Capello plays down Chelsea link
BELFAST, United Kingdom (AFP) –
Russia coach Fabio Capello insists he has had no contact with Chelsea after being linked with a move to the Premier League club.
With Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez certain to be replaced when his contract expires at the end of the season, former England boss Capello has reportedly been considered by Blues owner Roman Abramovich as a successor to the beleaguered Spaniard.
Capello’s name was mentioned as a potential Chelsea manager before Benitez was appointed as Roberto Di Matteo’s replacement in November and the ex-Real Madrid and AC Milan manager was mooted as a candidate again earlier this month.
But the Italian has made a strong start with Russia, topping Group F with four consecutive wins on the road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Capello’s side face Northern Ireland in Belfast on Friday before travelling to London for a friendly against Brazil on Monday.
That friendly takes place at Stamford Bridge but Capello is adamant there is no chance he will be back in west London as the club’s manager any time soon.
“I know nothing about this (link to Chelsea). I am really happy with Russia and focused to qualify for the World Cup,” he said on Thursday.
Capello was not interested in discussing the Blues job any further, instead turning his attention to the inhospitable conditions in Belfast.
Russia are well used to the chilly temperatures forecast at Windsor Park, but Capello is mostly concerned about the strong winds he witnessed at Thursday’s training session.
“I am not concerned about the pitch, more about the wind than the pitch,” he said.
“If we play in this wind it will be a difficult game. I hope the wind will be lower or it will be a different type of game.”
Capello angered Northern Ireland when he appeared to treat victory over Michael O’Neill’s side as a formality prior to their previous meeting, which ended in a 2-0 win for the Russians.
The Italian was keen to avoid further controversy this time and he said: “They are a strong team and play a really combative game.
“They are dangerous from set-pieces. It is not an easy game but I have confidence in my team.
“We have Portugal and Israel to come but I am focused on this game. Every game is difficult.”