The FA, Fabio Capello and the Sky News Era Blame Game

A man under the pressure he does not deserve and the men who put him in this position.

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England's coach Fabio Capello reacts during their 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match against the US at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 12, 2010.   REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

This morning I turned on Sky News, its a reflex reaction I have developed when waking up with a hangover, and I was shocked, appalled and unsurprised all at the same time as a sports reporter from The Times claimed that England manager Fabio Capello was a poor choice as boss because he had no Premier League experience. I almost lobbed the remote control at the television so frustrated was I. Then a man from the Daily Mail appeared on the programme, he clearly had little or no interest/knowledge of the subject matter, a point proven when he referred to the competition going on in South Africa as the “FA Cup” on two separate occasions, he decided nonetheless to throw his bigoted opinion in the mix anyway.

I hate the way the World Cup makes people feel they have the right to discuss a sport they would normally not give two hoots about at any other point. The media equivalent to those who decide to take up tennis for the two weeks that Wimbledon is on.

I digress slightly but the point I am making is this. Anyone who believes that Fabio Capello is the wrong man for the job needs to tell me who exactly then, is the “Right Man”. Th Italian is perhaps the most decorated football coach of his generation (bar Sir Alex Ferguson) and was given a salary, some say an obscene one, for this very reason.

We sang his praises when he guided the Three Lions through qualifying and yet for some reason the blame has been lain solely at his door after a truly woeful World Cup display. Those who really should be feeling the full force of any flak is of course the players themselves, this is as plain as day but for some reason we see headline after headline right across the media spectrum (The Independent aside) spouting forth bile, thinly disguised xenophobia, about the 64 year old former AC Milan and Real Madrid boss.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so worrying.

Now usually right minded people, and therefore right minded football fans, can see past the media construct and the manner in which they are being force fed opinions that are actually not their own. However alarmingly some are beginning to breath in the pungent aroma of the tabloid machine. People I consider to have great footballing knowledge and a sound sense of what is fair and balanced are beginning to tell me that Mr. Capello should go, and I am aghast.

How quickly we forget. I know football can be fickle but this is just plain ridiculous. The FA have obviously decided to get in on the act. They have rather cleverly decided to make the England boss stew in his own juice for two weeks hoping that Fabio will be do disgusted by the manner in which he is being treated by the bigwigs at Soho Square that he will fall on his own sword so as to avoid having to pay a large compensation cheque to make the sacking they would be insane to enact. I have so little respect for Dave Richards and co. that I fully believe that this is how their collective minds work.

If there is a buck and it needs to be placed anywhere it should be hoisted on the shoulders of every player within the England squad. With very few exceptions they did not perform to their full capabilities and gave further meat to the oft discussed theory that these millionaires could care less about the three lions emblazoned across their shirts.

England's John Terry looks on dejected at the final whistle..FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16..Germany v England..27th June, 2010.

Some will say that Fabio Capello needed to be stronger in his approach to those in the camp who believed they were bigger than the England side as a whole. Many will say that the Italian should have dropped certain big name players who appeared to be picked on reputation and not on performances on the pitch. These are decent, salient points but I would imagine that Capello was more likely to make these very points than anyone else.

Remember we are talking about a manager who has been there and done it all over Europe. A manager who was not averse to dropping players who were not pulling their weight, David Beckham at Real Madrid being the most notable occasion. If Fabio couldn’t get the message across to the England players then the problem is not with him but the individuals that make up the England ‘team’.

I truly do hope that those who took to the field against the United States and Algeria, for these were the two more horrendous 90 minute periods of the World Cup for the England team, would take a long hard look in their diamond encrusted mirrors and think about their priorities and the way they have let a nation down. The problem is that I know that they will not do so. I have long since believed that the majority of those picked to play for their country feel any real sense of pride and honour when handed an international cap.

There is a reason that we as a nation have once again failed to deliver at a major tournament. It is not because we are not good enough, it is in many ways a combination of reasons but the lack of talent is not one of them.

People who feel that the expectation thrust upon the England team as it goes into a World Cup or a European Championship causes undue pressure on those who cross the touchline are only half right. There are some who believe its our divine right to come back with the prized silverware even though its been 44 years since our only major success. These people need a reality check. There are some who believe that the quality shown by these players in their club shirts is evidence that as a whole the England squad should be more than capable of going very far. These people are correct. If you picked the best XI you could from those Fabio can call upon and then placed it up against an XI of any other country I think it would be fair to say that there is no reason that England wouldn’t be in a position to win that match.

This is not some mild boast and its not an over the top suggestions made for dramatic effect. It is a fact. The problem is, and has been for the best part of a decade plus, the players do not, for some reason, fulfil their potential when playing for the country. Anyone who thinks that installing the likes of Roy Hodgson or Harry Redknapp into Capello’s soon to be vacant post needs to get real.

If we are going to play the Sky News blame game then let’s do it correctly. The people who really need to get their act together are the players. If you have an ounce of knowledge and footballing insight then you will already know this so apologies. For those who do not believe this to be the case, I suggest you tuck into your daily dose of red tops and 24 hour news channels.

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