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/

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
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

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game