Stockport County manager Gary Ablett has praised Fabio Capello as the reason behind the revival of the England national team and believes that the Three Lions are more than capable of winning the 2010 World Cup.
England famously failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under former manager Steve McClaren, but the Hatters boss thinks the mentality of the players has improved under Capello, who is no doubt helped by working with one of the most exciting England squads in recent years. The Three Lions qualified from Group 6 of the World Cup qualifiers with nine wins out of ten, finishing as the highest scoring country of the campaign, with only European champions Spain having a higher points tally.
Ablett, who played in the 1982 World Cup finals for England, is delighted at the way Capello has transformed the Three Lions into a major force in football, and has no qualms about England being tipped amongst the favourites to win the World Cup.
“The mentality under Capello is getting much better, as well as the football,” said Ablett. “I think we have one of the best national squads in recent history and it is more than capable of going there and winning the cup. Capello is trying to change it round and we are seeing the benefits of that now with how we did in the qualifying campaign. Behind the scenes he has installed a lot of discipline and the players seem to have reacted well to that.”
Having played in America for Long Island Rough Raiders almost 20 years ago, Ablett is still very aware of the threat that Group C opponents the United States pose, and does not believe England’s group opponents should be underestimated.
“I think America will be a tough game, they have a similar approach to us in the way they play and their philosophy is much the same as ours. The tempo may not be as fast as it is over here, and it is certainly less physical, but they like to play good football and they will be a challenge. Algeria reached the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup and they have players in the Premier League who know our English players very well so they will not be easy either. On paper it is an easy group, but none of the teams can be underestimated and it would not surprise me if one of the African sides such as the Ivory Coast popped up this year and caused an upset.“
Last November, England were outplayed by Brazil in a 1-0 defeat and Ablett claims that, while England stand a chance of emerging victorious in South Africa, victory will only come if they play to their strengths.
“We all enjoy the way the likes of Brazil and Spain play, but if that type of fluid football is not one of our strengths then we need to play to ours. We have a way to go to catch up to the Brazils and Spains, they play a different style of football than we see over here. However, we have strengths they do not have and we need to play to them, if that is being physical and playing at a higher tempo then that is what we have to do.”
The England team has faced scrutiny in recent weeks, with players’ private lives coming into question, and Ablett believes that success in South Africa will come down to the relationships between the players themselves.
“You’ve got a lot of different personalities from a lot of clubs and it is how you build on those relationships. There are intense rivalries such as Manchester United and Chelsea and it is how the players overcome those rivalries and come together as a team. If they do that I believe we have a very realistic chance of winning the World Cup. “