Fabio Capello has led the English team into the World Cup in stunning style. Gone is the despondency at losing out on a 2008 Euro berth under Steve McLaren, the 'The Wally with a Brolly'.
The way England has won is causing an unfamiliar feeling to creep up. They dare to dream. The delicious possibility of adding another World Cup title. Its been over four decades since the 1966 World Cup and since then England have stumbled and stumbled badly with only the 1990 World Cup offering some relief.
And Fabio Capello is leading that brand of optimism:
"Playing in the final would be success," said Capello.
"For now, playing in it will do, rather than winning it. But if people are asking me what my aspiration is, then it is to reach the final."
In 2006, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard created a crippling redundancy in the crowded five man midfield. With very little overlap the midfield was bogged down by stasis and it was only Owen Hargreaves who provided some industry and bustle. Frank Lampard was busy blasting away stratospheric missiles and Peter Crouch waited for the long ball as England stagnated on offense.
With Joe Cole missing, Steven Gerrard has found his space running down the left, cutting inside and dishing off to Rooney running across the center. The slot striker keeps on adding to his assist total. The midfield has added warp speed in the form of lightning quick Aaron Lennon down the right.
The squad also has two of the game's top attacking wingbacks in Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson who create all the space for Gerrard, Lampard, and Rooney to run into and dish of crosses that can be attacked by a whole host of players. Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard begin it all by winning back possession upfield reducing the distance to goal. Its all a matter of closing down spaces.
Capello has a wealth of attacking riches when Theo Walcott returns. Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch are the super subs. And Joe Cole might eventually get back into the squad after rehab from injury.
The questions may not be so much in midfield but in defense and in goalkeeping. Capello initially started David James and now prefers Robert Green with Ben Foster getting in a look in the friendlies. All three are mistake prone but Green seems to be the steadiest of the lot although he spilled the shot that Eduardo latched onto for the only Croatian goal. Still it is a vast improvement from the days of Paul Robinson.
Glen Johnson has shown his attacking instincts, foot skills, clever changes of pace, and a physical presence but his defending has been less stellar. He does not seem overly eager to track back. Matthew Upson as a replacement for Sol Ferdinand is adequate when it comes to the air but his tackling is suspect.
Some questions still remain but when you think of an English team that has scored 31 goals, the most in the European zone and moved well beyond David Beckham's dead ball abilities it is a source of optimism. It starts with Capello and his discipline.