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Capello not ready to be fall guy
Published : 31 Mar 2009 22:00:00
Fabio Capello fears he may be being built up for a monumental fall as he approaches his biggest match so far as England coach against Ukraine.With an early defeat against France and last month's reverse to Euro 2008 winners Spain viewed as mere staging posts on a journey yet to run its full course, Capello has enjoyed an extended honeymoon period since replacing the ill-fated Steve McClaren era 15 months ago.On Wednesday night at Wembley, Ukraine represent the only other unbeaten side in a Group Six campaign that has seen England reel off four straight wins.Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand are among the senior figures in the last 48 hours alone who have hailed Capello's impact and few now question the Italian's £6million annual pay packet.But Capello has been around too long to get duped into believing he cannot fail.The loss of three key strikers and the late call-up of a fourth mean Capello will be relying on a fifth-choice striking option in Peter Crouch. And he is aware if England fall flat on their faces, he will be in the firing line."When you win, you are the best. When you lose, you are nothing. That is what it is like as a manager," he observed."Maybe they (the people saying nice things) are waiting for mistakes."What the players have said is not important. The future will decide whether Fabio Capello was a good manager or a bad one."Good managers are defined by decisions they make in times of adversity.When faced with the true test of his ability at the highest level, Sven-Goran Eriksson was found wanting in three successive tournament quarter-finals.Steve McClaren did not even get that far, mistakenly placing his trust in Joleon Lescott and, catastrophically, in Scott Carson as England tumbled out of Euro 2008 thanks to defeat in must-not-lose matches against Russia and Croatia.Capello must hope Crouch repays his faith rather more positively following the loss of Carlton Cole, Emile Heskey and Darren Bent, who pulled out after aggravating a knee injury in the pre-training warm-up.Gabriel Agbonlahor might have been considered had he not withdrawn from under-21 duty with a hamstring strain last week. The Aston Villa man has now recovered and cleared for international duty by Martin O'Neill but with no training, will be a substitute at best."I have always followed Crouch, so I know him very well," revealed Capello."He improved when he went to Portsmouth and now he is doing very well."He is the best forward I can put on there, so this is a big opportunity for him."