Blog: Capello gets it right over England-Ghana friendly farce

No wonder they say the England manager has the hardest job in the country. In a ninety minute friendly against a side ranked lower than Greece, Norway and Japan in the world, Fabio Capello has to satisfy the demands of players, managers, TV bosses, opponents, Wembley executives and the footballing public. He cannot win.

The Italian coach has come in for widespread criticism in making wholesale changes to the England line up for tonight’s meaningless international with Ghana.

Five players still involved in Champions League duties have been released back to their clubs whilst the other members of his first choice starting line-up from Saturday’s 2-0 European Championships qualifier win over Wales are expected to sit out as Capello experiments with fringe players and youngsters.

Andy Carroll now has another chance after impressing on debut against France. Danny Welbeck has been summoned on form for Sunderland and the U21’s and the likes of Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill and Matt Jarvis will all be rewarded with the opportunities to demonstrate their credentials on the international scene after a long toil with their clubs.

Such shadow sides will be commonplace this week with the majority of international teams expected to experiment ahead of the important climax of domestic seasons.

Monday’s sports columns were awash with testaments to the new Brazilian star Neymar after the 19-year-old scored twice against Scotland to put a face to the name of South America’s latest boy-wonder. It’s worth noting that it was only Neymar’s third cap for the samba boys and came about after the likes of Alexandre Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaka were all omitted for the game.

In terms of team affairs, Capello has got it spot on. The result that mattered was impressively attained and the result which doesn’t matter has been prefixed with the sort of selection which looks at the bigger picture. The England scene cannot be a closed shop and fixtures such as this are, have been and always will be treated with an element of theory.

Capello has never been far off the radar of sceptics under-enamoured with his £7m a year salary and indifferent results, but much of the scorn sent his way for his indifference to this game have come from the fans who feel he is undermining their support.

Attending Wembley tonight to see the Three Lions second string will cost a minimum of £40 but little has been made of the Dick Turpin-esque football association pricing scheme. To see Brazil play there three days prior cost a reasonable £30 whilst the November friendly with the French could have been attended for just £15.

The game is only expected to be a sell-out because around 30,000 Ghanaians have bought tickets to see their nation’s first appearance at the home of football, yet few of these will have flown in from Accra and their own star player and captain Michael Essien has also opted out of playing.

Fabio Capello’s sole responsibility is the welfare of the England football team and in shuffling his pack he has dealt a fair hand to most of those affected. Players who have played and will continue to play, won’t play. Those players who haven’t played will do so and provide Capello with further options and opinions as he sculpts a squad aimed towards Euro 2012 success.

Eventually Capello will be judged on how he fares at major tournaments and after the World Cup debacle, things need to be corrected for Ukraine and Poland. A decent result and performance tonight will be quickly forgotten if the side flop again and similarly, all will be forgiven if Capello can usher England towards glory in 18 months time.

Ghana tonight does not matter. Capello is not devaluing his is de-prioritising. But when was the last time we learnt anything from an England friendly anyway?

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