Sam Wallace: Theo aside, Capello played it safe with his selections
There is a mischievous theory that Capello saved himself a dilemma by leaving out Parker for the warm-up games, having already decided who to take in midfield
Wednesday 02 June 2010
He might have left out his once golden boy Theo Walcott but in the end this was an England World Cup squad in which Fabio Capello played it safe.
Walcott's exclusion will be the decision that everyone remembers, a tight call by all accounts but one that was justified in terms of current form, however hard it will seem to the player now. At 21, there is plenty of time for Walcott to play at a World Cup finals.
Capello played it safe in other positions too. No place for Adam Johnson, the Manchester City winger who got just six minutes against Mexico and was understood to have impressed in training in Austria. Instead Capello went with the tried and tested options in Joe Cole, Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips and James Milner.
Ditto in the centre of midfield where Tom Huddlestone, despite two tidy halves in the warm-up games, lost out to the experience of Michael Carrick. If Capello had judged there was not much to go on in terms of form then it was experience that he opted for over youthful promise.
Also in the centre of midfield, Scott Parker was never given a chance in either of the warm-up games despite having been impressive, by all accounts, in training. One mischievous theory is that Capello saved himself a selection dilemma by leaving Parker on the bench, having already decided who he wanted in the centre of midfield.
As for Leighton Baines, the curse of being too honest about his unhappiness at being away from home for six weeks helped to do for him – that and a tough time from Giovani Dos Santos at Wembley last week. Capello and his staff detected a weakness and replaced him with Stephen Warnock although it was clear they rated Baines as the better player.
Only 10 from the original 24-man squad Capello picked to face Switzerland in February 2008 made the cut this time around although injuries played a role in this. And Capello has been fortunate with injuries. David Beckham and Owen Hargreaves aside, no one he would have considered taking is unavailable, although clearly he would prefer Paul Scholes and Wayne Bridge not to have retired.
He has been an impossible man to predict in the past when it has come to team selection – and in Walcott he threw a curveball – but at heart Capello is a conservative. As demonstrated yesterday.
Latest in Sport
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
Andy Murray tells how coach Amélie Mauresmo revealed her pregnancy
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Everton 3 Manchester United 0 player ratings: Who scored lower - Marouane Fellaini or Radamel Falcao?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove