“You created a God, and you created a monster!” may sound like something a distraught, sunburnt Charlton Heston might scream at a laboratory full of inquisitive apes, but alas, the above is not a paraphrase from the script of a piece of late-1960’s dystopian cinema, but a direct quote from the England manager himself, Fabio Capello.
The veteran Italian has suffered a tangible slump in his stock following England’s failure to reassert their sway over the Empire in South Africa, instantly seeing his reputation as one of the leading lights in football management (a reputation deservedly garnered after 25 long years of medal-haulage in the highest echelons of the domestic game) reduced to that of a ‘jackass’ (after overseeing an second-tier national side toil through three games and completely self-destruct during their fourth).
After maintaining a degree of ‘radio silence’ on the matter for the three months that have followed since England’s World Cup elimination, Capello finally rose to the bait at the Grove Hotel last night, directly addressing the assembled media over their consistent attempts to besmirch his name in the national press;
“You create the god and you create the monster, I remember what was written about me before this period. I live the same when you write well of me as I do when you write badly of me. This is my job and I have to live with the pressure
We lost only one game in the World Cup, against Germany, after one big mistake from the referee. You don’t remember this? I think [you do].
But, after this, your opinion about me changed completely. But I live with this situation. It’s no problem for me. I live. Sorry. It is easy to be the best when you win but, when you lose, you lose everything. You have to fight and I am a fighter.”
Which, in parts, is as close to telling the associated press to ‘p*ss off’ that Capello’s broken, self-consciously uncontroversial English will allow. The 64-year-old then continued, berating the ‘armchair manager’ stance that many journalists seem to adopt so readily;
“You are a lot of managers. I have read what you wrote, [that] I have to play different styles, yeah, yeah, yeah. Before [the World Cup] games, I never read any of these different things.
England take on Bulgaria tonight in the first of a double-header of Euro 2012 qualifying games (the second being against Switzerland next Tuesday), with many sources suggesting that, unless at least four points are secured from the two games, Capello’s job will be on the line – but he again remained defiant;
“This is not the worst situation I have been in. It has been the same two or three times. Once at Madrid, once at Milan. Usually, pressure brings the best out of me. I hope it does this time, too.”
Whether or not Capello can finally wrestle a convincing performance out his dormant charges remains to be seen but, should England fail to impress once more, another bout of fevered (and fairly spurious) character assassination attempts is not called for.
The entire national team under Capello needs time to settle and develop if it is to ever flourish again. There can be no instant gratification achieved through knee-jerk ‘firing’ or ‘dropping’ as the paltry alternatives are, in reality, no better than the current incumbents.
We, as a footballing nation, just need to accept that England are no longer a force to be reckoned with at international level any more, pray long and hard that forthcoming generations of English players are incrementally better-suited to the modern game, and try to bear in mind that Gods don’t become monsters overnight – unless you happen to be a headline writer for The Sun that is.