Thursday, 9 February 2012

What exactly did Capello do all day?

God, I'm bored!
The really interesting thing about Fabio Capello’s six million pounds a year is… how did he fill in his time (apart from figuring out what to do with all the loot)? Capello, as we all know, never learned to speak English beyond the “my nipples explode with delight” casual tourist level, so he hardly spent a lot of time whizzing round the country chatting to the likes of Alex Ferguson or Harry Redknapp (although transcripts would have been fascinating).

For the same reason, there’d be no point in having heart-to-hearts with “the lads” (a communication difficulty compounded by the fact that most of them can’t speak English either), and their clubs probably don’t allow  “stars” to use up their meagre portion of brain cells on anything other than club business (and illicit sex and gambling and getting pissed and crashing high-performance sports cars).

I expect Fabio’s TV was expensively hooked up to receive lots of Italian TV channels… but I’ve seen Italian TV and it’s truly abysmal. Even an ex-footballer must feel the will to live slipping away after an hour or so.

Lot of time with the family, I expect, which must have been nice for the old boy. Then there would be Premier League matches and cup ties to attend two or three times a week. And Champions League must have been fun, with an excuse to regularly jet off for a few days.

And occasionally, very occasionally, an England match, preceded by a few days of semi-intensive training (which always seemed to result in half of them keeling over, clutching hamstrings or metatarsals or whatever). No socialising, of course. Then a press conference or two (which might as well have been conducted in Swahili).

I suppose he must have spent some time with bigwigs at the FA, but, again, how long can a conversation go on when you don’t speak each other’s language?

Most of his training staff appear to have been Italian, so there would have been time for merry japes and nights on the razzle – but that doesn’t appear to be old stoneface’s bag, really. And, as we now know, interviews on Italian television slagging off his employers seem to have accounted for some of his time, but surely that’s no more than half an hour every few weeks.

Some might argue that he spent most of his time devising tactics and line-ups overall playing strategies – but what happened on the pitch when it actually mattered often suggested otherwise.

Given that Capello evidently doesn’t have another job to fall into, he doesn’t even appear to have spent any time lining one up.

And all the evidence suggests that he not only didn’t spend any time learning the language – he didn’t even bother gaining an understanding of what passes for Britain’s footballing “culture” or the psychology of his players (both of which he could probably have knocked off in one infinitely depressing afternoon).

I read Sir Alf - Leo McKinstry’s excellent biography of Sir Alf Ramsey - a few years ago. Ramsey was only manager of the national team to have achieved more in terms of results than most observers would have believed possible (until, of course, he pulled Bobby Charlton off the pitch while England were easily beating West Germany in that awful 1970 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, thereby inadvertently introducing death into the world and all our woe). Back then, Ramsey found it difficult to fill his days at the FA’s Lancaster House headquarters. And while he wasn’t the most clubbable of chaps (or “chappies”, as he’d probably have termed it) at least he could speak the lingo, after a fashion.

But in those early days as manager, Ramsey knew what he wanted to do, how he was going to do it, and who was going to help him do it – and there was nowhere else for him to go if he failed. He had a mighty singleness of purpose: as with Churchill he was “in a rage to win this war”, and that will sustain a determined man through a lot of frustration and boredom.

Capello doesn’t appear to have been in a rage to do very much of anything except sustain a loveless but massively lucrative footballing marriage of convenience for a few tawdry years. I doubt very much that Capello seriously believed that having John Terry as his captain mattered that much to the team’s guaranteed lack of success in the forthcoming European Championship finals. Terry was in the team in South Africa, and a fat lot of good that did anyone. Capello must have known only too well that the chances of the team not staging its standard collective nervous breakdown as soon as it reached the knock-out stage (it didn’t even bother waiting that long in 2010) were minimal. He must also have known that nothing short of reaching this year’s European semi-finals and losing on penalties would do anything to restore a reputation tarnished by a series of daft selections and inexplicable non-strategies. 

So he came up with a ruse that would allow him to stomp off in high dudgeon with a few fluttering shreds of reputation and dignity intact. And, of course, a bloody fortune in the bank.

Given everything we’ve learned about Harry Redknapp in recent days, I can’t think of a less suitable job for him than England manager. And because he’s obviously a very funny, human, likable man – as well as being a very good football manager -  I really hope he gives it the elbow, even though it’ll mean we won’t get to hear priceless comments like these at post-match press conferences:

"Dani is so good-looking I don't know whether to play him or f*ck him"

"Where are we in relation to Europe? Not far from Dover"

“Everyone f*cking jumps all over you. They don't care Michael Carrick's just 19. When he gave the ball away the other week there was 20000 people c*nting him off. He give a bad ball and they are all f*cking ‘weeerrrr’.” 

Actually, Harry, do us all a massive favour and take the bloody job. All that hanging around will drive you nuts, you won’t get any thanks, and the team won’t win, whatever you do... but it would give us the chance to enjoy some good old-fashioned cockney wit for a change – and that would be worth £6 million a year of anyone’s money.


  1. Apologies for the lack of posts in recent days - and for any in coherence in the above item. I've got flu. I don't mean man-flu - I mean the chills and fever, semi-delirium, sweating and shaking variety. I hope to get back up to speed over the next few days.

  2. The skinny is:

    1. Capello has been studying for a Master's Licence and will be joining Costa Cruises.

    2. Diego Maradonna will be appointed to the England job [his dodgey tailoring, total lack of English, bling and insatiable appetite for women and the white powder will endear him to the squad].
    Steve MacLaren [linguist and umbrella aficionado] and Paul Gascoigne [morale and entertainment coach] will join his staff.

    3. Rio Ferdinand will be appointed captain as soon as he gets his sick-note renewed and Rooney will have the lemming on the top of his skull removed.

    4. In the European Championship England will disgrace themselves both on and off the pitch and there will be acres of "Why, Oh Why?" columns in the press.

    5. And to make matters worse there will be the Olympics....

  3. It's a funny game, football, you know what I mean? They get rid of Big Tel, the only half decent coach since Alf, cos they think he's a bit dodgy, business-wise. And now they're giving the job to Big 'Arry, who's not exactly well versed in the old double entry book-keeping department. Bring back Sven is what I say and give the ladies a treat.

  4. I am sorry to hear that you are unwell. May I recommend using the spare time to catch up on some excellent Italian TV? I remember well the charming Cin Cin song from the popular Colpo Grosso series, which set new standards in light entertainment. I suspect that England's back four formation owes quite a lot to Fabio's hours of study of the dance routines of the talented Cin Cin singers.

  5. The Rev. Canaan Banana13 February 2012 at 08:24

    I was sorry to hear that you have been suffering from the flu. The former England football manager, Glenn Hoddle ["I never said them things"], believed that disabled people were being punished for sins that they had committed in a former life. This also applies to sins that you committ in this life. For example, if you desisted with your Fulminator posts I am sure you would have a flu-free life.