the fixture. There might be some value if we were playing the game before today's Wales game, but to play it afterwards is totally pointless. If friendlies played before important games are called warm-up games, does that make this one a warm-down game?



5 Golf with Seaman in the spring weather is worth an early start

The warm weather has seen me out on the golf course, playing with David Seaman. We had an early tee-time at The Grove, and wanted to meet first, so it meant joining up for breakfast at 6.45am. It was a horribly early start but at least it meant we could have our meeting, play golf, and still be finished by 12.30. David and I were so close to victory, too. Our team halved on the last! But best of all, we enjoyed the beautiful weather.

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