Less than Fab

Fabio Capello has admitted that he gave England’s players a rocket at half-time last night, after a sub-standard performance which once again left major doubts about his side’s ability to deal with teams who are able to keep possession and move the ball quickly. In the end England beat Mexico 3-1, but it was not a night to savour for England fans ahead of a World Cup which will be played in extreme heat and at altitude.

‘I spoke to the players at the interval after that first half,’ said Capello after the match. ‘We had to press more. Not all the teams we play will play like they did – theirs was a different style – but, for me, it's very important to press the ball and win it back quickly. I spoke with the players and told them what they had to do.

‘I changed the midfield at half-time and put Steven Gerrard in the middle, where he played very well. He's a really good player who can play in midfield, as a No10, in many different positions. But I learned more about the midfield.

‘They were not an easy team to play against. Mexico had a lot of touches, a lot of movement of the ball. Normally our players are really good in midfield. We never suffered a lot during World Cup qualification.

‘I'm not concerned by tonight. It was really important to know where we are now, physically and mentally after a long season. We have time to recover a lot of the spirit of the team, of the group, and those qualities we have. When we play counter-attacking, we are really dangerous. But I don't just want to play on the counter. I want more.’

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