As an England fan, I couldn’t be happier about the hiring of Fabio Capello.
And even more surprisingly, the FA seems to have gone about it in the right way.
Jose Mourinho needed to be interviewed. I’m not surprised that in the end he didn’t want the job, but he could have been an excellent gaffer for the national team. He’s tactically astute, knows how to build a dressing room and create an 'us against the world' atmosphere, and knows English football.
However, I used the phrase "could have been" for a reason. There was also the question of how Jose would react to the media and vice versa. Everything Mourinho does is “news-worthy,” every problem a “crisis.” He may have taken some of the pressure off his players by being the main story, but there was also a very good chance he’d be a distraction as well.
Capello checks off many of the same boxes as Mourinho, but is nowhere near as controversial.
First and foremost, Fabio Capello suffers no fools. Not playing up to par or giving 100%? Dropped from the squad without a blink of an eye, which is exactly what England needs. The inmates ran the asylum under both Eriksson and McClaren, and that cannot happen anymore. And he will work the players incessantly, demanding the most from them out of every training session; Del Piero supposedly greeted the news of Capello’s exit from Juventus by saying “The era of terror in training under Capello has now gone.” England needs a bit of terror in their training sessions.
He’s certainly got the CV, with league titles at AC Milan, Roma, Juventus and Madrid and a Champions League at Milan in 1994, in one of the best performances ever over Barcelona. He’s managed the biggest names in football over his career, and dealt with some of the biggest egos.
Plus Capello is as tactically astute and as smart a psychologist/motivator as Mourinho, as that resume would confirm.
The only negative is his English, but with time for on the job training (England’s next match is a friendly in February) and Capello’s intelligence, I doubt the language will truly be a problem.
At this point, I honestly don’t care if the manager’s English, European, or from Mars. All I care is how he manages players and his team. Yes, being English is helpful in dealing with the psyche of a nation, but Capello’s proven he can coach in different countries, with players of different nationalities. Who’s the best English candidate anyway? Coppell? Allardyce? Redknapp?
Throughout the world there are countries with foreign managers that have had better results than England over the past few years. Portugal’s been led by a Brazilian (Phil Scolari, perhaps you’ve heard of him?), South Korea and Russia by Dutchmen. It happens in African countries all the time: Djukovic (Serbia) led Ghana at the World Cup, Michel (France) the Ivory Coast. It may hurt to see England (the home of football!) mentioned in the same breath as those countries, but that’s what we’ve come to.
It is an indictment of the culture of football in England that no English candidate stands out. But right now, none of them do, whereas Capello is head and shoulders above nearly everyone else in his profession. If all things were equal, of course I’d prefer an English manager. But everyone saw the results last time, where being English was the main qualification, and we got stuck with Second-Choice Steve.
Fabio Capello is no Steve McClaren.