Fabio Capello has suggested that when he took over as England manager he inherited a squad of players who were ‘scared’, but believes his work has been so successful that he would now see it as a personal failure if they do not reach the World Cup final.
Capello also admitted that John Terry was his side’s ‘true leader’ and said that he hoped England’s players would leave any contract or transfer negotiations until after the World Cup.
“When I first arrived here, I saw that the players were tired, afraid, without any real sense of belonging,” Capello told La Stampa, reflecting on his first 17 months as England manager.
“But by changing their psychology, by talking a lot, imposing rules and putting pride back into the shirt, we have rebuilt the team. It has been amazing. I shook the bolts, made us serious and the group has become concrete.”
Capello insists, England must be considered among the favourites to win the World Cup.
“There are many talented sides in the tournament,” he said. “Spain, Argentina, but especially Brazil. They are a battleship.
“But it is not added pressure for me that [the country] expects to win the World Cup. That is part of the game and that is why I came here. For me, not reaching the final would be failure.”
Capello expects former skipper Terry, who was sacked as England captain following allegations about the his private life, to play a crucial role.
“Terry is a true leader, one of those players who always makes a difference,” he said. “I had no choice [to take the captaincy away], he knows that, to me, values come first.
“My other leaders are Rooney, Ferdinand, Lampard and Gerrard. I need them all on my side.”
The England manager hopes outside distractions, such as dealing with the media and contractual issues with their clubs, will be kept to a minimum.
“I hope the players do not change their team or have negotiations. It disturbs the players all the time,” he said. “Every day the [English] media comes up with something new. And the media has a lot of clout, they really influence public opinion.
“But you have to recognise that, at the same time, they have the pulse of English society. It’s part of the job and that’s why I’m here.”