FA did England development favour sticking with Capello
EDITORIAL: By sticking with Fabio Capello, the FA have guaranteed the English public a fresh injection of youth for their national team.
Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher has already confirmed he won't be available for the Euro2012 campaign, while Chelsea captain John Terry, Portsmouth goalkeeper David James and free agent Joe Cole may also struggle to find a way back. The latter three have either been non-committal, or downright critical, of Capello's management during and after England's dismal World Cup campaign.
If he can find alternatives, it is difficult to see Capello standing by them.
Capello's tactics were exposed. His 4-4-2 system was predictable and the players suffered from it. Terry Venables, the former Euro96 England coach, took apart the Italian's tactics last week in an enlightening article.
But senior names must be sacrificed. Fresh faces, new hope is now needed, if only to lift the nation after the South African disaster.
It's no quirk of fate that the game's three biggest names from the last 12 months are all under 25 - Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney. Youth, pace and energy is what was missing from England.
It's too easy to heap all blame on Capello for the players' performance. One of the key lobbyists for the Italian to keep his job was the FA's technical chief, Sir Trevor Brooking. The West Ham United icon is a straight-shooter and spent the World Cup in camp with England's players. If he sensed that the relationship between the squad and manager was beyond repair, he would have piped up.
There's now a clamour to write off England's future prospects. That there's no talent coming through and nothing for fans to hang onto.
But in four years' time, Arsenal pair Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs will be in their 20's, as will Everton defender Jack Rodwell. They've all shown enough in the last 12 months to suggest major careers ahead.
Like most, I felt let down by Capello in South Africa. I thought his tactical experience, his record of success would make up any shortcomings in the balance of England's team.
As he did at Real Madrid, converting a Real C player in Miguel Torres into a championship-winning fullback, I had banked on Capello uncovering a 'bolter', someone no-one had thought of - but was absolutely suited to international football. Instead, a week before the final squad was named he made a desperate pitch to Carragher and Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes to end their international exile. Then turned to Tottenham captain King after ignoring him for the entire qualifying run.
It was confusing and in hindsight set the tone for a muddled, desperate campaign.
A new broom is now needed. Capello knows his reputation and place in the game's history is on the line.
England need the Capello of the World Cup qualifiers. The Capello that didn't dither over stripping Terry of the England captaincy. He needs to be decisive in team selection and give youth it's chance.
A 2014 England team to win the World Cup:
Joe Hart (Manchester City) - Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) - Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Jack Wilshire (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Ashley Young (Aston Villa) - Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Connor Wickham (Ipswich)