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Friday, October 9, 2009

If You Hire A Foreign Coach by Dan Leo

Image of Fabio Capello courtesy of Paul Blank and

Dan Leo for World Football Commentaries

You do it on the presumption that you have exhausted the list of possible domestic candidates and found their credentials lacking. So you interview the best available candidate regardless of his national origin.

But why should that be any different than any other hire?

Surely, a human resource specialist will recommend any boss to hire the most qualified person for the job, given its budget constraints. Linguistic and cultural differences that a foreign born coach might bring into the equation simply become another variable to be considered, and even those can be a positive influence.

Foreign Managers the Norm in EPL

Within the last several decades, the non-domestic coaches have virtually become a norm at the club level in the English Premier League. Not so incidentally, the EPL has become the most successful league in the world with its Big Four contingent enjoying not a single English manager (Scot Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Italian Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, Spaniard Rafael Benitez at Liverpool and Frenchman Arsene Wenger at Arsenal).

Following the failure of Kevin Keegan to guide its national team prior to the 2002 World Cup, the English national side likewise had selected a foreign born coach in seven out of the last nine years.

Its most successful hire has been
Fabio Capello. Bounced out of his gig with Real Madrid for his pragmatic style, despite winning the championship in the Spanish capital, Capello proved his pedigree with Three Lions.

Don Fabio's coaching acumen was never, obviously, in question. With eight championship trophies with the likes of Juventus, AC Milan, Roma and Real Madrid, Capello's tactical prowess proved its mettle over the course of two decades. What was in doubt was his ability to manage the mercurial roster of the English multimillionaires, a task for which his predecessors Steve McLaren and Sven Goran Eriksson were ill-suited.

Don Fabio Silenced His Critics

Once again, success did not elude the Italian boss. He ably dealt not only with the personalities on his squad, but with their wives and girlfriends (AKA WAG's), who created quite a ruckus in the 2006 World Cup held in Germany.

Pure statistics only tells a part of the picture but it's incredibly impressive still. In the qualifications for the 2006 Euros under Steve McLaren, England finished third with 23 points after 12 matches for 1.9 points won per match and 6 points behind the group winner, Croatia.
In the 2010 campaign, England has qualified for the 2010 World Cup with two games still left and with a perfect record of eight straight wins. It's already 7 points ahead of the second place team, the previously superior, Croatia.
Basic math tells that Capello delivered more than a point a match difference vis-a-vis the previous holder of the job.

That is a monumental achievement.

Fabio Capello at World Cup 1974: He is Number 8 in Blue

About the Author

Dan Leo is a freelance writer from Miami, Florida. He has written for Soccerlens and World Football Commentaries.

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