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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fabio Capello: The Wrong Man for the Job by Adam Howard

Fabio Capello Manager England 2010/11 England V Montenegro 12/10/10 UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifier Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
England manager, Fabio Capello, making a point
in isolation. Is his lack of English fluency a shortcoming?
Please read what Adam has to say.

by Adam Howard for World Football Commentaries

There are, I think, a great many reasons why Fabio Capello should not be the manager of England any longer, and a quick canvas of any serious English football fan would elucidate many of them: the poor performance in South Africa, his extremely poor mismanagement of the captaincy, his habit of turning to Shaun Wright-Phillips when the going gets tough, and many more besides.

Lack of Fluency in English

That Capello was a successful manager in Italy is not to be doubted, and I’ll happily concede that he probably knows quite a lot about the beautiful game. One of the major problems though, that was reiterated after I tried to listen to his post-match interview after England’s underwhelming 0-0 draw at home with Montenegro, is that he still cannot speak English. Despite being the manager of England for over two and a half years, he cannot speak the language, or wear an England soccer jersey.

England manager Fabio Capello attends a media conference at the team hotel in Watford, north of London September 2, 2010. England are due to play Bulgaria in a Euro 2012 qualifier in London on September 3, 2010. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
"I will learn English in a month." Fabio Capello made
that statement at his
presentation news conference in 2007.

This means that any valuable insights he may have about the beautiful game are almost entirely useless, because he probably can’t communicate them effectively to the players. If we can’t understand him speaking on the radio in a controlled and friendly interview environment, how can the players understand what he is saying in a pressured dressing room situation, or worse, on the touchline? It’s a very big problem.
I am certainly not alone in questioning his mastery of the English language. I actually listened to the BBC Radio 5 Live 606 Football Phone-In podcast last week. Alan Green spent most of the program complaining that he hadn't understood a word of Capello's interview after the Montenegro game.

It is not though, the biggest problem. But it is indicative of it. The fact that Capello has not learnt English in over two and a half years suggests that he has not made any real effort to do so. Learning languages is hard, but when you are immersed in a foreign language for an extended period of time, when you have tutoring and commitment to learning, it can be done surprisingly quickly.

That Capello hasn’t learnt, tells us that he doesn’t want to.

Fabio Capello Manager watches his England team as they go through there warm up routine England 2010/11 England Training at Arsenal's Training facility at London Colney prior to England's Euro 2012 Qualifing match with Bulgaria on Friday. Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Does his seemingly limited English skills make him
a distant
figure with the players?

A Quest for Personal Glory

And this is where the true problem lies. Capello’s unwillingness to learn English represents his lack of passion for the English game. It ultimately tells us that Capello is not England manager because he wants to bring success to the English game; he is England manager because he wants some personal glory. Sure, he’s trying to win us a tournament, but only so that he can go down in history as the mastermind behind it.

This much has, perhaps, been obvious from the start, granted. And if Capello had won in South Africa, I probably wouldn’t have minded. But the simple fact is that he did not win in South Africa. Indeed, having failed so spectacularly, the FA should have realised that the Capello era was over. If Capello was ever the right man for the England job, he ceased to be the moment England lost to Germany at the World Cup.

Because Capello’s contract runs until the end of Euro 2012. After that, Capello will leave his post. He will not sign a new contract beyond that point. If Capello doesn’t win the European Championships – which he won’t - he will cut his losses and go back to Italy. And this is bad news for the English game, because it means that the next two years will contribute nothing to the future of English football.

Focus on Euro 2012

June 28, 2010 - Berlin, Berlin, Germany - epa02227752 'The Time's up, Fab', the online edition of the British yellow press paper 'The Sun' titles after the Wolrd Cup last 16 game England vs Germany; captured on an iPhone in Berlin, Germany, 28 June 2010. After the embarrassing 1:4 defeat at the hands of the Germanb team, Britain's yellow press demands the immediate resignation of coach Fabio Capello. 'Time to go, Fabio' was the headline of Britain's strongest-selling yellow press paer, 'The Sun', which resorted to even more drastic formulations: 'Clear off - and take these losers with you.

Capello will use the next two years to try and win Euro 2012. To do so, he will call on the experienced members of the current squad – the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who are in their prime but won’t be for much longer. They certainly won’t – or shouldn’t – be mainstays in the England team that lines up in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, and that’s where the problem lies.

Brazil 2014 is what we should be aiming for. The European Championships are fun, and it’s quite embarrassing that England have never won the tournament, but the World Cup is what really counts. The English footballing public want to win the World Cup. Ask Spain – they enjoyed their Euro 2008 triumph, but it was the World Cup they wanted. The Euros are just a warm up – or they should be.

But the situation we’ve got ourselves into means that Euro 2012 is now our main event. Capello’s dénouement as England manager. For Capello, all roads lead to Euro 2012, and – because he’s in it for himself, for the personal glory – he will sacrifice England’s prospects of success after his reign is over in order to try to win the European Championships in two years time.

If the FA had any sense, they’d have recognised this after the World Cup. They’d have bitten the bullet and sacked him – paying up the contract that they so foolishly extended before the team had even set foot on South African soil – and appointed someone else to be England manager. Someone who has passion for the English game, who would manage England for England. Someone, perhaps, like Stuart Pearce.

Was Stuart Pearce a Better Alternative to Capello?

Indeed, Stuart Pearce would have been the perfect man to appoint, because the next thing the FA should have done, if they had any common sense, should have been to tell the new man to build for the future. England’s current deficiencies are well documented. Start afresh, give our talented youngsters a chance. Take some time to build a proper team.

Stuart Pearce Assistant Coach gives Instructions England 2010/11 England V Hungary (2-1) 11/08/10 International Friendly at Wembley Stadium Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

England U-21 manager, Stuart Pearce.

Pearce, manager of the Under 21s for the last couple of years, is the perfect man for that job. He’s been working with England’s brightest and best already, he has good relationships with them. He can progress alongside them. He should bring in the likes of Adam Johnson, Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell etc., not just into the England squad, but into the England team.

Wembley England v Montenegro  (0-0) Euro 2012 Qualifying Group G 12/10/2010 Adam Johnson Johnson  (England) Mladan Kascelan (Montenegro) Photo Roger Parker Fotosports  International Photo via Newscom

Adam Johnson in action against Montenegro.

Sure, there would still be room for the likes of Gerrard and Lampard – still very good players after all – in the squad, but more as mentor figures for the younger players in a different set of soccer shoes. Pearce would be given license to field a team of youngsters for England. To give them experience, at a young age, of playing competitive international football. To blood them early, and to develop a strong team spirit.

World Cup 2014

The fact is, the Euro 2012 championships should be, as I mentioned earlier, a warm up. A practice run for the World Cup. We should unleash our talented young players – and don’t listen to the naysayers, we do have some very talented young players – on the qualifying campaign that the more experienced heads look set to stumble through. They would probably still qualify – our group is that poor.

Then stick with them in the tournament itself. Let the young players get a taste of tournament football. Let them go out and play precociously. Let them enjoy themselves, take the pressure off, just tell them to go out and give it their best. The nation would revel in seeing the youngsters taking on the best in Europe, and I think they’d surprise us with how far they might get. If they make the quarter finals – brilliant.
Then, it would be down to the serious work. Two more years of preparation for the World Cup in 2014. Imagine how much stronger the squad would then be. They would, by the time Brazil came around, essentially have been playing as one England for four years. They would have developed together, progressed as a unit. They would be familiar with each other, they would know how they comrades played, where they wanted the ball, and they would be willing to go out and fight and win for one another.
Then we could approach a World Cup tournament with some optimism. We may not expect to win it still,these players would still, after all, be relatively young, but we could be confident that our players would go out there and represent England. They would play with the spirit, the heart and the togetherness that was so completely lacking in South Africa. They would play with passion, and that would go a long way.As it is though, England will bumble through the qualifying for Euro 2012. They’ll make it, and then they’ll disappoint us all again on the big stage. Capello will stutter through a couple of awkward post match interviews after we lose to Germany or Portugal in a quarter final with not even a disallowed goal to cling to, and then he will happily retire, with the countless millions of pounds we’ve paid him, and go and lie in the sun somewhere.

Winds of Change

David Beckham waves goodbye to the fans England 2009/10. (Fabio Capello Manager of England Announces today 12/08/10 that this was the last Competitive International match David Beckham will play in a England shirt ) England V Belarus (3-0) 14/10/09 Fifa World Cup Qualifier Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Is it time to say good-bye to the Golden Generation?

Meanwhile the England team will be in desperate need of refreshing. The older players will retire and the new man who is appointed will have a mammoth task on his hands. He’ll have to try to blood a whole crop of new players in just two years. If they qualify for the World Cup in 2014, they’ll be completely inexperienced at playing tournament football, and we will fail again, unprepared and short-sighted.

This is why Capello is no longer the right man for the England job. Managing a national team is a tricky business because it is so progressive. You have to have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. Capello does not have this. He’s looking firmly at Euro 2012 and not a second beyond it. Why else has Kevin Davies just made his international debut aged 33?

I have nothing against Kevin Davies. He’s probably not really international class, but he’s had a good career and in his prime could probably have done a job for England. But not now, not at his age. When the European Championships come around he will be 35, and the World Cup, 37. He does not have a future for England and so he should not be playing.

The same can be said of many of the current England squad. It is no longer just that they are not good enough, or not passionate enough, or too worried about their hair, or too busy shagging anything that moves (though all of the above still apply). Now, the current England squad, the so-called Golden Generation, has past it’s sell by date. It’s time to look to the future, and we need a new man at the helm to do that.

Unfortunately though, the FA have proven time and time again that they are incapable of looking to the future. Their continued failure to get to grips with football development at a grass roots level is reflected in their blind faith in Fabio Capello. The man should not be England manager, and every day that he remains in the job will do irreparable harm to England’s future prospects.

About the Author

Adam Howard
is the founder of They Think It’s All Over…

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