x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Clouds form over England

Doubts surface after 2-1 win over Japan and uncertainty surrounds the future of their coach as Inter linked with a move for Capello.

Wayne Rooney, left, watches on as Emile Heskey, his England strike partner, misses with a diving header against Japan yesterday.
Wayne Rooney, left, watches on as Emile Heskey, his England strike partner, misses with a diving header against Japan yesterday.

Fabio Capello, the England manager, will hold talks today that will clear up his future. The picture surrounding his World Cup-bound team, however, is much cloudier. The Italian will today meet Sir David Richards, the new chairman Club England which is the arm of the English Football Association that oversees its national team. The expected conclusion is confirmation that he will remain as England coach until after the 2012 European Championships.

But after watching his players struggle to break down Japan in a 2-1 victory in Graz, Austria, yesterday, Capello will have plenty to work on ahead of England's opening game in South Africa against the USA on June 12. Capello must name his final 23-man squad for South Africa tomorrow, but says he already made his mind up who was going two weeks ago. Capello had reached a verbal agreement with Lord Triesman before the former English Football Association chairman was forced to resign after comments he made about alleged bribery attempts by Spain and Russia of referees at the World Cup.

Massimo Moratti, the Inter Milan president, has exploited the uncertainty created by Lord Triesman's departure to announce that Capello is top of his own hit-list to replace the now-departed treble-winning coach, Jose Mourinho. With an annual salary of £9 million (Dh48m) - 50 per cent more than Capello's current salary - being mentioned, speculation in England has increased surrounded the 63-year-old's future.

But Capello has never given any indication of a desire to leave the England job halfway through his four-year contract. "I always say the same things," Capello told reporters. "My name is always in the newspapers. My name has been on the radio. But I can't say anything about it. I have not spoken with anyone from Inter Milan. I spoke with the first chairman [Lord Triesman]. Now I wait to speak to the other one. I need to speak with the new chairman of Club England, Sir David Richards."

On the pitch, England's performance yesterday will not have impressed Capello. They trailed 1-0 for much of the match - after Marcus Tulio Tanaka's seventh-minute strike - to a team ranked 45th by Fifa and fifth worst among the 32 that will compete in South Africa. Several players, including Darren Bent and Tom Huddlestone, were given a chance to stake their claim in Capello's final squad, but no England man could score. Tanaka headed a cross by Joe Cole into his own net in the 72nd minute and Yuji Nakazawa deflected a cross by Ashley Cole past his goalkeeper in the 83rd, after Frank Lampard had earlier missed a penalty.

Afterwards, Capello said his squad would be the same one that he had in mind when he arrived in Austria a fortnight ago. "I know the 22 players who are in mind. They are the same 22 that I decided last week. Nothing has changed," he said. "We have to wait for Gareth Barry [who has an ankle injury and would be the 23rd member of the squad]. We will decide on him after we have had the final check to see how long it will be before he can train with us. I am not disappointed my mind is still the same."

* Compiled by Thomas Woods, with agencies