Less than 24 hours ago, England manager Fabio Capello resigned from his post, leaving the national team in chaos, with just 4 months to go till they kick off their Euro 2012 campaign. It’s a decision, which has brought unanimous joy from all England fans, for a variety of reasons, puzzling when one considers his record 70% win ratio since he took charge 4 years ago. Ever since, though, he has divided supporters and the media alike with a string of bizarre decisions, and a reluctance to accept defeat.
All was going swimmingly well for Capello initially, he’d guided England to 9 victories in 10 games in qualification for the 2010 World Cup, and fans, yet again, had high expectations, partly due to the ‘easy’ group of USA, Slovenia and Algeria. Then came the first John Terry scandal, which rocked the preparations for the tournament. Terry’s unfaithfulness had caused him to be stripped of the captaincy, and caused even more mass media coverage and focus on the team during the tournament. His refusal to stray from his tried and trusted 4-4-2 formation was eventually exposed, as the rest of the world thrived using 4-2-3-1. England as a side crumbled, with the likes of Emile Heskey, the injured Ledley King and error-prone Rob Green all taken and played in the place of younger players like Darren Bent, Gary Cahill and Joe Hart.
England’s eventual exit to arch-rivals Germany was the ‘cherry on the cake’. The 4-1 mauling, proved a number of Capello’s errors. His midfield of Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard was out-paced by the strong, counter-attacking Germans. Matthew Upson and David James have never played again for England since, as the Three Lions were swept apart by the dynamic, ever evolving play of Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller. It left a once-proud nation in tatters, knocked out by the German heavyweights, changes needed to be made, and fast.
Capello’s head was called for by a number of fans immediately, myself included. He seemed incapable of learning the English language, refused to change his ailing tactics and even after a brief influx of new players, continued to play the likes of Lampard and Terry, those reaching their mid-30’s who’re likely to retire any time soon. However, an eager FA had already signed £6 million pound man Capello on for another 2 years at the helm of England.
To be fair to Capello, he attempted to reinvent the side during the Euro 2012 qualification campaign. Joe Hart took the goalie’s jersey and has never looked back, Ashley Young and Gary Cahill have become consistent starters, and a new-look 4-3-3 formation was given a go. Results weren’t as consistent as previous, with a double draw against Montenegro, and another against Switzerland at Wembley. Even when results went the way of the English, it was never convincing, often scrappy wins, like the 1-0 double over Wales home and away. However, 2012 ended with qualification for Euro 2012, and a couple of handy friendly wins over strong competition in Sweden and champions of every tournament going, Spain. The likes of Kyle Walker, Jack Rodwell and Danny Wellbeck, all given their debuts. It seemed Capello had turned a corner, but fans still weren’t convinced, the fact he was leaving in the summer, meaning it felt pointless going to the Euro’s with him.
John Terry, again, was the man who caused the beginning of the end of Capello and England’s relationship. This time for ‘alleged’ racism. Personally, I think he should be forced into early retirement, as he has brought absolutely nothing to the side for a good number of years, he is on his way out and too far past his ‘prime’. After considerable media pressure, the FA took the decision to strip him of the England captaincy again, which Capello did NOT like! And yesterday, after a meeting with the FA at Wembley, he handed in his resignation, ending a hit-and-miss four year spell in England. He won’t be remembered fondly for a while, but perhaps when the dust has settled, fans may appreciate the number of young players he blooded into the team, realising England’s next big thing, Jack Wilshere in the process.
Speculation over Capello’s successor remains rife, with the clear bookies, fans and players favourite all being Harry Redknapp. The Spurs boss has been on record saying he ‘wouldn’t be able to turn it down’, although then he wasn’t expecting an offer to come this soon! With Spurs a brilliant third place this season, Redknapp may be tempted to hang on until the end of the season, to ‘finish the job’ and then take his dream job. For many, he is seen as the opposite to Capello, a man who will show passion, cares about the job and has a brilliant personality. He may have faults, as the recent fraud trial has highlighted, but as long as he behaves well in his spell in charge, the media will leave him alone. This may partly be down to the fact he has strong links to the likes of Sky television and ‘The Sun‘, through family and writing commitments.
The likes of Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez have also been mentioned, but after a two foreign managers in the last 10 years, fans and the FA have already said the replacement will be an Englishman. Spurs fans may miss their most successful manager for decades, but the blow may be softened if they grab either of the two managers, especially ‘The Special One’, for their 2012/03 Champions League campaign.
So perhaps Capello’s decision has been for the best. Fans are delighted, the players not so much (based on their Twitter accounts), Redknapp will be, if Spurs gain a Mourinho one would suspect they would be, whilst Capello must be happy after earning a cool £24 million in just 4 years, more money than most of us could ever dream of.