Sport Soccer

Thursday 22 February 2018

Fabio Capello claims England departure 'wasn't an escape' but the result of a misunderstanding

In the picture: Harry Redknapp is ready to help England at Euro 2012. Photo: Getty Images
In the picture: Harry Redknapp is ready to help England at Euro 2012. Photo: Getty Images

Henry Winter

FABIO Capello has told an Italian TV programme that his resignation from then England manager's job "wasn't an escape" but, rather, was the result of a misunderstanding surrounding the decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy.

Earlier Harry Rednapp had declared that he was interested in the job and flattered by the speculation.

Speaking to a light-hearted Italian TV show, due to be aired on Friday night, Capello, the former AC Milan, Read Madrid and Juventus coach also explained that he has no intention of returning to work in Italy.

"I didn't flee, I left because there was a misunderstanding," he told Striscia la Notizia.

"I felt great but sometimes you decide to leave."

Capello quit as England manager on Wednesday following a meeting with the Football Association, a day after he had given an interview to Italian public TV in which he criticised his employers' decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy due to allegations he used racist language.

When asked if he would consider a return to work in Italy – he has been linked in the Italian press with a move to Inter Milan – Capello was adamant.

In Italy, no. Absolutely not. Now I want to relax," he added.

Speaking in Lugano, Switzerland, Capello was even asked what Queen Elizabeth II thought of the matter. "The Queen is above it all," he said.

Harry Redknapp earlier admitted for the first time since Capello resigned that he would consider taking on the role, though appeared to rule out the prospect of job sharing with Tottenham for the rest of the season.

Speaking at Tottenham Hotspur's pre-match press conference ahead of their match with Newcastle United, Redknapp also revealed that the FA had yet to make any approach to him either formally or informally.

Redknapp is the clear favourite of England fans and press to succeed Capello, and he admitted he was flattered by being the 'people's choice'.

"Of course it's nice if people put me in a position where they think I've a chance of the [England] job. Some managers have come out and said nice things and I appreciate it.

"When you go through something like this you find out who your friends are."

"It's difficult one [managing England and Tottenham]. It's hard enough managing a league club let alone your country at the same time.

Earlier, Harry Redknapp said he was interested in taking charge of England for this summer’s European Championships but the FA will have to persuade him to lead the team into the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

A four-man FA group meets at Wembley today to begin drawing up the shortest of shortlists to find a successor to Fabio Capello, with the Tottenham Hotspur manager as the No 1 candidate.

The clamour for Redknapp to guide England into Poland and Ukraine is becoming deafening, the noise intensified by supporters – and increasingly players – who have been tweeting their desire for Harry Hotspur to answer his country’s call.

Agreeing to do the job initially only for this summer, including the warm-ups against Norway and Belgium, would be a shrewd move by Redknapp.

It would ensure his avoiding the grief that stalks England managers during tournaments. It would keep his stock high, seeing him hailed as the man who accepted the most difficult of rescue missions.

Just call him “Redknapp Adair”. It would also keep open the attractive option of steering Spurs on another Champions League adventure.

Redknapp insisted on Thursday that he was focused fully on Spurs.

“Tottenham have been fantastic and it wouldn’t be right to focus on anything other than them,” he said. “I have not thought about England. The FA will make whatever decision they want to make and, hopefully, it will be right for the country.”

Redknapp is in a win-win situation, a point sure to be put to him at this morning’s briefing at Spurs Lodge. He is the man of the moment, the manager perceived in possession of the Midas touch.

Even if England slump to their usual dispiriting knockout-stage denouement there will still be a huge desire for Redknapp to remain.

The players want him. The fans want him. An admiring media is hardly going to do a reverse ferret so quickly. A summer love-in is guaranteed.

Unless FA officials can convince him of England’s long-term attractions before the Euros, they will need to spend July sweet-talking Redknapp and then seeking to negotiate a settlement with Spurs.

If Redknapp rejected the FA’s advances to hold their hand down the road to Rio 2014, he would depart with the gratitude of the nation for stepping in to the breach and good wishes for the Champions League. If he accepted, fanfares would emanate from the Wembley rooftops.

What is clear is that Redknapp wants to manage England at the Euros.

The FA accepted on Thursday that the man for Krakow may not necessarily be the man for Rio 2014.

“I would probably draw the distinction between a manager long term and a manager for the tournament,’’ said Alex Horne, the general secretary of the FA. “We have got some flexibility when we consider the options.”

In starting the process of finding Capello’s successor today, Horne will be joined by the FA chairman, David Bernstein, the Club England managing director Adrian Bevington and the FA director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking.

Bernstein acknowledged that the Euro 2012 manager may not be England’s long-term option.

“I would say that is a possibility,’’ said the FA chairman. “I am only talking common sense. We are not prepared to restrict ourselves at this stage.

"He might be English, he might be British, he might not be. He might be for the Euros only, he might be long term. We need to look at all options.’’

Tottenham, for their part, suggested yesterday they will fight for their man, with non-executive director Sir Keith Mills also suggesting a job-share until the summer would be unworkable.

“If he is clearly approached then Harry has a big decision to make.” he said.

“I know he loves the club. He’s managing a top three team in the biggest league. Clearly it’s not an ideal scenario and trying to do two jobs is a stretch for anyone.”

Even so, all indications point to Redknapp. “We want to make an appointment that the public are positive about and that excites the fans but we can’t be driven by that,’’ said Bernstein.

“If you only have one candidate, then it makes a very difficult situation indeed when negotiating.’’

Everyone thinks it will be Redknapp. “We understand the feeling of the nation and supporters,’’ said Horne.

“Fans are very important when it comes to choosing the right person for the job. But we have to look long-term and give ourselves as many options as are available.’’

Bernstein admitted that the FA days of spend, spend, spend on overseas managers are over. “Clearly there have been large amounts of money involved,” Bernstein admitted of the £50 million-plus lavished on Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson.

“We should [in the future] pay a sensible amount of money for the right person.

"We are not going to do anything on the cheap. We will pay the proper market rate for the right person for the job.’’

England’s power brokers gave an insight into the manager they were chasing, somebody embracing all the national age groups, an area occasionally neglected by Capello.

“We are looking for someone who will have the respect of the players, who has a good track record, hopefully someone that will excite and inspire the fans and we believe can play a really important role at St George’s Park,’’ said Bevington, mentioning the National Football Centre at Burton, which opens this summer.

“We are not looking for someone to set out the whole coaching philosophy for the organisation but someone who can go into the Under-17s dressing-room and explain the importance of international football, someone who can go away with the Under-21s, someone who can be a real motivator to the younger players and send out a message about how important it is to play for England.

"We want someone who can have a good relationship with club managers and coaches. And ultimately we are looking for someone to go and be successful on the pitch – European Championships and World Cup.’’

Many of those characteristics, particularly the patriotism and inspirational qualities, would be associated with Redknapp.

Brooking, who knows Redknapp well, lent perspective.

“Let’s be a bit realistic,’’ said the former England international. “We have gone 46 years without winning something. Let’s not think that whoever comes in is going to suddenly start delivering us titles.”

Major work is required at schoolboy level, developing two-footed, responsibility-taking players. The FA, to its credit, is addressing such flaws, urging counties to adopt small-sided games.

In the most important 11 v 11 combat, the FA needs Redknapp for the Euros and beyond.

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