Football: I AM THE LAW; FRANCE V ENGLAND TONIGHT, STADE DE FRANCE, KICK-OFF 8PM Do It Capello's Way or You Will Be Left Dredd and Buried

The Mirror (London, England), March 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Football: I AM THE LAW; FRANCE V ENGLAND TONIGHT, STADE DE FRANCE, KICK-OFF 8PM Do It Capello's Way or You Will Be Left Dredd and Buried


Byline: MARTIN LIPTON CHIEF FOOTBALL WRITER REPORTS FROM PARIS

HE CAME in as 'The Don' but last night the message from Fabio Capello was lifted straight from Judge Dredd: "I am the Law."

As Capello fired the warning shots across the bows of John Terry and any other member of his squad wondering where the boundaries will be set, there was no mistaking he meant business on and off the pitch.

By publicly stating that the events of White Hart Lane last week were beyond the pale, the England boss could not have done more for the FA's 'Respect' agenda.

Capello is still keen to stay onside with the public, still willing to talk up the qualities he has witnessed in his three months of touring the country.

But what matters most for the Italian is putting down markers that will reverberate through the minds of his players at every stage of their working days, a code of conduct that they know is utterly inflexible.

In Capello's mind, discipline off the pitch equates to discipline on it. If people want to learn, they will be accommodated. If they refuse to listen, they will be discarded.

By excusing new captain Rio Ferdinand's previous excesses as "the past is the past", Capello made it clear that life began all over again on January 7, the day he walked into Soho Square as England boss for the first time.

But everything that happened from minute one of day one did count. The anarchy he witnessed at Spurs last week was unacceptable. Describing his players as 24/7 "role models" was part of that message. It is the attitude we have been crying out for.

Capello said: "We must set out to achieve important things. It's about gaining the conviction that we can reach great targets and great achievements.

"I believe I have a good group to work with and this will be a very important test against a top level team, a very important match and something I'll be able to draw my first conclusions from."

Listening to Capello last night, there was a fierce determination behind the slightly forced smiles. It is a determination that has already had its effect on his squad, all on edge and worried about their places, all aware of the new world they face - and, unprecedented for a friendly at this stage of the season, all present and correct too. …

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