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?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices