From an exterior perspective, a bespectacled former Italian international footballer and the Prime-minister of England share little in common.
When David Cameron took over, custody of No. 10 riding high on his mandate for change, however, to this writer at least it held haunting resonance to a similar radical plan of reform set out by Fabio Capello two years before.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back we can tell with certainty that the link between the two men is simply a mirage. Like it or loath it David Cameron acted upon his intentions, followed the path he had set out, while Fabio Capello choked under the pressure of his position and the stigma it entailed, regaining on almost every promise he had made upon his inception.
Now then, now that he has completed the most humiliating climb-down in English football history in returning the armband to disgraced former captain John Terry, the last vestiges of respect for the Capello era have diminished.
The Italian Steve McLaren stands before us, a puppet at the whim of a nation, a man who took the road of least resistance, went back on his promise for change, for reform and took the easy option. To think it all started out so well.
Upon taking the England job in January 2008, Fabio Capello, hailed as the second coming of the messiah, was a man to mold the flawed genius’ of the England National Team into a side that could fulfil its potential. A World Cup qualification campaign negotiated with consummate ease only exacerbated the palpable feeling that England may finally have a manager fit for its team.
Then, in the lead up to the World Cup itself things started to go awry. Capello, initiated with the strict ethos of “not including players simply on reputation, basing player selection on current form,” went back on his promise.
Emile Heskey, who for club side Aston Villa was essentially a reserve, was a regular starter for England, whilst players like Darren Bent, in great form for Sunderland were consistently overlooked.
Toward the end of the 2009/10 season came the train wreck that destabilised England’s imminent World Cup participation. The catalyst? None other than captain fantastic himself.
John Terry, the News of the World revealed had fraternised with former teammate, and current national team colleague Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend of the time Vanessa Perroncel.
The situation between the two men became untenable and amidst public outcry, Bridge resigned citing the impossibly strained relationship he would have to endure with his former best friend.
Terry, for his sin, was stripped of the captaincy, Capello had taken the decisive and necessary action, deeming Terry’s role in the team too damaged by the damning revelations to continue in a position of control. At last it appeared that the strong decisive leader that England was promised had arrived.
From then on, in the malaise of the English team showed no sign of abating. Capello’s seemingly intrinsic reluctance to adopt any sort of squad rotation, the surprise omission of Theo Walcott from the World Cup squad and good old captain Terry’s attempt at an uprising to undermine the stewardship of WC captain Steven Gerrard, all took their toll as England’s footballers embarrassed its proud nation in South Africa.
But I am becoming side-tracked. Yesterday, after a week of rumours, the spineless Capello confirmed the media rumours; Terry was to become permanent captain once more.
“I feel,” babbled Capello, “that one years punishment is enough, and therefore John Terry shall be reinstated to his former position as England captain.”
The man with the iron fist had suddenly become the man with the doughy fist, a stooge, malleable and impressionable, subservient to the whims of his pampered players.
I don’t completely chastise Terry’s actions, in no way can I condone them, but his private life has to have resonance to his position as a footballer. A captain of his national team cannot be stigmatised to such an extent in the public sphere as such that his position is made untenable, no matter the sport.
As far as leadership qualities, I would also probably be inclined to agree that Terry is the most deserving and apt candidate amongst the current crop. No, my gripe is with Capello.
By removing Terry’s armband, Capello sent out a very firm message. A message that he could not support his captain's transgressions and was therefore alleviating him of his duties. Simple and definitive, no time frame, no “for a year,” the message read loud and clear, “John Terry is no longer England’s captain.”
And what of the current custodian of the captains armband? What of Rio Ferdinand? In his press statement announcing the cop-out, Capello mentioned that whilst he had “mentioned to Rio about meeting him at Old Trafford on Wednesday,” but the United skipper “proffered not to meet me.”
In other words, Rio, like a large percentage of the public, thinks that Capello's actions are that of an incompetent buffoon. I feel for Ferdinand, who, if it were not for Capello’s sudden transgression into crawling amoeba, would have, in all likelihood, be leading his team out at next year’s Euro Championships.
To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if at 32, Ferdinand calls time on his international career to focus on a side whose manager has a backbone.
I have no doubt that many Terry fan-boys will come out of the woodwork praising Capello’s actions as the right thing to do, but let me ask you one thing: What difference has a year really made?
The websites in which Terry’s re-installation are written about still refer to him as “the man who lost the armband because of his affair.” Nothing has been swept under the carpet, no one has forgotten.
So what’s so different now than it was then? If you are saying that this is the correct move, surely you are naturally also stating that Capello’s decision to remove Terry of the armband in the first place was wrong? Incompetence, wrong decisions, false promise, false hope, you see we all agree….
Looking forward from here, if the national team, under Terry’s guidance are returned to the former glories of the previous qualification campaign, the move will be claimed a masterstroke. Capello’s faux pas will be easily forgotten in the fickle world of football.
John Terry will assume the mantle of the poster boy of the resurgent England football team, but then again it might all go wrong, and I don’t really think “Don Fabio” or his bumper bank balance will enjoy that eventuality.
I think it is quite obvious from the tone of this article that I am vehemently against Capello’s decision and regardless of the subsequent eventualities will always remain thus.
Capello has set out his stall, and his failure to lie in it shows more about his inadequacies for the job than one ill-fated World Cup campaign ever could. Whatever side of the fence you sit on, however, and I know some people will not agree, the fallacy of the situation is that if it were not for Capello’s managerial “genius,” the debacle would have never arisen.
To do or not to do. That is the question
Well, unless your Fabio Capello, and then you can just do both.