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Old 28th March 2008, 03:00   #1
Paul Brooks

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Default Players plead for time to let coach complete a work in progress

Players plead for time to let coach complete a work in progress

Dominic Fifield
Friday March 28, 2008
The Guardian

England players united in pleading for patience after their defeat in Paris as they wait for the Fabio Capello factor to take effect in time for the World Cup qualifying campaign in the autumn.

Capello's squad returned to their respective clubs yesterday content that there had been signs of progress despite an anaemic display at the Stade de France. "Everyone has to be patient," said Steven Gerrard. "We need time to work on different formations and tactics. The important thing is we peak in September. We all know when the important games are, but it is important now to start getting it right before we go into those matches."

Events in St-Denis should have provided Capello with plenty of food for thought. Familiar frailties were exposed by France, the display lacking bite and a defensive error condemning the visitors to a first defeat under the new regime. They mustered a solitary effort on target; the delivery from wide was desperately disappointing. They enjoyed lengthy spells of possession but monopolised the ball largely in non-threatening areas. Capello gleaned some satisfaction from his side's patient build-up play but there is a recognition among management and players alike that this is a work in progress.

"The manager wants us to be a lot more aggressive without the ball and pass it a lot more, and we controlled the game in the first half," said Gerrard, who failed to spark in a support role to Wayne Rooney. "Without the ball, France couldn't play. The goal we conceded was stupid but up to then we were comfortable and in charge. You don't want to lose a football match but, if you look at the game as a whole, there was a slight improvement on the performance against Switzerland and it is all about patience and getting used to what the manager wants."

"I'm confident he'll get it right," said David James. "It is all part of the learning curve. It's frustrating to have lost to France but we go away with a lot of positives. Capello wants England to play without fear. The high line he uses is an aggressive line. If you look at the Russia and Croatia games [lost under Steve McClaren], perhaps we've been guilty of dropping off too deep. We are finding out what he wants from us."

Capello is used to having more time to work with his players at club level, which suggests England's development may be steady rather than spectacular. The reality that he would prefer to introduce younger players only when he has identified an experienced core and impressed upon them the style he wishes them to play indicates that the fine-tuning will continue in the summer friendlies against the United States and Trinidad and Tobago.

Rio Ferdinand said: "The new manager has come in, not had many training days to implement all his ideas, although he has been thorough in what he wants from us in the time we have spent with him and assertive in what he demands of us as individuals and as a team. But we are going to need time. It can be difficult if the manager wants to make a lot of changes, but we've got a few friendlies still to play.

"The manager will want to see different players and different formations and we've got to be able to adjust ... The more time we will have with him, the more you will see his stamp of authority on the team."

Ferdinand was the captain in Paris but Chelsea's John Terry is understood to have been assured he will get a chance to lead the team and show why he should be given the armband long-term. Wayne Rooney may also be granted that opportunity.,00.html
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