England coach Fabio Capello is confused by his sudden transformation from a "god" to a "monster" ever since his team faltered at the World Cup.
Preparing for European Championship qualifiers, a combative Capello fought back against claims by pundits and columnists in England that he is a clueless coach lacking the tactical ability to turn the team into title winners.
There was a time just preceding the World Cup, when the Italian presided over nine out of ten victories in qualifying, and comparisons were being instantly drawn with Alf Ramsey, who led England to its only world title in 1966. But the team was inert throughout group stages in the tournament in South Africa, barely making it to the second round and went home after being outclassed by Germany in a 4-1 second-round loss.
Capello may have clung onto his lucrative England contract, which runs through to Euro 2012, but the hostile headlines have persisted as the team prepares for its first competitive match since the World Cup against Bulgaria on Friday night.
The former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach openly accepts he is unable to control public perceptions of him, preferring instead to remember the past achievements before the media turned on him. "You create the God, and you create the monster," Capello quipped in broken English at a briefing on Thursday.
"We lost one game in the World Cup against Germany after one big mistake for the referee (disallowing a goal). You don't remember this. I think so. "But after this, your opinion about me changed completely. You wrote a lot of things different, but I live with this situation. It's no problem for me. I remember what you wrote about me a short time before this period. I live the same moment when you write well of me as when you write badly of me. It's my job. You have to live with the pressure."
Multiple critics have denounced the 64-year-old Capello for being a tactical dinosaur for rigidly retaining a 4-4-2 formation. And FIFA's tactical study of the tournament, which was released on Thursday, concluded that "the most successful teams were flexible and able to adapt their style of play to the match situation." Capello's critics maintain that such flexibility is lacking in his game plan, but the coach hit back when a reporter started to ask whether the FIFA comments applied to England.
"You are a lot of managers, a lot of managers. I've read that," Capello said. "Where is the different style? 9-1? Teams play 9-1. Where is the different style? Is there a difference between 4-4-2, 4-5-1 or 9-1? You are happy to write different numbers. One forward, nine defenders. Five attacking? Five defending? That's the modern style.
"You can see Barcelona, other teams. All the players have to defend, all the players have to go forward. That's the modern style, and we played this style, always. When you win you play the perfect style. When you lose you question positions on the pitch. Why, why, why? That's good. It's your job. It's my job to find the best solution."
Capello pledged to usher in a new era with young players after the World Cup, but the first Euro 2012 qualifier will have a familiar feel about it.
There will only be three changes from the Germany lineup against Bulgaria, with Joe Hart replacing the 40-year-old David James in goal, while Frank Lampard and John Terry are only missing through injury. Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe will spearhead a 4-4-2 formation.
But captain Steven Gerrard has urged the critics to lay off Capello, despite the Football Association already planning for his successor, who will be an Englishman.
"It's important that Fabio is still given a chance. For me, he's a fantastic manager," Gerrard said. "Who out there that is an English manager has the CV that Fabio Capello has got? "Will his future decided by these two games (against Bulgaria and Switzerland)? I don't know. I hope not ... it would be a knee-jerk reaction to sack a manager after one bad tournament, then think everything will be rosy when you start with a new guy and we'll go on and win Euro 2012. That's crazy."
Gerrard insists the players should shoulder the responsibility for the woeful World Cup campaign.
"It seems as if there's a lot of blame going towards the manager, but it was the players who underperformed out there," Gerrard said. "People talk about tactics and stuff, but there's only so much that a manager can do. The players have to deliver, and the players never delivered."