Monday, 17 December 2007

Capello: England lack confidence

New England coach Fabio Capello says he has a group of "first-class" players but that his biggest challenge will be to restore their "winning mentality".

The former AC Milan, Roma and Juventus manager will be unveiled as Steve McClaren's successor at a London news conference later today.

And he told Italian television on Sunday night about the challenge of restoring England's fighting spirit. "This team have lost a little bit of their grit, a determination they showed a few years ago," he told Rai Due’s La Domenica Sportiva show.

Capello, who has signed a four-and-a-half year contract, will start his reign on 7 January.

"This is a big challenge and a difficult one for me," Capello told the state broadcaster in his final appearance as one of their pundits after agreeing to end his media commitments as part of his new role.

"I will not guide a team on a weekly basis as you do at a club. Psychologically, they are a team that needs to find its confidence. I watched them play against Russia and they looked a very impersonal side when playing.

"It's a team that need to find itself and that will be my role."

The 61-year-old, who will make his first appearance in front of an expectant British media at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, said he "hoped to get back some players who have withdrawn from the team".

Capello's first game in charge will be the friendly against Switzerland at Wembley Stadium on 6 February. With England failing to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals, his first competitive game will be a FIFA World Cup qualifier on 6 September.

Although he emphasised the differences between being a club manager and running a national team, he likened the England job to his task at his last job, at Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants had been through three years of failure when he rejoined them at the start of the 2006-07 season, but he led them to the Primera Liga title before being sacked for a supposedly boring style of play.

"It's a little bit like what happened with me at Real Madrid when I returned this time," Capello said. "They had a team that had lost all of their characteristics and self-confidence."

He admitted that he needed to work on his English, and said he was aware of the pressure he was likely to be under from the tabloid press.

"From tomorrow, I'll learn more English. The most important thing is to get to know the atmosphere," he said. "It's a difficult world out there, the tabloids are very aware of what goes on with the national coach, it's a delicate position and I will have to be very careful at all times.

"The most important thing is to be able to work and take this national team where it belongs."

Quizzed on his fears about his new job, Capello said: "It is a new country and I will need to understand the customs," adding that he had spent the day watching English top-flight fixtures on television.

Capello also confirmed the England role will be his last in a career. "It would be the ultimate to win the World Cup and then retire," he said.

Fellow guests on the Sunday night show repeatedly praised Capello, claiming his appointment as England manager showed the quality of Italy's coaches.

In an interview aired during the show Italy's Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, also wished Capello luck as he heads to take up his first appointment as a national team manager.

At the end of the show, the presenters handed Capello an England shirt with the message "Good luck Fabio" on it.

AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi, who appointed Capello as coach at the San Siro in the early 1990s, feels it is a proud moment for Italian football.

"I am very proud like every Italian that a nation which is the birthplace of football has chosen an Italian coach to become their manager," Berlusconi told reporters.

"This is a message that Italy is the No.1 nation of football, considering our World Cup success and now Capello being chosen as the England manager."

Source: BBC / Guardian Unlimited / Rai

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