Dr. Mourinho declares Capello unfit for national service
As doctors go, he was unusually brutal in his diagnosis, and some would say that he was unprofessional in going so public with it. Last week, Dr. Mourinho took one look at the ailing Fabio Capello and proclaimed him unfit for national service. “It is clear. Capello will not work for England”, he announced. “He does not know the players. They are frightened of him and will not work for him”.
Not content that he had been sufficiently scathing, the Portuguese looked to irk Capello further with the aid of a second opinion. “He has a one-track relationship with players”, he cackled, fanning himself with a prescription pad. “Ask anyone here at Real Madrid. He can’t change. You cannot go around just shouting at players. They need to feel special.”
Mourinho’s motives for this outpouring remained, as ever, opaque. Was he angling for the Italian’s job at some point in the future, or merely distracting the world’s media from the inevitable difficulty of his own first season at Real Madrid? Was he showing off that, after only a few weeks in the job, he was matey enough with the club insiders for them to share the gossip on Capello?
Possibly all of those, but who knows? His subsequent denial that he had ever made such comments makes the picture ever muddier. But the Portuguese has a habit of making things all about him, which this article is not; and so we should part company with him now. What has been flagged up once and for all is the key difference between managing a club and managing a country, of which Capello was a most unwitting victim.
Before becoming England manager, Capello had never been in charge of a national team. Moreover, he had always been in charge of wealthy club where recruits of the highest order were in plentiful supply: AS Roma, AC Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid. As a result, he has always been able to wield fear as a weapon, knowing that should he fall out with one of his players there will be a replacement waiting elsewhere about the globe, who can be summoned at the waft of the chairman’s chequebook.
Case in point: at Juventus, Capello was able to treat Alessandro del Piero, then the club captain, with uncommon disdain, benching him for much of the season. Such a scenario would have been unthinkable with, say, John Terry. This is because less than 40 per cent of players in the Premier League are English, and so there aren’t a multitude of Terrys waiting in the wings should the Chelsea player experience a prolonged plummet in form.
What do you do when fear no longer holds sway? You have to loosen up, and understand that you need your players as much as they need you. It’s not as if Capello is incapable of that, as he is clearly a man who cares for his players – anyone who doubts that can watch the YouTube footage of Marco van Basten’s early retirement due to injury, during which the Italian is almost convulsed with tears. Perhaps tellingly, though, his managerial style is far from that of either of the coaches who took their teams to the World Cup Final; throughout the tournament Holland’s Bert van Marwijk and Spain’s Vicente del Bosque looked less like professorial coaches, and more like a pair of proud uncles.
In getting his team back to winning ways at the highest level, then, Capello has some way to go. Dr. Mourinho, for his part, is yet to try his hand in charge of a national team, and is currently wrestling with the toughest club in world football; at Madrid, his task is to succeed where Capello already has. Capello may have cast a wry glance over Mourinho’s first La Liga game in charge of Real Madrid, who stuttered to a 0-0 draw against Mallorca; and considered this result a small dose of his physician’s own medicine.
(Picture: AP)Tagged in: Bert van Marwijk, england, Fabio Capello, holland, john terry, José Mourinho, real madrid, spain, Vicente del Bosque
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