Why arrogant Capello isn't worth a penny of his £6m-a-year contract, by Oliver Holt
A legend turned into a myth before our eyes at the Free State Stadium yesterday.
Fabio the Tyrant, Fabio the Great Dictator, Fabio the Scourge of the Baby Bentley Brigade, Fabio Our Saviour: lost in a fetid pool of disillusion and dismay.
In his place, an ageing, out-of-touch England manager whose team played football out of the Dark Ages at this World Cup.
In his place, an arrogant man who could not adapt to the demands of tournament football. A man who blew it. Spectacularly.
A man who watched his players outclassed to the point of humiliation by a fluid, young, confident German side. A man who was feted as the best England boss since Sir Alf Ramsey when he got the easy part right in qualifying for South Africa. And then, when it really mattered, he got it wrong. All of it. All wrong.
Like the out-of-the-blue call to a bemused Paul Scholes on the eve of the squad announcement, begging him in vain to come out of international retirement.
Like the boot camp regime at the Royal Marang Hotel that he would not change until it was too late.
Like the joylessness that he bred in his players. The feeling he created that the World Cup was an ordeal, not a tournament to be relished.
Like the dread of playing the game he seemed to induce in Wayne Rooney, the way he turned him into a player who was unrecognisable from the man who plays for Manchester United. Like the choices he made.
Playing Matthew Upson at centre-half against Germany when the West Ham central-defender looked out of his depth even against Slovenia in the group phase and who was ripped to shreds by Miroslav Klose yesterday.
Like picking a tired squad, devoid of young men with no fear and a point to prove. James Milner was the closest thing to that who he picked and he was probably England’s player of the tournament.
Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott should have been on the plane. So should Phil Jagielka.
And, finally, like bleating and moaning about the hapless Uruguayan linesman who ruled out Frank Lampard’s superb lob.
It was an injustice, cruel and blatant. But what is it that we always say about the disputed goal in the 1966 World Cup Final? That’s right: We would have won it anyway.
That’s the hard truth. Germany would have won it anyway yesterday. England’s 4-1 defeat was the nation’s worst ever World Cup loss but it could have been a lot worse. It could have been six. Easily.
So the man who got England knocked out of the 2010 World Cup yesterday was not called Mauricio Espinosa. His name was Fabio Capello.
And we should not be indulging our normal habit of chasing a scapegoat back to a foreign field and camping outside his house in Montevideo until he has the grace to quit the game in tears.
The Uruguayan linesman does not matter any more. What matters is getting rid of Capello and starting again as quickly as possible.
When he appears at a press conference near Rustenburg this afternoon, all England will be praying for an announcement that he is leaving.
Maybe he will say he’s going to take a few more English lessons. He certainly needs them. But it’s too late for that. His position is untenable. He has to go.
It is not just about yesterday. It’s not just a knee-jerk reaction to one loss. This has been coming for some time. Capello has been losing control for months.
It is about the way that this supposed iron man crumbled at the World Cup.
Let’s be honest about it: we stank the place out every game we played.
Maybe there was a 20-minute spell against the USA, 20 minutes against Slovenia, 20 minutes against the Germans. But, come on, we are clutching at straws.
The rest of it was garbage. Embarrassing garbage. And the point is that many of this England team are good players. They are certainly a lot better than they were at this World Cup. The point is that the manager did not get the best out of them. In fact, he got the worst out of them.
Think what you want about whether they are prima donnas and spoilt brats. They may well be.
But if they are, it’s the manager’s job to get the best out of those spoilt brats. That’s what he’s paid £6million a year to do.
Sir Alex Ferguson does it. Carlo Ancelotti does it. Rafael Benitez did it.
But Capello blew it. I mean, baby did he blow it.
He was supposed to whip these boys into line. Instead he turned them into whipped dogs, mangy curs scared to death of their master.
Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager who did such a brilliant job at White Hart Lane last season and guided them to the Champions League, looked as though he was in shock as he walked out of the Free State Stadium yesterday.
“England played football from 20 years ago,” he said. He mentioned the way Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller ran between the lines and confused England’s defenders. He mentioned England’s one-dimensional approach. He said Germany were in a different league.
And he was absolutely right about all of it. England looked like they were stuck in a time-warp, playing predictable, laboured, stolid, boring football. Germany are supposed to be all about the future but their present was a hell of a lot better than ours, too.
They looked like a proper team, a team full of imagination and flair and daring, a team whose manager, Joachim Loew, inspires them.
As Loew finished speaking at his press conference yesterday, talking about how the German plan to lure John Terry out of central-defence had worked to perfection, Capello stood listening quietly in a corner.
He had his back to Loew but his words must have felt like daggers. On top of everything else, Capello had been out-thought by a younger coach who did not even have the same calibre of players at his disposal.
Yesterday was the end for England’s so-called Golden Generation at the World Cup. It will be too late for Terry, Lampard and Gerrard at Brazil in 2014.
It’s time for change. Capello has paralysed this team, not inspired it. He must be the first to go.