Capello: to applaud or not?
Tuesday, 21st February 2012 at 09:44am
The dust is still settling from Fabio Capello's decision to quit from his post as England manager.
I had been offline for a few days and was at a friend's when he informed me what had happened. I knew that he was intending to stand firm when he met with FA officials but could anyone have predicted his departure?
You can only imagine the looks on the faces of the gathered FA members when he dropped that bombshell and once again, with a major tournament on the horizon, England's preparations have been thrown into chaos only this time, amazingly, it had nothing to do with the press.
Does this routinely happen in other countries? You never hear talks of crisis from Spain before a tournament...
The issue of course was over John Terry and, incredibly, most of the press has been behind the former England captain spouting the "innocent until proven guilty line" when just a month earlier they were willing to hang Liverpool's Luis Suarez without a shred of evidence.
But that's another story.
The FA took the only decision they really could; how could they allow a man with a potential criminal conviction hanging over his head captain his country?
They couldn't, especially with a sizeable contingent of the squad made of black players.
Other countries might look at the situation with bemusement but it's good that England has taken such a firm stance against racism.
Where the FA went wrong was by not consulting Capello on the issue and hearing his take on the matter.
Not that it would have mattered; it seemed they had already made their minds up.
If they had have given Capello that professional courtesy then perhaps the granite-faced Italian would still be the man leading England to Euro 2012.
By undermining his authority he felt that there was nothing left for him to do but hand in his resignation.
He clearly is a man of principle and is prepared to stand by them even if it costs him a 6 million pound a year job and that should be applauded.
Or should it?
A cynic might say that he was simply throwing his toys out of the pram after not getting what he wanted.
"I want John as captain."
"Sorry, Fabio; not going to happen. Think of the scandal."
"Well, then I quit! Just you try and stop me!"
I'm sure it didn't go quite like that but it's not too hard to imagine it being too far removed.
Why such a fuss about Terry as captain? Why the fuss about being captain at all?
I can understand why Terry cherishes it; without it he might not warrant a place in the team.
At his peak, undoubtedly one of the first names on the team sheet, but now?
He's still a good organizer at the back which, given the inexperience of the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both potential partners in the centre of the England defence, is very important but more and more mistakes are creeping in.
Back to Capello: he obviously didn't mind stripping Terry of the captaincy after the Wayne Bridge incident, which, taking away the infidelity, was a nothing issue - man sleeps with friend's ex-girlfriend shocker.
It was certainly a lot less troublesome than a potential racism conviction.
That stripping took 12 minutes; how long I wonder would Capello have taken to take it away from Terry this time, if at all (innocent until proven guilty, remember)? After all, he did give it back to him because he felt sorry for him.
And perhaps there lies the problem; he got to do it last time, someone else did it this time. But it's hard to think he would have been alone in reacting that way: Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho would have surely spat the dummy too.
At the end of the day, however, the FA is his employer and he answers to them, not the other way around. If they felt Terry had to go then it was there call to make.
Imagine if your boss took away your break-time biscuits; sure you're going to be upset but it's there call and you're unlikely to quit over it (yep, that's how trivial this all is).
But the FA aren't blameless in all this.
Perhaps next time, and let's hope there isn't one but this is England we're talking about, they give the manager a heads up first before they act.
Either that or employ a spineless yes man. Steve McLaren, anybody?