Tuesday 23 January 2018

Arteta artistry leaves Capello with plenty to think about

Everton 1
Wolves 1

Rory Smith

FABIO CAPELLO had much to ponder as he returned to London from his almost annual trip to Goodison Park.

The England manager may have been in attendance for a routine status check on Everton's present international contingent -- Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines -- but he will have left with the future on his mind.

Not, as might have been expected, because he witnessed more evidence of Jack Rodwell's development into a future England captain, as is widely predicted in these parts. The teenager, excluded from the Italian's squad for the friendly with Hungary, was an unused substitute.

Rather, the issue which will have taxed Capello was a philosophical one. In a game dominated by the spectre of what England do not have -- Steven Pienaar's intelligence, goalscorer Tim Cahill's vigour, Everton's fluidity -- the Italian was presented with a vision of what they may yet possess.

Mikel Arteta is not English. He has no convoluted ancestry which might ease his naturalisation. His wife is Spanish -- a former Miss Spain -- and his family are Spanish. Most importantly for Capello, he looks Spanish, off and on the pitch.


His style is also Spanish, unmistakably so. It is not hard to understand why he would be so attractive an addition to the national side. The evidence was present in abundance here, despite Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's late equaliser to deny David Moyes' side a first win of the season.

Arteta was at the centre of Everton's every attack, orchestrating enough possession and territory to warrant a comfortable victory. That it did not materialise said a lot about Moyes' paucity of striking options.

Thanks to his long stay on Merseyside, Arteta is eligible to play for Capello. The FA have long regarded calling up naturalised Englishmen as something of a last resort, while the midfielder has always played down the possibility, insisting he does not want to turn his back prematurely on his homeland.

Something, though, may have changed. "I do not know what Capello's thoughts are," said Arteta after the game. "I know some people have been talking about it, but I have not said anything yet because the offer is not there at the moment. If one day the opportunity comes, obviously I would have to consider it very seriously."

So, too, would Capello. For Moyes, the form of Arteta will slightly offset the disappointment of a stuttering start, not helped by simply failing to take one of a host of chances. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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