When Fabio Capello accepted the England job two years ago I’m sure he will have known about the unique environment he would have to work in.
The intense media scrutiny focused on the on the national team mean it is far more than just tactics and formations the manager has to deal with. The excess baggage the job entails has lead to many people seeing the position as a poisoned chalice, rather than one of the greatest honours in football.
Thankfully Capello thought the latter and has dealt with the press and everything else surrounding the role in his own formidable style, while gradually improving things where it matters – on the pitch.
But after their near flawless qualifying campaign all manner of problems have disrupted the squad of late and with less than 100 days to the start of the World Cup, Capello has a lot of work to do.
His first major problem is squad discipline. He openly admits the recent issues surrounding Ashley Cole, John Terry and Wayne Bridge are new to him, even with his vast experience.
With footballers richer than ever before and their egos the size of a small country Capello has a job on his hands if he is to keep his players focused on the job and away from the lures of fast cars and loose women.
John Terry’s form has dipped alarmingly over the past few weeks, a sure sign that off-field distractions are on encroaching on to the pitch. If these issues are allowed to fester into the summer, the resulting splits in the dressing could prove terminal to the Three Lions’ World Cup ambitions.
The result in the upcoming friendly against Egypt is not necessarily that important, but the time Capello has had with his players could prove crucial. The football betting suggests England should in comfortably, but a lot of the attention will be focused on on the field relationships.
Indeed, the game is a chance to heal wounds and clamp down on showbiz excesses that are threatening to derail England’s World Cup campaign before it has begun.
But ultimately, as recent weeks have shown, it is up to the players to decide where their priorities lie. The World Cup odds make England third favourites for the competition, but they will have to work hard to justify those odds.
Written By Betfair blogger Phil Tomlinson