'The way we went out [of South Africa 2010] against Germany still hurts,' lamented former England manager Fabio Capello to FIFA. Overall, Capello feels he has left a lasting legacy as manager of the national team because he oversaw qualification to a major tournament following the Croatia debacle during qualification for the European Championships in 2008, together with his insistence on giving promising youth a chance in the senior side.
'[The Germany loss] aside, I feel satisfied,' the Italian, now manager of Russia, added.
'I arrived after the team had missed out on qualifying for EURO 2008, but under me we easily made it through two qualifying campaigns. My win record was very good and I also gave loads of young players a chance such as Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, James Milner and Joe Hart. Theo Walcott had already played a game for England but he established himself under me.'
While England have always been able to call upon Premier League stars such as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney - all of them Champions League winners with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, success has long eluded them at international level.
Capello's simple answer: 'They’re tired.'
An advocate of a mid-season break, Capello points to the high standards set during the first half of the Premier League that ultimately fade during the second half as teams naturally lag due to accumulative fatigue. Other leagues in Europe have the benefit of a break over the festive period, which allows players to rejuvenate.
Capello, a Champions League winning manager with AC Milan, foresees a contrast in fortunes should the Premier League follow the rest of Europe's lead and enforce a two-week break. He argues it will freshen the international players up and compares the difference to pit-stops in motorsport.
'[England are] the least fresh of any of the competing national sides, because their league doesn’t have a break. It’s like when you’re driving a car: if you stop halfway to put fuel in then you’ll definitely get where you want to go, but if you don’t then there’s always the chance you’ll be running on empty before you reach your goal.
'In my opinion the football played in the first half of the English season is much better than in the second half. And because of that, if you want to be a competitive team in the Premier League, you need a really big squad, which is a luxury you don’t get with the national team.'
'[Italy have] a very interesting side, with good players and a great coach. They could be one of the revelations of the next World Cup. Prandelli has assembled a great squad with a winning mentality. I think he’s done an extraordinary job.'
image: © geetarchurchy