Joe Strange - Capello has lost the plot
Published: 10 Aug 2010 - 10:22:43
Ever since Fabio Capello announced his 23-man-squad for the World Cup finals, there's been a little voice inside of me telling me to give up on England.
It might sound like I'm speaking with the benefit of hindsight following England's dismal showing in South Africa, but to me, Fabio's selections back on June 1st stunk of poor judgement.
Without dwelling too much on the past, the Italian's decision to leave Theo Walcott at home was an abysmal one. Theo had a poor, injury-plagued season with Arsenal, but he still provides electrifying pace and an ability to scare defenders silly - attributes far too rare among England's elite.
Emile Heskey was another well publicised mistake. He has never scored goals for his country and Capello's insistence on taking and starting him South Africa came as across as desperate rather than tactically astute.
Other odd decisions included the omission of Leighton Baines, and the in-form Scott Parker being left out in favour of the uninspiring Michael Carrick.
Add a questionable grasp of the English language, old fashioned tactics, an unapproachable demeanour and some very questionable substitutions to his dodgy squad selection, and you've got Capello's failings as England boss in a nutshell.
Put simply, our World Cup was depressing. The optimism created by such an impressive qualifying campaign was quickly replaced by prayers for a goal against lowly Algeria and scenes on jubilation after a scrappy 1-0 win over minnows Slovenia.
No passion, no commitment, no skill, no common sense, no cohesion, and, to be fair, no luck, cost us dear on the biggest stage of them all.
Most of us expected (and wanted) Fabio to get the axe after Thomas Mueller and co ripped us apart in Bloemfontein. But when it became clear that the FA would be sticking with their £6 million a year man, a drastic squad overhaul appeared to be the only way to appease an angry and embarrassed nation.
So what does Capello go and do? He drops Joe Cole, who was outstanding during his Liverpool debut last week, leaves out David James despite his solid performances in South Africa and excludes Peter Crouch, a prolific striker on the international stage.
And as if to add insult to injury he goes and recalls the likes of Gareth Barry, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Glen Johnson - arguably some of England's biggest culprits for the World Cup debacle.
Wayne Rooney deserves to be retained despite his poor showing as he is still our best player by some distance. Call-ups for Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott, Phil Jagielka and Bobby Zamora (despite his age) are the few encouraging signs of the Italian's latest squad.
But the one area he seems to be clueless in is the heavily-mooted promotion of young players to the senior squad. Jack Wilshere and Keiran Gibbs?! The pair barely have a Premier League game between them, let alone enough experience to be thrown into the deep end as they will be on Wednesday.
What about Jack Rodwell? Everton's hugely talented midfielder who consistently appears for David Moyes' side. Or Ryan Shawcross? At just 22-years-old the Stoke defender is established in the first-team and has even captained his club. Or even Andy Carroll? The Newcastle man has starred for the under 21s and is about to embark on another top-flight campaign after helping his club easily win the Championship last season.
Capello's selections show a distinct lack of understanding for English football, and more worryingly a genuine failure to recognise up-and-coming talent. Wilshere and Gibbs may well be the future of England, but until they start getting regular club football then involving them in the senior squad makes very little sense.
With each poor decision and bad result that little voice in my head keeps getting louder and louder. But I'll still be watching tomorrow night, hoping we can somehow turn over the might of Hungary.
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- A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.
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