Capello coronation crowned by Cole
Despite his comments in the post-match press conference, no-one could really know what was going on in the mind of Fabio Capello following England's 2-1 victory over Switzerland at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night.
The bespectacled Italian, who at present is not communicating
with the media in English, seemed to be able to get his point over
to the players on a number of occasions when the 61-year-old rose
from his seat in the dugout.
Yet despite his nonchalant gesticulations when the effective Joe Cole and Jermaine Jenas were substituted, there were plenty of points when one presumes that the former Real Madrid coach help but be impressed by his new charges.
In his first set of programme notes, Capello wrote: "I have six months and five friendlies to build the foundations for a successful team, starting with tonight's match. We will use the friendly games to learn everything we can about the players."
So, what might he have learned?
First of all, that England can play a brand of football that belies their kick-and-rush and physical reputation. With players such as Cole, revelling in a free role, based on the left hand side of midfield and David Bentley, making the most of his opportunity on the opposite flank, the team flourished.
There may have been a few groans from the sell-out crowd when the ball was played back midway through the first half - and a few chants of 'There's only one David Beckham' was heard shortly after the half hour mark, but in the end the mood of the fans was one of appreciation rather than annoyance.
After all, who could not have been impressed with Cole displaying the type of individual flair that England have missed in recent years? A holding role played well by Gareth Barry gave skipper Steven Gerrard and Jermaine Jenas licence to roam forward, while Blackburn Rover David Bentley provided most of the ammunition.
Unsurprisingly, the goal was made in midfield, a lovely lay-off from Bentley found Cole, who beat two Switzerland defenders before putting in a cross from which Jenas could not miss.
If there was one criticism it was that Rooney, for all his guts and guile, at times looked isolated without a strike partner. Bentley's job of crossing the ball from the byline was made all the more difficult due to England's lack of height upfront and at times the Manchester United striker was guilty of trying to do too much.
At the back, the defence was rarely tested, but David James, much maligned for nerves when it matters most, looked solid whenever called upon. Teenage striker Eren Derdiyok did manage to level matters with a fine finish in the 58th minute, following a double substitution which saw Shaun Wright-Phillips and Peter Crouch replace Cole and Jenas.
If the replacements were responsible for providing an interruption in concentration, they made amends four minutes later when Crouch's flick-on found Gerrard, who squared the ball to Wright-Phillips who was left with the simplest of chances. England were 2-1 ahead - and Capello was a saviour once again.
But what of the Swiss? If this game was important to England as it hailed a new era, this match gave Kobi Kuhn's men a good workout with EURO 2008 looming closer. With a display full of effort, but little ingenuity, there are a few points to work on.
But the night belonged to Capello and to England - and the hope of a brighter future - rather than the storm clouds that hovered over his predecessor, Steve McClaren, who at the last match at Wembley Stadium was dubbed 'the wally with the brolly' following the 3-2 defeat to Croatia, which cost the Three Lions a place at Austria and Switzerland.
There are no such signs of disrespecting the manager here. For Capello, the honeymoon period continues.