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Capello and Rooney interviews the highlights of France/Uruguay coverage

Posted on 12 June 2010 | 9:06am

Well after all the excitement of the build-up and the opening match, the French soon bought things crashing down to earth. I normally have a bit of a soft spot for France but what with Henry’s handball against Ireland and the utter negativity of their approach last night, by the end I was a fully-fledged Forlan-cheering Uruguayan.

Anyway, enough of the onfield, it meant by far the most interesting aspects of last night’s BBC coverage came off it, in the form of build-up interviews with Fabio Capello and Wayne Rooney, the two most important members of the England set up.

Capello is an impressive type. I have only met him a couple of times, once when he did a private q and a session, the other time at a social event, but as with all good leaders, he exudes strength and calm in varying quantities according to the moment.

A lot of has been made of his ‘losing it’ with cameramen trying to take pictures inside England’s dressing room and medical quarters, with the media suggesting it showed the pressure getting to him, and that to the watching players it would have suggested a chink in his armour.

Nonsense on both fronts, I would suggest. What players like to see in a manager is someone who knows his own mind, expresses it clearly, and who stands up for them.

What the players will have taken out of his blast at the media is that he stands up for their interests, not the media’s.

Even the players who court the media, some with a view to a future career, have something of a love hate relationship with the press, whereas the bulk of top athletes probably veer closer to the hate than the love.

But one of Capello’s undoubted strengths is his determination always to set his own agenda, not have it set for him. (Modern politicians take note) We saw that in his handling of John Terry. We are seeing it again in his handling of the team announcement. He knows the team. They will hear first. Two hours before kick-off. That’s it.

So he was polite but firm with Gabby Logan, and it all added to that sense of strength and calm. If England fare badly in this World Cup, it will not be because they picked a dud manager.

As for the Rooney interview the Capello influence was again clear. Did you see how engaged and happy Rooney seemed when he was talking Alan Shearer through some of the manager’s rules – no mobiles, no leaving the table at mealtimes until everyone had finished, obsessive attention to detail in filming and analysing training sessions (‘he can take 20 minutes to go over a thrown-in’). The respect for the manager – vital in any team in any walk of life – shone through.

Earlier I had been at Queen’s having a bit of a barney with Will Greenwood’s wife who was saying it was a shame footballers couldn’t be better role models.

I’m not sure I quite buy this role model thing in the way it is sometimes presented. They are footballers. They have been footballers from an early age. Their dedication has often meant other aspects of learning have gone by the wayside. Someone like Rooney, from an early age, was on a conveyor belt to where he is now. Why should we expect him to be hyper-articulate, lose sleep about social issues, reject the offers of corporate largesse that make him a young multi-multi-millionaire?

Could modern footballers behave better? Some of them, yes. Do they earn too much? By most people’s standards, yes. But would they still be footballers if they had lived in a different era when film stars were the biggest names, and their wages were capped? In Rooney’s case, without a doubt.

Because what also came through last night is that all he wants to do is get out there tonight and play football. And in that, the pursuit of excellence and commitment in a chosen path, he is a role model. I just don’t think we should expect him to be a mix of politician, diplomat, campaigner and world seer too.

I was at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground visiting Alex Ferguson on the day Rooney suffered that freak injury when he stepped on a piece of equipment left lying around, which put him out of a massive game. The look on his face as he lay on the treatment table said everything. ‘You can have all the money and the Coke deals and the adulation. But I feel sick to my stomach that I won’t be playing.’

The flipside of that attitude, added to a young life honing skill under the watchful eyes of David Moyes, Fergie and Capello, is the reason why he was inside every American defenders’ head as they awoke this morning.

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  • Simon

    I agree wholeheartedly on both men. Capello is a great leader. Reading Mark Ryan’s bio of him – “Fabio Capello: The Man, the Dream, the Inside Story”. Great bit early on re the Capello’s family priest in Pieris is a guy called Don Pierpaolo Soranzo who was also the priest to Enzo Bearzot who was Italy coach when they won the World Cup in 1982 which was 44 years after they previously won the World Cup. It is 44 years since England last won the World Cup. Cue the X Files theme . .

  • olli issakainen

    After the divisive election battle the whole nation can now get behind the England team – people in Scotland have different viewing! Sorry AC, but I do support England.
    On 13.6.1976 I went to our Olympic Stadium in Helsinki to see England beat Finland 4-1 in a World Cup Qualifier.
    It was the time of Don Revie. Fred Street of Arsenal was the physio – as always! The John Bull character was walking on the tracks.
    I was sitting among England fans. (Those were the days!) Elton John was rumoured to be sitting nearby.
    It was great to see players like Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon. Gerry Francis was the captain. Scorers on that day were Pearson, Keegan (2) and Channon.
    The England team was: Clemence, Todd, Mills, Thompson, Madeley, Cherry, G Francis, Channon, Pearson, Keegan and Brooking.
    I, of course, supported England!

  • Colin Hall

    The problem is Capello may be good and Rooney may be good but when the BBC ran through the probable team last night I did not feel world beaters… how many of them would get into the Spain or Brazil or even Italian side?

  • Harriet Greene

    And you were doing so well staying off football since Burnley went down … I was hoping for another George and Danny letter.

  • Graham Jones

    As I watched His Majesty, deliver the message to the troops from Fabio Capello yesterday. I heard myself think “What the f**k do you know about football?”. The answer is nothing, of course. Afghanistan is a long way to go for a PR exorcise on the Taxpayers money, especially when you should be dealing a major rift with America, over BP’s part in the oil leakage. Cameron’s dithering has allowed this to develop into something bigger, whereas if he’d addressed it at the time it happened, he could have contained it. Of course, we couldn’t interrupt him when the golden couple were still on their honeymoon.
    It would have been more apt, if he had said something constructive about the situation, instead of worrying about being seen ‘jogging with the boys’ around Camp Bastion.
    As I remember it, Gordon Brown slept with the troops at the front line, not back at base camp. Cameron’s team were spinning it as a real scoop that he stayed the night. Sorry Dave, but your a lightweight.
    No doubt he will be rolling up in SA tonight, gatecrashing the festivities. He probably wants to see what a free-South Africa looks like this time. The last time he went, they weren’t so free, more like in a grip of a White-Supremacist-Right-Wing tyranny. He must have felt right at home, then.
    The best thing he could do, is go home to his Nicky-poohs, who must be missing him, and try leading the country for a change, instead of worrying about Brand-Dave.
    Britain was sitting with a reasonable hand a few months ago. Now we are sitting with a full house of jokers, that we can’t get rid of.

  • Adrian Turner

    Graham, nice comment. You don’t like Cameron. We get it.

    I take it you know him though, given your certain knowledge of his understanding of football.

    What exactly did you expect him to do with the BP situation? The only ‘containing’ required right now is the oil itself.

    I’m quite pleased he’s not pandering to Obama’s ridiculous xenophobia. BP is, to a rounding error, as much owned by US entities as British. The board is a 50/50 split of Americans and Brits.

    Cameron should talk to Obama calmly and rationally once the great President has calmed down and reclaimed his toys from whence they were thrown.

    However I love your logic that, basically, Cameron is on a publicity stunt when he goes to see our troops in one of our largest foreign policy challenges, but when he doesn’t do something publicly about another foreign affair (as in the case of BP, thus far), he’s incompetent?

    I can’t find reference to GB sleeping on the Front Line, only Kandahar Airfield, where, one can only imagine, his aeroplane was parked. Not that I blame Gordon for this. It would be an act of sheer lunacy to allow the Prime Minister to sleep on the front line of a warzone. If he had it wouldn’t have been brave, but stupid, not just for himself (and the office), but for the Soldiers guarding him who would have been in far greater danger had the enemy known.

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire

    Proud moments, Mr Campbell, sir? Let’s face it, blogs can be ideal for sharing such personal or family news with your online friends

    So, I felt overjoyed to see your brother, Lone Piper Donald, getting a well-earned mention on your Facebook page, thank you. Not sure, but I think his performance at the Beating Retreat ceremony forms part of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday parade. Hence, your pride – entirely justified

    Now, whether your brother’ll feel quite as thrilled at the “Beating Retreat” ceremony, as he must’ve felt on, yes, the 5th December, way back in 1996, only Lone Piper Donald himself can tell you

    That day you arranged for him to meet Mr Tony Blair, in person. Imagine that must also have felt a proud moment for all three of you

    Rumour has it, your brother, Donald, yelled ” … gee whizz, it IS you, isn’t it, Tony Blair, crikey?!” or words to that effect. Now, think back, sir. Remember, it was on a Thursday, yes? Ask your brother for details of the fun you enjoyed, back in those days. I hope you both get to enjoy many more such “proud moments” to come

    TM ———


  • Alan Quinn

    Alastair, at the end of the day the FA, PL, modern footballers, managers and agents are killing the game. Most ordinary kids never mind fans cannot afford to go because of the outrageous salaries footballers earn. The debt situation is another matter, we are looking at a collapse of the PL in the near future. The game neeeds a root and branch overhaul.

  • Theresa

    Never mind the football.. There is much better news to be had.
    It turns out a huge ash cloud is rapidly descending over no 10 Downing st
    None other than Lord Cashcroft has launched a blistering attack on Cam the sham, and only gone and revealed that, Camsham is the worst leader the cons have had.

    Does this mean that Cashcroft will no longer be donating to the Con party while Camsham is leader?
    What will the ever growing discontented backbenchers make of these revelations?