Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

Another fine mess for Fabio Capello and the FA

Posted on 6 February 2012 | 10:02am

I was sitting right behind Fabio Capello at the Chelsea-Manchester United match yesterday. He never mentioned that he had just dropped a bombshell on Italian TV about the big question that would have kept Shakespeare awake at night were he still alive – ‘JT or not JT.’

In fact beyond a fairly perfunctory hello, when he had that ‘I’m sure I have met him but I can’t remember when’ look on his face (one I have perfected myself over the years), we didn’t have much by way of conversation. He did turn around a few times, laughing at my Chelsea-supporting neighbour Joe Hemani’s vituperative and hilarious assaults on referee Howard Webb, and he did also – twice – offer his advice that he thought Wayne Rooney would miss the penalty he was about to take. Though a Scotland fan, I felt this was not exactly what an England manager should be saying about his star player, but as we now know, he is not averse to saying what he thinks even if it is not what he is meant to say he thinks.

The ‘overseas interview’ is a well-known source of big stories in the UK media. Have you noticed how often stories about French players’ discontent with their English club kicks off in L’Equipe or on Canal Plus, or how often an Italian’s disgruntlement reaches daylight in La Gazetto dello Sport?

So maybe Fabio thought his interview, in which he said John Terry should still be England captain, would not go beyond Ventimiglia on the Franco-Italian border. If so, he is naive and/or daft, which I doubt. Or he wanted his FA paymasters to know what he thought, and to know he wasn’t scared of saying it.

At one point yesterday, FA General Secretary Alex Horne came over for a whispered little chat with Capello. With the benefit of hindsight, and the knowledge of the story about which I learned later, I should have spotted the slight tension in the air. But at the time I was laughing at Joe Hemani screaming at Webb that he should just go the whole hog and wear a red shirt.

A few seats away sat David Davies, a Manchester United fan, a veteran of the FA and a reminder that this is a body that has always had its fair share of public relations problems amid the millions of words that get written about football every day.

David must be glad to be out of it, just as I am glad not to be Number 10 director of comms at a time Andrew Lansley is driving a Health and Social Care Bill into a multiple car crash, and Justine Greening is facing both ways on bonuses so as to keep in step with Dave and George.

But enough of politics. There will be plenty of that when I go on Question Time on Thursday I hope. Back to football, though via a thought from the way we tried to run Number 10 back in the days.

It may have escaped your notice, but there were times when the people at the top of the organisation didn’t get on too well, and didn’t agree about everything. But as I think my diaries show, we tried to thrash out these differences in private so that even if there were noises off, when it came to public statements, the Big Beasts were broadly in the same place.

I did wonder, when I saw FA chairman David Bernstein announce that Terry was being stripped of the captaincy on Friday, whether all the bases had been covered. It was the nature of the announcement that prompted my doubt. It was an FA video, and I hope Mr Bernstein won’t take it amiss if I say it brought to mind the tapes that Osama bin Laden used to throw out of his cave, where a waiting messenger would ship them to Al-Jazeera.

It suggested all a bit of a rush, and if it is true – here I have only the papers to go on, not my intimate observations of Fabio Capello’s body language – that the England manager was not told in advance, that really does suggest some very obvious small p-political and news management basics were not covered.

It all means, yet again, that as England prepare for a major tournament, relationships are strained and the focus is not where it ought to be.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Manchester United for their comeback. Alex Ferguson was buzzing after the match, and clearly feels that the combination of Manchester City’s defeat at Everton, and the stealing back of a point yesterday, mean the Premier League is tilting towards United.

As a manager, he went to bed thinking football, football, football. Poor old Fabio, not least thanks to his own words in Italy, went to bed thinking oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, another fine mess for the FA.

  • Ehtch

    England cricket managed to kick such fucks into touch, now it is about time the FA, at Lancaster Gate or Soho or wherever they are these days to do the same to themselves. They are a Dalily Mail JOKE!

  • In true FA style they will now let Capello go early with a huge pay out, the press will demand an English manager, Redknapp will be overlooked due to his court case, the Daily Star will suggest his dog is in the running, they will once again try in secret to sign Mourinho without success, Warnock will complain he wasn’t approached and eventually they will settle, temporarily, on Pearce, who was always their first choice, honest guv. 

  • Libdem

    I shouldn’t think Fabio is too bothered by the FA do you? His contract finishes after the Euros so, the biggest problem for him is his relationship with the players and particularly the new captain.
    Next time we need an English manager, maybe Redknapp if he isn’t in prison….hopefully not Hodgson! 

  • Olli Issakainen

    Referees appear to do favours to Man Utd.
    Whether it is eight minutes of “Fergie time” or easy penalties.
    The lads on the Clarets Mad messageboard once announced that Preston had signed Howard Webb from Man Utd!
    Brilliant goal for our own Jay Rod on Saturday.

  • Ehtch

    Suggestion for a blog Alastair – Why should we feel guilty that we should have a job to go to?

    Brought up in West Wales, with my grandads and their brothers collieries shuting down with nowhere for them to go, and my dad at Royal Ordinance in ROF Pembrey shut down, then went searching.

    DVLC/DVA/WHATEVA gave employment with a-levelled schoolers with penpushing, with decimated thatcher industry all around, as well as their friends joining thatchers army as coppers of course, shaved head and carrying on in our streets as like nightclub bouncers. Apologies nightclub bouncers if I have offended you – you’re not on the list so you can’t come in, fair enough gov, baldy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqCQc1gj9iI

  • Ian Eastwood

    BBC reporting that Capello may have been in breach of contract. I foresee an acrimonious ending to this less than happy relationship, maybe even before a disastrous Euro campaign.

  • Anonymous

    You must admit that failures in news management make for a more interesting world.  Also, I’m delighted that the Tories have shown no sign of mastering the art yet.  

  • ZintinW4

    I think Capello may be in his final week in the England managers job. I had high hopes for him but he has under performed, even if expectations are always too high.

  • Anonymous

    ‘Relationships are strained and the focus is not where it ought to be.’

    This is a sport for blokes, no doubt run by blokes.  Jock strap diplomacy every time.

  • Richard

    How is it that Fabio collecting £6,000,000 a year, and many players trousering £5,000,000 plus, attracts no comment at all from all the Banker Bonus Bashers. Top clubs are the playthings of billionaires, largely non dom, non UK tax payers.

    The hysteria which has been whipped up about Hester’s £1m bonus is incredible in comparison. I certainly know who is doing the better job in the public interest, and will be doing such work for much longer.

    The FA has been a shambles for generations,  a gravy train and national joke. The ticket buying public deserve better, but until people of influence like yourself, Al, blow the lid off the sport at that level nothing will change. 

  • Anonymous

    FOOTBALL
    I’ve always had a problem with making Terry England captain – it makes it look like he is one of the best players, part of the backbone of undroppable (bite me, lol) players when to my mind he should always have been one of the fringe players competing for a place. Around the time he was made captain, the 3 world class players that England had that were certain to start every match were Rooney, Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard. For me Gerrard should always have been the captain if fit, if not him Ferdinand.

    Terry’s lack of pace, alongside Upsons, was cruelly exposed by Germany, vindicating my long held opinion of him, not good enough for the top level.

    NON FOOTBALL
    From trawling forums and replays, at the time I thought Terry had shouted “you blind c” and Anton had mistaken it for “you black…” however the reaction of all concerned makes me at least doubt this now and think there must be more to it.

    There was also the disgraceful posturing at the last WC of Terry undermining the previously strong Capello. I believe the formerly Iron Sergeant should have sent him home at that point.

    So drop Terry from the squad altogether is my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Would Clough, Ramsay or AC’s mate Sir Alex have put up with Terry at last world cup? I guess if they had I would have said “Fabio Capello wouldn’t do that.”
    Seem to remember Jaap Stam (a far superior centre half to John Terry) being given the boot sharpish, not to mention Paul McGrath and Kevin Moran (also both better than Terry.) Even Alan Hansen was ditched by Fergie at a world cup for Scotland – yet another better player than Terry!

    Was John Terry the Gordon Brown to Fabio Capello’s Tony Blair!
    I.e. too much ability and backing to let him go!

  • Janiete

     
    It was great to see United’s legendary fighting spirit on show yesterday. Reminded me of 1999.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuPrhvBP0B0&feature=related

    Speaking of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. It might just have dawned on Cameron that the NHS car crash will be his poll tax. The collapse in vital services will be so unpopular, English Conservatives must have a death wish.

    Join the #dropthebill campaign. Sign the petition at:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670

  • Libdem

    Don’t you think the media make too much fuss about the ‘England Captain’? Rather than expecting him to be whiter than white, they should just pick the most vociferous captain courageous on the night!
    For me, Gerrard any day of the week ahead of Rio and Terry.

  • Libdem

    Perhaps Capello’s ‘guaranteeing’ them World Cup and Euro finals means he has been worth the money for England.

    Hester’s bonus would have been more understandable if the bank had made a profit. Receiving a bonus for making a smaller loss is never going to go down well. The problem has been the PM saying neither one thing nor the other. He should have either supported the Bank in honouring its contracts or damned them all as greedy s**ts.

    Sepp Blatter looks ‘professional’ when compared to the FA.

  • Michele

    Using a phrase such as ‘whiter than white’ (ie: purer than pure) is putting a valuation on colour; it’s the essence of the problem and something that could be exploited.

    ————————

    General:  As far as I have been able to make out today, the words nobody else heard (except in the later question when Terry asked Ferdinand if it was what he thought he’d heard) are (according to the Mirror) “black c***”.

    Perhaps there will have been very expert lip-readers involved already in order for the CPS to be taking this to court, unless it’s happening as a test case.  What if Ferdinand was called a ‘blardy’ or ‘bleedin” c***’?  I don’t know whether those would be his pronunciations (or whether he’s a southerner).  Would that have become a court case?  I’m not asking because of the ugly connotations of such a phrase, simply commenting.

    John Terry is being hung drawn and quartered in public and it will carry on for several more months.  All of his family will be being affected including his children.

    Why can’t we know what has been lip read?  Racism is horrendous to both sides of allegations and would be unbearable when untrue.

  • Michele

     Andy Burnham was brilliant on Any Qs this weekend Janiete;  he reckons that in three months the N-word from NHS will be irrelevant,

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01bbd95

  • Michele

    Phut.t.t.t.t.t.t.t.tttttttt does that sound like teeth sucking?

    Twitter’s looking bitter.

  • Anonymous

    Totally different, totally disagree. Football is hugely profitable and if the clubs went bust noone would tap the taxpayers to pay for them. They make their own money without govt help and can spend it as they see fit.

    RBS on the other hand was bailed out and is 84% taxpayer owned. If we owned the England team, I would vote for only paying the manager if he wins a trophy. And plenty of people would manage england for free.

  • Anonymous

    “Sepp Blatter looks ‘professional’ when compared to the FA.”
    Thats a bit strong Libdem! I think Blatter and Platini are ruining football. All the goodwill Platini earned when scoring the winner vs Liverpool in 1985 final is running out!

  • Anonymous

    Yes. Even in football considerations though, again and again bosses make sacrifices for good players behaving badly and it doesnt help when they affect team morale which I think is Terry’s problem.

    Other than that, I think only players who are dead cert starters should be named as captain, other than that just name them on the night. Terry wasn’t good enough for this in my view, whereas Gerrard certainly was. If fit and in form Gerrard is definitely the man who should be captain.

  • Ehtch

    Simple reaguns – get a deaf person in to do a bit of lip reading. My primary school had a deaf unit when I was there, and one of my deaf mates I played cricket with in later life – and he was a big rugby player, won the Deaf Rugby World cup in New Zealand about ten years ago, even though he was about forty at the time. Anyway, when we watched a rugby and football game, he would turn around to us and say “did you hear what he just said?”, and we said “no Paul, we can’t lipread, but pray tell”.

    True story this, and I am not making it up. Remember playing rugby against him – he put me on my behind at least half a dozen times. a big unit he is, played centre.

  • Libdem

    Although Blatter has a lot of critics for varying reasons he did at least make FIFA more representative than before; it might have been to benefit him of course, who knows? Who can say FFP is wrong reaguns when a lot of the clubs are ‘bust’, might not like him as he’s French lol, but at least he’s trying to sort the finances out.

  • Libdem

    The phrase is only a problem in your mind and the group that has swallowed hook line and sinker the politically correct agenda. It is evident that black people can talk to each other in a manner that would cause a prosecution if it was white on black.

  • Anonymous

    I hate Terry, am a fan of Rio, got no opinions either way of Anton.

    I think, in line with what you say, that Terry shouted “You blind c***!” at Anton, then Anton went mad and discussing it after Terry said “Did you think I called you a black c***?” If thats true I don’t think its racist, though I don’t know what charities for the blind might make of it.
    Unless there was subtlety as to how he said it like Terry smirking and saying “Did you think I called you a BLACK C***!” then its different.

    As much as I hate Terry I find it difficult to believe he could be so racist and so stupid.

    The last racist incidents I remember like this were Stoichkov on Desailly in Euro 96, Mikhailovic his whole career, the Spain manager about Thierry Henry, and Suarez.

    Time for a gross generalisation then: I think latin and eastern european nations still have this problem, but find it difficult to believe someone could really operate in the english league with black teammates and so on and be openly racist.

  • Anonymous

    Ah see when it comes to football I take an ultra-capitalist approach. Plenty of amateur clubs manage to play every week without receiving any money. Any club that receives any money whatsoever deserves no sympathy, they simply have to pay their staff less than they receive in income. The only way to go bust is to break that rule, anyone who does so deserves it. But what about the fans? Well if Leeds or Portsmouth went bust what do people think would happen? Someone would buy the assets and the only way to generate a return on them would be to operate a football club from that ground called leeds or portsmouth – no problem.

    I think football should be more like boxing. I don’t think its fair that mediocre players for the likes of Wigan get 50k per week whereas people like Messi get 200k – I think Messi deserves more and the Wigan guys deserve less. I don’t want anyone on my team getting 1/10th of Messi’s wages unless they win Champions league too. Of course it would be better if the pride of fighting for the shirt and the fans motivated modern players, but it doesn’t.

    Perhaps if Shiekhs and Oligarchs take over all of football I might shift my opinion of Platini, but the main reason I don’t like Platini and Blatter is they have stupidly clamped down on tackling, which has the unintended consequence of forcing teams to play more defensively, so football is more boring.

  • Richard

    “The Premier League’s 20 clubs collectively lost close to half a billion pounds last year despite making record income, a Guardian analysis of their most recent accounts has revealed. In the 2009-10 financial year, the clubs currently in the Premier League made total revenues of £2.1bn, principally from their billion-pound TV deals and the world’s most expensive tickets. Yet 16 of the 20 clubs made losses, totalling a record £484m, and the same number relied on funding from their wealthy owners.”
    Source: The Guardian
     
    Whatever do you mean when you say “Football is hugely profitable”? Losses approaching 25% of revenue, hugely profitable?
     
    The truth is that Football good (to attract populist and working class voters), bankers bad: to distract us from the truth.
     
    Watching the debate in the commons now who would have thought that we are borrowing £330 million today to cover our current account defecit plus £80 million interest = £400 million plus, per day.
     
    The politicians are delighted to get their teeth into banker bashing whereas they should be debating daily the changes which need to be made to get our economy going again.
     
    We are all being deceived, and our collective ire at bankers is music to their ears as the politicians can relax in their ineptitude.
     
     

  • Michele

     Football at the top of the table must be hugely profitable; not because of football itself but for those owners able to license and flog their possession internationally and in commodity areas that have little to do with the game.

    It’s why one of our beautiful local parks was nearly taken over recently by a consortium of businessmen wanting to buy it for nothing other than merchandising reasons; kit sales/conference and outdoor concert facilities/blahdy blahdy blah (all under the pretence of taking the club they’d bought for a song back to its original home).  

    Who knows, it may happen yet and what is simply a 3hr-traffic jam problem twice per day several days per month will become 24/7 residents’ parking permits like those within a couple of miles of Fulham Broadway.

    Grrrrrrrrrrr

  • Michele

     Advising you of connotations you either are (or pretend to be) ignorant of is no problem in or with my mind.

    Take it in the spirit it was intended, we all simply have to be careful about ascribing qualities to the colours at the ends of the scale when trying to find a description for good.

    Yes black and brown people can talk to each other in ways that others can’t and yes there were instances of black on white racism during the riots (some black people have testified to that effect) but do you think two (or however many) wrongs make a right?  Go back to sleep (or speculate about what colour I am).

  • Richard

    “The Premier League’s 20 clubs collectively lost close to half a billion pounds last year despite making record income, a Guardian analysis of their most recent accounts has revealed. In the 2009-10 financial year, the clubs currently in the Premier League made total revenues of £2.1bn, principally from their billion-pound TV deals and the world’s most expensive tickets. Yet 16 of the 20 clubs made losses, totalling a record £484m, and the same number relied on funding from their wealthy owners.”
    Source: The Guardian

    Whatever do you mean when you say “Football is hugely profitable”? Losses approaching 25% of revenue, hugely profitable?

    The truth is that Football good (to attract populist and working class voters), bankers bad: to distract us from the truth.

    Watching the debate in the commons now who would have thought that we are borrowing £330 million today to cover our current account defecit plus £80 million interest = £400 million plus, per day.

    The politicians are delighted to get their teeth into banker bashing whereas they should be debating daily the changes which need to be made to get our economy going again.

    We are all being deceived, and our collective ire at bankers is music to their ears as the politicians can relax in their ineptitude.

  • Anonymous

    2 separate issues.

    1. Bankers. If you read my posts, you’ll see that I blame the politicians for the mess more than the bankers. To the extent I resent bankers, its because they get rich off taxpayer subsidy, before and after the crash – moral hazard. This is more the politicians fault than theirs, we need to put structures in place to both protect depositors and make bailouts impossible. Also the bank bailout and financial crash was bad, but government borrowing dwarfs it. Labour have done well to trick the public into thinking otherwise.

    2. Football. If you are telling me that Premier League Football is not profitable, then that is somewhere between a very shallow understanding of finance and utter utter tripe.

    Whose money are the clubs losing? And who are they losing it too? Why do sheikhs and oligarchs want to join the money losing party? Count up the merchandise, TV money and gate receipts of the likes of Man Utd and tell me how they lose money, and why their creditors let them stay open if thats true?

    Now some clubs may lose money, and all the rubbish clubs are subsidised by the top 5 or 6, thats why we have stupid agreements that stopped our top clubs negotiating separate TV deals like Italians/Spanish do, which puts our top clubs at a disadvantage.

  • Libdem

    I agree with much of what you’ve said but not all as you’d expect. The PL wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the clubs on the brink of financial extinction. Ultra-capitalism would have the Man U’s and Liverpool negotiating their own tv contracts leaving the scraps for the minnows. What I’m trying to say is the big clubs need the little ones too, otherwise it’ll be a league of 6.

    The tackling thing is better now than when people could tackle from behind, it makes for more skill.

  • Libdem

    ‘Winterfest’ sounds good too doesn’t it?

  • Michele

    Do you think so?