It’s either a brave or foolhardy man who blogs in support of under-pressure Fabio Capello on the eve of an England game which some portions of the press appear to be practically gagging for England to fail in. But, having been on the verge of publishing some expletive-laden blogs aimed at the Messrs Winter, Custis (either one), Ashton and Woolnough for a couple of weeks, it’s time to blog about Capello and his relationship with some sections of the press. So foolhardy it is then.
For a number of weeks, Custis, Ashton and Winter and their own little Axis of Evil have been finding any excuse to criticise Capello. A major criticism has been his English. While he is heavily accented (“my players are wery tie-red”), his English is fine, and perfectly understandable. There is no indication from the players that they have any problem understanding him. I don’t honestly think it’s xenophobia (after all, they can barely keep their cocks away from Mourinho, Hiddink, Ancelotti and others), but it’s certainly lazy tabloid journalism.
In his press conference earlier this week, one of the first questions put to him was “Fabio, how important is it to win against Bulgaria?” What kind of question was that? The journalism industry is, as we’re always told, extremely competitive and excruciatingly hard to get into. Is it? Is it really? Not on the evidence of that question it’s not. At least Gordon Strachan treats such questions with the disdain they deserve, and I’d have loved Capello to answer: “er, it’s not that important in all honesty. I’m planning to qualify via the play-offs, so losing to Bulgaria and Switzerland is all part of my master plan”, before cackling manically, staring at Shaun Custis while making a slit throat gesture and jabbering something to his assistant in Italian.
Football 365 recently sent an excellent open letter to the Sun in response to the Sun’s article calling Capello “gormless” and a “jackass” for not picking Jack Wilshire in the England squad (total starts for Arsenal in the league: 2). Reading the letter reveals a lot about the hypocrisy of the hacks. I recall some sections of the media seeming to think that England would win the world cup on the basis that the players wore ties at dinner and called the manager Mr Capello. Now it appears he’s too strict, too authoritarian. Winter and Custis remarked on 5 Live recently that none of the players had any smiles on their faces during their recent training session, and this was attributed to Capello’s man-management. Anyone else remember the furore in the media when some England players dared to smile shortly after exit from South Africa?
While it’s clear that Capello is wanted out by the Axis of Evil, they’ve yet to offer any viable alternatives. Stuart Pearce, Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson have been put forward as English candidates and while none are terrible managers none, with the exception of Hodgson, can match the experience and success that Fabio Capello has reached. And they’ve all made it fairly clear that Johnny Foreigner isn’t wanted, so it’s pointless extolling the virtues of Guus Hiddink, et al.
Of course they are just spewing out what people want to hear and unfortunately it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: Hacks think fans want Capello out; hacks get on Capello’s back; fans read articles and agree; fans want Capello out. But then the majority of football fans are idiots. *Whooooosh* there goes my readership…
Finally, this isn’t particularly a defence of Capello. More, it’s a statement of frustration with lazy and tired journalism. Rather than haranguing the manager and preaching from behind the barricades of foresight (not one journo criticised Capello for taking the players to Austria at the time they were there, but now they all think it was plainly obvious from the outset that it was a bad idea), it would be nice to see some cutting and insightful commentary.
Martin Samuel was a bastion of sensibility this week. His article, Show Respect – Fabio Is No Clown is worth reading, and I would suggest it takes a brave hack to stand up against the loudest and most vocal red top hacks (yes Winter, you’re in that bracket too).