Capello stands firm under fire
World Cup 2010: Cape Town
Fabio Capello delivered a typically masculine Italian take on crossing your fingers for good luck at suggestions the fates have already decided England's World Cup campaign will take flight in Cape Town.
Capello conceals a superstitious streak beneath his iron exterior - so refused to accept all the omens pointed towards England's coach celebrating his 64th birthday with victory against Algeria on Friday.
He does not trust to luck when it comes to the business of management. Capello relies on methods forged in the hothouses of the San Siro and The Bernabeu, and which he will continue to use in South Africa.
And if anyone was wondering whether faith in his personal decision-making progress had been shaken by England's faltering start against the United States, Capello put them to bed emphatically under cross-examination in Cape Town.
Capello's resolve to keep England's squad in the dark over his selection until two hours before kick-off has come under severe scrutiny in the days since the draw with the United States - especially his refusal to name his preferred goalkeeper.
Would Robert Green have been better served by knowing well in advance he would be playing in Rustenburg? Did Capello's decision to keep his cards close to his chest contribute to anxiety that caused Green to gift Clint Dempsey an equaliser?
Capello's conviction that he is right is set in concrete. If you harboured the slightest doubts you only had to stand a few feet away from him in a sideroom at Green Point Stadium on Thursday night.
Conviction oozed from Capello. The message could not have been clearer had he daubed it over the walls in white paint. This is the Fabio Capello method - take it or leave it. We may not like it, but he does not care. Not one bit.
Capello revealed he used to inform AC Milan's players of his team selection over dinner the day before a game. It was a practice he ditched after a year and there will be no going back.
He said: "I started for one year by always telling the first eleven the day before a game. After the dinner I spoke individually with some players - but after this I decided 'no'."
So England's players will be told whether they are in or out shortly before they leave to face Algeria on Friday, and Capello is happy to stand or fall by the results of his deliberations.
He said: "People can say things. I know because I was a commentator. The score is the most important thing. The other things are only words."
And he asked: "Why is it better for the players to know? All the players are ready and focused. No problems." Any further questioning of Capello was met by a light-hearted offer to take his place.
So Green and David James - who still remains in the frame for a starting place against the Algerians - will have to wait again to discover their fate.
He confirmed he will speak to Green before making the final decision, but no confirmation about who is in goal will come until England's players are almost ready to board the coach to travel to the game.
Green may have fumbled a couple of efforts from goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence in training on Thursday night, but nothing will deflect Capello from his stated intention to wait until his pre-appointed hour before naming his choice.
And Capello, who bemoaned missed chances that cost victory against the United States, is also considering whether to replace the game but wasteful Emile Heskey with the more predatory Jermain Defoe.
To borrow a phrase, Capello did not get where he is today by bending at the first sign of pressure - whether it is from those of us in the media, or even a German legend such as Franz Beckenbauer.
Capello's face cracked into a smile at the first mention of Beckenbauer's name in Cape Town, clearly well up to speed on criticism from "Der Kaiser" about England's style and their current direction (in his belief reverse) under their Italian coach.
He said: "All the ex-managers can speak. I want to say something. If the referee had maybe given a penalty for Australia then the game could have been different. The red card for Tim Cahill was also hard.
"I respect Germany. I respect all the teams. I respect the opinions of the other managers, but I only think about my team."
And while England's listless opening effort is already being measured against the exhilirating attack of Argentina and Germany's dismissal of Australia, Capello was again unmoved by the unflattering comparisons.
He said: "We are speaking about Argentina, but the score was 2-1 and South Korea had a big chance, one against one. If they had scored it would have been 2-2 and we might not have been speaking about Argentina."
Capello's strident messages drew smiles of satisfaction from England captain Steven Gerrard as he stood alongside. It is clear England's players have as much confidence in their coach as he has in himself. In other words - a lot.
As Capello himself said, however, all that matters is the result. The rest is only words. And the result is the only things that will dictate whether Capello has a happy birthday.