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Barca attack picking up steam

Barcelona 4 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Aug 21, 2008

Cole expresses confidence in Capello's tactics

Joe Cole feels Fabio Capello's meticulous attention to detail will see England emerge as a force in world football once again.

The Italian coach used the fifth and final friendly before the World Cup qualifying campaign to fine tune his tactics ahead of the date with minnows Andorra in Barcelona on September 6 and then the crunch trip to old adversaries Croatia four days later.

While it took a scrappy stoppage-time goal from Chelsea forward Cole, on as substitute, to spare England from defeat against the Czech Republic in front of their own fans, the feeling among the squad is things are moving in the 'right direction' under the guidance of the former Real Madrid boss, who took up the reigns following Steve McClaren's failed attempt to reach the European Championships.

'There is a lot difference. It's the tiny things, the minute details,' said Cole.

However, the Chelsea man stressed: 'It won't happen overnight.

'People who understand the game know that managers sometimes come in, there is a big blitz of goals and then it (fades away).

'What we have done is the right way, slowly. We are getting better.

'We are going up and down a little bit, but we're going in the right direction.

'It's in place now, we've got the coach, the captain, the vice captain. Now we can start moving forward.'

Cole added: 'We have got the cobwebs out of the way, back into the England mind set.

'We have got to go away and there are some important games for our clubs - but we are set for England now.

'We are ready for Croatia that is for sure.'

Cole, 26, was not part of McClaren's team which went down 2-0 in Zagreb in October 2006.

The travelling fans let the England players know in no uncertain terms just what they thought of that performance.

The Chelsea forward believes lessons will have been learned.

'I think maybe we underestimated them in the last campaign and we paid the price,' said Cole, who was back in the England fold for the return clash at Wembley last November where defeat finally ended McClaren's tenure.

'It's difficult to talk about revenge or anything like that in football - but it is fresh in our minds what they have done to us, their celebrations and things like that, so we want to go and win the game.'

Cole started on the bench against the Czechs, with Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard pressed into a more attacking role behind the front two of Wayne Rooney and Portsmouth's Jermain Defoe.

The formation showed some positive signs, if without setting Wembley alight.

'There was a lot of good movement, a lot of good passing at times - but again we still feel there's room for improvement,' Cole said.

'We are all talking every day, the players are talking with each other about how we can improve. We want to get things right.'

Cole added: 'If we had won 5-0, people would be talking about us being world champions. If we had have lost 5-0 we would be the biggest duffers ever to kick a ball.'

England always expects ahead of major tournaments, but the stars of the Barclays Premier League have so far been unable to take their club form through onto the international stage.

'Managing expectations is not something we are in control of,' Cole observed.

'We have just got to do what we can control and that is our performances. Patience is the key. It is an 18-month campaign.

'Obviously we are making steps, small strides, and they might not be noticeable to the public - but we are feeling them as a team and we are getting stronger.'

Cole, though, knows the proof of any progress will come in South Africa - presuming, of course, England do safely negotiate the qualifying campaign.

'It is all about qualifying first and foremost, then we want to be peaking when we get there,' said Cole.

'Far too often I have felt we have peaked in the qualifiers, like a couple of summers ago, then in the tournaments we have not really done the business - but we will be all right.'

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