Capello vows to stay on with England until 2012
Fabio Capello has vowed to remain as England boss until 2012, even though the Italian's £6million-a-year contract with the FA has an escape clause that would allow either party to call time on the agreement after this summer's World Cup in South Africa.
Given the astounding reversal in fortunes - from not even making Euro 2008 to being installed as third favourites for the biggest prize in the game - it is impossible to conceive the FA would rip the deal up. There has been a sneaking suspicion that Capello might though.
The theory goes that the 63-year-old is not entirely keen on life in London, misses the day-to-day involvement of being a club boss and, considering his lack of affinity to the England cause, would prefer to head home. In fact, Capello loves his life and his job.
He has repeatedly stressed the England manager's post was the only international role he wanted, that the challenge of reinvigorating the Three Lions was much more appealing even than coaching Italy, whose four World Cups give them a status sadly lacking in this country. And, as he looks ahead to next week's Euro 2012 draw in Warsaw, Capello confirmed he has no plans to quit.
"I hope to be still here in 2012,'' he said. "It depends on the FA and results at the World Cup of course but I am really happy. I like my job. I like being England manager and I hope after the World Cup I will still be manager.
"I don't think about not being the England manager. The football in England is exciting, the Premier League is good and I enjoy working with the English players.''
Certainly Capello seems to have avoided much of the negative publicity that has surrounded the role in recent years. The Sven-Goran Eriksson era was side-tracked by dalliances, both professional and personal, involving Chelsea, Ulrika Jonsson and Faria Alam. He also kept failing at the quarter-finals, a test admittedly Capello is yet to face.
Steve McClaren's ill-fated two years were hampered by injuries to key men, plus decisions such as playing Scott Carson in the vital final qualifier against Croatia after only making his debut five days earlier, that merely confirmed a suspicion that he was not up to the task. Those thoughts do not exist with Capello.
Even the sceptics who maintain an Englishman should be England manager would struggle to argue Capello has not been a success, while the former AC Milan coach's vast experience and trophies at the highest level earn him a priceless degree of respect from his peers.
"I have a good feeling with the players but also the managers and the FA,'' Capello said. "That is important for me. I am comfortable here in England and with this job - it gives me great satisfaction and we still have things to achieve.
"For me being happy in my job is the most important thing. It is not just about managing the team - it is everything. Being England manager makes me happy. I like living in London and so does my wife. The message is I am happy here and I hope to be the England manager for the Euros.''
Capello asked Wayne Rooney a simple question after a couple of months of his reign as England manager, and the answer has taken the team's World Cup talisman into an elite group of superstars.
No-one doubted Rooney's potential from the moment he exploded onto the scene as a 16-year-old with Everton by smashing that sensational winner against Arsenal at Goodison Park. Yet alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, his progress appeared painfully slow.
When Ronaldo scored 42 goals in United's momentous 2008 campaign, when they won the Champions League, Rooney managed a mere 18. Last term the figures were 26 and 20. Capello was puzzled.
"After a few games I asked him why he didn't score more goals,'' recalled the Italian, himself a former striker. "He was playing too far from goal. It needed to change. Now he is playing closer to goal - and scoring. His goal in the Carling Cup against City was in an area where I want him to be. That is where he can be a dangerous player.''
At the same time as Capello was looking at altering Rooney's role, Sir Alex Ferguson was making exactly the same point. Yet, with the presence of Ronaldo forcing Rooney to play out wide, especially in the latter part of last season when the now departed former world player of the year had virtually abandoned his defensive duties, it is perhaps no surprise the first signs of improvement came with England.
Now the same is happening at United. Nine goals in a triumphant World Cup qualifying campaign have been followed by 21 so far this term at club level, with Ferguson setting Rooney a rather conservative target of 30, seven more than his previous best.
"Rooney has improved a lot during the last two years and this season he has been fantastic,'' enthused Capello. "He has been United's leader on the pitch this season. It is not easy to improve but he has taken his game to another level. For me, he has improved in every area. He is showing a new maturity and is scoring goals, which is good for him, Manchester United and England.''