Switzerland must be beaten if Capello is to quell the dissent

Manager faces uneasy summer if England fail to record victory in Euro 2012 qualifier

It is thanks to this month's Fifa scandal, the anticipation that preceded Saturday's Champions League final, and even the Championship play-off final, that England's last game of the season has crept up largely unnoticed in the calendar, an afterthought to what feels like 12 months of solid football since the start of last summer's World Cup.

But for Fabio Capello, Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley has been a preoccupation since the end of March when his team last played together in a friendly against Ghana. It is another one of those forks in the road for the England manager. Win, and everyone goes off happy on their holidays with England just two victories away from qualification for Euro 2012. Lose, and the picture changes again.

The situation in qualification Group G looks healthy for England whose closest challengers are the nation of Montenegro – population 630,000 – who got a draw at Wembley last October and are the opposition in England's last group game in four months' time. By then England could have sealed qualification already if they win on Saturday and against Bulgaria and Wales, even if it is as the best second-placed team in qualifying.

As with qualification for the 2010 World Cup, England's progress has been relatively serene under Capello although this time it has been in contrast to the issues off the pitch. There is no question about which of those was the biggest, or that it was a mess of Capello's own making. That was the sacking of Rio Ferdinand as captain and the reinstatement of John Terry in March, and then the subsequent botched job of telling Ferdinand the reasons for the decision.

Monday was the first occasion that Ferdinand and Capello had encountered one another in private within the England camp since the decision was made public and yesterday the pair were said to have shaken hands in private. Capello regards the matter as closed but there will undoubtedly be questions in his Friday press conference about Ferdinand, which will undoubtedly be much to the England manager's annoyance.

The players' attitude towards Terry's return as captain at the expense of Ferdinand has – in public at least – been the usual fence-sitting that we come to expect of England players on international duty. But in private it has contributed to the doubts that they have about their manager which date back to his chronic indecisiveness in South Africa during the team's disastrous World Cup finals campaign.

Those six weeks, when Capello could not make his mind up on who should play in goal for the first game against the United States and set his team up in the wrong way for the match against Germany, changed his relationship with his players forever. His aura has most definitely gone. The probability is that he will get them to Euro 2012 next summer, but once there it is anyone's guess as to whether they will perform better than their dismal efforts we witnessed last summer.

There have been small signs of dissent. The resignation of No 3 choice goalkeeper, Ben Foster, is not exactly the grounds for a revolution but he is not the only one. Robert Green also told Capello's staff after the Ghana friendly in March that he wanted to quit having been completely overlooked since that ill-fated US game in Rustenburg. He has been talked around, for now.

Capello is yet to decide whether he will go to Brazil at the end of July for the draw for the World Cup qualification. Of course, it will be his successor who fights that campaign but nonetheless Sven Goran Eriksson undertook the same duty for the Football Association at the equivalent draw for Euro 2008, even though he knew by then he was to leave the job before qualification began.

It is unlikely Switzerland will be good enough to beat England at Wembley on Saturday evening. Capello's side beat them 3-1 in Basel in September and the Swiss are all but out of the running for qualification. Since they lost at Wembley, their record goalscorer Alexander Frei, captain against England in September, has retired from international football, along with Marco Streller. As for England, only Michael Carrick is a doubt and may not recover from an ankle injury in time.

All of which makes it a must-win game for Capello. If he fails to beat Switzerland then he goes into the summer with all the old doubts from South Africa last year hanging over him. Underpinning the last year of the Capello regime is the reality that, come what may, he will leave after Euro 2012. And if he is seen to be faltering in qualification then the clamour will come for him to go before then.

Eriksson also went into his last tournament as England manager – the 2006 World Cup – knowing that he was finished as soon as England went out. However, he was told that his contract was to be ended early by the FA after he had secured qualification on the back of the "fake Sheikh" embarrassment in the January before the tournament. It was always the plan that Capello's contract would cover just the last World Cup and Euro 2012, which seemed sensible at the time. Two and a half years on and with enthusiasm sagging, it does not look so clever.

Stewart Downing said yesterday that Capello had told the players before training at Arsenal's London Colney training ground that Saturday's match was not to be treated as an end-of-season stroll. "The manager came in and said: 'No messing about, we are here to win the game.' That is why he has picked the squad – he has a lot of people to choose from. It is a difficult position to be in, to pick 18, because we are all playing well and fit and well. We should be confident of winning."

A resounding win over Switzerland will allow Capello to disappear for the summer – a watching brief at the Under-21s European championships in Denmark notwithstanding – in relative comfort. He would then only need wins over Bulgaria in Sofia and Wales at Wembley in early September to seal qualification. It should be simple but it all starts on Saturday and if England mess that game up then attention will swing back to their manager very quickly indeed.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
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