Wednesday, December 12, 2007

May the force be with them...

It can't have escaped your notice that something extraordinary is about to happen. I wasn't around in the 1950s but I can only compare it to the astonishing events when the mighty Magyars humbled England on their own patch and forced them to admit they might have something to learn from overseas football.

In some ways, however, this is even more astounding. In their search for a new manager the English FA appear to be heading towards not just a foreigner but, whisper it, an Italian.

I know they have already had a Straniero at the helm but that was a Swede. A northern European - cool, calm and essentially dull (except for the off-the-pitch stuff). Now they have turned to the Dark Side in their possible recruitment of Fabio Capello (pictured).

It must stick in many a craw, surely, to turn to the home of corruption, cheating and defensive football? Is their desperation to win so deep? Clearly it is.

I find it an intriguing prospect. There is no doubt Don Fabio is in Europe's elite managerial bracket - one of the top four or five on the continent. He will certainly have no truck with any primadonna antics. And he might even harness the power of Wayne Rooney as he did Antonio Cassano.

But how has he prepared for all the extra-curricular rubbish? In Spain and Italy he suffered plenty of criticism but it was always based on football. What will he think of having the prying eyes of the tabloids on his wife, children, and anyone he speaks to in the street?

He is the ultimate pragmatist and from a footballing point of view his interest in the job makes a lot of sense. He can only do better than Steve McClaren. He gets to work with a decent group of players who have underachieved. And he gets a lot of money.

Whether it makes such sense from a lifestyle point of view I'm not so sure. He will have to conquer a lot of prejudice if he hopes to be a success. Italian football carries all the 'baggage' mentioned above in many English eyes. A lot of fans don't want him. I know Capello will not care but every time a result doesn't go his way he can expect to have a lot of old stereotypes dragged out.

In many ways, I still don't want to believe the deal will go ahead. At the last minute Capello will pull back his hand and thumb his nose. Or someone will snap their fingers in front of the FA and they will wake from their trance with a look on their face like they had just bitten into an onion. But I just saw Fabio getting off a plane to meet Brian Barwick. And there wasn't a light sabre anywhere in sight.


Venezian said...

Unlike many, I'm a fan of Fabio - yes, he can be a moody bastard, but you can tell from his punditry on Rai that he is actually a charismatic, if demanding, man - as well as of course being a born winner. I'm disappointed by his imminent appointment, but am now resigned to it.

For Italians in the UK it is a lose/lose appointment - either he succeeds and makes England good, or he fails and the press inevitably blame his Italian ways.

He is undoubtedly the best manager England have had in years, and I suppose the only question might be whether he can get the team playing as he wants without the opportunity to put them through his legendarily tough training sessions to get them in the shape he needs them to be in.

A final thought - if England fail with a man of his ability in charge, will they still continue to think of themselves as one of the best in the world?

martinobhoy said...

I await the depressing inevitability of the first "Pasta Joke" headline.

Juventino said...

I can't stand Capello. I was very annoyed when he became Juve's manager (I wanted Prandelli).
The way he shafted Roma to come to their (then) greatest rivals, and the way he was first out the door when Juve were embroiled in Calciopoli both show that he really is an arsehole, in my opinion.

If he becomes England's manager he'll turn them into winners. I don't want to see that happen!

TrentToffee said...

That's a very cynical piece Ginkers. With lines like "He will have to conquer a lot of prejudice..." you'd think most English were a bunch of knuckle dragging neanderthals. Sure, he'll get stick from some quarters of the press but that goes with the terrain and happens *everywhere* so it's hardly worth debating. And as for the antics of the Red-tops (fake sheiks, etc), well, he's an intelligent man, and he knows what he's letting himself in for. He'll deal with it.

One of the best pieces that I've read likened him to a "flint-hearted Italian". Who, isn't here to *save* English football. He's not here to re-build English football from the grassroots, or build academies, or fix the technical deficiencies in kids. He's here to take a bunch of reasonable players and give them a steely edge, and turn them into serial winners. And for that he'll get 4+ million smackers a year. Nice work if you can get it.

And I don't think it'll "stick in many a craw" either. The guys a proven winner. He's my winner (soon I hope). So he's Italian, so what. He's *my* "flint-hearted Italian" now. I think many Italians will be celebrating that.

An here's one for you Venezian : "if England fail with a man of his ability in charge" then the next England head coach will need to be a team of crack psychologists, who, can try to determine why, with 20 mins left in a match that they only need to draw, can't park a bus in front of goal.

p.s. If you want to read some good press articles on this stuff then try these :-




Aussie Romanista said...

If Capello coaches England it will be an embarassment to Italy.

Hopefully this taints him in the eyes of the FIGC so he will never coach Italy.

He's an asshole so you can have him.

Red said...

I agree with everything you say. Already the press seems to be mocking him (calling him Fabio Cabbage... what on earth does that even mean?!?) and all I hear is how he doesn't speak English. Like he couldn't possibly learn -- ever. Certainly the first game that doesn't go his way, they are going to crucify him.

Still, I like the idea of an Italian at the helm of the English squad. I've already mocked Asterisk that for the duration of the Capello tenure, he'll be my bee-atch and I'll be the boss of him.

ginkers said...


I am a Capello admirer too and I guess that is why I have a similar view on his appointment. For Scottish Italians it is an awful appointment, as you say. Mind you, he's from Gorizia, that's hardly Italy, is it?


It has probably been used already.


He may be an ass, but he is a winning ass and that counts for a lot.


I do you a disservice but surveys say that you are in the minority when it comes to welcoming Capello. I hope I am proved wrong but over the years, I have mostly had to swallow a lot of narrow-minded visions of the Italian game.


You get to the heart of the issue as always. Has there ever been a more successful coach who was less loved by fans of the teams he coached?


I thought you were the boss of * already! But, if not, you use every excuse you can get...

ursus arctos said...

I am much more distressed at the news that Frey did his meniscus in training this morning and is out for at least a month and likely more.

The Viola's Champions League qualification campaign is over. What an awful few weeks this has been for things Viola.

TrentToffee said...

Ginkers, this is your blog and you write things as you see them, and you do no-one a disservice by that. Your points are valid. From what I've read (the braodsheets) there is generally a great deal of enthusiasm for the Capello appointment. What I really like about this bloke (from what I've read) is that he's a hard task-master and doesn't give f*ck about the press. Brilliant :0)

Spangly Princess said...

Fabio Capello (pictured) made me genuinely laugh out loud.

I can see TT's point here, anyone half sane and not frothing at the mouth can see that there is no English manager up to the job right now and thus welcomes the appointment of surely the best candidate for the job.

The problem is that there are an awful lot of people in England who don't meet the above mentioned criteria, many of whom work in the media.

ginkers said...


That one caused me a lot of pain but dont give up hope. If we can hammer Cagliari on Sunday we get a couple of weeks break and the Champs League may still not be lost...


I think it is fair to make the difference between the sensible England fan and the "John Bull" type who wouldn't want a foreigner even if he won 8 World Cups in a row. Most sensible people (yourself included) seem to welcome Fabio but there are plenty of the other category desperate to see him fail.


I think you probably make the point I try to make above better than I did.

Zoie said...

You write very well.