Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Capello deserves break from criticism

Perhaps it is his features, deep set and exaggerated which makes him an easy target for ridicule. Or more likely, it’s the particularly English disease which threatens to rid any life from his reign as it takes its grip, slowly strangling any semblance of progression that threatens to wriggle free. Either way Fabio Capello is a man caught on the rocks, as the tide of public opinion, goaded by certain media outlets, batters him to the brink of submission.

Not that the Italian’s outlook has changed of late. If he was perceived to have softened after the World Cup, indeed his admission he had made some mistakes after England’s colourless exit from the Rainbow Nation raised some eyebrows, he remains steadfast in the face of recent criticism surrounding his judgement.
The decision to appoint Terry was the correct one. Although the manner in which he has conducted himself leaves something to be desired, support from within the team was quickly forthcoming. A comprehensive victory over an admittedly under-par Welsh side looked to have put the issue quickly behind them as Capello gets on with what he seemingly does best, helping England qualify for major tournaments comfortably. That was not enough for some.

The man who has won trophies with the likes of Real Madrid and AC Milan knows what he is doing, he is by no means a bad manager. Far from his image as a disciplinarian set in his ways, Capello is a man unafraid to admit he has lead his side down the wrong path.

When David Beckham revealed he was to leave Real Madrid for the dimly lit La Galaxy, he dropped the former Man Utd midfielder, believing his commitment was compromised. Beckham proved his worth in training, played a key role in the title run-in and helped them on their way to the 2006-07 La Liga title. Similar mistakes with his preparation before the World Cup and his hard-line stance were duly noted and rectified.
It is not how the Italian is knocked off his pedestal built by those who now claw at him, but how he clambers back on it.

His tactical nous also deserves commendation. The flexible 4-3-3 used in the game against the Welsh worked well and marked a departure from the 4-4-2 he insisted upon in his first two years in the job. In a friendly prior to the World Cup Capello experimented with the system, before abandoning it altogether. Now it appears it is here to stay after the Italian persisted with it during last night’s entertaining 1-1 draw with Ghana. If Andy Carroll, who has worn almost as many England as he has Liverpool shirts since his record move, can find the form he displayed before his injury, then the final piece of the jigsaw can fall into place. 

Capello is a man for developing and learning from what he has done, and his record in terms of games won as England manager stands up alongside the best.

Played 35, won 24, lost 6. Not the record of a helpless sap unsure of his next move. He deserves to be judged by his actions and results of course, but not by those who have read psychology for beginners and believe they have an unrivalled insight into what his real motivation is. He is a simple man, who likes one thing. Winning. And the sooner that is realised, the sooner the poison is removed from the chalice that is the England job.