Patience wearing thin with stumbling Capello

LONDON - Two sublime Steven Gerrard goals silenced the Wembley boo boys on Wednesday and averted another humiliation for England coach Fabio Capello but the impression remains the Italian is now damaged goods.

Before the World Cup in June, Capello's stock had never been higher. Now he is in danger of becoming a laughing stock.

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While the performance of several young guns and Gerrard's inspirational display in a 2-1 victory over a limited Hungary side lifted the mood after England's limp World Cup performance, there was a distinct lack of goodwill towards the coach.

In the space of a few months the experienced Italian has stumbled from one mishap to another - stripping away the veneer of authority he once exerted over the players and Britain's tenacious football writers.

His casual announcement on Wednesday that David Beckham no longer has any use to the England squad brought stinging media criticism.

Not so much because of the logic of his decision but the fact the former skipper and England's most-capped outfield player had not been contacted before a recorded interview was aired.

It was no way to treat one of the country's greatest servants and a true ambassador for English football, and underlined the view Capello is out of touch with the nation he represents.

His perfunctory treatment of Beckham was just the latest gaffe by Capello, whose rudimentary grasp of the English language often leaves reporters scratching their heads.

When he named his squad for the Hungary friendly it included goalkeeper Paul Robinson and defender Wes Brown, both of whom immediately retired from international football.

With David James and Robert Green, his World Cup choices, already omitted Capello was left to pluck two unheralded goalkeepers from obscurity.

Before the World Cup in South Africa he attempted unsuccessfully to lure Paul Scholes out of international retirement and continued playing Emile Heskey up front despite the striker failing to get a starting place at Aston Villa.


His ill-fated involvement with the Capello Index, an online player rating system for the World Cup which he later tried to distance himself from, also smacked of naivety for a coach of his experience.

In some ways Capello cannot win.

Earlier in his reign as England manager he was accused of having an angry demeanour in the technical area and of treating the players like children.

His lack of inter-action with the squad was blamed by some for the fear factor that sucked the belief out of some of the country's best players in South Africa.

On Wednesday Capello injected some young players and even changed his 4-4-2 system for a more fluid set-up but sat expressionless for most of the 90 minutes.