Fabio departs…

So, that was that then. Fabio Capello departure was a huge shock, but not a big surprise. Statistically, the most successful manager of all time; financially, the second most successful after Sven Goran Eriksson; linguistically, the third least successful after Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle.

FA chairman David Bernstein, chose to damn with faint praise, when he said of Capello’s reign: “It was certainly expensive but it was not a mistake and he did a lot of good for us.

“The qualifications for the two tournaments were perfectly acceptable. Nobody is going to defend what happened in South Africa.

Unfortunately, for £6million a year, ‘perfectly acceptable’ is not good enough.

Debate rages about successor

With Capello gone, attention immediately turns to the future and in particular the right man to lead England at Euro 2012 and beyond. Twitter is still buckling under the strain of journalists, politicians, current players, former players, all speculating on the identity of the Italian’s successor. In fact, if you don’t have an opinion about the next England manager, then to be frank, you’re just not trying hard enough.

Several current England internationals have made their feelings clear and anointed Spurs boss, Harry Redknapp, as the man to lead England out of the wilderness. On reflection, it may have been wise for the players to have kept their own counsel on the subject, lest Redknapp decide to spurn the poisoned chalice.

Wayne Rooney told his 2.5 million followers on Twitter: “Gutted Capello has quit. Good guy and top coach. Got to be English to replace him. Harry Redknapp for me.”

Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand, who played under Redknapp at West Ham, added: “Harry Redknapp would be my choice by a distance.”

Ferdinand also tweeted, rather sardonically: “I think we need an English manager now, we don’t need anything else lost in translation.”

Even British Prime Minister David Cameron was called upon to pass judgment on a Redknapp appointment.

Asked whether Redknapp should take over, he said: “The day when the Prime Minister picks the England coach will be a very bad day for football but I am sure we will find someone really good and I am sure that we will play well when the time comes.”

It would be fair to assume that Cameron is more of a rugger man.

Interestingly, ‘onest ‘arry as we shall now have to get used to calling Redknapp in the wake of him being cleared of tax evasion, has pledged his allegiance to Tottenham.

“I was shocked. I was surprised. We knew he would leave in summer. I didn’t expect it to happen now,” he said.

“It wouldn’t be right to focus on anything else other than Tottenham. That’s my focus.

“I never thought about it [the England job].”

And if ‘onest ‘arry hasn’t thought about it, we’ll have to take his word for it.

Reaction in Italy

In Italy, news of Capello’s departure was greeted with shock and dismay.

“I am saddened,” Juventus coach Antonio Conte told www.tuttosport.com

“I have great respect and admiration for Capello, a coach that has achieved important things. It’s a grave loss for England.”

Presumably, Conte was on a sabbatical during England’s pitiful campaign in South Africa in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Italian press have been left stunned by Capello’s resignation, but are already speculating on his next destination.

“Capello shock resignation,” ran Gazzetta dello Sport‘s headline, which added: “The Italian tactician has felt betrayed by the federation. He was the coach since 2007 and leaves England four months before Euro 2012.”

Gazzetta says the veteran coach will have no problem finding a new job.

Capello has been linked with Inter since last summer, while Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala are also reportedly keen to acquire his services.

“Beware of (Inter Milan president Massimo) Moratti and Anzhi,” Gazzetta warned. “There is also the possibility of (Juve president Andrea) Agnelli (offering the manager’s role).”

Il Messaggero and Corriere dello Sport write that Capello’s departure was due to the controversy about Terry, who awaits trial for allegedly racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.

Il Messaggero‘s headline was: “Capello resigns from the England federation; Dispute with the federation regarding Terry racism.”

The headline in Corriere dello Sport read: “Capello resigns. The relationship is interrupted due to the Terry case. Rumours link him to Inter and Anzhi.”

Tuttosport suggested Manchester United as a possible destination for the 65-year-old. “Capello shock, goodbye England,” ran its headline, which added “Inter and Manchester (United) on him.”

La Repubblica welcomed Capello’s availability. Its front page read: “Capello available on the market: Goodbye England.”

The rich list

Real Madrid and Barcelona are football’s biggest moneymakers for the third straight year and their pre-eminence shows little sign of ending any time soon.

Manchester United, with an income of €367million, retain their place in third spot, but their earning power has fallen significantly behind Real and Barca, who bestride not only Spain but also Europe.

It’s unclear what lessons can be learnt from such a list, although it’s clear that there are obvious short term benefits for those clubs prepared to enrich themselves at the expense of their neighbours. In the longer term, the picture for European football in general and Spanish football in particular, may not be quite so rosy.

The big mover in the top 20 is Schalke, who jump from 16th to 10th on the back of a successful Champions League campaign. One of four Bundesliga clubs in the top 20, Schalke’s increased earning capacity may also be a portent of things to come, with well-run, debt-free German clubs harnessing their earning power to dominate the European scene.

Deloitte Football Money League

All figures in euro (2010 positions in parentheses):

1. Real Madrid, Spain, 479.5 million (1).
2. Barcelona, Spain, 450.7m (2).
3. Manchester United, England, 367m (3).
4. Bayern Munich, Germany, 321.4m (4).
5. Arsenal, England, 251.1m (5).
6. Chelsea, England, 249.8m (6).
7. Milan, Italy, 235.1m (10).
8. Inter Milan, Italy, 211.4m (9).
9. Liverpool, England, 203.3m (8).
10. Schalke, Germany, 202.4m (16).
11. Tottenham, England, 181m (12).
12. Manchester City, England, 169.6m (21).
13. Juventus, Italy, 153.9m (10).
14. Marseille, France, 150.4m (15).
15. Roma, Italy, 143.5m (18).
16. Borussia Dortmund, Germany, 138.5m (-)
17. Lyon, France, 132.8m (14).
18. Hamburg, Germany, 128.8m (13).
19. Valencia, Spain, 116.8m (-).
20. Napoli, Italy, 114.9m (-).

Source: Deloitte: 2010-11

Quote of the day

“There is a lot of unrest in the club. The whole club is shaking and it is internal problems that we ourselves created. The whole of Germany is laughing at us.”

Hoffenheim keeper Tom Starke after their surprise Cup exit to second division Greuther Fuerth.

The defeat was the final straw for Hoffenheim major investor Dietmar Hopp, who decided to dispense with the services of  coach Holger Stanislawski.

Goal of the day

Watching Ivory Coast Gervinho score the goal that took his country through to the final of the African Nations Cup final, will have elicited mixed feelings among Arsenal supporters: pride in seeing one of their players score a lovely solo goal, and bemusement that he has never managed anything remotely like that during his time at Arsenal.

Zambia to pay tribute to predecessors

Zambia returned to Libreville and the scene of its worst sporting tragedy Thursday promising to honor the footballers and team officials who died in a plane crash 19 years ago with a first African Cup title.

Zambia, who were surprise conquerors of Ghana in Wednesday’s semi-final, had always targeted an emotional return to Gabon for the final, coach Herve Renard said, after the 1993 accident wiped out one of Zambia’s best-ever teams.

“We wanted absolutely to come back to Gabon 19 years after the tragedy. We are there,” Renard told the AP as the squad arrived from Bata for Sunday’s final against Ivory Coast. “Now the best thing to honor their memories is to win the final and to make all the country happy.”

Poles apart

It’s not just Brazil that is struggling to modernise its infrastructure in anticipation of hosting a major football tournament. Poland will be unable to complete its north-south motorway or another road linking its borders with Germany and Ukraine in time for this year’s European Championship, a minister has revealed.

Poland has started a large-scale infrastructure building programme ahead of the tournament but the two key roads, A1 and A4, are running behind schedule.

“It gives me no satisfaction to say that we will most likely not be able to drive through the entire A1 and A4 highway for the Euros, as some stretches won’t be ready,” Poland’s Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak told a news confence.

That means Poland will not have a motorway connection to Ukraine for the finals it is co-hosting with its neighbour.

“We are doing everything to ensure A2 highway is all done from the German border to Warsaw,” Nowak added.

Soca warriors on the warpath

World Cup veterans from Trinidad and Tobago’s national team seized office equipment from the country’s governing body due to a longstanding payment dispute.

Accompanied by a group of policemen and a court official, 13 Soca Warriors who represented the country during its 2006 World Cup run loaded two trucks with computers, desks and other items from offices of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.

In a Wednesday statement, the federation acknowledged that $4.6 million was still due to the players as of October 2011. But the federation said it “does not have the resources to fulfill this request for such payment.”

Where on earth could the money have gone?

According the federation, the blame lies to with former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who not only controlled Caribbean football until resigning all his duties last June to avoid a FIFA investigation into alleged election bribery, but also the accounts.

Warner, who remains a government minister, is due in court next week to present the accounts.

The federation said it “fully expects Mr. Warner to comply with the instructions of the court to have the accounts ready and delivered to the court” by February 14.

If there’s any justice the players will get their overdue payments, but as we have seen in recent days, those with money and a decent lawyer have an uncanny habit of extricating themselves from the most unpropitious of circumstances.


Ajax entire board, including Johan Cruyff, will step down, the Dutch league club has confirmed.

The resignations of the five members, who also include Edgar Davids and chairman Steven ten Have, follow an Amsterdam court decision on Tuesday banning the naming of Louis van Gaal as CEO.

The move follows a Dutch court ruling earlier this week rejecting the appointment of Louis van Gaal as CEO of Ajax. Cruyff had opposed Van Gaal’s appointment, which was made by the other four board members.

The club said Thursday the five will all leave “in the shortest possible term, once suitable replacements have been found that can count on broad support.”