Capello has sympathy for Johnson
Fabio Capello's full attention may be trained on England's final Euro 2012 qualifier here in Podgorica - but another sporting love ensures he follows the fortunes of his rugby union counterpart Martin Johnson.
When his AC Milan playing career came to a close, owner Silvio Berlusconi appointed Capello as his general manager with a brief to oversee the club's other sporting teams, which included rugby.
It sparked an affection for the oval ball game that persists to this day and means Capello has been able to sympathise with Johnson's troubles in New Zealand as England's victories on the pitch threaten to be overshadowed by criticism of the players' behaviour off it.
A relaxed Fabio Capello shows off his ball skills. Photo: Getty
England need only a point in the compact but hostile surroundings of Podgorica's City Stadium and Capello knows much of his legacy as coach now rests not only on reaching Euro 2012, but flourishing there.
Capello was in relaxed mood at England's team hotel, once again the more animated and amusing figure that has emerged since his stone-faced departure from the World Cup fiasco in South Africa.
And he was in particularly robust form when the antics of England's bungee-jumping and beer-drinking rugby team was raised as a subject for discussion.
Capello has had his own share of off-the-field problems to deal with during his time with England, including here where he gave a bulletin on Wayne Rooney's state of mind following his father's arrest.
The Italian operates by the credo that victory is a cure for most ills in sport, the commodity that can more or less make any criticism go away.
And he was able to apply that logic across the codes as he used it explain his theory, saying: "Everything when you win is good, the perfect choice, the best choice - if you drink or go with women.
"Everything is good if you win. When you lose it is a disaster. Results are the most important thing. The other things are wrong when you lose."
He hinted at lingering wounds from the criticism he received at the so-called "Camp Capello" in Rustenburg when England's players grew bored in lockdown and results did nothing to lift spirits or spare him from his detractors.
Capello said: "I know the Dutch team stayed together from 10 May, staying longer together than we did. I found out in the meeting we had after the World Cup that the Netherlands were together for two months, more or less.
"And you saw what happened - it was fine because they finished second. They had a chance one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the final but didn't score. They had that chance. But every choice is good when you win."
Capello underlined his point by once again referencing the off-field bungee-jumping from some of England's Rugby Union squad - who face France in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday - and his own days overseeing AC Milan's team in Italy.
He said: "If no one is injured during these things, it will be good. I know the rugby players very well. I was involved for two years with rugby players at Milan."
Capello may allow his players a celebratory drink if they qualify against Montenegro, but it is unlikely he will allow them to repeat the antics of the rugby players under his guidance.
"The third half, the part after the game, that's really strange," said Capello. "I remember that really well. You know better than me what they (rugby players) do."
Results create the questions, claims Capello, and he knows the questions will come again if England slip up against a side from a country with a population of only 620,000.
England trained in the old-fashioned arena that they hope will be the last stop on their journey to Euro 2012, with Capello insisting even the vast riches he has amassed in his career have not satisfied his appetite for further success.
He was reported to have a personal wealth of £38m in a Rich List published this week, but Capello said: "Life is about challenges. And all the games are a challenge.
"When I changed teams, it's always about taking on a new challenge. In life, you have to find something that's exciting, challenging."
Capello's next challenge is ensuring qualification for Euro 2012, even though his deeply superstitious nature meant he would not discuss his future or next summer's tournament until this has been achieved.
Montenegro will take confidence from the draw in the first fixture at Wembley, although coach Branko Brnovic's decision to rest Milan Jovanovic, Marko Basa and Nikola Drincic suggests his priority is their final game in Switzerland, a game that could stlll see them finish runners-up irrespective of Friday's result.
The Montenegro players were in relaxed mood at their hotel, supported by a chain-smoking backroom staff that includes former Aston Villa striker Savo Milosevic.
A small crowd gathered at one end of the City Stadium during England's evening training session in temperatures that would do justice to a glorious summer day back home. The array of Premier League shirts on show illustrated the competition's vast reach - and the noise created by the group hinted at what awaits Capello's side on Friday night.
Capello was again happy to go public on what he believes is an improved relationship with his players after the stresses of his iron discipline approach in South Africa.
"Yes. I think the relationship with the players and me has improved because I understand some things," said Capello. "But I think also the players understand me better. There are no problems about the relationship when we stay together, what I ask of them in training or during the game."
Capello paints a rosy picture of a squad evolving and in youthful transition ahead of Euro 2012 but he knows - and England Rugby Union coach Martin Johnson shares the same burden - that only the right results matter now.