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Fabio's Coup De Grace

Saturday 11th February 2012
Fabio Capello's train has finally crashed. It fell off the tracks after the 2010 World Cup and would have burned at Euro 2012. However, the FA took control of the train and it crashed prematurely in London on Wednesday.

Four months before the Euros in Ukraine and Poland, England is without a manager and a captain. The situation is nothing but shambolic.

The current situation is strikingly reminiscent of December 2007, when Capello became England's manager. Back then, England was   a shambles, as it is now. The team failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren and was in dire need of an overhaul.

Capello publicly stated his interest in becoming England's next manager and was promptly appointed. He led a highly successful qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The country went into frenzy and the disappointment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008 was easily forgotten.

A team that wasn't among the top 16 European teams in 2008 was talked about as potential world champions in 2010. It would have been the dream script for a fairytale story. But alas! It was not to be. The wheels started to come off the World Cup quest when Capello went back on his word and called up out of form players, and also those who didn't play regularly for their clubs, for the tournament.

Later, England's captain Rio Ferdinand got injured and was ruled out of the tournament a day before the team's first match.

The campaign lasted 15 days after England wereknocked out in the Round of 16, thrashed 4-1 by Germany. The team's ineptness was displayed at football's biggest stage. Capello's honeymoon came to a sudden end. The relationship soured and the seeds of discontent were sown.

Suddenly, there were calls to sack him; a proposition that would have been passed off as ridiculous a fortnight ago. Somehow, Capello overrode the storm and proceeded to oversee England's qualifying campaign for the Euros in 2012.

By then, however, Capello was no longer the man with the Midas touch. His errors in judgment continued as he reinstated John Terry as the captain, replacing an understandably ‘upset' Rio Ferdinand. England stuttered, but qualified easily for Euro 2012. Despite another successful qualification, Capello's aura had long disappeared into obscurity.

Over the past year, with the end of Capello's era in sight, the team's performances and endeavour had dropped markedly. England's 1-0 win over Spain notwithstanding, the team had seemingly lost faith in Capello.

Despite all the problems surrounding the England camp, Capello's resignation was anything but a forced decision. The FA made a massive error in judgment by sacking John Terry without informing the manager. Capello justifiably felt that his position was undermined and he was left with no option but to resign. Hence, his tenure came to an end.

A manager's success is measured by his team's performance on the pitch and his legacy. When we talk about England's performance under Capello, statistically, the Italian is England's most successful manager. However, statistics can often be misleading.

Capello won two out every three matches as England's manager, but the quality of opposition that his team faced was, at best, below average. The Italian's biggest success with England was, arguably, the team's big wins over Croatia in the World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign.

However, more than the performances on the pitch, Capello will be judged on his legacy. He overtook the team when English football was at its lowest point. His tenure will be the starting point to judge England's success or failures in the coming five to six years.

Over the past decade, no English manager has shown the courage to drop the underperforming senior players. Capello tried to freshen up the squad at the beginning of his tenure but he eventually succumbed to the pressure of the much-maligned British media.

After being dropped, senior players like Beckham and Lampard were brought back into the team despite the fact that there was no dearth of talented midfielders in the country.

After Capello's resignation, the England manager's job is now an even more potent version of the poisoned chalice it earlier was. The former Real Madrid and AC Milan coach has left England in the lurch. Four months away from a major tournament, the FA's search for a new manager will be anything but straightforward.

Moreover, the team is suffering from a drop in form and an obvious lack of leaders on the pitch. His legacy is one of shambles and not of success. Capello's era only had a few positives. He has left the team in almost the same shape as it was in December 2007 and it's a blot on the highly successful manager's CV, a distinguished career tarnished at the end.

For England, it was another chapter in its tale of woe. The next manager will have some tough decisions to make. Euro 2012 should be used to try out players for the next world cup.

The time is ripe for the next manager to decisively shift the team's policy to youngsters. England now possesses many talented youngsters who deserve a crack at the international level. The time is up for the old warhorses and except for one or two, the rest shouldn't go to the Euros.

Whoever becomes the next manager will have a golden opportunity to shape England's future. Capello's resignation has given the next manager that chance. Hopefully, it won't be missed like Capello did.
I'm a Manchester United and Spurs fan. I follow football across Europe. I also love cricket and tennis. Professionally, I'm a journalism student in India. I also follow politics closely.

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