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Alan Green: Capello can work oracle for England

This day last week I was asked a question by someone who has impeccable sources within the Football Association, someone I respect: "How do you feel about Mourinho getting the job?"

I replied that I wasn't certain that he HAD got the job, that I'd save any comment for if or when he actually signed a contract.

Well, now we know: that was never going to happen. Clever Jose was using FA interest to tease out offers from clubs that he wants to manage. Anyone with half a brain knew that. However, that's by the by.

I think that the Football Association has actually ended up with an outstanding choice as the new England coach. I can't think of too many boxes, if any, that Fabio Capello doesn't tick.

So, his English isn't very good at the moment. To my knowledge, Guus Hiddink speaks no Russian and that hasn't stopped the Dutchman guiding Russia to the European Championship ahead of England. Providing Capello gets his message across, I couldn't care less. It's a red herring.

Many of my colleagues in the media are concerned by his lack of the language. Why?

Goodness, they may have to get by for a while - and it will only be for a 'while' as Capello takes lessons - without the words of the coach writing their copy for them: tough.

No, everything I know or hear about Capello inspires confidence. 'Work, work, work' is his motto.

That'll shake up one or two or more of theplayers whose presence in the team has too often been founded on reputation.

His experience and CV brooks no argument. When Capello speaks, people, and particularly players, better listen. As one acute observer remarked, "We've gone from Capt. Mainwaring to Field Marshall Montgomery!"

The Italian will be dismissive of any interference from the FA, will brush aside any hostility or lobbying from within the media - if he can survive the stabbings from journalists in Italy and Spain, we'll be lambs by comparison - and, above all, he will leave the players in no doubt as to what is demanded of them.

I'm not in favour but I can see that David Beckham, a player put in his place by Capello at the Bernabeu, might be granted his 100th cap in the February friendly against Switzerland. Just this once, the coach might acquiesce in the FA's need to put bums on seats for a meaningless game but, beyond that, no.

The days of Eriksson and McClaren, when the England team was over-crowded with 'stars' will be over. Capello, as at all his successful clubs, will want a 'team'.

That, I hope, means he'll choose between Gerrard and Lampard in midfield: that he'll recognise that Owen and Rooney form an unlikely partnership; that Ferdinand's complacency better end or his international career will and that Beckham will play again only on merit.

I'm really very enthusiastic. I don't care if I never get to talk to him. I just want his winning mentality to be brought to the England cause. If he wins, he'll certainly do for me.

Thugs roam in Rome

I don't hold grudges - well, hardly ever.

So, despite the mutual antipathy that's prevented any conversation between us for 15 years, I wrote to Sir Alex Ferguson last week congratulating him on the generosity he displayed presenting that BBC Television Lifetime Achievement Award to Sir Bobby Robson.

Fergie was brilliant and hadn't let his 'relationship' with the Corporation spoil a magnificent occasion.

I finished by wishing him, his team and its supporters a safe journey back from "the hell hole that is the Olympic Stadium in Rome".

Unfortunately, it wasn't a safe trip for the five United fans stabbed by Roma thugs before the game.

Before United, twice now in 2007, there was trouble for Middlesboro fans and, way back, Liverpool supporters in that same awful arena: that's not to highlight other poor unfortunate visitors, Italian as well as foreign.

If Italian football is infested by hooliganism then the Stadio Olimpico is its worst manifestation.

What more needs to happen before UEFA a) throws the book at Roma and b) takes the 2009 Champions League final away from the ground? It can't be allowed to go on.

Sissoko can't hack it!

Always be cautious paying too much attention to 'quotes' attributed to managers or players.

For example, how likely is it that Momo Sissoko, Liverpool's Mali international, should say he was "seriously hacked off" after being left behind on Merseyside for Tuesday's Champions League game?

That's hardly an expression that would trip off his French-speaking tongue.

However, let's assume the sentiment is true.

What a nerve! I can think of fewer 'worse' players in the Premier League at the moment: he can't pass the ball, he can't tackle an opponent without fouling: utterly useless - to think I once thought he could turn into another Patrick Vieira.

The only people with a right to be "seriously hacked off" would be Liverpool fans if they found Rafa Benitez abandoning his Marseille policy of picking his best available players in a proper formation and instead selecting Sissoko against Manchester United tomorrow.

If Sissoko wants to leave Anfield, the response is surely: goodbye!

Belfast Telegraph


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