Sidelined Capellono longer felt will to fight on
When Fabio Capello returned to his office inside Wembley Stadium at around 3.30 on Wednesday, after his 50-minute meeting with Football Association chairman David Bernstein and general secretary Alex Horne, his mind was made up. He was going to quit as England manager.
The previous hour, in which Bernstein, armed with a professionally-translated transcript of the interview Capello had given to the Italian state broadcaster 'Rai' on Sunday evening, had questioned the manager about the "conjecture" and "unsatisfactory situation" it had created. "It was a detailed meeting with questions and answers from us," Bernstein said yesterday with just one or two questions being asked back by a clearly angry, although calm, Capello.
The meeting did not go well. At the heart of the problem was a huge difference of opinion which is not quite as simple as Capello saying he wanted John Terry to remain as England captain and Bernstein insisting, correctly, that he and the FA board had the power to remove the defender from the role while a court case was pending amid the accusation that he racially abused a black player.
It's been said that Capello was in some way "bewitched" by the idea that Terry should remain as captain; that having restored the defender he was determined to keep him come what may. But, as Capello sat at his desk, and then telephoned his son, Piefilippo, who is also his lawyer, back in Milan, it came down to a simple point, for him, of principle. It wasn't about Terry.
But it was the manner in which Terry had been deposed which had upset him. By removing Capello, who was out of the country that week, from the decision-making process, as Bernstein had deliberately done, immediately after Terry's court case had been put back until after Euro 2012, the manager felt he had been delivered a simple message: he wasn't wanted. It seems, indeed, that Capello might well have accepted the decision to strip Terry of the arm-band if he had been consulted from the start.
Therefore, for a man who thinks in very defined, absolute terms it wasn't the decision itself -- although he would have argued against it, before accepting it -- but the fact that he felt he had been totally excluded from the decision that mattered. Once he had reached that conclusion, once it was clear that neither he nor Bernstein were prepared to cede any ground in their position, his decision was made.
For Capello, he was undermined. If it was Terry now -- then where would it stop? He had become increasingly isolated at the FA and there were certainly fewer and fewer allies around the organisation -- especially since the departure of general manager Franco Baldini who has become chief executive of Roma -- while the manager also suffered from the familiar problem of someone who is entering the final months of his contract. Everyone knew he was going anyway.
Just a few days ago those close to Capello were insisting that yes, he was angry but that he was also focused on the Euros and that he was a fighter and fighters don't quit. But fighters also only fight if they feel they have something worth fighting for.
Sensing, rightly or wrongly, and Bernstein insisted yesterday wrongly, that he was no longer wanted Capello concluded it was therefore time to go now -- and it must be remembered by all of those claiming he hung on after the World Cup when he wasn't wanted that he had informed the FA that he would go if that was the case.
The FA would not divulge whether there was a pay-off or a confidentiality agreement as part of Capello's departure although it did appear that both sides were monitoring each other closely, suggesting that not everything has been decided.
By 6.30, Capello felt able to leave. He shook Bernstein's hand and, for the last time, took his FA chauffeur-driven car back to his Belgravia home which he left before dawn yesterday to head back to Switzerland with his wife, Laura.
"I don't know what was in his mind when he resigned," Bernstein admitted. "The lengthy conversations we had had... quite what effect those had had on him and quite what was going on in his thought processes to make him resign, I don't know."
Maybe, as some players have complained of Capello, it was another issue lost in translation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)