Frank Assessment Of Capello Effect
England midfielder Frank Lampard has admitted the introduction of Fabio Capello's hard-line approach was just what the national team required to turn them into world beaters. Capello replaced the ill-fated Steve McClaren 15 months ago, since when England have been transformed from a team incapable of reaching Euro 2008 to plausible contenders for next year's World Cup. Although last month's defeat in Spain confirmed there is still plenty of work to do, a four-goal hammering of Slovakia at Wembley on Saturday has put Lampard and his team-mates in confident mood ahead of Wednesday's qualifier with Ukraine. Having already registered four straight wins to top Group Six, another win would leave Capello's team with one foot in South Africa even though only half of their matches will have been played. And for this Lampard credits the clear thinking of England's new Italian coach. "Fabio Capello was exactly what we needed," said Lampard. "One of the reasons for that is his experience, which tells him exactly how to do things. "He picks each squad on merit. He assesses how you play for your club side and watches you very closely. He picks the team along the same lines. "As players it is very important we all accept that - and we all do." Capello's single-minded approach reminds Lampard of another manager he used to work with. There may not be too many similarities between Capello and Jose Mourinho but they share the same absolute belief that what they are doing is right. "There is a very strong aura about Fabio," said Lampard. "There is a bit of Jose Mourinho about him in the fact that he knows what he is doing. It is his way and we are all following it. "There is probably a bit of that in every top manager. They have a confidence in their own ability. "It is very important with England because we all know what kind of microscope there is on us and you might be affected by the strong public opinion. "But Fabio makes his own decisions in terms of the team, the substitutes and what they do on the training pitch." One of Capello's major decisions has been to consistently omit Michael Owen from his squad. Even when Carlton Cole and Emile Heskey withdrew in the wake of Saturday's game, Capello still refused to draft in the fourth-highest scorer in England history. Most pundits have taken Capello's assessment of Owen as being part of "history" as proof that the 29-year-old Newcastle forward no longer has an international future. However, Lampard does not quite see it like that. "Michael Owen is one of the best strikers ever to play for England. His goal-scoring record is unbelievable," said Lampard. "But he has been injured for a long time and Fabio does not feel he is ready to play. "I am sure if Michael is fit, playing well and deserves to be in the team, he will be." Lampard's own situation is vastly different, but the 30-year-old has been forced to operate in a slightly more restricted position than he is used to at Chelsea. With Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard given the freedom he is used to at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has been a more disciplined figure alongside Gareth Barry in the centre of England's midfield. Nevertheless, he was delighted to be given a bit of freedom amid a raft of second-half substitutions, allowing him to get his first goal of Capello's regime. "It was nice to get the monkey off my back," said Lampard. "I do love scoring goals and previously I have managed quite a few. "But I have had a different role for the past year, which has not allowed me to get forward as much. "I don't mind that but hopefully there will be occasions in the future when I can get forward." Although the Slovakia game was meant to be a warm-up for Ukraine in terms of the style England must face, Lampard is expecting a much stiffer test. And he know former Chelsea team-mate Andriy Shevchenko will have a particular reason to shine given the dismal time he endured in England following his £30million transfer from AC Milan. "I don't know why it didn't work for Andriy," said Lampard. "But I do know he is a fantastic player who will be a huge threat to us on Wednesday. "He can produce something out of the blue. He can score and make goals. He is one of the best there has ever been."
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