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Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Capello surprised by improvement

Fabio Capello
Capello has won eight of his 10 games in charge

England coach Fabio Capello says his side are ahead of schedule as he approaches his first year in charge.

Capello succeeded Steve McClaren after England's failure to reach Euro 2008 and has brought about a dramatic change in their fortunes.

The 2-1 win over Germany in Berlin on Wednesday means England end 2008 on the back of five successive wins.

"We are further forward than I thought we would be after our first year," said Capello, who took over in January.

Capello's reign got off to a bumpy start with an uninspiring win at home to Switzerland followed by defeat in France.

But England appear to have got stronger with each game and will go into 2009 full of confidence, having ended the year with four straight World Cup qualifying wins before the friendly defeat of Germany.

"Before I took the job I knew the players but when we played against Switzerland I understood the work was going to be very hard. It was a very big job," he added.

"We needed to recover the confidence and spirit. The players have a lot of ability but they were only showing it in training and in the Premier League, not with the national team.

"Changing that is one of the most important things we have done."

ENGLAND RECORDS AFTER 10 GAMES
Glenn Hoddle - W9 D0 L1
Fabio Capello - W8 D1 L1
Walter Winterbottom - W8 D1 L1
Sven-Goran Eriksson - W7 D2 L1
Ron Greenwood - W7 D2 L1
Graham Taylor - W7 D3 L0
Don Revie - W6 D3 L1
Sir Alf Ramsey - W6 D1 L3
Sir Bobby Robson - W5 D4 L1
Terry Venables - W5 D4 L1
Kevin Keegan - W4 D5 L1
Steve McClaren - W4 D4 L2
The Germany result means England have won eight and drawn one of his 10 matches in charge, with the only blip being the 1-0 defeat by France in March.

"I think it is impossible to be better than this," Capello said. "We have played 10 games and after every one I said the players had taken another step forward."

One of the notable aspects of the win over Germany was how England's fringe players seemed to rise to the occasion, with the likes of Stewart Downing producing one of his best performances in an England shirt.

Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips also impressed after many of England's bigger names dropped out of the squad because of injuries.

"It shows the strength in depth of the squad, which is vital," said Capello. "You're not always going to have everyone available.

"I am very happy for these [selection] problems. We have plenty of time to decide upon the next squad."

One of the criticisms of previous England coaches has been that the big-name players have been picked regardless of form, but Capello has shown he is not concerned with reputations.

England captain John Terry was one of only three regular starters in the team against Germany.

The Chelsea defender said: "The younger players are pushing us and putting us under pressure.

"If they continue their form at club level the manager will pick them so that is pressure on the more experienced players.

"It gives everyone confidence in the Premier League that, if they are playing well enough, they will get selected by the manager whether it a qualifier or a friendly."

While McClaren was accused of being too close to the players, Capello has shown the players exactly who is boss during his time in charge.

PHIL McNULTY BLOG
Both Terry and goalkeeper David James have admitted that Capello lets the players know in certain terms when he is not happy with them in training.

And there is little doubt that the players have looked much sharper in games under the former Real Madrid coach.

"The belief in each other and the work-rate we have been showing for each other in the games is second to none," added Terry.

"We are progressing very well. The work-rate and commitment we show for each other at the start of games and at the end of games is really encouraging.

"That is something the manager stressed early on, when he first got the job."

Midfielder Gareth Barry told BBC Radio 5 Live the team's performance was the culmination of steady progress in Capello's first year.

"I wouldn't say it's been a dramatic change. He [Capello] has had that aura about him from the first game," said the Aston Villa star.

"It's not like a club manager where you're working day to day, he's slowly got his points across.

"It's a matter of time and getting things right, and trying to improve even more."

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see also
Capello's winners and losers
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Capello delights in England win
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International football photos
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Germany 1-2 England
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England Player Rater
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Capello 'calm' over withdrawals
17 Nov 08 |  Internationals
Walcott ruled out after surgery
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Terry supports Mancienne call-up
16 Nov 08 |  Internationals
Pick your England XI
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