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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friday, February 8, 2008
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Becks, Owen out in the cold

David Beckham and Michael Owen have been warned that their superstar reputations will not be enough to earn them a return to centre stage with England now that Fabio Capello is in charge.

Having axed Beckham from his squad altogether, the Italian sent out another strong signal of his determination to do things his way by leaving Owen, England's most reliable goalscorer for the last decade, on the bench throughout his first match in charge, Wednesday night's friendly against Switzerland.

A competent performance and a 2-1 victory over the joint Euro 2008 hosts got Capello's reign off to a positive start and he offered little in the way of reassurance for either of England's two biggest stars.

"I believe in order to play for England you need to be a great player but you need to be playing well as well," he said. "At first players have to have the right quality, then they have to be fit and in good form."

Asked specifically why he had not given Owen any game time, Capello replied: "I think about substitutions according to what happens on the pitch and what I see. I decide who to bring on and who to take off. If people perform as I want they will stay on the pitch, if they don't they will come off. Players are all equal."

Capello was equally unmoved by the supporters who chanted Beckham's name as England began the match hesitantly. "It doesn't influence me at all," he said.

"I'm happy for the supporters to chant David Beckham's name. The things I do have nothing to do with personal feelings for players. Everything is born of reasoning."

Substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips ensured that the Capello era began with a win after a fine first-time strike by Swiss debutant Eren Derdiyok had cancelled out a first-half opener from Jermaine Jenas.

"Winning is always good and it is important for the morale of the team," Capello said after a display in which his side steadily improved over the course of the 90 minutes.

Capello said the hesitant start was understandable in the wake of England's last outing, a 3-2 home defeat by Croatia which ensured they did not reach the finals of Euro 2008 and cost his predecessor, Steve McClaren, his job.

"We probably still had at the back of our mind the failure to qualify for Euro 2008," Capello said.

"Wembley always generates pressure on the players and they could not play as we wished at first. But then we generated many chances to score. We did not take many of them, partly because Switzerland had a very good goalkeeper, but one of the things I was pleased with was that we did not give them many chances.

"From the bench I could not see perfectly what happened with their goal. But I have an idea of the mistakes we made but perhaps that was the only defensive mistake we made in the whole game."

Capello added: "Switzerland are a team that can create problems. We made sure they were not in a position to create many."

Switzerland's coach Jakob Kuhn was happy with his own side's display.

"England fought hard and they certainly did not do us any favours -- they had to redeem themselves in front of new coach and their supporters. We are not proud of being defeated but the way we matched the English was something I was pleased about." The composition of Capello's starting XI was unequivocal in its indictment of the shortcomings of the previous regime.

From the team that started the defeat to Croatia, only Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry and Joe Cole survived.

David Bentley was handed Beckham's old berth on the right of midfield and the Blackburn player responded with the evening's outstanding performance.

Tottenham's Jermaine Jenas also made the most of his recall from the international wilderness, opening the scoring with a simple tap-in after being teed up by Joe Cole after a lovely piece of trickery carried the Chelsea midfielder around a bewildered Swiss right-back, Stephan Lichtsteiner.

But with Bentley in impressive form, England were comfortably superior to their guests, who conjured up an equaliser completely against the run of play just before the hour mark.

England needed just over three minutes to reassert themselves, Wright-Phillips tapping the ball into an empty net after Gerrard had surged through the inside-left channel.

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