England (2) Switzerland (1) – 6th February 2008 – Friendly Match
A new Wembley pitch, new players but is it a new era?
It is always difficult to assess an international match but there were a few talking points which came to light. England was vaguely promising and patchy in equal measure under the new gaffer. They provided the minimum requirement of a win.
Let’s start with the pitch. It looked as an international pitch should have done, not that cabbage patch that England had to play on against Croatia in a crucial match!
Capello (photo when he was a player) has set his stall out and will not be hurried or pushed by the media or any expert pundit. He appears to be his own man and demands respect from all around him. This can only be a good thing and was needed to be strict. After all “Rome wasn't built in a day!”
The team. There were pluses in the performances of Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole and David Bentley - and minuses in the displays of Ashley Cole and Wes Brown.
Cole is so far removed from the defender that excelled at Arsenal that he will soon face a fight to save his international career, while Brown is hardly international class in his favoured central defensive position, so his emergence at right-back in Capello's first side ahead of Micah Richards was a mystery.
England looked vulnerable defensively, with only Rio Ferdinand a likely long-term presence from this line-up, and defending set pieces will figure prominently on Capello's "to do" list before the friendly in France next month.
The attacking system also needs looking at as Rooney is better playing behind a striker rather than up front on his own - how Capello addresses this problem, and who with, will be fascinating.
The days of England's star system are over. The era of a high-profile group of players being assured of selection simply by joining up with the squad has passed.
In conclusion the players, team and system will change as there were many first choice players not involved this time, so we can only really judge the team and new management when the real international matches have started.
The players will have to work hard, gain respect, be punctual and carry out instructions that have been given. A bit like the rest of us at work!