Fabio Capello is confident England’s 5-1 defeat of Croatia will have done wonders for his players’ confidence ahead of next year’s World Cup finals.
Afterwards, the Italian hailed his side’s display, suggesting that it was the best since he took charge of the England team in 2007.
He said: “We won 5-1 and the performance of the team was very, very important.
“I think we played the best first 20 minutes that we have played during qualification for the World Cup.
“The result is really, really important. 5-1 against Croatia here at Wembley where we lost last time – it is really good for the psychology of the players.”
The victory maintained his side’s 100 per cent qualification record with eight straight wins, but Capello played down England’s chances of winning the World Cup.
“We aren’t the best team in the world – this is sure – but we have to wait until next June when we will play in South Africa,” he said.
Vanquished Croatia coach Slaven Bilic believes that England possess the credentials to be considered viable contenders for the World Cup.
“We didn’t expect such a crushing defeat,” he said. “Not in our worst nightmares were we expecting this. It was not a normal defeat. It was humiliation. They played fantastically from the start. Even before the first goal, they looked the sharper, more aggressive side. Simply the better side. We were very happy at half-time that it was only 2-0 because, without our goalkeeper, it could have been five. Our goalkeeper was brilliant. But, in the end, they destroyed us.
“They can definitely win the World Cup. Definitely. It’s not easy to play every game like that, but they did not misplace a pass in the first half-hour. All their passes were dangerous, one-twos … perfect. If they play like that, then of course they can win it.”