Football Association chairman David Bernstein has insisted that the FA did not seek Fabio Capello’s resignation at their decisive meeting. “It was very much his decision to go,” Bernstein told a press conference.
Yet there seems far more to Capello’s departure than merely a disagreement over John Terry’s captaincy. If we are to believe the FA, Capello has walked out on a £6million-a-year contract without a penny of compensation.
Only in England is the national team captaincy taken so seriously. In Capello’s native Italy and most other major European nations, the captain’s armband usually goes to the most capped player in the side. It is nothing more than a ceremonial role.
For Capello to quit in a spat over Terry’s status simply doesn’t add up. Deeper reasons will emerge for Capello’s departure four months before the European Championship.
The suspicion remains that it was fast dawning on Capello that England do not have the players to win Euro 2012. England’s outstanding attacking talent, Wayne Rooney, will miss the opening two games through suspension, while the brightest young midfield prospect since Paul Gascoigne, Jack Wilshere, has ongoing injury problems and his club Arsenal cannot confirm that he will play again this season.
Certainly, Capello made mistakes as England manager – learning sufficient English to communicate effectively with players proved beyond him – but the credentials that made him such a success at club level (nine league titles and a European Cup) did not desert him overnight.
Capello’s qualities – for which the FA were happy to pay him £6million a year – did not work with England. Which begs the question: will anything work with England?
The uncomfortable reality for the FA is that the England national side are essentially a quarter-final team. With with the wind behind them and a little bit of luck, they could be considered a semi-final side. But their world ranking over the past decade – in or around the top 10 – is essentially right. They’re not as good as Holland or Germany and certainly not as good as Spain, Brazil or Argentina. On a good day they’re probably on a par with Portugal, France and Italy.
However, by making Capello easily the world’s best paid coach, on three times the going rate for a top international coach, the FA ramped up expectations that could never be realistically met.
Capello, who was heralded as the world’s best coach when he was appointed four years ago, actually had the highest win rate of 67 per cent is the highest of any manager in England’s history.
Many things went wrong during Capello’s tenure with England, but it would be misleading just to blame the manager.
Bernstein did nothing to deny suggestion that Harry Redknapp is about to ride to England’s rescue, although you can be sure that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will extract his pound of flesh from the FA before Redknapp is appointed.
The media love-in with Harry is understandable. He never knowingly turns down an interview; his record with Tottenham is impeccable. He’s one of only two living Englishman who has qualified a team for the group stages of the Champions League; the other is Steve McClaren…
But Redknapp is no Capello. Currently, that is a good thing, as far as England fans, players and officials are concerned. Whether they feel that way in a year’s time remains to be seen.
By Gavin Hamilton