Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Capello's Folly: WAGs Welcome in England Camp

Lamest idea of the week. No question. Maybe a World Cup-turning decision.

Mario Capello, England's heretofore no-nonsense coach who last year had made clear that his players would have very limited time with WAGs -- the infamous "Wives And Girlfriends" -- has changed his mind.

Capello now says the WAGs are all right.

What a horrible decision.

England already is the most distracted team in the world. No. Really. Because on top of the usual pressure to win the World Cup, it adds the scary brew of ...

--The world's most voracious tabloid media. These guys love love love the WAGs. And the WAGs love them, too. But it has nothing to do with soccer. Which automatically makes it bad for a soccer team.

--This is now a real distraction. As it was in 2006, when (far as I can tell) the term WAGs became popular. Players need to focus on matches. Not on their girlfriends' demands or complaints or relatives.

--Capello just blinked. He was the Vince Lombardi of soccer ... but suddenly he went all Sven-Goran Ericksson on us -- Sven-Goran being the coach who allowed the WAGs to turn the England camp in Baden-Baden to turn into "a circus" in 2006.

I don't get this. Why the reversal? The players seemed to have come to grips with his original decision. They might even have been happy about it (but would never tell their own WOG -- wife or girlfriend).

Now, the 2010 World Cup could again become about the hangers on.

Capello apparently chatted with coaches, including Marcello Lippi (coach of the 2006 champs from Italy), guys who don't have the same approach to the game as he does, and they apparently convinced him the players' happiness was critical. And they are happy when the WAGs are around, he seems to think.

I beg to differ.

Capello's original plan of access to players only on the days after matches ... was perfect. A break from the grind of the World Cup. But not a lasting distraction. Just right.

He apparently has not made clear how much more access the WAGs will have ... but it's more than they were going to have.

Oh, and if you followed that link, click on the link to "In Pictures" ... and you will get an idea of what the 2006 World Cup was like. With the often silly wives and girlfriends of often silly footballers becoming as big a story as the team.


It's not too late for Capello to change his mind again. Maybe he will sense all of England cringing at the decision and go back to the one-day-per-match decision.

The man who was the Iron Hand of English soccer ... just went limp. He went squishy. Which is not what he does ... but he just did it.

Mark it down as the first time the Three Lions "blinked" at the 2010 World Cup. We're guessing it won't be the last, what with the WAGs now in tow.
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