After the month he has had you could forgive Fabio Capello for checking his street for black cats, stray ladders or broken mirrors.
Following the smooth process of qualifying for this summer’s World Cup, England’s preparations have been hit by one scandal after another in recent weeks.
The latest scandal is the emergence of a tape said to contain conversations between coaching staff and players at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire ahead of the 3-1 victory over Egypt at Wembley last Wednesday.
The FA were quick to silence the press reminding them that information obtained in such away cannot be published, but it is the very fact it has been recorded is the worrying thing. In future cases it may not be given to the press, it could be used for a myriad of reasons including betting and opposition preparation.
Capello will no doubt look to increase the security around his team bases from now until the big kick off this summer, but it is just the latest episode in a long line of distractions for the England boss since the turn of the year.
The John Terry/Wayne Bridge situation and the subsequent fallout put player behaviour firmly in the spotlight. The timing of revelations regarding Ashley Cole’s alleged infidelity and subsequent marriage break-up was not particularly helpful but perhaps depressingly inevitable.
Though the fans will cheer on the Three Lions on this summer, you can’t help feel that public confidence and respect has plummeted for a bunch of players that seem to behave with an arrogant disregard for others. Adverse public opinion is an unexpected and unhelpful obstacle Capello needs to help his team cross.
On the pitch things are not going too well either. Hardly a week goes by without another member of the squad falling victim to injury. Ashley Cole broke an ankle and is out for at least three months and Rio Ferdinand’s creaking back means he is a real doubt to make the tournament, even if the online odds still make him favourite to captain the side.
First-choice right back Glenn Johnson has only just recovered from a lengthy lay-off while current full-back Wes Brown is out for six weeks with a foot injury. Michael Owen’s season ending hamstring injury, Joe Cole’s lack of match fitness after a year out and fears Wayne Rooney could suffer burn-out can also be added to the list. It’s clear Capello has more than enough to deal with without bugs adding to an already bulging plate of problems.
The World Cup 2010 betting odds currently make England third favourites for the tournament, but they could struggle if things keep going wrong.