Fabio Capello and his backroom staff were last night given the approval of the Football Association board to sign their new contracts after a last-minute hitch over his assistants' individual deals delayed proceedings. Capello showed his uncompromising side by refusing to sign before his assistants had agreed their deals.
The FA had hoped to announce the appointment of Capello and his four assistants – Franco Baldini, Italo Galbiati, Massimo Neri and Franco Tancredi yesterday, but negotiations hit a problem over the contracts offered to the back-room staff. The FA originally wanted to give Capello a budget to divide up to pay the salaries of the four men. The two sides reached a compromise, but it is understood that the salaries for Capello's staff will still be divided up from one overall sum.
Having pushed the deal through so quickly, Brian Barwick, the FA's chief executive, was told by the board that he did not have to rush through the official announcement this morning. Last night Capello's two key advisers, his son Pierfilippo and the Spanish lawyer Julio Senn Gonzalez, were going through the details of the contracts to ensure there were no major difficulties. Given that the two men are not entirely familiar with English law they wanted to double-check the details. Gonzalez is a law professor from Madrid and a partner at the law firm Garrigues. He oversaw Capello's legal negotiations when he was manager of Real Madrid last season.
With that procedure not yet completed, it was difficult for the FA to announce the appointment, which will have to wait until next week. After discussions between Barwick and the other 11 members of the FA board, the board members gave their unanimous approval to the appointment.
The salary for Capello is around £4m a year, with his advisers on considerably less. The new England back-room staff will be led by Baldini, a sporting director with Capello at Roma and Real Madrid. Former professional footballer Galbiati, the 70-year-old, who was Arrigo Sacchi's No 2 at Milan and has worked with Capello before, will complete the team alongside Neri, a fitness coach and Tancredi, a goalkeeping coach. The Englishman that the FA want as part of the staff has not yet been decided, although Alan Shearer and Stuart Pearce remain the favourites.
As a goalkeeper Tancredi, 52, played for Italy 12 times and met Capello when he was a player at Roma, where he won two league titles. Neri, 48, had a fairly inauspicious football career, which ended when he was 27 and playing in Italy's third tier, Serie C. He trained as a physical instructor and worked at Lecce before joining Capello at Roma. He went on with him to Juventus and Real Madrid where he was credited with turning around the fitness of the squad, including David Beckham.
Baldini's reputation is as an international transfer fixer and talent spotter, which is why he was one of the leading contenders for the newly created technical director's post at West Ham United. He would certainly have been able to command a considerable salary at Upton Park as one of the new management team established by the owner, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, and as such will be the No 2 to Capello.
The new England manager-in-waiting was given a small taste of what life will be like in his new job when he was approached by television reporters outside his home in Switzerland. In a brief encounter that was ludicrously presented by one broadcaster as the first interview with Capello, the Italian gave the cameras short shrift, albeit in broken English.
There are a few other details that had to be agreed between the FA and its new manager – such as his column in the Spanish newspaper Marca which, it is understood, he will no longer write. The Italian broadcaster RAI said that it wanted Capello to continue as a pundit for Euro 2008. Sources close to Capello said that, despite his reputation for toughness, he is concerned about how some of his views – his politics appear to be radically right-wing – will play with the English media.
The 61-year-old was certainly not given the warmest of welcomes yesterday from the Premier League management fraternity. While all praised his credentials for the job, most asked said it was a pity there was no Englishman to fulfil the role. The Middlesbrough manager and former England international Gareth Southgate said he did not believe in the principle of appointing foreigners as manager of the national team.
"I have said before that I think with international football, whatever country it is, it should be players, coach, physio, kitman from that country, " Southgate said. "If not, I don't understand the point of having international football, it might as well just be club football. The quality of the Champions League matches is very often higher than international matches now.
"But if you are asking me do I think Fabio Capello will improve the England team, I am sure he will. He is perfectly qualified to do the job in terms of experience and what he has won. He has a fantastic reputation around the world."
Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager and former Wales coach, also said the appointment was another snub to British managers. "Fabio Capello has a fantastic CV and he has been an outstanding success wherever he has been, so he is obviously a winner," he said. "But I am just disappointed for British coaches because another huge opportunity has been given to a foreign manager. The longer that it goes on that the top jobs go to foreign coaches, the more difficult it will become for English and British coaches to get the big jobs in the future."
Fabio's four: The men to help Capello resurrect England's fortunes
Franco Baldini: Talent spotter
Franco Tancredi: Goalkeeping coach
Massimo Neri: Fitness coach
A N Englishman: Mystery fourth role to be filled