May 12th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

Will 'the Force' be with Capello at World Cup?

What does Fabio Capello's provisional England World Cup squad say about his mindset ahead of the finals in South Africa? Well, to me it says that us long-suffering England fans will be in for another summer of uncertainty.

Can England coach Fabio Capello be as successful as Jedi master Yoda? (Getty Images).
Can England coach Fabio Capello be as successful as Jedi master Yoda? (Getty Images).

Throughout his two-and-a-half-year reign we've been led to believe that Capello is this inscrutable Yoda-type figure, just a little bit smarter than the rest of us, who knows his own mind and is as impervious to the media as his predecessors were vulnerable. The Italian knows his best team, we assumed. He knows his best squad. He will not take anyone not playing regularly for their club, whether it be down to a loss of form or an injury.

Great, we thought, this guy is the real deal. He's got a handle on things like no England manager since the late, great Bobby Robson, who steered England to the brink of the final at Italia '90. But when Fabio announced his preliminary squad for South Africa, we began to scratch our heads.

In comes Jamie Carragher, who had to be talked out of retirement, and whose Liverpool side have had their worst season in seven years in the English Premier League and didn't come close to winning any other competition either.

Next up is Ledley King, who admittedly played a part in Tottenham's run to a superb fourth-place finish. But he  played only 19 of the 38 league games due to his chronic knee condition, which rarely allows him to play two games in quick succession. There are seven in quick succession at the World Cup, if you make it all the way to the final. Will he make it?

And while we're on the subject of the walking wounded, Rio Ferdinand has struggled with injury for most of the season for Manchester United, and played no more than a cameo role in their unsuccessful title run-in. Yet the skipper is in the squad, presumably in the hope that he'll be fit in time. Does Fabio remember a trio of former skippers by the name of Kevin Keegan, Bryan Robson and David Beckham? They went to World Cups feeling not quite right, and guess what, they played that way too.

We'll gloss over the call-up of Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock and Everton's Leighton Baines, because they wouldn't have seen the light of day as cover for left-back Ashley Cole if Wayne Bridge had not bailed in the wake of John Terry's affair with his ex-partner. But Scott Parker in midfield? A wholehearted competitor for sure, but didn't he have his best days at Charlton and Chelsea? And didn't his team, West Ham, just avoid relegation this season?

Up front, I'm glad to see Darren Bent's still in with a shout after a good season at Sunderland, but what happened to Capello's "no play, no way policy" when it comes to Emile Heskey, who spent large chunks of the season on the bench at Aston Villa. And what about Theo Walcott?  A non-factor when he was taken to the last World Cup as an unused bench-warmer in Germany, and a bystander for much of Arsenal's season due to injury.

I could go on, but you get the gist. Capello's selection doesn't smack of clarity and certainty - but of compromise, desperation and experimentation. Which is all well and good a year before before the finals, but not what you want to see with less than a month to go. But, as I said, Yoda-like he is, and right I hope he's got it.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. sugarstick

    ......and those are the reasons why England will not win the world cup!

    May 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  2. gkedpage

    I couldn't agree with you more Terry!

    May 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  3. Tim Fing

    England to beat USA 10-0 in group stages.

    May 12, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  4. Tim Fong

    England to beat USA 10-0 in group stages

    May 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  5. Donni

    "England to beat USA 10-0 in group stages"

    Heh, and the USA to not care about the world cup.

    May 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  6. John Iurincich

    Come on Poms how about having a bit more trust in Yoda.
    England Vs Brazil Grand final, England winning in a 5 / 4 penalty shoot out..

    May 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  7. E. Mendoza

    Spain takes the trophy.

    May 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  8. momo

    and may be that is the sample space. as Rumsfiled put it "you go to war with what you have"

    May 12, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  9. Celestino Gonçalves


    You may say that I'm saying that because I'm Brazilian. Brazil will be champion for the 6th time. It's not because of Dunga. Brazilian players can play without him. They know what to do when they want to. Be prepared for one or two new players: Nilmar and Ganso.

    Good Luck

    May 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  10. Jesse

    Oranje for their first world cup trophy!

    The Brazil team ain't as strong.

    Argentina left out Cambiasso and Zanetti.

    Italy left out Totti.

    Poor England is really snapping up with injuries.

    May 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  11. olusinminrin

    How can capello leave ashley young behind!!!!!

    May 12, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  12. Thisis Silly

    Ok, where to begin? Umm:

    "In comes Jamie Carragher, who had to be talked out of retirement, and whose Liverpool side have had their worst season in seven years in the English Premier League and didn't come close to winning any other competition either."

    Right, well Carragher for a start is backup, but has proved himself capable on the international stage before. A good, solid player. You can assume that Ferdinand and Terry are first choice at the back so this is a bit of a mute point, since the other centre back, Ledley King, just happens to have had a phenomenal end to the season. He's in the form of his life. Have you not been watching tottenham recently? King may have a dodgy knee, but if he's only needed for the odd game then he's an excellent addition to the squad. Furthermore, Capello is following the old Italian mantra of putting experience above any other attribute. King and Carragher have experience by the bucket load.

    As for Ferdinand being injured? He's a quality player, and has come back from injury and played convincingly before.

    Scott Parker. SCOTT PARKER???? I wonder if Terry Baddoo has watched any football recently. Parker is an extremely adept midfielder, who also happens to have a canon of a shot on him.(
    He's got good attacking presence, and is definitely worthy of the squad.

    Heskey and Walcott:

    The former might not be getting pitch time, but when he plays for England Capello puts him ahead of Rooney to hold up play and bring in our attacking midfielders. There are few as good at this as Heskey. He may not get many goals, but he ensures that England's other players do. The latter does not benefit from Arsenal's style of play – short passing through the midfield with overlapping full backs. He has proved with England (a hatrick against Croatia, lest ye forget...)that when played correctly his pace can be devastating.

    There is nothing odd about these inclusions. You just have to have not watched England or English football recently to find them strange.

    May 12, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  13. luke s

    I think you have this completely wrong. For starters Jamie Carragher is a vastly experienced defender and regardless the season Liverpool just had he is still a valuable and important member of the squad. Leighton Baines is twenty times the left back that Wayne Bridge is and Stephen Warnock has had a much better season than Bridge. Scott Parker is one of the best defensive midfielder's in the country and should be playing for a top four side. He deserves a place ahead of the over-rated Gareth Barry. Yes Ledly King has not played many games in succession but he will not start every game as he is cover and when called upon is a fantastic center back, in my opinion the best performing center back in the Premier League this season. So in all common the England its your time to shine.

    May 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  14. alehandro

    Solid experienced players (Carragher). Injured players (Barry & Ferdinand). Injury-prone players (King). Inexperienced players (Baines & Warnock). Journeyman who do a job (Parker, Heskey, Crouch)......Come on guys, does this sound like a team that can win the World Cup? How about GOOD players? consistently GREAT players? SUPERSTAR players? No-one's mentioned any of those, because, aside from Rooney, England doesn't have any. That's nothing new, but picking players who've never or rarely made the team in the past; are injured; had to be persuaded to play; or can't even get a regular game for their clubs is desperate. Quarter-finals at best for England, and that would be over-achieving.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  15. patrick

    Interesting views Terry.
    I still think Fabio knows what he's doing though! Let's judge post World Cup!

    May 13, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  16. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Taking one game at a time and playing each session well with the available talent at one's disposal seems to be the game plan of all those serious football managers of the Jogo Bonito. After all it is going to be Eleven men against Eleven men. If the guys show the necessary hunger for the duration of ninety minutes nothing is impossible. Strategies and tactics will be the job of the think tank. Plans A, B, C will be held close to their chests by those seasoned football managers. Best wishes to Capello and his footballers.

    May 14, 2010 at 8:05 am | Reply
  17. Mick Raye

    Yes! I must admit that it does concern me just a tad – and now we hear that the "great man" is looking at maybe changing the team formation.
    Is this all really a good idea only four weeks away from the opening game ??
    We shall see.
    In hope – Mick Raye

    May 14, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  18. silla marita

    Th only hope is for rooney,gerrad,lampard n terry to give in their best,al the others mayb seasonal i c england makin2semis.n am sure theyl put in2win..i go4portugal win in southafrica..n talkin abt africa..i bet on camerun,ghana,or ivorycost in quarter..they shudnt be under rated whatsoever..

    May 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  19. mike

    The squad has 23 players and not all the best players make the best functioning team,just ask Brazil.

    May 18, 2010 at 9:04 am | Reply
  20. Phil S

    Interesting comments concerning the current England squad. Observing many teams come and go, Capello is certainly the right man to take us forward whatever the outcome is. However what it really boils down to is not if a player is in form but how committied and passionate the player is for his country. For too many years, the media have over inflated the egos of superstar players and its this factor which causes the downfall of most of the teams playing in the finals. The talking can only be performed on the pitch. How right they are.

    Carragher, although not the first choice defender has been chased by Capello since he began his reign. Maybe he is not in his prime especially this season but plays on a regular basis which is an important factor for Capello to weigh up. Heskey is a powerhouse in terms of his physical ability which makes all the difference in big games, similiar to Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool striker he set up and assists many of the goals. With Steven Gerrard behind him it increases the forward threat. Crouch gets my nod every time with goal achievements but most importantly aerial threat and there will be plenty of that out there this Summer ( Look at the Serbian Striker). Lampard in midfield with Gerrard looks a safe bet.

    Capello purosely fielded an experimental side on Monday and it showed. With no disrespect to certain players ( Carrick and Baines), it was a nervous display due to eyes from the manager but more than likely due to players not wanting to pick up injuries. THe 23 man squad will appear more confident but maybe not till the second half of the first match against USA. Adam Johnson needs to be included and Lennon for his physical pace. Walcott and Ashley Cole blow too hot and cold for my liking and professionals for country there are times when you start to sweat if the ball is around them on the big stage. Ferdinand is experienced but is not playing his best. Really it's not how professional they are, its psychologically how comfortable they feel in their environment. Fight or flight?

    Good luck to all teams in the World cup finals, it will be a mouthwatering event. The exciting prospect of new talent discovered make sit much more appealing.

    May 26, 2010 at 9:18 am | Reply
  21. GeNeEs

    England WC finalist outside the isles? Never ever.

    May 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  22. Parastar

    Capello > us = ENGLAND world champions

    June 2, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  23. En-ger-land!


    June 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  24. Clubwww1

    Brian Clough made the management job seem simple. You have to score a goal and not have a goal scored against you. To do that he believed 11 men must toil and labor for 90 minutes.

    Peter may have been the best and most expensive goal keeper in the land but eve he played for the A team when he signed for forest.

    Success is measured not by wealth, power or fame but by the ratio between what a man is and what he might be.

    July 4, 2010 at 5:46 am | Reply

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