The man for the job
The Italian made an impressive start, albeit through an interpreter at his first press conference, and won widespread approval from the English football community. I say widespread rather than universal because there have been dissenting voices, notably the English league managers association, which wanted an Englishman.
It still pains me that England hasn't appointed an Englishman as national coach. That's not for any jingoistic reasons, but simply because international soccer is in danger of being devalued by such appointments.
At club level, it's possible for owners to buy success. From
The beauty and simplicity of international soccer is that you cannot buy success in the same way. You have to work with the resources available. There are no transfer window solutions for national-team coaches. But hiring a foreigner is one way for the likes of Russia, with the $4 million annual salary for Dutchman
However, Capello's appointment is a clever solution to a pressing short-term problem. He is a winner and he will produce a winning team. But his arrival in England will not deal with the fundamental problems facing the English game, problems which start with the soccer played by 8- and 9-year-old kids.
The one potential weakness in Capello's armor could be how he reacts to the English tabloid press. To say that he's used to dealing with intense media attention in Italy and Spain is to miss the point. In the past, all the media speculation has centered almost exclusively on his soccer decisions.
The English tabloid press is divided between sports reporters and news reporters. The sports reporters will pose no threat to Capello, but the news "rotters," as they are known, are a different matter. Capello has encountered nothing like them in Italy or Spain. Reporters who "doorstep" family members, such as his elderly mother, will be an entirely new experience.
How Capello responds to the more excessive habits of the tabloid press will be fascinating. He may be as clean as a whistle in private life, but it takes an exceptionally strong personality not to react when close relatives have their privacy invaded on a regular basis.
Capello could well have that strong personality. He is certainly at the right stage in his career to take on the England job. Some people have suggested that the job should have gone to a younger man, a high-profile, recently retired player, a
But there is no right or wrong time to become a national-team coach. It all depends on the individual circumstances. Klinsmann was the right man for Germany, but another wet-behind-the-ears coach,
Capello, then, is the right choice for England. But is England the right choice for Capello? The fun is just beginning.