05 February, 2008

Capello’s Iron Fist

You have to give Fabio Capello credit for making his first priority the slashing of egos around the England camp. The main problem recently has been too many players believing their own hype, and everyone larking about on and off the field like it’s all some kind of holiday camp. Professionalism is what we need and that is what Mr Capello truly embodies. His record speaks for itself; you don’t win major titles throughout Europe over a playing and managerial career spanning nearly 45 years by being some bleach-haired clown who drives a Hummer and dates pop stars. There are simply too many guys happy to get an international cap and think they’ve made it; hopefully Capello will be the guy to get the likes of Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips to push on and finally make the most of their potential.

Perhaps the biggest sacrifice is surrounding WAGs, with all players officially banned from their better halves during the build-up to a match. Capello has explicitly acted out in this way before however, famously once banning female staff at Juventus from wearing short skirts and low-cut tops to stop them “distracting” players. For the minute, on and off-pitch sexiness will have to be put on hold, as a ‘back to basics’ approach seems to be the order of the day. Says Ruud Gullit: “I worked with him for four years and he's a coach who plays to win. He doesn't play for the beauty of the game, but to win, that's all.”

On top of the further superficialities such as banning mobile phones, flip-flops and room service, his strict regime finally treats players like regular workers. Lateness is punished, longer hours and extra training are required close to game day, and players are only to refer to each other by surname. Gone is the laugh-a-day regime of Wazza, Lamps and JT letting off fire extinguishers in hotels late at night. But what you may ask do the players call Mr Capello on the training ground? Well “gaffer” of course!

STT wonders if there's an Italian equivalent of Gaffer, and suggests either Il Duche (that's what Mussolini named himself in the 1930-40's) or simply Caesar.

Does that make Stuart Pierce Biggus Dickus?