Capello facing big decisions
Fabio Capello's major calls all came off as England swept past Switzerland in convincing style to complete a perfect start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign - leaving the coach with even bigger decisions to contemplate.
Capello insisted Wayne Rooney was mentally equipped to put allegations about his private life on one side to focus on inspiring England to victory in Basle. And so it proved as his early goal set the platform for an impressive 3-1 win.
And the confidence Capello detected between Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, built in their days together at Everton, convinced him they would make the best pair from his depleted central defensive resources. Spot on again Fabio.
Now though, with the business of getting six points from England's two opening games successfully concluded, Capello must get it right all over again by the time surprise package Montenegro come to Wembley next month.
Capello must make a decison over the destination of the captain's armband, with Rio Ferdinand on schedule to return after the knee injury he suffered in England's first training session at their Rustenburg World Cup base.
Even if Ferdinand is in the team, and this should not be automatic after the performance of Jagielka in England's wins against Bulgaria and Switzerland, I do not believe he should return as captain.
Ferdinand was next in the line of succession after John Terry was stripped of the captaincy, but this does not mean Capello's pecking order should be set in stone forever.
The Manchester United defender's fitness has seemingly become a permanent issue in his career these days. Ferdinand did make a contribution of sorts to England's win in Switzerland, choosing to Tweet after Rooney's strike: "I told u my boy would get a goal!!"
More importantly, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has demonstrated that he now has the stature on and off the pitch to be given the role on a permanent basis. He has been outstanding in both areas in the last week and the time is right for Capello to make that choice.
Gerrard, at last playing in his favoured central midfield role as opposed to being pushed around the margins of the game on the left flank, has been a dominant presence for England in their three wins following the World Cup fiasco.
Again in Basle on Tuesday he was literally a central figure, controlling the tempo of the play and producing moments of class, best illustrated by the pass that created England's second goal for Adam Johnson.
He has also produced a series of mature displays off the pitch, giving measured but firm backing to the besieged Capello before the win against Bulgaria and speaking calm common sense on the vexed question of his close friend Rooney out here in Basle.
Gerrard was commendably honest enough to admit he had made mistakes of his own in the past, and has emerged as a fine ambassador for the England team.
This is one part of the captaincy package. Performances on the field is the other and he has led by example in both areas. There is no sound logic in removing the captaincy from him now - indeed Capello can use this move to symbolise a new era for England.
Gerrard's partnership with Gareth Barry was a feature of the win in Basle, opening the door to another dilemma for Capello.
If, as expected, Chelsea's Frank Lampard is fit enough to return against Montenegro, should he be recalled automatically to his long-held central midfield position?
I have never bought in to the antipathy Lampard seems to attract from supporters outside Stamford Bridge. He has been an outstanding contributor to Chelsea's success and one of the finest players in recent Premier League history, but again my feeling is that he should not get his place back against Montenegro.
Setting aside all the old arguments about the ability of Lampard and Gerrard to play together, a problem never satisfactorily resolved, England's midfield balance has looked so much better in their last two games.
Lampard must be in the squad if fit, but he should start on the bench because Gerrard and Barry - or Gerrard and a more defensively minded player, should be the way ahead in the immediate future.
The last two games have made one decision for Capello. Central midfield must now be Gerrard and A.N. Other.
So what of Ferdinand and his long-time defensive partner John Terry, who also missed England's maximum haul with a hamstring injury?
Jagielka, significantly described as "the 'driver' of the back four - the marshal", by Capello, has made a powerful case to keep his place against Montenegro. The Italian has been suitably impressed, singling out his link with Lescott for praise after beating Switzerland.
Again, there is no sound reason to leave Jagielka on the sidelines, so one of Terry and Ferdinand - maybe even both if circumstances dictate - must miss out. What sort of signal would it send out for a player to produce two more or less flawless performances and then watch the old guard stroll straight back in? Not exactly the indicator of a brave new dawn for England.
The days when an England coach simply pencilled the names of Terry and Ferdinand on his teamsheet without a second thought have gone. And that is no bad thing.
Should Ferdinand and Terry continue to be automatic choices for England?
If Capello does wish to move forward, and surely he does, then the Montenegro game presents him with the perfect opportunity to at least confirm the start of a new England order.
James Milner will be suspended for the Wembley game, and it is to be hoped Capello resists any temptation to revert to type by playing Lampard in the centre and placing Gerrard out on the left.
The answer to that equation was on show in Basle in the shape of Adam Johnson. Some players look born to play on the England stage, and the rangy Manchester City youngster is one of them.
He can play on both flanks, although he is a serious threat cutting in on his left foot from the right. If Theo Walcott is fit after the ankle injury he sustained on Tuesday, then playing Johnson on the left will give England's midfield the balanced and flexible appearance that served Capello so well as the Swiss were outclassed for long periods.
Johnson has made something happen every time I have watched him. Manchester City - who flouted the suggestion that they are a ruinous influence on the English game by having six players in Capello's line-up by the final whistle - pulled off a real coup when they captured Johnson from Middlesbrough.
Capello could take other positives with him on the flight back to London, as the slow process of recovery from South Africa took another step in the right direction.
I was critical of Glen Johnson's defensive performance against Bulgaria. Here he did what he had to do defensively and gave England an extra dimension in attack, setting up Rooney's goal and almost scoring himself.
And there was a first England goal for Darren Bent to wrap things up after a thunderbolt from Xherdan Shaqiri gave Switzerland hope of a point they did not deserve. Bent has, on occasion, had a raw deal with England and the confidence with which he dispatched his late goal will have brought both relief and delight in equal measure.
England's first 45 minutes in particular was their best since the wins against Croatia in World Cup qualifying.
And while, as with the win against Bulgaria, it is too early to even start to forget about South Africa or talk with any serious optimism about Euro 2012, it would be both churlish and incorrect not to accentuate the positives in these performances.
If the visit to Switzerland had been ringed on the calendar as England's most testing assignment in their group, they made it look very comfortable for the most part. Montenegro may now set the sterner examination.
Capello deserves a respite from the pressures that have surrounded him since England's capitulation in South Africa, but he must soon tackle tough choices that have to be made before his squad meets up again.