Defoe’s Late Call-Up

This is interesting: I had serious doubts about Defoe’s England future on the grounds of his temperament and the quality of his off-the-ball movement, but the injury to Gabby Agbonlahor has let him back in despite his absence from the original 30.

On the face of it, what this reveals about Capello’s management style is outstandingly simple: be playing, and be playing well, and you can hope to get into the squad at any time.

..the Italian coach told Defoe last night that, having moved to Portsmouth and scored on debut on Saturday, he has a role to play.. (Guardian)

So this isn’t going to be a Club England approach with the same or similar eleven given a long time to become accustomed to playing together. Or if it is, it’s going to be one run on very different lines.

I see this doing two things.

First of all, clearly, it’s going to ramp up the pressure on England’s potential internationals. Not just during international matches, either; they’ll have to perform all season long to remain in contention. Although this will please the kind of fan who quietly hates players for their money and fame and who regards slave plantations with whip-toting overseers as the ideal form of management, it isn’t necessarily going to produce better performances – just more anxiety. Fear, not laziness, is the problem.

Secondly, it places pressure on the coach. Capello had better know what he is doing and be capable of presenting that to the players in a way they can understand. If the players can’t rely on their places, less emphasis falls on their experience of playing together and more on what they are instructed to do game by game. Effectively, Capello, who has not managed an international side before, is intentionally widening the gap between that kind of management and club management in which you can develop a team over time.

There’s one point to be made to temper the slave-plantation boys. Gabby’s injury means that the 23 to face Switzerland are all players that Ericksson and McClaren capped. McClaren’s experiments, the successful introduction of Gareth Barry aside, only confirmed that Ericksson had got the basic side right. Beyond that, you needed the best players to be fit – and how often has that been the case in the last four years? because their understudies just aren’t good enough. Capello clearly agrees on the basic group. It is not on, as some of the plantation chaps have urged, to “drop them all” because they’ve “brought shame on the nation.”

Over the last three years, it’s always been the ones the plantation boys think are past it, or prima donnas, or not roaring lions or whatever phrase gets used, who have performed.

Exhibit One:

Exhibit Two:

Exhibit Three:

By the way, is anyone NOT taking at least some enjoyment from Capello’s treatment of John Terry, in the light of all those chavscum nightclub incidents?

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