Capello stumbles on but patience is wearing thin

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.

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.

Capello Index

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.

He did not even raise a smile when Gerrard produced two superb second-half goals despite the passionate celebrations of the Liverpool player.

At the World Cup Capello seemed at a loss to explain the poor form of his players while there were murmurings of dissent from former captain John Terry, Joe Cole and James and much talk of boredom and disharmony in the camp.

For a coach with a dazzling CV in club football his tactics have also been called into question, from his unimaginative like-for-like substitutions to his inability to release the shackles from the likes of Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

There was a glimpse of new shoots of recovery on Wednesday as Capello began the task of preparing England for the Euro 2012 qualification process but he no longer seems to enjoy the support of the media.

When that happens the end is not usually too far away as the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Steve McClaren and Sven-Goran Eriksson will testify.

England face Bulgaria in their first Euro 2012 qualifier on Sept. 3 at Wembley when Capello can ill afford any more slip-ups, on or off the field.

Bureau Report

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