Capello departure will leave door open for fresh English manager

Fabio Capello announced a few weeks ago that, unsurprisingly, he would leave his post as England manager when his current contract runs out, after Euro 2012. The FA, amid media criticism and pressure from somewhat-erratic fans, stated shortly before Capello’s announcement that the next man to lead the Three Lions would be English. Although it was expected that Capello would only guide England for one more tournament, the question of who will be the next England manager has become something of a hot debate, two years before any decision should be made.

The dismal World Cup in South Africa resulted in Capello receiving harsh criticism of his tactics, in-game decisions and apparent lack of man-management skills. The media, England fans and world-football fans alike immediately waded in with their opinions on the hugely successful Italian manager, who has won trophies in both Spain and Italy and succeeded in qualifying England for the before-mentioned World Cup in superb style, albeit in a relatively minnow-full group. 

The fact that the Football Association appointed a foreign manager to succeed Steve McClaren was always going to provide ammunition for the English media storm; if a foreigner succeeds in the proud nation of England they are cherished as an asset to the country. Since the World Cup it has become clear that, if the high expectations are not met, a foreign manager is suddenly a problem.
Media personnel from all around the world have voiced their opinions, with Steve Claridge taking an anti-Capello stance at all times, while the most of his BBC 5-Live colleagues take a more relaxed view, placing some blame on the surely-accountable players for three poor performances at the World Cup as well as an average showing against Slovenia in the final group game.
After receiving a slaughtering from the press, and a chorus of boos in the recent friendly match victory against Hungary in their ‘homecoming’ game, Capello has changed aspects of the side, with players such as Emile Heskey, Jamie Carragher and, more recently, John Terry and Frank Lampard being replaced by the new, exciting prospects of Adam Johnson, Phil Jagielka and Darren Bent, who have all impressed in recent matches. Wins against Bulgaria and Switzerland in qualifiers for what is to be Capello’s final tournament have given fans some sort of pride in their national side, although most are still to be convinced.
The time has come, though, for England fans and media characters to forget about the World Cup and personal views of Capello. England need the backing of fans, especially as a completely new reign will begin in two years.
The favourites for the England job are an interesting group and sure to provoke intense debate. Harry Redknapp, recently offended when given the label of “wheeler-dealer” in an interview, looks to be the immediate favourite with both the bookies and the fans. Redknapp’s success with Tottenham, guiding them to Champions League football for the first time in the club’s history, as well as the relative success at Portsmouth, Southampton and West Ham means that the sixty-three–year-old can currently be seen as the best English manager around.

It is doubtful, though, whether Redknapp would be able to improve on the work that Capello has done for England. The Spurs boss is a wheeler-dealer and, wherever he goes, is accustomed to buying several players in order to make his mark on the respective side. This is something that cannot be done in international management; you have to work with whatever you are given. Redknapp’s man-management skills would also be brought into question, with Darren Bent knowing all too well of his former manager’s acid-tongue.
Current England Under-21 manager, Stuart Pearce, could be the most likely choice with the FA, however, simply because it would be the easier choice. “Psycho” established himself as a cult hero with England fans when he played as a tenacious left-back under Sir Bobby Robson. Pearce has some club management experience at Manchester City, where he guided the then-recently-funded Manchester club to 8th, 15th and 14th place finishes and was then rather prematurely sacked. This lead him on to the national stage, though, taking his England side to the Under-21 European Championships in 2009, losing to Germany in the final. Pearce would be the obvious choice for the FA; when replacing Sven Goran Eriksson after the 2006 World Cup, they installed the Swede’s assistant manager, McClaren, as manager). Pearce, though, is doing a great job with the Under-21s and it would be a great shame if the Under-21s had to suffer in order to gain success for the main England side.
Pearce is a relatively young manager and there have been reports that a youthful boss is what England need. Even managers who are currently in the Championship, but could well be in England’s top league by 2012, are being tipped for the England job. Current Leeds manager Simon Grayson, who has transformed the historic club’s fortunes since joining the Elland Road outfit in 2008, is one name being mentioned. Other Championship managers are being stated, with QPR’s Neil Warnock the name being reported the most, as well as the recently retired Steve Coppell, who is thought to be interested in a position at the FA anyway. These, though, are outside contenders.

If the FA decide to go with a more experienced manager, however, then there is really only one man. Roy Hodgson may have only just signed on as manager of Liverpool but the former-Fulham and Inter Milan boss would be the ideal candidate. Hodgson is loved in many countries abroad, especially in Switzerland and Finland where he managed their national teams relatively successfully, taking the Swiss to the last-16 of the 1994 World Cup. His recent success with Fulham, getting the London side to the Europa League final especially, and his appointment on Merseyside is a sign of the sixty-three–year-old’s success in the management game. If the Football Association want to go for a practised manager, with relevant national team knowledge, then Hodgson is surely the right choice. 

England, though, have tried the practised boss route. Eriksson, McClaren and Capello are all examples of this, and all have endured poor tournaments when leading England. The forty-four years of hurt has become something of a cliché for England but, with the quality available to the country, England should be doing better.
It is not very often that England should take note of what Wales are doing in footballing terms. With John Toschack leaving his post as Welsh manager there are talks of a young manager getting the biggest job in Wales. Names such as John Hartson, Ryan Giggs and even Robbie Savage are being banded about, with fans calling for a passionate boss with fresh, new ideas. The fact that, as national team manager, you do not need to actually manage day-in, day-out is of big importance. The boss is able to watch matches every week and prepare tactics and ideas, while players perform for their respective clubs. That is one way in which national team management is different to club management, and that is why McClaren and, more recently Capello, seemingly fell short of expectations. Capello especially likes to work with players every day; this makes the idea that England were ever going to win the World Cup in Capello’s first international tournament was quite outlandish.
With this in mind, the idea of hiring a recently-retired player as manager would not be such a shocking decision. In two years time, players such as Alan Shearer, Gareth Southgate or maybe even David Beckham are sure to be in the running for the England manager’s job. Shearer recently told the BBC that he would happily manage England, while Southgate, who has been out of a managing job since he was sacked by Middlesbrough in 2009, is currently a pundit on ITV but could possibly come back into management in what would be a controversial move by the FA for the man who splits opinions with many fans.
Beckham, who recently made his return for LA Galaxy after the injury that kept him out of the World Cup, would surely be considered. The former Manchester United midfielder has his own soccer academy brand, in many countries all over the world, and, although he has said that he has no interest in managing England, his decision may change within two years, especially if he is seriously considered by the FA. He is loved by all players and is a born leader, although his time in USA has been less than perfect.
The England manager’s job has always provided great discussion for all England fans, and it always will. The fans won’t always be happy immediately when the appointment is made, which is two years away, but, whoever is brought in, England should be at least competing in major tournaments. The FA are certainly going to have a difficult job on their hands when Capello leaves.

Could Mikel Arteta be in Capello’s future plans?

Manuel Almunia was denied the chance to play for England by Fabio Capello this time last year, and now it looks as though another case has arisen. Spanish-born Mikel Arteta has played for Spain at youth level forty-two times but, under FIFA’s residency rule, is allowed to play for Capello’s side.

The Everton midfielder has lived in England for five years now, after moving to Merseyside from Real Sociedad in 2005, and, because the twenty-eight-year-old is yet to feature for the Spanish senior side, could now play alongside Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry.

England captain, Gerrard, has waded into the debate after telling TalkSport that he would “love nothing better than to see Mikel Arteta available for England”. The two players may play for two teams that are bitter rivals at club level but Gerrard stated that “you want to play with the best players, and if it makes the England squad better, of course I’d like to see it.”
Gerrard did add “Fabio Capello is the man to answer the question because he’s the manager”. The news comes just days after the Italian announced to the world that thirty-five-year-old David Beckham would be “too old” to play for England at the EURO 2012 championships.

Arteta would be a massive asset to England; that goes without saying. His technique on the ball is something that many of the current English central midfielders lack, while the ability to retain the ball and be comfortable in possession, something which England definitely lacked in the World Cup and something that world champions Spain definitely had, is a fabulous prospect. After the recent 2-1 friendly win over Hungary England fans were filled with a cautious optimism; England looked good but the performance was hardly breathtaking.

After England crashed out in the World Cup to a decent Germany side many were calling for more passion and more pride in the England set-up. The fact that another nation’s cast-off, albeit a very talented one, is being linked with England may not be appealing to some. The fact of the matter is, though, that Arteta is a great player. If Spain weren’t so unbelievable impressive in the central-midfield position, with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets all occupying that role, then Arteta would surely have a part to play in the set-up. He might not be technically English but if he wants to represent this country and he wants to put on the England shirt, then he’s got as much passion as anyone in the England side.

It’s not as if adopting a new nationality is a new idea. Marcos Senna was the mastermind behind Spain’s  victorious 2008 European Championships, even though the holding midfielder is from Brazil. Former Chelsea midfielder Deco starred for Portugal on many occasions but is also actually Brazilian. England also have a foreign manager, which was well-documented when England came crashing out of the World Cup but it wasn’t even considered a problem when the side cruised through the qualifying group for South Africa.

The English cricket side has, for a long time, fielded many South Africans which has, no doubt, increased the quality of the side massively. Capello is bound to receive criticism if he decides to call up Arteta, especially from the traditionalists. Although Arteta is a great talent, he plays in a position that is slightly over-populated already. As well as the Gerrard-Barry-Lampard combination England also have the talents of such players as Joe Cole, Tom Huddlestone, Michael Carrick and James Milner. Arteta would be another option, though, and his natural ability on the ball can only be of benefit to England if the Spaniard does decide to make himself available for the England set-up.

The fact that England might even consider calling up a player from foreign lands really does say something about the state of the national game. A great side like Spain don’t want Premier League players such as Arteta and Almunia, whereas England would do anything to produce players with these sorts of talents.

Capello Wants Pearce Out

Stuart Pearce could be on his way out of the England set-up as Fabio Capello looks to be ready to start afresh on his England side. The Italian is looking to bring in Mauro Tassotti to replace the former-Manchester City manager as Capello’s number two. Goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence could also be on his way out, with Walter Zenga coming in.

       The two possible replacements are good friends with Capello.After England disgracefully crashed out of the World Cup in the second round against Germany, it seems that Capello wants to make the team his own, with his first point of call his own staff. Pearce and Clemence are the only English representatives the England coaching staff. The England manager, it seems, was deeply disappointed with the work of both men in South Africa.

       Zenga is currently the manager Saudi Proffessional League side Al-Nassr and was a prominent figure for Italy, playing 58 times for his country between 1985 and 1992. The 60-year-old has mainly coached abroad; Capello clearly wants a coaching staff that can play anything but the English way.

       Tassotti spent the majority of his playing career at AC Milan, where he played as a right-back. The 50-year-old is currently the assistant manger of the Italian giants, after being promoted from youth team manager during Carlo Ancelotti’s reign. Much like Pearce, the Italian is well known for his versatility and commitment.
       The World Cup was a disaster for England but this, surely, isn’t the way to go. The players need to take most of the blame; maybe Capello should concentrate more on the football rather than having his friends around him.

Fabio Capello Is The Man For England

A few bad performances really can create irrational responses. Fabio Capello steered England to a comfortable first place position in the qualification stage for the 2010 World Cup. He was hailed as the best England manager since Alf Ramsey. Now, all of a sudden, he’s a managerial wreck. England, wake up. 

The World Cup has been a disappointment; there’s no doubt about it. Capello, though, cannot solely be blamed for the debacle that was the England football team. The Italian boasted a fantastic record when The FA decided to appoint him back in December 2007. After managing some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including AC Milan, Real Madrid and Juventus, the former Roma midfielder was tipped as the favourite after Steve McClaren was sacked after what truly was a shambles. At the time, names such as Jose Mourinho, Harry Redknapp and Marcelo Lippi were touted for the job, but it was Capello who eventually got the nod. And rightly so.
The 64-year-old won countless trophies before the appointment, including six Serie A titles, one La Liga title and one Champions League title. His pedigree cannot be argued against. Many will say that he is not capable of managing a national side at a big championship, which is shown by England’s disappointing performances in South Africa. The team put in extremely poor performances against USA and Algeria in the group stages, with the final blow coming against Germany in the last-16, where they capitulated into a 4-1 defeat.
The manager was under some criticism before the tournament had even began. His decision to leave English top goalscorer Darren Bent at home was always going to be the forefront of an argument. Bent, though, has never scored for England and, although he may not have had the chance as of yet, he is certainly not an international footballer. The decision to leave out Theo Walcott from the 23-man squad also created disagreement amongst fans. In my opinion, this was the right choice from Capello. Walcott had been injured for the majority of the season and, even though he played a major role in the qualification stages, the Arsenal winger never really returned to top form for his club. When going into a World Cup, you need to be on the top of your game. A decision that seems to mystify the majority of England fans is the selection of Emile Heskey. The Aston Villa forward has scored a total of seven goals in sixty-two games for England. It’s clear that he is not a goalscorer; Heskey was in South Africa to bring Wayne Rooney into the game more. Rooney was one of the biggest disappointments of the whole tournament, and Heskey barely ever won a ball, in the air or on the floor. These arguments, though, are insignificant.
In the group stages England faced USA, Algeria and Slovenia. To put that into perspective, it’s like Barcelona facing a Wigan, Portsmouth and Wolves (no disrespect). The players in the England camp should have been able to walk onto that pitch and demolish those sides without a problem. Yet, somehow, they managed two draws and 1-0 win. The problem isn’t the manager; it’s the players.
England have had a disappointing tournament which will, hopefully, show the FA that something has to change, be it less foreign players in the Premier League, more investment in youth football or less games in a season. Capello is sure to get the blame; when the team do well, the team gets the praise. When the team does badly, the manager gets blamed. That’s the way it is. But, if Capello were to be sacked, is there anyone better? The name that keeps occurring is Tottenham’s Redknapp. After taking Spurs to a fourth place finish last season, Redknapp is certainly established as one of the best managers in the English game, if not the best. It seems that a lot of England fans and critics want to see an Englishman at the helm, and so Redknapp is the man for the job.

Redknapp, though, cannot manage England. One of Harry’s greatest strengths is turning a decent team into a good team, with the help of transfer signings. When you’re England manager, this option is not available. You have a set list of players, and that is all. Another great part of Redknapp’s managerial methods is that he puts pride, passion and energy into all his players. Although this is exactly what England needed during the recent World Cup, could Redknapp really work with the England players in the short time that they have together? In club management the coaches and manager have plenty of time to work on every aspect of the game. At international level, you simply don’t have that.

The same can be said for Roy Hodgson. Although he has international experience through managing Finland, his fantastic record of turning average sides into good, hard-working teams mirrors that of Redknapp’s. That is why Liverpool’s appointment of Hodgson is a big risk as, if the Scouse side want to get back to winning trophies they need a manager that can turn a decent side into a fantastic team, as well as someone that can bring in the best players from all over the world. These two men are the best English managers available, and they are not good enough for the England manager’s job.

Mourinho could be called a number of names, but what is for sure is that he is a winner. He knows the English game after winning the Premier League and the FA Cup with Chelsea, while also winning the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan. He certainly has calibre. The Portuguese manager may be a little arrogant and disruptive, but he knows the English way of playing; he understands the passion, the love for the game. However, Jose has repeatedly said that he could only ever manage one international team, and that is his own country. Add that to the fact that Mourinho could cause some disturbance within the FA, it’s very unlikely that he will get the job.

None of this is appropriate though, as England do not need a new manager. Capello did a fantastic job during qualifying and you do not become a bad manager overnight. The 2010 World Cup will be an experience for the manager and one which, I’m sure, he will build upon greatly.

The negative side of Capello is his cost. The Italian gets £6 million pound a year. That, I’m afraid, is atrocious. What’s even worse, though, is that the blind-sighted FA offered Capello a new contract before the World Cup. Yes, before. Surely it would make more sense to offer him a new contract after the World Cup so that he can be judged correctly? £6 million a year is a lot of money, especially when not much, in terms of glory, is returned.

Sceptics would argue that the language barrier between the players and the manager played a part in the dismal World Cup campaign. Many believe that this can only create problems in the heat of the dressing room and on the training pitch. Capello’s English is actually quite good, although the media seem to present him as a babbling fool. The press question and interrogate Capello into sounding very dumb, which is certainly not the case. The language barrier does not exist. The language of football is understood by all.

Past experiences have told us that what the England team needs is a manager, not a friend. Sven Goran-Eriksson always took a back seat when it came to managing, looking to captain David Beckham for advice at various points in his tenure. McClaren was exactly the same, with more disastrous results. The current Wolfsburg manager was not strict enough with the players, something that Capello has been determined to change. The players are now not allowed their wives with them at international tournaments, they are not allowed to leave the hotel and they must go to bed at certain times. In a world where footballers earn more than £50,000 a week and have glamorous girlfriends to go with flash cars and big houses, the players need discipline and, to be perfectly honest, need to be brought back down to earth.

A sub-story that has come out of England’s departure from South Africa is the introduction of goal-line technology. Frank Lampard didn’t score at the World Cup, according to official records. The infamous goal-that-wasn’t has been shown on television screens worldwide over and over again, and it gets worse with every viewing. The ball was clearly over Manuel Neuer’s goal line; everyone in the stadium could see it, apart from the two men that really mattered. The goal could possibly have changed the game somewhat; going in 2-2 at half-time brings with it a completely different momentum than going in 2-1. The fact still remains, though, that the players weren’t good enough and didn’t deserve to stay in South Africa.   

None of the players in the England squad were on top form going into the World Cup. Even Rooney, who had had a blinder of a season, had not scored a goal since he got injured against Bayern Munich back in March. Steven Gerrard had a poor season for Liverpool, while John Terry and Ashley Cole had problems off-the-field, which in-turn led to poor performances on it. Gareth Barry, who apparently keeps everything in order for England, was injured at the start of the tournament and was one of the most unstable players in the whole team. Jamie Carragher ‘graced’ us with his choice to come out of international retirement for his country to have an absolute shocker against Algeria. The Liverpool centre-back was clearly off the pace throughout the game. Carragher has now retired from international football once again. The problem with England is not the manager; it is the players. As they get paid so much for their clubs, they do don’t seem to care about their country. Give any one of those England fans that travelled to South Africa an England shirt and they’d run their hearts out. I’d bleed for my country. It seems these overpaid fools wouldn’t.

The controversies surrounding some players in this World Cup have been blown out of all proportion. John Terry simply stated that there needed to be a conversation between the England players and Capello and that got interpreted as Terry saying that the players needed to revolt against the manager. Rooney’s frustration after the Algeria game, where he said to an on-looking camera that it was ‘nice to see your own fans booing you’ was purely frustration with the England team performance and maybe even his own personal performance; even he knows that the fans had every right to boo. The media seem to be interested in the next big story, whereas they should be getting right behind the team.

Capello shouldn’t be sacked for a number of reasons. The main reason being that he is clearly the best manager we have had in a very long time. It’s now been 44 (and counting) years of hurt, and Capello is the man to change that. In four years time, if the FA sort themselves out, England will win the World Cup. And you quote me on that.