Brightly fades the Don: Capello will try to take England to Euro 2012 but will go no further
Samuel Johnson once said that when a man was tired of London he was tired of life. However, it is unlikely that the writer behind the dictionary of the English language had ever contemplated managing his country's national football team.
It is a job which would eventually grind down a man with even boundless reserves of energy.
Fabio Capello, who has stood up to the worst that Turin, Madrid, Rome, and Milan can offer, has had to admit defeat. He will hang up his Three Lions training jacket after Euro 2012, and his dream of taking England to World Cup glory will go unrealised. Good luck to his successor.
The marriage between the 1966 World Champions and one of Italy's most successful coaches was always fraught with danger. There was a brief, rosy honeymoon period when qualification matches were won with ease. But it soon fell apart in an all-too-predictable fashion.
Even before their woeful expedition to South Africa, pundits were lining up to criticise Capello's squad selections. That has risen to fever pitch since the summer. There seems to be outcry for anyone who kicks a ball straight two times in a row for a Premiership reserve team to get a call-up.
It would test even the patience of a saint beyond breaking point.
There has always been an undercurrent of suspicion of a foreign manager in charge of the England team in some quarters, and that has bubbled along throughout his reign. Constant questions about his language skills have undermined his authority. As if a little broken English mattered if you could deliver a winning team.
It is hard not to think that the rugged-featured boss from the Friuli region eventually got fed up with all the petty sniping. He may have suffered plenty of media attacks during his time in Italy and Spain, but the British tabloid press is in a league of its own.
Ultimately, they brought him down.
Capello might yet deliver the ultimate slap in the face by winning Euro 2012 before packing his bags. Even if he does, however, it would probably not win over his opponents who have constantly criticised his squad selections. No matter who he includes, he always seems to be under fire over some omission.
While there is no denying England's World Cup performance was dreadful, it seems facile to lay all the blame at the coach's door. He looked pretty useful in qualification, surely that did not evaporate overnight. He must have retained some ability for his job.
Maybe the truth is more unpalatable for English supporters. Could it simply be that the team, regardless of who is included, might not be good enough? Perhaps World Cup quarter-final level is about as high any England squad has a right to aim.
Fans will point to the form of players in the Premiership and Champions League, but that ignores one key consideration: With their club sides, they are surrounded by the very cream-of-world talent. In an England shirt, evidently, they are not.
The marriage with Capello was supposed to leave these highly-paid footballers with no more excuses. On previous occasions they had had to make do with a less-than-stellar coach, but now they had one of the best on the planet. It never worked out for either side.
No doubt, the Italian has his faults. But ask yourself, deep down, who else would have done better? We will get a chance to find out when the qualification for World Cup 2014 comes around.
The ideal candidate will probably have to be English, so that narrows the field down considerably. They will also need limitless patience, skin thicker than a rhino, and an impeccable private life.
Honestly, now that they have killed off Don Fabio, is anyone really up to the job?