Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cohen sees parallels in Capello

World Cup winner George Cohen has likened Fabio Capello to his 1966 coach Sir Alf Ramsey and is convinced he can turn England into an international powerhouse again. The experienced Italian has presided over an unbeaten start to 2010 World Cup qualification and has won over the national players with his throwback approach to discipline – a key facet missing under previous regimes, according to Cohen.

Certainly, his credentials as a club manager stand up against the very best. In a trophy-laden spell with AC Milan he won the Serie A title three years consecutively and in 1994 secured a Scudetto and Champions League double. The 62-year-old also steered Roma to the title in 2001 and helped Juventus to back-to-back domestic crowns.

Capello returned to Real Madrid for a second spell in charge in 2006 and masterminded the capital club's first La Liga triumph since 2003 on the very last day of the season – but was removed at the end of the campaign because his pragmatic approach went against the 'Galactico' principles of his superiors.

Capello also enhanced the widespread theory that he has no time for egos during his time at the Bernabeu by refusing to play high-profile midfielder David Beckham because of his contract dispute with the club.

Cohen, a right-back during Ramsey's World Cup-winning regime, is convinced the focus has returned to the national side under Capello. He said: "I think in Capello we have a real disciplinarian; he has players thinking only about the football, which is how it should be.

"In that sense he is the same as Ramsey. He would always make sure we concentrated on why we were there, with no asides, and he got results. Capello is the same. I think Capello is right to impose some discipline on them and to say 'you are expected here at a certain time - we all eat at a certain time'."

England fell short in their first big test, against Euro 2008 winners Spain in February, and Cohen feels there is still progress to be made under Capello before the Three Lions can be compared to the world's best. He added: "England have improved under Capello - there's no doubt about that. But it's very difficult to know if we are any closer to a second World Cup, because we haven't yet played the likes of Argentina."

Nick Walsh writes features and betting previews for Betfair.

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