I Just Don't Know How England Managed to Sink So Low in the Rankings

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT LAWTON

FABIO CAPELLO says he will 'soon be fluent' in English and the more he learns, the more expressive he appears to become.

He gave a fascinating interview to FIFA's official magazine, declaring a desire to drag English football away from 'ketchup and chips' and into the modern era before guiding a British team to gold medal glory at the London Olympics in 2012.

The fact that he hopes to do so after standing down as England's manager is not something that will surprise his employers at the Football Association as 2012 is when his contract expires.

But it will concern them when the Italian has made such an impressive start in a role he considers far from a 'mission impossible'.

He might consider 66 to be 'retirement age' and he might want to 'travel and visit all of the ancient cultures that fascinate' him 'so much'.

But when the time comes the FA might want to point to the success Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed in his 67th year and urge him to continue.

They could play on his apparent passion for managing England, and perhaps even point to the fact that he probably should have had the job sooner.

'Managing England was a childhood dream of mine,' said Capello in the interview. 'For me, the English have always been the teachers of our sport, the ones who took the game to the rest of the world.

'In 2000, Howard Wilkinson, who at the time was England's interim coach, asked me whether I would be interested in taking over.

But in the end, the FA chose Sven Goran Eriksson. It wouldn't have been the right time for me anyway, but now I am eager and determined to help England rediscover the spirit they once had as the teachers of football.

'I simply cannot understand how England can drop as low, as we speak, as 15th in the FIFA world ranking.'

(After England's good start to their World Cup campaign under Capello they are now 10th).

In his efforts to guide England towards the summit of the ranking table, Capello intends to target a number of areas.

He will start by trying to make some subtle but what he considers necessary changes to the culture of the English game.

'Football always has to be a reflection of a country's culture,' he said.

'I don't want to change the characteristics and traits of English footballers, I just want to instil more discipline and teach them to work better as a team.

'Having said that, I do allow each player room to develop his own style within the role that I assign to him.

I want to give England a little taste of Latin football from France, Italy, Greece and Spain, and even from Portugal and Croatia, as all of these countries have dominated the European Championship and World Cup in the last 10 years, with the exception of the World Cup in 2002 when Brazil came out on top.

'English football has not been just about "kick and rush" or "put the ball in the box" for many years now.

I want a compact English team.

Whether we win or lose, the most important thing is that we have a team on the pitch and not just a group of players.

'It's true that I have changed other things.

I have, for example, impressed upon them the advantages of a Mediterranean diet over ketchup and chips.

I have also put some rules of conduct in place for when the team meets up, from eating breakfast together to the use of mobile phones, which must be switched off from time to time. …