Saturday, December 15, 2007


With Don Fabio confirmed as the national coach of England, it is definitely interesting to see what changes he will bring. I am not a fan of the England national team and you hardly hear me saying anything good about them. You can probably blame the press for always giving them too much publicity beyond their abilities. That's why whenever you hear of England, people just have 1 word to sum it all. Over-rated! Now, it is totally different because I always like to see what Capello is capable of doing in difficult situations. It is like following a detective storyline. He is always going to places where the problems are so massive that people want to avoid it. I get interested in England because of the coach.

How will he solve the problem? England's last trophy was the World Cup in 1966. The next World Cup will be in 2010 in South Africa. Will England's wait be over by then? If he can bring the World Cup back after 44 years of waiting (by then), he will be the most respected football coach in football history. Can he do it? Well, that's what I am interested to find out! With Capello, it is never a big risk to make a bet.

Don Fabio can be boss of bosses

By Sam Wallace

Thursday December 13 2007

The latest joke about the prospective new England manager: how does Fabio Capello solve the Lampard-Gerrard conundrum? Answer: drop both of them.

The tough guy is coming and, so the wisdom goes, the more ruthless Don Fabio is with the underachieving team, the better. He talks English like some growling long-lost relative of the Sopranos because there is an old rule of popular opinion that any new England manager should be the polar opposite to what went before him.

Kevin Keegan was the players' friend, brought in to appease those whose feelings had been hurt by Glenn Hoddle's aloofness. Sven Goran Eriksson was the balm to the frenetic Keegan reign, the detached Swede to calm the ship after what Gary Neville once called the "dark days."
Six years of Eriksson and the English supporters had decided they were fed up with Johnny Foreigner -- Eriksson and Luiz Felipe Scolari. What was needed was an English hand on the tiller.

Twenty months on from Steve McClaren's appointment it turns out they were wrong about that one, too.


What is actually required is a coach so successful that he could not give a damn for the reputations of the most famous players. The kind of manager who has more medals than Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard put together. It tells everyone what they already knew about the England national team: that the FA go back to the drawing board each time in the hope that the latest radical departure will be the one who solves 40 years of chronic underachievement.

As a football coach, however, Capello is arguably the most credible man the English Football Association has appointed since the war. His suitability to coach the footballers of this generation, to win trophies in the modern game and to stand up to all the attendant pressures that the England job brings are simply not in question. He is managerial gold. The problem is that he is taking on a team whose performances are more commonly compared to another naturally produced substance at the opposite end of the scale.

First it is important to dispel one nonsense that has stuck to Capello as he has become the leading contender over the last seven days: that old criticism that his teams play dull, defensive football.

For the English football nation to make that kind of complaint at this lamentable stage of their national team's history would be comparable to stepping outside on Christmas Day and commenting that the brand new Ferrari sitting by the kerb for you is very nice but could you please have it in a different colour?

If Capello wants to play catenaccio for the next two and half years to get England to the next World Cup finals, then that would be infinitely more preferable to the shambolic retreat against Croatia in last month's Euro 2008 qualifying disaster.

The England team are currently outside the top 16 in Europe alone, low on confidence and under immense pressure to qualify for 2010.

If they were a government department, they would be deemed not fit for purpose. In short, the team needs to be rebuilt, first and foremost, into a winning side.

The truth is that Capello is far too smart and too successful to be just one kind of coach whose teams have only ever played one kind of football.

What Capello has that none of his predecessors shared is the right to call himself bigger than the England job. He has a record and a reputation that make him a lot grander than the organisation and team he is about to take charge of.


It is worth considering a brief history of Capello outside of football because it tells you something about the character.

His father was a primary school teacher who, during the Second World War, had been interned in a German prisoner camp. As a young player, Capello's father took him to a trial with the side SPAL, the equivalent of Wigan Athletic in 1960s Italian football, from Ferrara near Bologna.

It was in that town he met his wife, Laura, who was studying to be a teacher.

They have two sons, Pierfilippo, a lawyer who acts for his father, and Edoardo, who has two children himself.

After his career as a player at Roma, Juventus and Milan ended, Capello gained experience in business with Mediolanum, one of Silvio Berlusconi's companies, where he worked in insurance.

He left to work in the academy at Milan but not before he gained some understanding of the working world outside football and picked up enough English to get him by when speaking to Dutch players in his later years as a manager.

Apparently, the talk of him owning an art collection worth €15m is wide of the mark but he is a classical music connoisseur and a regular at La Scala.

All of which will delight the chattering classes who claim a stake in English football now, especially as the only clue to the musical tastes of McClaren was when he turned up at a Take That show.

Capello, however, does not seem the type to be seduced by the celebrity of the job in the same way as happened to Eriksson.

He has too much of a reputation to protect and appears to take himself extremely seriously. His life has been a study in football, and a very successful one too.

- Sam Wallace

The Stats Stack Up for 'Don Fabio'

The numbers are hard to argue with: nine league titles and one Champions League in 16 years as a coach make Fabio Capello supremely qualified to be England manager.

But, and England fans might regard this as no bad thing, the 61-year-old has not been afraid to upset egos and even ostracise some of the biggest names in football - ask David Beckham or Ronaldo.

His first team - the AC Milan of the early 1990s - was arguably his best.

Inheriting the Dutch trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard from Arrigo Sacchi, Capello ruled Italian football for five years.

Four Scudetti mark their domestic dominance but it was the 1994 Champions League victory which was Capello's crowning achievement at the San Siro.

Milan faced a Barcelona side who had ruined Manchester United in the semi-finals when Romario and Hristo Stoichkov had bamboozled the English champions.

The build-up to the final in Athens predicted a contest between Catalan flair and Italian conservatism but the forecasts were utterly confounded as Barca were taken apart and were probably grateful to lose only 4-0.

Daniele Massaro scored twice before half-time and Dejan Savicevic knocked the Spanish champions on to the canvas with a third two minutes into the second half before Marcel Desailly delivered the coup de grace.

But, even if the game remains the strongest memory of his work in the minds of England fans of a certain age, it is not typical of Capello's career, much of which has been classically Italian with an emphasis on defence.

The glory of Athens quickly faded as Milan finished fourth in Serie A and were defeated in the Champions League final by an Ajax side featuring a new generation of Dutch talent.

The Scudetto was regained in 1996 but at the end of the season he was on his way to Real Madrid, his pride wounded when he learned Milan were grooming the Uruguayan Oscar Washington Tabarez to take charge.

Tabarez duly took over but, while Capello was away winning the Spanish league title with Real Madrid, Milan had a disastrous year.

Tabarez was quickly replaced by old hand Sacchi, but the former coach could not find a cure for the Milan malaise and the team finished a dismal 11th. In his absence, Capello had made his point and was recalled to the San Siro for the beginning of the 1997-98 season.

But 'Don Fabio' found he no longer exerted the same influence he had once enjoyed over the Milan players and could do nothing to prevent another miserable season - Milan finished 10th - or his own departure from the club for the second time.

After a year out of the game Capello was back, this time with perennial Italian underachievers Roma. And it was there that Capello rediscovered his touch.

He claimed the Scudetto again - only the third in Roma's history - in 2000-01 and finished second both the following year and in 2003-04 but his tenure was marked by a venomous fall-out with Roman idol Francesco Totti.

But Capello's remarkable track record persuaded Juventus to tempt him to the Stadio delle Alpi.

He recruited Brazilian midfield general Emerson from Roma for £19.5million and added him to a team featuring the likes of Alessandro del Piero, Pavel Nedved, David Trezeguet and Lilian Thuram.

Another league title followed but he was denied another Champions League final in Athens when Juventus were drawn against a Liverpoool side apparently fated to win.

And his time in Turin ended in 2006 with the club embroiled in a grubby match-fixing case which left the integrity of Italian football at an all-time low and Juve stripped of a Scudetto, even if Capello was entirely innocent.

Fortunately for him, Real Madrid came calling again to offer a way out when new club president Ramon Calderon nailed his colours to Capello's mast - declaring him the coach most likely to get the best out of a talented but malfunctioning team.

Capello's emphasis on defence was not popular in the Bernabeu's cheap seats but the Italian dismissed the criticism and insisted results were more important than style.

At first, he achieved neither and publicly lambasted Beckham, Ronaldo and Antonio Cassano. Ronaldo left for Italy shortly after but Beckham, having been exiled from the first team following the announcement of his summer move to Los Angeles Galaxy, was brought back as Madrid rallied to take advantage of a loss of nerve at Barcelona and win Capello's second Primera Liga title.

It was not enough to prevent his sacking and, after leaving the Bernabeu, speculation had Capello either retiring or taking a job in Major League Soccer which is close to the same thing.

Now, however, he is in line to take up what will be the biggest challenge of his career - turning England from international also-rans and might-have-beens into genuine contenders.

Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association

10 Things About Fabio Capello

He is a confirmed art buff and has a private collection worth £10million.

Capello has enjoyed success at Wembley before. In his playing days, he scored for Italy against England at the old stadium in 1973 to secure the Azzurri's first win over the Three Lions.

Capello's teams are notoriously hard to beat. Under him, AC Milan completed a run of 58 games without defeat.

Following his retirement as a player, Capello worked for AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi as a manager of one of the tycoon's companies, Mediolanum.

Last year he claimed in the Italian press that Fascist dictator General Franco had "left a legacy of order" in Spain.

Capello's son Pierfilippo, a lawyer, is likely to be representing him in talks with the Football Association.

Capello has twice been replaced by Germans at Real Madrid - Jupp Heynckes in 1997 and Bernd Schuster a decade later.

Capello has won the league title with every team he has managed - AC Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma.

He has a passion for jamon iberico, Spanish ham - and while at Juventus, he had it specially imported to him from Spain.

During his second spell at Real Madrid he had disagreements with a number of star players - including Ronaldo, fellow Italian Antonio Cassano and David Beckham.

Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association

Fabio Capello - What They Said

"Even when Jose Mourinho was in the running, I believed that Capello had even more charisma, talent and experience for a challenging job like this one" - former Italy and Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola, tipped to be one of Capello's assistants for England.

"With Capello you can start dreaming of winning something again. He'll give you the best chance you have had for ages, a better chance than Sven-Goran Eriksson did" - former Italy coach Dino Zoff.

"Capello is ideal for this job. If England are capable of winning something, I truly believe Capello is the man who will bring it out in them" - Arrigo Sacchi, who Capello succeeded at AC Milan in 1991.

"He doesn't play for the beauty of the game but to win. You don't see him laughing much - he's moody. But he knows what he wants. You have to go his way or you will get in trouble. He screams at you" - Ruud Gullit, who played under Capello in the Italian's first spell at Milan.

"I have known Fabio for a long time and he is an outstanding candidate. As far as the technical part of the job is concerned, you do not have to worry about him. He is a strong man, with a strong character" - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

"In a perfect situation, you would get someone from England, that would be good, everyone in England would prefer it. But the most important criteria is to find a manager who is going to be successful and the choices in England are very limited" - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"England has quality players but results haven't really shown everybody the potential of the team. (Capello) knows that and it's a challenge for him, to go where the results are lacking and make those great players a good team" - Clarence Seedorf, who played under Capello in the Italian's first spell at Real Madrid.

"He has worked with big players throughout his career and he's always been a winner wherever he has gone. Fabio thinks about England as the mother of the game and the teacher of football and I am sure he would like to be England manager" - Franco Baldini, Capello's assistant at Roma and Real Madrid.

"It would be a beautiful challenge" - Capello, talking about the England manager's job in the Italian press the day after the team had missed out on qualification for Euro 2008."

"Let's make this clear - a player that has such an important contract with another club can't play for us. He will not play. He will train with us but he is not going to play. It's the club's decision" - Capello appears to suggest in January that David Beckham would never play for him at Real Madrid again after agreeing a contract with Los Angeles Galaxy.

The former England captain forced his way back into Capello's squad as Real won the La Liga title.

Copyright (c) 2007 Press Association

"Capello is the best possible choice for England" - Marcelo Lippi.

"It's enough to see how many trophies Capello won in his career to realise what his qualities are and what he can bring to the role."

"If the Football Association go trying to find an Italian manager then it means it is possible for an Italian to manage England, and I think you will find he is the best candidate."

"If you are winning big titles you always have big stars in your team. Capello is one of the best managers you can find." - Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Capello has only limited English but Eriksson added: "That won't be a problem. It certainly wasn't for me as I spoke to him in Italian!"

"The choice of Capello as the English national team coach is a bad thing for all English coaches," - Raymond Domenech.

"It is going abroad to search for a coach that is not positive. England need a coach who has the same mentality as the players."

“I would prefer not to speak about it. The trophies he has won speaks for itself and with the luck that he has he could win there also” - Antonio Cassano.

“It is true that he has won with some big teams but he has also had a lot of luck.”

“Speaking to some of the Real players, they tell me they are much happier this year. Last season they were almost in depression because it is a problem to be trained by a Coach like that [Capello].”

"His choice is first and foremost a great honor for Italian football" - Arrigo Sacchi.

"The English have never been too kind with us. And he will certainly be an excellent selector, even though it will be the first time for him with a national team: he knows the players well and knows which ones to pick."

"His knowledge and character are among the best in the world," he concluded.

"There's a tremendous pressure on the English coach, which Fabio will understand when he's two minutes into the job," - Sir Alex Ferguson.

"It's not going to be an easy job. There's a lot of work to do with the England team to get them to the level everyone expects, so I hope he'll get the support he needs."

"But what Fabio has got is experience. I've spoken for a long time about the necessity of a national team manager to be experienced and to have a good CV and a presence and be the right age. Fabio Capello has all those things."

"He will definitely command the respect of the players."

"Fabio's English is okay," added Ferguson.

"I've never had any problem speaking to him. I was reading about the problem with the language Rafael Benitez had when he came to Liverpool."

"But maybe Rafa couldn't speak English, whereas Fabio can. That's a big advantage."

"I'm sad, to be honest. I'm a proud English manager and I would have loved an Englishman to have been in charge" - Steve Coppell, Reading manager.

"You look at his CV and I must admit it is enticing. He is everything that you would want an England manager to be but, as an Englishman, how would you like an Italian coming in taking your job?"

"You look at the list of contenders and what he has done ticks all the boxes but I just wish he was English."

"We have now created a situation where it is very hard for an English manager to get to the top of the tree."

"The only way realistically now for an English manager to get a job in the Premier League is if he takes a team up there himself."

"Certainly, none of the elite half of the table are going to appoint an English manager."

"I don't think I will ever get an elite job myself if I'm honest. The big teams will now always go for continental managers with European experience."

"I am really not very happy about this" - Evelina Tortul, Capello's mother.

"The newspapers and the television are going to be on his back all the time now, and talk badly about everything he does - whether it is good or bad. My peaceful days are over."

"The problem with the media is that it is fine when you are winning, but when you lose they cut your throat," she added. "I'm his mother, so that is going to make me unhappy."


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