Capello difference maker for England
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
JOHANNESBURG – England manager Fabio Capello is much like the master technician at a stage show.
He knows just what buttons and switches to push and when to push them. He creates the mood and the scene, knowing full well what he wants the end result to be.
When England plays the United States in their Group C opener Saturday in Rustenburg, Capello's side will be under tremendous pressure to perform. Expectations for this team are that it will contend for a World Cup title in South Africa.
In truth, whether England beats the U.S., loses or draws, they'll find themselves in good shape to advance considering Algeria and Slovenia shouldn't provide huge problems. A loss, though, leaves them no room for error and may earn them a harder draw, depending on what happens with the United States.
But make no mistake about this World Cup. While the players are on centre stage, and always have been on centre stage, for England the one man who is directing it all is Capello.
And he is a far different director than anyone they've had before.
Nothing much seems to trouble him. The rare time when he does explode, he does it to relieve pressure – not on himself but on his players.
He is calm, level headed and willing to make difficult decisions. He won't be pressured by the media or by public opinion.
Should England tie or lose, he won't panic and, as a result, he won't pass any of the panic or pressure onto his team.
In the past, that wasn't always the case.
"(The team) is in a perfect situation physically and psychologically," said Capello going into the game. "I'm really happy with the training we have done here."
Just straight stuff and if you don't like it, too bad. He's here to win a World Cup, not please everyone.
"I can understand the pressure because in every moment we walk around you can see the security, the journalists, you can see when you move to golf, to safari, you need to police a lot of this," Capello said. "I understand that this is a really, really important moment for the country. (But) I am relaxed.
"Yes, the team has improved a lot. We found a spirit, different systems to play during games, and a lot of players know me better. I think everything is different for us now."
And the difference is Capello.
The Americans will be difficult.
"There's a core of players that have been through all those different experiences," American coach Bob Bradley explained. "From that, I think our leadership is strong, our ability to use those experiences – good ones, bad ones, hard moments in the game, knowing how to stick together – we understand that when we play as a team and when everyone is committed the right way, we can play with top teams."
It's a perfect explanation for what Capello brings to England because he's gone through all of that.
To top it all off, he knows how to coach.
It gives the English the kind of confidence they haven't had in a number of years.
It gives them the freedom to play without having the weight of all the issues and pressure they had in the past.
It gives them a chance to survive bad situations when in the past it would have done them in.