In Breach of Fabio Capello

A few days ago I wrote this about John Terry saying how I didn’t think he should be England captain. Well it seems Fabio Capello disagrees, so much so that he was prepared to go on national television (albeit in Italy) and say so. The FA are said to be treating this “very seriously” after Capello said he “absolutely” did not agree with the decision to remove the captaincy from Terry. So what happens now?

Later this week Capello is set to meet with FA chairman David Bernstein, in a meeting which I imagine will be hugely cringe-worthy and uncomfortably awkward a bit like my experience watching Bridesmaids recently. Capello costs the FA £6 million a year. It’s hard to argue that represents value for money, based on the performance of the team at the 2010 World Cup, but we did qualify well and despite our shocker in South Africa the team have qualified for the European finals this summer. Sensibly the FA have decided to base us in Poland even though all our games are in Ukraine, the reason I mention this is because from Capello’s point of view it’s understandable that he might feel the need to criticise a group of people who frequently get everything wrong.

The Football Association in this country is terrible. They are not fit for purpose, report after report says they need to modernise yet nothing seems to happen. Capllo’s judgement has been criticised in the past, most pertinently in this case with his choice to remove John Terry as captain after a newspaper scandal left many asking if it was right for him to lead the team and represent our country. The obvious answer to this is no, but Capello made sure to still pick him in the team and effectively undermine himself in the process by creating a split within the side. What he should have done was drop him altogether, the FA did nothing at all to interfere. Now we have a situation where the FA have acted, I believe it’s the right decision to remove Terry as captain, as I’ve said previously I don’t think he should be playing football at all, but there’s no way the FA would have the courage to make a decision like that, so it’s a compromise.

So Capello makes the decision to back his captain and is criticised, because the FA have finally stepped in and taken some action. But Capello made the wrong decision by removing Terry originally, then compounded his error by reinstating him and he’s been criticised and had his judgement questioned (anyone remember the Capello Index?). So Capello was criticised for not standing by and sticking with his captain before, only this time he has, he’s not repeated his previous mistake, as this time he’s backed Terry, the trouble is, last time the FA didn’t care, this time, they do.

Basically the entire situation is a massive kerfuffle. We have a manager who has gone to war with the FA over a captain that he has previously removed himself for an offence far less serious than the one he is being accused of now. We’ve a football association that has finally shown some management and leadership, only to be directly contradicted and challenged by their own team’s manager. This usually leads to a fight and when the board fight with a manager there is only ever one winner, the board give the manager the sack. The timing couldn’t be worse, finally the England side are showing some promise and progress, good wins against Sweden and especially Spain, demonstrated a new found resolve within the England side that had previously been lacking, together with an encouraging blend of youth and experience, it almost looked like it could be a good time to be an England fan for a change, then this happens.

I’m not sure if the FA will sack Capello, but I think they should. I cannot see how he can possibly be expected to lead a side into a major tournament when he’s not on speaking terms with the FA. He cannot lead the side when whoever he appoints as captain knows that the manager would rather have Terry, it totally undermines him. Capello has made his own position difficult for himself, but in the end I don’t expect the FA to act, if history has shown anything, this latest Terry incident aside, it’s that given the choice the FA will almost always favour doing nothing.

If however they were to remove Capello, who would replace him? I’ve got a long list of managers that I wouldn’t want to get the job and at the top of that list is Harry Redknapp. The best explanation of Rednapp can be found here. I don’t want a motivator, I want a tactical mastermind. The idea that you can create an attitude and a belief among an international squad in the brief time you spend with them I think is deeply flawed, but what you can do is set them up well tactically and make them incredibly hard to beat. I genuinely cannot remember an international team who has won a competition and afterwards everyone has praised the team’s spirit. However, I can name countless times where a team’s tactics have been credited for their outstanding performance in a tournament, Greece 2004, Italy 2006, Spain 2008-10 are the most recent examples.

Rather alarmingly there are only 3 English managers working in the Premier League, so if you limit your search criteria to an Englishman your talent pool is somewhat limited. Harry Redknapp doesn’t have the tactical nous is a bona fide dodgy geezer. Alan Pardew perhaps has a better idea of the tactical side of the game, his Newcastle team aren’t always pretty but they are hugely effective, however I think he doesn’t have the track record to command the respect of the players. Roy Hodgson doesn’t really have anything going for him other than he once managed Switzerland, so he’s got “experience” albeit comprised largely of failure. Stuart Pearce is probably in the best position, being Capello’s assistant and under 21 manager, but he has spoken in the past about how he’s not ready for the job and I agree with his assessment.

If anything this latest debacle between the FA and Capello has served to show yet again just how pathetically bad we our at producing good managers. The FA must take responsibility for this, our fundamental lack of good coaches is woefully apparent and it’s costing us and damaging our national game from top to bottom. I genuinely can’t think of an English manager I’d want to let anywhere near the England side and should ‘Arry’s court case go the wrong way I’m not sure the FA will be able to think of one either. Where does that leave the national side? As always in the capable hands of the FA, it’s like watching dumb and dumber.


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