Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 16:26 GMT
Capello means business

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at London Colney

England boss Fabio Capello
Fabio Capello delivered a no-nonsense England message
Fabio Capello breezed into England's training headquarters and provided the chill wind of reality after the hot air and bluster of Steve McClaren.

The Italian may have ditched his trademark expensive suit for the shopfloor wear of an England tracksuit, but every word and gesture was businesslike.

Capello refused to risk his fledgling English on the media ranks - swollen by Italian journalists and three television stations from his homeland - but the message was loud and clear.

He may have been wired for the sound of the voice of his interpreter, but the body language told us this was a man who meant business. The answers were delayed but they gave a very swift idea of what Capello is all about.

Capello's eyebrows occasionally raised, smiles were rare, and any question he suspected of containing a trick led to some furious thumb-twiddling while he navigated the hazard.

This was a high-tech affair, with headsets provided to ensure no misinterpretation.

We tuned in to channel four - channel five for "Italiano" - to hear the blueprint for England's future glory. What we got was the no-nonsense pragmatism that has made Capello one of the game's most-decorated coaches.


David Beckham was off limits. John Terry was a no-go area. They are not in Capello's England squad so they are not worthy of wasting the time of a man with much to do and not a lot of time to do it.

Mention those names and Capello's defences closed tighter than the catenaccio "door-bolt" system that was ingrained in his football DNA during his formative years in Italy.

Capello's address to the nation was heavily laced with realism as he sat at Arsenal's London Colney base, surrounded by pictures of the Gunners' glory, the sort of success he wants to emulate on the international stage.

He has brought in a strict set of rules, including no mobile phones, no agents and no WAGs while on duty, explaining simply it was merely a reaffirmation of an "obligation to the fans."

The players, he revealed, will call him "boss." You suspect he will call the players whatever he likes.

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard was one of the few England players mentioned by name

The only interruption to Capello's measured flow came from the flash photography hoping to capture the image that will encapsulate the early days of his era.

Buzz-words and phrases spoke of discipline and organisation. Group. Structure. Rules. Team. Winning mentality.

The Capello creed was spelled out for any players still in any doubt that the days of cringe-inducing nicknames - "JT, "Wazza", "Stevie G" - that earmarked the star-struck McClaren era have been well and truly swept away by this new broom.

Players were barely mentioned by name, apart from Steven Gerrard, who gets first crack at persuading Capello he is a worthy long-term captain.

Capello's message was refreshingly stark. Anyone expecting the Italian to stride in accompanied by a fanfare and over-hyped expectations will have been sadly mistaken.

No big ideas. No unrealistic claims.

This is a sample of the Capello philosophy: "I want to create a group mentality and more importantly a way of moving up the pitch that reflects my ideas about football."

The nation is cautious after initially greeting Sven-Goran Eriksson as a messiah who was going to re-invent our game with his imported ideas. The nation is also hurting, not to mention highly-cynical, after the farce of the failed McClaren era.

Capello is the perfect antidote - although his grim reality and cautious message is a reminder that he is untested at international level.

He has already tapped into the feeling that England's followers have had enough of words, empty gestures, well-rehearsed soundbites and false promises.

Capello was serious and exuded realism from every pore. It was an under-stated but impressive performance - now the reality will start to bite.

England build-up in photos
05 Feb 08 |  Internationals
Capello names Gerrard as captain
05 Feb 08 |  Internationals
Wright-Phillips fit for England
05 Feb 08 |  Internationals
Beckham accepts England omission
05 Feb 08 |  Internationals
Defoe called up to England squad
04 Feb 08 |  Internationals
Beckham left out of England squad
31 Jan 08 |  Internationals
Capello gives Pearce coaching job
30 Jan 08 |  Internationals
Capello's backroom boys
14 Dec 07 |  Internationals
Who is Fabio Capello?
14 Dec 07 |  Internationals
Capello named new England manager
14 Dec 07 |  Internationals


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | Olympics 2012 | Other Sport...

Video and Audio | Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | TV/Radio Schedule

Fun and Games | Question of Sport | Photo Galleries

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us | Advertise with us