So Fabio Capello is the new manager of England. I know there’s a lot of gnashing of teeth that it’s not an Englishman but come on is there really a better home-grown candidate out there? There were good shouts for Coppell and Redknapp but neither of them can show a CV which comes anywhere near to Capello’s. Then again Coppell didn’t want it and though Redknapp did, the recent incidents with the fraud squad made him untouchable so far as the FA is concerned. O’Neill is the best qualified home grown manager (of those who might have wanted the job but aren’t discounted by having done it before) by a mile but he’d been burned by the FA’s cack-handedness last time around and had no intention of dancing to their tune this time.
So the issue really was, was Capello the best of the overseas candidates? I don’t know why Lippi wasn’t more seriously considered, having been the last manager to actually win the World Cup trophy but maybe he didn’t express his desire for the job as hard as Capello did. Scolari and Hiddinck are probably yesterday’s men and the possibility of appointing Klinsmann was never really going to happen. He inspired a decent young German side to perform well in their own country as hosts of the WC but what else has he done as a manger? Nothing.
No, Capello had only one rival for the job in my eyes and that was Mourinho. But I think we all know the special one has his eyes on a major club job still and was using the FA’s interest to flush out an offer I believe. If Sven was occasionally courted during his time as England manager by club sides it would be reasonable to assume that Mourinho would be both chased and ‘open’ to offers from all the leading clubs if he were England manager. That would be inevitable and disruptive. So I think the FA were right not to try too hard to land him. Capello has done the club stuff now, he’s in his prime and has only one ambition left – to win that World Cup. If it’s with England, so be it.
Is Capello what we need as a manager? Bang on he is. Unlike hapless Keegan, indulgent Sven, spineless McClaren he has proven time and again that he knows his mind and what he wants from the players and isn’t in the least intimidated by egos, reputations and prima donna-ism from the players. During his career he’s busted Gullitt, Ronaldo, di Canio, Cassano, Totti, Beckham, Guti to name but a few and he won’t fret over making a decision about the Gerrard/Lampard so-called dilemma, won’t feel any obligation about giving Beckham his 100 caps and won’t feel awkward about challenging the current captain’s priorities and lifestyle. I’m convinced he’s going to put the passion and fire back into the England team. What’s more he’ll ally those attributes with clarity of purpose and roles and shrewd tactical acumen.
I personally think he’s the best candidate by far and whilst not the perfect candidate, who cares he’s not English if he becomes successful? The Italians generally will be smiling because they’ll see it as further prof that their system produces football winners but are you that bothered? Do people seriously believe that Wenger has been a negative influence on the way football is played here because of his nationality? I hope they don’t. People will probably think I’m an idiot for saying this but I’m rather pleased Capello’s bringing in all his own back-room team and ignoring pleas from the FA to have some English guys in there. I say that because a) it shows he’s not afraid to tell the FA to f*ck off; he’ll manage things his way – after all he’s the one who knows what it takes to deliver football success whilst, as we all know, they are just a bunch of f*ckwits b) the FA have tried grooming a new generation from within before and we ended up with that pri*k McClaren and his umbrella and c) let’s face it the English guys in ‘Team England’ have included Sammy Lee before his hugely successful time as Bolton manager (remind me, how many games was he in control of things?) and goal-keeping coach Ray Clemence. Now we know Ray was a very good goalie in the tradition of fine English stoppers but he is the specific coach responsible for the recent fine goalkeeping performances from Robinson and Carson. It’s not encouraging is it and now we have to accept that even Scotland have a better goalkeeper than England. No wonder Fabio wants his own man in there.
I read he’s negotiated a £5m bonus if were to deliver England a WC win. Well given that a WC win would probably generate a revenue windfall for the FA in excess of £20m, it’s not a huge price for success is it? Especially when you consider what the FA paid Eriksson for delivering failure – was it £6m? And how much have they lost out on by allowing that pri*k McQuiff to be in control of the team’s failure to qualify for the final stages of Euro 2008 – £12M? Anyway if he doesn’t win the WC they won’t have to pay the bonus will they? They can’t lose.
So bring him on for me. It could be the best appointment a bunch of blazered halfwits have ever made.
One final point on football appointments by the unaccountable. I forecast in an earlier posting (see ‘tick tock’ posted 6 Oct) that Chelsea’s Avram Grant would almost certainly be relieved of his post as manager by Xmas. Well rather than sack him, Red Roman announced yesterday that he’d actually awarded him a 4 year contract in recognition of the 16-match unbeaten achieved by Chelsea under the Larry Grayson (with a hangover) lookie likey. I got it wrong clearly and admit it. Mind you Chelsea went and lost today too. Nice work Mr Abramovitch, you’ll be invited onto the FA’s main committee any time soon.