England’s loss to Germany in the last 16 of the World Cup has sparked another predictable round of tabloid inquisition and calls for Fabio Capello to lose his job. Of course, England had a bad game defensively against Germany, and displayed an impatience likely borne out of arrogance in the second half that precipitated their downfall. Germany, well drilled tactically, incisive and sure-footed in their counter attacks merely had to wait for England to slip up and then pounce.
The anger and frustration at the loss needs a target and so follow the calls for Fabio Capello’s head and the sudden re-emergence of the bogus argument that the amount of foreigners in the English Premier League is to blame for our malaise.
But here is the problem with calling for Fabio Capello’s sacking: it puts us right back to square one.
The philosophers Hegel and Karl Marx both identified a process via which human society or cognition evolves – that process was thus: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. But England are stuck in a stunted process of thesis, antithesis, with the development of any defining synthetic movement forward continually stunted by the nature of our response to each.
Let me explain further – If you glance at all the England managers in the last 10 years, you will see that the manager who followed the one before, has been a direct opposite of his predecessor – bar Steve McClaren following Sven Goran Eriksson, which was a continuation. The English national team are locked in this never-ending cycle characterized by only two shades of colour – black and white; the saintly or the hellish.
The reason lies in the several contradictory forces at work – namely, the short-termism both rooted and manifested in tabloid culture, applied to a job where what may seem a long tenure (i.e. two years in charge) is actually comprised of little more than around ten or fifteen games. That coupled with the relatively small amount of time an international manager actually gets to spend with his players (barring the pressure cooker of a major tournament) can make the job, and determining style, very difficult.
Has Fabio Capello, this highly regarded coach with a stunning CV become a bad manager overnight? No. Has he made mistakes? Undoubtedly. But is it worth now trying to find the antidote to Fabio Capello – a manager with a soft touch and, so the clamour predictably goes, with an English passport – in the hope that it will be the magic cure people crave? Come off it – for years now the process has been a continual churn of destroy and rebuild and it has got us nowhere.
Maybe we should let Fabio Capello and his players learn form their mistakes, instead of venting our fury at them. Chris Waddle post-match fulmination’s on 5Live were aimed at the nature of the English game – that we are not technical enough, the players are over-rated and haranguing of a similar nature have appeared and reappeared everywhere.
This argument is spurious and not buttressed by facts – England had 51% of possession in a match where they lined up with a four-man midfield against Germany’s five. But this is over-looked. The players could and should have performed better in terms of using their experience, and defending more astutely as a team, but the argument they weren’t able to compete technically is erroneous.
Where Germany excel is that they have had a blueprint for the style of the national team in place for many years now, going back to Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge, and it has served them well as they have a generation of players coming through the system who know how they are supposed to be playing. But this takes time and a cohesive vision – two agents that by their very nature are nigh on impossible for a manager of England to employ.
Moreover, with a winter break and a mental attitude not crippled by fear of castigation in the press and by the public should they fail; the Germans are well prepared for high-stakes tournament football. But they are not superior in talent or technique.
Capello needs to change some things, that much is clear, but let’s let him do it armed with the experiences and determination that his recent hardships will have given him, instead of drafting in somebody else and starting this whole hackneyed, debilitating process from scratch once more. It’s really rather boring.