On this week’s show Damian and Damon look at the new appointment of Fabio Capello as England coach. Damon also has a new English for Football phrase.
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This week the English FA announced the appointment of the new England coach, the Italian Capello. They decided to, in the words of a former England coach Glenn Hoddle ‘go foreign’. Of course it’s not the first time. Sven Goran Eriksson was famously the first non-English coach of England. He was given the job in 2000 after Kevin Keegan resigned following a defeat to arch-rivals Germany in the last game at the old Wembley. Both Eriksson and Cappello have won the league in Italy: the former with Lazio in 2000, and the latter more impressively with AC Milan four times and Roma once. Capello also won one of the most impressive European Cup victories when AC Milan hammered Barcelona 4-0 in 1994.
Like Eriksson, who also was successful in Portugal with Benfica, Capello has also been able to transfer his winning ways to another country. Last season Real Madrid finished top of La Liga for the second time under his leadership. Add to that all the various cup competitions he has won and he has a very strong CV. One that, perhaps from Britain, only Alex Ferguson could hope to match, and certainly no English coach comes close to.
The comparisons with Eriksson don’t stop there. Both can speak more than one language: Capello speaks Spanish, Italian, and enough English to be confident that he will be able to speak competently in a month. Both men also like the finer things in life: opera, art collecting for Fabio, classical music and good food for Sven. But unlike the Swede, who had a private life that was fertile ground for the British tabloid press, Capello seems much less likely to give journalists any juicy gossip. He has been married for 40 years and is used to the glare of publicity having worked at some of the biggest clubs in football.
Simon: Capello? Is he right? Well, mixed feelings on this one. I think he’s going to take time to get used to what’s going on in the English game. The advantage of Mourinho or an English manager is they could hit the ground running. It took Sven quite a while to get used to knowing who’s who. I think he’ll be good in terms of discipline, and I think there are some prima donnas in the English team and he’ll sort them out. It might actually give some fringe players a chance. You know, people like at Villa, and the two wingers they’ve got: Young and I can’t pronounce his name (Sorry, the voice of football, Agbonlahor). But he might give a few people a chance. I’m not convinced that long term he’s the right man for the job. I think that he’s only really got to win four games of any consequence. you know, the big games at Croatia and the Ukraine. So, and also he’s paid a lot of money for doing very little. I think we should have gone for an English manager.
While on the whole his appointment has been greeted positively, there are some reservations about employing a non-English coach with managers such as Gareth Southgate, Steve Coppell and Paul Ince, and even Arsene Wenger, arguing that there are a number of qualified English coaches that should have been given the job Their argument is weakened by the fact, as has been mentioned, that there is no-one with his experience or success. Others argue that he is bringing in too many Italian staff as part of his team, and that he should work with an English coach who can learn from him and can also help him communicate with the English players.
It is certainly difficult to imagine Italy, France, or Germany being coached by someone from another country. But it has worked for Brazil with Scolari from Portugal coaching them to the World Cup in 2002, and the German Otto Rehhagel taking Greece to the Euro 2004 crown. Terry Venables has coached Australia, Gus Hiddink has managed Korea and is now with Russia, and until recently the Japanese team was guided by Osim, a Bosnian.
Damian: Is Capello the right man for England? Yes he is. I have no truck with those people who say just because he’s not English he shouldn’t be England manager. Best man for the job. Seria A titles, La Liga titles, Champions League titles. Stamp his authority all over that prima donnaesque England.
So there are some reservations about his nationality, but some commentators are also waiting to see how his famously disciplinarian approach to players works with the English players. Since the English team failed to overcome Brazil in the 2002 World cup quarter finals questions have been asked about the so-called golden generation’s view of themselves as untouchable superstars. Will the likes of Ferdinand, Terry, Rooney, Lampard or Gerrard be able to take Capello’s criticisms? Will he drop them if they don’t fall in line? How will the English press react? These are some questions we will have to wait a while to have answered. As England are out of Euro 2008, we will only see the new Capello England in friendlies starting in February 2008 against Switzerland.
Eriksson won over many doubters at the start of his reign with a 5-1 thumping of Germany, but left under a cloud or derision from the tabloids. Will Capello’s run as manager of England end the same way?