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Arrivederci Fabio

The FA today (8th February) announced that Fabio Capello has tendered his resignation and that it has been accepted, thus bringing to an end his four year stint as England manager.

The news emerged on the day the Italian met with FA chiefs at Wembley to discuss last week’s decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy. That decision, it seems, was taken by David Bernstein and co. without consulting Capello and this looks to be the root cause of Capello’s sudden decision to turn his back on the Three Lions just four months before the start of the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

The decision to strip the Chelsea defender of the captaincy was announced last week and in all honesty was not exactly met with great surprise. What was much less expected was Capello’s subsequent interview with Italian TV network RAI on Sunday night (5th February). The veteran manager appeared notably vexed when quizzed about whether he felt the FA board had taken the correct action and in what was a direct challenge to its authority, he replied: “No, absolutely not. I spoke with the chairman [David Bernstein] and I told him that I don’t think someone can be punished until it becomes official. The court will decide. It’s going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime that he is accused of. And I thought it fair that John Terry keeps the captain’s armband.”

However, as anyone who has followed Capello’s career will now, he is as stubborn as a mule. He is cut from the same cloth as the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson: uncompromising, controlling, obstinate, but ultimately very successful. If Capello genuinely believes in what he said to the RAI interviewer, it is no surprise that he has refused to budge. His pride has evidently been hurt by what he will see as unwelcome interference from the FA and he has obviously decided that he can no longer work in a set-up that does not afford him complete control over the players and on-field matters. On the flip side, if he has breached his contract, perhaps he has jumped before he was pushed?

Whatever the case, England are now manager-less with 21 days to go until the friendly at Wembley versus the Netherlands and only four months before the start of a major tournament. Stuart Pearce, it would appear, will take temporary charge for the match against Bert van Marwijk’s men but what now happens for the Euros and beyond? The England team has gone from a position of certainty (Capello was definitely leaving after the Euros) to one of disarray. To whom does the FA now turn? Will the incoming manager insist on no interference from the board? The huge salary on offer, as well as the kudos of the job, will ensure there is plenty of interest but in truth, there is no obvious choice for Capello’s successor. This is a problem given that the decision now needs to be made in much greater haste than was previously thought.

Harry Redknapp has long been seen as the man for the job given his passion for England and the superb job he has done at Tottenham. However, how likely is he to leave White Hart Lane in the middle of a season in which Tottenham still have an outside chance of winning the title? Will he want to stay and build the club to the point at which they are perennial title contenders? From a footballing point of view, surely working with the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale beats managing the likes of Joleon Lescott and Peter Crouch? Redknapp also gives the impression of a manager who thrives on the day-to-day aspects of club management so there is some doubt as to whether international management would suit him.

Beyond the man affectionately known as ‘Arry, there is certainly no obvious candidate. A quick glance over the bookmakers’ odds reveals names such as Jose Mourinho, Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew. All of these men are currently in employment and other than Allardyce, have never expressed an interest in the England job.

The FA now faces a very difficult choice and has very little time in which to reach a decision. The last time that happened, they ended up with Steve McClaren and we all know how that turned out. Let’s see if they have learned from that experience. Capello on the other hand will ride off in to the sunset, his pockets filled with cash. In truth, Capello has never quite fitted in in English football, as his bemusement over the importance of the captain showed. He will be disappointed that he has been unable to take England to the very top of international football as that is what he was brought in to do. His achievements at AC Milan, Roma and Real Madrid will, however, ensure that his reputation as one of the top managers of the last 30 years will remain intact. The real losers from the situation are the FA and the England team. The question is, will they pay for it? Time will tell.

Categories: Football
  1. Hol
    February 9, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Mourinho. He’s fed up with Real Madrid. He wants the job (assuming no Prem clubs come knocking). He knocks all the other competition out of the water. No brainer.

    Or Beckham. Just because that would be funny.

  2. February 9, 2012 at 4:27 am


    Arriverderci Fabio.

    It would be so easy to criticize former England manager Fabio Capello for his inability to get the England team to perform well enough to compete seriously in a major tournament.

    Or to speak about his not-so-principled stand for management control in defence of a talismanic skipper caught in a whirlwind of racial criticism.

    But why waste time, when truth betold, he should have been fired by the Football Association for embarrassing them over what should have been a routine decision.

    Well done FA boss David Bernstein and his board for acting as leaders should. Their decision to strip Mr. Terry of the captaincy, made a clear and decisive statement, that they don’t want a player embroiled in a racially tainted court case representing the nation as our captain.

    It’s OK if he’s got questionable morals but represent our multi-cultural melting pot. No, thanks.

    Innocent until proven guilty, I hear you sensitive Terry defenders scream. Well, no, not in management terms. There are certain areas, certain things…..like say…involvement in a messy tax fraud case……which should preclude one from high office. Dear I mention…….Terry Venables, or have we forgotten how that one ended.

    To hear, Mr. Capello’s defence of Mr. Terry was outrageous. Why such angst about the potential loss of the Chelsea skipper. It’s something I often see with football managers, a singular focus on what happens with that round ball. Instead, he should have been asking what impact his crude defense would have on the terraces.

    Why did the former England manager not save some of his angst for the Ferdinand clan, at the middle of the mess, which have suffered endless racial humiliation from “supportive” fans of the game.

    What exactly was Mr. Capello planning to say to Rio, Darren Bent, and other players likely to be concerned about his overzealous support of a chap who has been known to be less than forthright on occasion.

    Thankfully, such players won’t have to go through that painful episode and accept the unacceptable. And we won’t have to listen to him anymore.

    To all of you who doubt the importance of the beautiful game, keep in mind Bill Shankly’s now famous truism: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

    It perhaps is fitting that Mr. Capello leaves as the ugliest face of football emerges. After all, his team played a decidedly ugly brand of football.

    Even the great…and it pains to say it as a Liverpool man….Sir Alex Ferguson must be careful of trying to navigate choppy racial waters. His clumsy call for “authorities” to make a strong stand against racism, sounded hollow at best and insincere at worst. Tinged as it was with fraternal support for Mr. Capello, Mr. Ferguson drew on a popular refrain in defence of his own credentials.

    “I have had some fantastic black players, absolutely magnificent black players, and with every one of them I have enjoyed my working relationship with them.”

    For a man that also told CNN he did not “understand at all where it’s coming from,” I suppose this is no surprise.

    How pleasant for those of you that don’t have to be called a monkey and listen to racial slurs as vulgar as they are old.

    For me, the real issue here is that so many people in football are so self conscious about the issue of racism.

    It’s almost as though they look in the mirror and see an ugly reflection. When the chance comes for the game to “take stock”, as Sir Alex so aptly put it, what was his answer.

    The man with more football solutions than Einstein had theories wants the same authorities he so often decries to clamp down hard. What advice did he suggest to his own former England captain Rio Ferdinand, the brother of the black player at the centre of Mr. Terry’s troublesome court case.

    Stand firm perhaps, speak out, challenge injustice, be a leader. No. Turn the other cheek. Rise above it.

    Contradicting and extremely disappointing, just as it is to hear King Kenny suggest that Luis Suarez “should never” have been sanctioned! Please.

    Again, people of color are left dissatisfied. Not because racism occurs, but that our white brothers and sisters consistently fail to deal with their own mess and educate their children properly. Too often, our pale cousins look at racism through their own prism. They just don’t respect us enough to listen to our growing agony. Instead, they look in the mirror, see a picture that looks like them and quickly head in the opposite direction for fear of being exposed.

    All we’re asking is that our leaders lead, sensitively. Stop thinking racism is somebody elses issue. That it’s something to be personally ashamed of. We want it defeated, actively fought against, challenged at every turn. Do that, and we will all be happier.

    Yet, even amid such turbulent and emotive signs it is another type of intolerance that equally unsettled me.
    On the same day Mr. Capello resigned, former Man U wonderkind Ravel Morrison was being hauled over the coals for repugnant homophobic views all too common in the football dressing room.

    The latest Twitter furore read: “Crack head?” said Morrison to a follower that raised his ire. “Go suck out u little faggot your a guy that talks if u see me you try slap me I’m in manchester every week.” The tweet was later deleted.

    Forget the fact that West Ham’s newest prodigy can’t spell, feel the sentiment. Something tells me, he’s going to be right at home in the East End.
    I can hear you purists now. Talking about racism is one thing but gay rights. It’s just a step too far isn’t it. No.

    In that most macho, male dominated of environments, who wants to even think about gay love or same sex engagement.

    Ravel, here’s something to remember.

    For as long as I have been around the game, I have always believed that many players and managers are, to put it in US parlance, operating on the down-low. That is, living life as a straight male, at home with the wife and kids and all that goes with it. But, in secret, enjoying the company of another brother.

    I know, shocking right. Well actually, more likely than not, if you ask me. And the stats support that conclusion given that some 5,000 male professional players exist in the UK yet none are publicly gay.

    According to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL), which surveyed close to 11,000 people in Britain between 1999-2001, there is a strong possibility that at least one member of the team is open minded when it comes to sexual attitudes and behaviour.

    The look at people’s same sex sexual experiences indicated that 8.4 percent of men had had a same sex sexual experience, including full bodily contact. That means, that in a squad of 25 players, the typical Premier League complement, at least two players have at some point experimented.

    Why even suggest this. Because it’s another of those subjects that the beautiful game doesn’t want to address.

    A recent BBC article focused on the silence regarding gay footballers, some of which have had cause to call publicist Max Clifford fearing that they might soon be outed.

    And, we should remember what happened to Justin Fashanu, the first black player sold for one million pound who committed suicide in May 1998. Long before Justin found himself in dubious circumstances in the US, where he perished, he was the 1980 BBC Goal of the Season winner for a cracker against who else but Liverpool.

    Treated abysmally by the late Brian Clough, his career tanked at Forest and never recovered. So embarrassing was Justin’s revelation that he was gay that his own brother, John Fashanu – a celebrated member of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang – publicly labeled him a family “outcast”.

    Perhaps Mr. Morrison should learn from John Fashanu’s mistake. While at the time, Justin’s brother gave a now infamous interview published in The Voice newspaper, which viciously decried his older sibling.

    John now has to live with the truth of such harsh rhetorical words and has had to learn the hardest of ways.
    “I’m not homophobic and I never have been,” according to John speaking recently to the BBC. “At the time I was certainly cross with my brother. I sleep at night wondering all the time, could I have done more and I keep coming up with the answer, yes I could have done more.

    Does that console me? No. We’ve cried for nearly two decades for Justin, it’s enough.”


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