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Saturday, December 15, 2007

England Needs to Listen to Capello for Things to Work by Jim Riggio

Video of Fabio Capello courtesy of YouTube.

by Jim Riggio for World Football Commetaries.

He is arguably the best coach on the planet. Everywhere he has gone, he has won. Whether it was AC Milan, Real Madrid, AS Roma or Juventus, every club that Fabio Capello has coached, has earned something to put in its trophy case.

Not even World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi can claim that.

Some of his former players have become some of the best managers. Carlo Ancelotti of AC Milan, Frank Rijkaard of Barcelona, Marco Van Basten of the Netherlands, and Roberto Donadoni of Italy.

Capello, 61, is now the head coach of England’s National Team.

Capello Profile

Capello is not a fan of England, not a fan of AC Milan, Real Madrid, AS Roma, Juventus or any other club, although he might admit to being a fan of SPAL, the now fourth-division team in Ferrara, Italy that allowed him to debut in Serie A at age 17 on Mar. 29, 1964 against Sampdoria.

  • Capello is not noted for being a players’ coach.
  • He has an ego, and he knows how to deal with the media for good or bad.
  • But Capello is everything you want in a coach if your objective is to win.
  • Ronaldo, David Beckham, Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, Antonio Cassano – they all have one thing in common – superstar names that have had trouble getting along with Capello.
  • Regardless of how popular a player may be to the fans, Capello hasn’t succumbed to pressure to play certain individuals. And the results at the end have always kept others from questioning his decision making.

Two years ago with Juventus, he wasn’t afraid to relegate the very popular Del Piero to limited time, and he did the same thing with Beckham last year with Real Madrid.

English Media Question Decision

Now Capello, who takes over his new job Jan. 7, has millions of people in England trying to determine whether or not he is the right guy to lead their country. A vast majority of the British media has long been against Italian football and Italian coaches. Now, it is getting exactly what it didn’t want.

Many feel it is a disgrace that an Englishman isn’t the coach of the national team. But, many are not willing to admit that there are no superstar English coaches.

Italy, on the other hand, graduates quality football coaches from its Coverciano coaching school outside Florence just like it graduates chefs from culinary school.

But in spite of Capello’s incredible record, there are members of the British media questioning his ability to take charge of the national team.

Some have questioned his ability to handle the media, calling the English National Team job the most difficult in the world. That thought is outrageous. Since when has England ever been a great side in world football? Since when were coaching AC Milan, Real Madrid, AS Roma and Juventus considered easy jobs?

English Style

Some have questioned his ability to adapt to the English style. What style? While many British criticize Italians for playing defensive and catenaccio, it is what has been effective and has brought Italy more success than the English brand. Meanwhile, many Italian fans see British football matches as a physical battle with little skill or tactics.

I have had the opportunity to speak to two Italians who have played in the Premiership and both told me that with the exception of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, most English sides play virtually very disorganized as compared to weaker Serie A sides.

The bottom line is, if England wants to win, it will need to adapt to Capello’s style. Capello doesn’t need to change what he does. Why should he? Why fix something that isn’t broken.

Weakest Talent Pool

The reality is, if Capello is to encounter any problems, it is that this will be the weakest group of players he has ever worked with. With AC Milan he had a number of legends including Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Franco Baresi. With Real Madrid he won a La Liga title in his first stint, and then had a whole surplus of world class forwards like Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Robinho and Raul to name a few. With Roma, he had one of Europe’s great attacking trios with Francesco Totti, Gabriel Batistuta and Vincenzo Montella. And with Juventus he had Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Trezeguet and Pavel Nedved.

Now he is left with overrated Wayne Rooney, often injured and also overrated Michael Owen, and one of the game’s tallest players in Peter Crouch, who has surprisingly done well of late, but is not the type of player one of the best football countries in the world would want as its starting center forward.

Problems with the #1: The Potential Emergence of Cudicini

He also inherits a team that has a goalkeeper problem. Perhaps, he ought to think of appointing Carlo Cudicini, the Chelsea backup who has been away from the peninsula for a number of years, and is eligible to play for England, since he has just one cap with Italy’s Under-21 team.

Cudicini could help with the language barrier, another thing that some have questioned. But having seen Capello coach throughout the years, this is a man who doesn’t have to speak the same tongue as his players to get his point across.

Acceptance of Football Reality

What England does not realize is that it cannot compete with Brazil or Argentina in terms of talent and depth. Countries like Italy, Germany and France have already accepted that fact, and have sought out alternative ways to beat the two South American giants. If you slow the pace down and play more of a mind game, you can control the rhythm. England must be willing to play more conservative if it wants to be successful.

The ball is in England’s court now. It has only one option – listen to Capello, or plan on watching the 2010 World Cup from a television set.

About the Author

Mr. Riggio has written about Italian and international soccer for ESPN/Soccernet, and was an interviewee for my column at AC Cugini Scuola Calcio. After the 2006 World Cup, he contributed an interview with Gianluca Zambrotta in Los Angeles for my World Football site.

1 comment:

Steve Amoia said...

Jim's article was referenced by Ahmed Bilal of Soccerlens in his commentary "On Fabio Capello and England's Future."

On Fabio Capello and England's Future.

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