Week at the beach shows Capello's change of tack
Fabio Capello's attempt to change the style of England's build-up for the European Championship next summer from their preparation for last year's World Cup finals was underlined this weekend when the Football Association announced the team would be spending a week in Marbella.
The sunshine of their prospective pre-tournament base in May contrasts sharply with the grey of Irdning, the Austrian village near Salzburg that was the equivalent England base before they flew to South Africa last year. It was at Irdning that Capello and his staff put England's players through a rigorous training regime that some described as being "like a pre-season" and may have contributed to their sluggishness at the tournament.
From Irdning, England returned to Wembley for a friendly against Mexico and then went back out to Austria for another warm-up game against Japan in Graz. Capello and the squad then returned to England where he released seven players before they flew to South Africa with the final 23.
At the very least, the "Marbella Paradise of Football and Sports", just a ten-minute drive from Puerto Banus, should offer an experience different from that of Irdning and, ultimately, the isolated Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus, where England were billeted for their short, unhappy stay in South Africa. A creature of habit, Capello used Irdning because it had been a favoured training base during his stints at Real Madrid manager, but his change of tack has shown his acceptance that it was not suitable for England's players.
Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, the Football Association body responsible for the England team, said it was Capello's desire to change approach. He said: "Fabio has been clear for several months now that he wants to adopt a different approach to when we went out to South Africa. He wants to give the players as much rest as possible before the tournament."
The shape of England's preparations for Euro 2012 is now becoming clear. They will play a friendly against the Netherlands, the team ranked No 2 in the world, on 29 February, and then two post-season friendlies, the first of which will be against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, pending Uefa permission. The governing body is being asked by some nations to waive a rule that forbids teams participating in the tournament from playing one another in the build-up.
Those games will come after the Marbella break and then the squad will fly to Krakow where they will be based at the Stary hotel for the duration of the tournament, despite Friday's draw giving them two group games in Dontesk and another in Kiev. Bevington said yesterday that the FA had already been looking at potential bases in Brazil for the World Cup in 2014.
Capello will travel to Switzerland this week to watch Manchester United's Champions League tie against Basle on Wednesday and then fly on to Nyon, and the Uefa headquarters, to attend Wayne Rooney's appeal against his three-match suspension for a red card against Montenegro. The FA are hopeful of getting the ban reduced to two games.
Bevington said: "We have spoken at length with our own internal lawyers on this, and also we have been working with an external legal firm as well, who have a great deal of expertise in sports law. As everyone knows, we have submitted an appeal. Wayne will attend the hearing – he will travel in after United's game on Wednesday night – Fabio will also be there to give evidence.
"I believe the evidence provided by the Montenegrin player [Miodrag Dzudovic, who Rooney fouled for his red card], who was quite supportive of Wayne after the game, will also be part of our case.
"I don't want to say too much more about what our case will be because it would be inappropriate to do so before the hearing, but we go there, obviously, with the hope of at least getting some reduction in the suspension so Wayne can play a more fulsome part in the tournament, if possible.
"I genuinely don't know [if it will be successful]. Thankfully, we aren't overly experienced in going to Uefa, it's not something that we do as an organisation too frequently.
"All we can do is go with the best legal advice that we have, and with the way that Wayne, Fabio and those of us involved present ourselves on the day and appeal to Uefa to look favourably on it."
Slow starters England's warm-up woes
Bobby Moore; World Cup '70
Prior to the Mexico tournament, Bobby Moore found himself under arrest and accused of stealing an emerald bracelet in a Colombian hotel. Diplomatic pressure saw the case dropped and the England captain rejoined his team-mates.
Paul Gascoigne, Dentist's Chair; Euro '96
On the eve of the event, Gazza was photographed in Hong Kong pouring spirits down his team-mates' necks in a dentist's chair. But the hangover never came; England played well, Gazza re-enacting the incident after scoring against Scotland.
Gascoigne, La Manga; World Cup '98
Finding that he was to be cut from the squad, Gazza confronted Glenn Hoddle and had to be restrained by David Seaman and Paul Ince after overturning a table, smashing a vase and putting his foot through a door.
WAGs ; World Cup '06
Heavy criticism rained down on Sven Goran Eriksson after he allowed both his and the players' WAGs to descend on and distract England's pre-World Cup training camp – a situation described by Rio Ferdinand as "a circus".
Altitude sickness; World Cup '10
Fabio Capello's decision to train at altitude in Irdning, Austria, left many players struggling with fatigue and low morale for the shindig in South Africa, where England were overrun by Germany in the last 16.
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