Fabio Capello is keen to test his theory that England’s players are better during the club season than over the summer, as Gareth Southgate’s side prepare for a winter World Cup.
Capello was England’s manager for the 2010 World Cup campaign, when the Three Lions finished as the top scorers in all of European qualifying. They were unable to repeat that form in South Africa, though, scoring just three times in four matches and going out at the last-16 stage.
Southgate’s team finished fourth at the 2018 World Cup and went unbeaten through their 10 qualifying games for Qatar. There have been concerns voiced after a difficult run of summer games in the UEFA Nations League, but Capello is keen to see whether his theory holds as the World Cup gets underway in the unfamiliar month of November.
“I’m really interested to see who comes out on top at the World Cup in Qatar,” Capello told Sky Sports (via Goal ). “As a former England coach when I coached the team in September, October and November, we were ready to face the best sides in the world.
“In March and April, it was so-so because the physical level was dropping and we then found it very tough in June. I want to test my theory that England are a great side in this period of the year, so besides having talented players and a top coach, can they be really competitive and win a major tournament such as the World Cup?”
Capello’s England scored 34 goals in 10 games en route to the 2010 World Cup, including nine in two matches against Croatia. The former Real Madrid manager also oversaw an unbeaten qualifying campaign for Euro 2012, but left before the tournament and saw the team eliminated at the quarter-final stage under Roy Hodgson.
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England won eight of their qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup, drawing the other two. They scored 39 goals across those games, more than any other European national side, and conceded just three times.
Southgate’s team followed up their results with two friendly victories in March, beating Cote d’Ivoire and Switzerland. However, the four Nations League games which followed produced just two points and one goal, with Hungary beating England home and away
“In the end, this is about winning matches with England,” Southgate said after the 4-0 loss at home to Marco Rossi’s men, admitting he understood fans’ frustrations. “Tonight was the sort of night that a lot of my predecessors have had and experienced, and it’s difficult.
“I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt, but it’s very clear to me what we were trying to do across the four matches, and the irony is that the two Nations League campaigns have been the ones that have heaped negativity and pressure onto us. I’ve got to go with that and it’s my job to protect the players. The results are my responsibility.”.