Monday, September 28, 2009

Fabio Capello: England's Hard Man

Fabio Capello won't be taking any grief from England's players before or during the World Cup, according to Stuart Pearce, an assistant coach.

Capello, England's coach from Italy, already is on record about severely limiting World Cup access to players by "WAGs" -- the English acronym for "wives and girlfriends." WAGs were an ongoing story at the 2006 World Cup, to the detriment of the national side, some believev.

Capello said players and WAGs will be in contact only on the day after World Cup matches, at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Now, Pearce has been quoted as saying Capello will boot from the squad any player found guilty of breaking team rules twice.

This probably is a good idea. The scrutiny of English players is enormous and eternal, with the numerous, competetive and aggressive English media responsible for much of it. But, too, this is a country that invented the game and wonders why it hasn't won a World Cup since 1966.

Keeping English players focused on tasks at hand would seem to be Job 1, and Capello is acting as if he understands that.

Pearce said that players will be warned after their first breach of the rules, and will be gone after the second.

Still, we have to wonder if, say, top scorer Wayne Rooney, will be treated quite as harshly as a lesser member of the squad.

Perhaps so. If nothing else, England's romp through qualifying has given Capello so much credibility, so much coaching capital, that he can threaten ... and probably even carry out those threats ... without great harm to his status.

Perhaps an indication of his current power? Two newspapers issued apologies to Capello for publishing photos of him and his wife taking a mud bath during a vacation in Italy last week. English newspapers generally don't apologize for anything.

Thus, for now, Capello seems to be setting himself up as the hard man of English soccer. The coach who will not be putting up with even the mildest hijinks from the lads.

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