Pathetic waste for Fabio Capello to quit over John Terry
Fabio Capello will call it a point of principle. He may nurture a sense of resentment for the rest of his days that he was prevented from managing England at Euro 2012. He will tell friends that he had no choice but to quit. But the fact remains that in the end he resigned the job of England manager in a row over John Terry.
There are many reasons to be disillusioned with the state of English football. The lack of home-grown players coming through. The distance the country lags behind countries such as Spain in producing high-quality, technically accomplished players. But to quit over the FA taking a stand that it was inappropriate for the England team to be led by a man on a charge of racial abuse is a pathetic waste.
Whatever the chaos in English football this morning, the FA was right to strip Terry of the captaincy. It should have excluded him from the squad altogether. That does not interfere with the presumption of innocence until proved guilty. That is just a simple statement about what is appropriate for a captain of the national team. If Capello cannot understand that, then it really is better that he goes now.
Given that this is a manager who worked for Silvio Berlusconi, indeed a manager whose career was launched by the former Italian Prime Minister, Capello would be advised to spare us any lectures about awkward bosses. He may not like compromise but he will surely not try to tell us that he has never been forced to comply with policy decisions sent down from on high. The more you look at yesterday's events, the more Capello seemed to be looking for a way out.
It is a sad way to go for a man who has steered England to two major tournaments with a minimum of fuss little more than four years since Steve McClaren's team failed to qualify for Euro 2008. It is sad that Capello did not want to put right the failings of the team at the 2010 World Cup finals with a better performance at the European Championship this summer. But, ultimately, it was his decision.
There will be much criticism – there always is – of the FA over this episode in the weeks and months that follow, but what else was it supposed to do? It was clear from the moment that Terry's court case was moved back to 9 July eight days ago that his position as England captain was untenable. Unfortunately, Capello was not in the building to discuss the issue with Bernstein because, as has so often been the case, he was not even in the country.
Speaking to the former England manager on the phone was always problematic because of his less than perfect English. So in the necessarily rapid succession of meetings and conversations between Bernstein and his fellow 13 board members last week to decide that Terry should be stripped of the captaincy, it was inevitable that, for purely practical reasons, Capello should find himself out the loop.
The resignation of fluent English speaker Franco Baldini, Capello's general manager and the key conduit between manager and FA, meant he too was not there to explain the sensitivities and concerns behind the decision. So by the time Bernstein rang Capello on Thursday to explain the decision on Terry, it may well have felt to the 65-year-old that he had been frozen out.
With the announcement of the decision on Friday – and with Capello only able to return to London at the weekend – the rift between manager and employer will have widened all the more. He was at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea draw with Manchester United on Sunday but by then he already knew that after the game he was to give an interview in Italy that would blow his relations with the FA wide apart.
Capello is by nature a conservative man and he will have been fully cognitive of the impact his criticism of the FA on RAI would have. He will also have known that the FA will have expected a suitably contrite response. From that moment on there was no going back.
The adjournment of the Terry racial abuse case until after the European Championship created the perfect storm for the FA. Yes, the governing body was monumentally unlucky but, when you look at the bigger picture, the situation that transpired was symptomatic of the increasingly problematic relationship between Capello and his employers and the terrible decision by the Italian to bring back Terry as captain a year ago.
Capello deserves gratitude for putting the England team back on track but he should not be regarded as a victim of an overbearing FA. Like so many England managers he failed to recognise that the job has unique elements to it, one of which is that the board of the FA can sack the team captain without the manager's approval. It says so in Capello's contract.
The trick is to adapt and improvise. To be fair, Capello had done that on a number of occasions, most notably when his position was put under temporary review after the last World Cup finals. It must have been a humiliating experience for such a famous coach but he accepted it with good grace.
But when the time came for the FA to sack Terry last week, Capello was so out of sync with his employers that he could not see that this was a decision that needed to be made. That both parties found themselves in that awkward situation was the result of a complex set of factors but a set of factors nonetheless for which Capello must also accept his share of the responsibility.
Delighted or gutted: Reaction within the game
"I'm delighted. I only saw them failing at the Euros with him. There's nobody else other than Harry Redknapp [to replace him]. It's a long time since England had a man everybody agrees with and who can get the best out of the team. He brings humour to the dressing room and that has been missing in Fabio's time. It's possible for Harry to do it part-time until then but that depends on Tottenham. [Euro 2012] with Harry will be something to look forward to."
"Shocked about news on Fabio Capello... gutted to be honest, gave me my first cap and believed in me. He has shown great belief and trust in me so I can only thank him....massive influence on my career so far. Sad to see him go"
"Gutted to see Capello go, he put trust in me and gave me my first cap, just want to say a big thanks."
"So Capello resigns.... what now...."
"Sad news to see Capello step down. Good man and a good manager."
"England should be managed by an Englishman and I would go along with Harry Redknapp as the outstanding candidate. He's a genius at motivating players."