5:51 Thu Feb 9
Re: Capello gone
Guardian Fiver: about right
FA HAVE 'HUGE KNOWLEDGE OF GAME', IF WHAT'S BEEN SAID HERE IS RIGHT
Fabio Capello has won seven Serie A titles at three separate clubs, two Spanish titles in two seasons a decade apart, four Italian cups, a Uefa Super Cup, and Big Cup, when his 1994 Milan team delivered the greatest and most dominant single performance of modern times. Meanwhile in his penultimate game as England coach, his well-drilled young side ground out a result against world and European champions Spain, a sign that while nobody was expecting Brasil'70-style shenanigans any time soon, there were at least realistic and coherent plans being put in place, with a view to an acceptable showing at Euro 2012 and maybe even a smidgen of hope for the future.
But consider this. Capello recently went on holiday over the Christmas period! He speaks Italian! He doesn't do chest-thumping passion! He hasn't wasted one nano-joule of energy in buttering up the English press pack! And not once in his so-called career has he won the FA Cup, or pulled off an audacious relegation escape by signing Paul Kitson and John Hartson, even though he was the man who led his team into deep relegation trouble in the first place, or got a club relegated from the top flight after a 27-year residency, or proved himself to be a more successful boss than Jacques Santini and Christian Gross and Ossie Ardiles and Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence! So, no loss, then. Chancer. Foreign chancer. Bye!
Capello also had the bare-faced cheek to take umbrage at England's finest puffed-up bureaucrats telling him how to go about his business. "The manager is the most important figure, but there are moments when the board and chairman have to step up to the plate, and when strong leadership is required," explained FA chairman David Bernstein today, opening a press conference held amid the smouldering rubble of Wembley, during which he and FA Director of Something Adrian Bevington repeatedly paused awkwardly and stammered "you answer this one" to each other. Bernstein was, of course, referring to the issue of The Armband, ripped by said board from the biceps of Eejitry's Brave John Terry, much to Capello's annoyance.
Now, the Fiver accepts that going out to bat for EBJT might not have been the cleverest call in Capello's career, unless he was deliberately trying to engineer an out. But as things stand, EBJT has yet to be proved guilty of That Charge, so Capello's stance was, if not necessarily wise, then at least a legitimate one to take. Either way, it was undoubtedly a decision he was better equipped to make than the 14 men of the FA board, notwithstanding the fact that, according to Bernstein, these lads have "a high level of football expertise and a huge knowledge of the game". (For the record, the 14 include Bernstein, who once gave the Manchester City manager's job and a big pot of cash to Kevin Keegan; Dave Richards, who set Sheffield Wednesday trundling on their way from the Premier League to the third tier, and David Sheepshanks, who oversaw Ipswich Town's brave march into Europe and then administration.)
"Fabio wasn't happy," explained Bernstein, of events leading up to Capello's resignation "but he accepted the board's authority on the matter." So much so, you'll recall, that he stormed straight off to Italian broadcaster RAI and started swinging wild haymakers. "That caused conjecture and huge public debate, and frankly produced an unsatisfactory situation," admitted the FA's chief penpusher. And so, after a "detailed meeting" yesterday during which "a lot of detailed questions were asked by us", Capello informed Bernstein that he was for the off. "I agreed on behalf of the board that this was the right decision," grinned Bernstein, a job well done, adding that "principles" are important, and that Stuart Pearce, who in 1994 had to apologise to Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince for alleged racial abuse made "in the heat of the moment", would be taking charge for England's upcoming fixture against the Netherlands.
As for who will take over from Capello on a full-time basis, Richards promised that "we are actually devoting tomorrow to look at this!" So well done to them for clearing the decks to deal with that. "I don't want to pretend we've got plans in hand that we haven't got, but believe me, we will be moving fast to get our ducks in the right row here," continued the man who seconds earlier had suggested Capello struggled to communicate in English.
Harry Redknapp is, needless to report, the favourite for the post, although he is currently distancing himself from it. "I don't know anything about the England job," he said today, from the permanent Sky Sports News studio installed in the front of his 4x4. "Not even thought about it, I've got a job to do, a big game on Saturday, Tottenham is my focus. My only interest is with the Tottenham Hotspurs." Seeing Harry's very much the choice of Sid Vicious's good friend, The Man On The Street, he's the short-priced bookies favourite to get the nod. But the Fiver is counting no chickens. "We want to make an appointment that excites the fans," confirmed the populist Bernstein. Which, given the FA's track record of getting things done, should mean Entertainment's Roy Hodgson is a shoo-in.