Saturday 25 January 2020

Index-linked Capello may fall or rise at whim of press gang

Dion Fanning

T he last thing the beleaguered English footballer needed was the Capello Index. He has, of course, enough indices out there determined to make him feel beleaguered without trying to absorb one more with the England manager's name on it.

The Capello Index is a "performance-analysis resource" that was linked to a gaming website on which fans would pay £199 for the chance to win £1,600.

There are 105 different criteria used in coming up with the ratings, a slightly more sophisticated method than some previously employed, but if David James, to take just a random example, was to come in with a rating of 12.34 (out of 100) after he threw in one or two against the USA, he might come to the conclusion that the world was against him.

Capello and his associates would not be the first to recognise that when it comes to betting and the World Cup we are desperate for all the performance-analysis resources we can get.

In these hard times, when the money-lenders are back on tv, offering money at the competitive rate of 2,356 per cent apr, online gambling can almost be said to be offering a public service, especially if the England manager is involved.

Capello put his name to the index, providing the criteria for the rating system and also providing the first bit of traction for a scandal surrounding him since he took the job, given that nobody was interested in his right-wing views or his labelling as an "adventurous eater".

This was the man who once spoke fondly of Spain saying it combined "Latin warmth and creativity regulated by a rigorous order. The order which comes from Franco". Franco was, in fact, dead for nearly 40 years when Capello said that but it was instructive to note the weight he gave to a strong role model, even a dead one, a position he could be said to have taken this year when he took the captaincy away from John Terry on grounds not yet covered by the Capello Index.

The old indices took care of Terry and when they had the opportunity to hammer Fabio last week, they did so. The traditional media will not be abandoning their indices just because Capello has established one with, as he would say himself, a "rigorous order". Theirs may be less scientific but it is tried and trusted.They will be content that, what they lose in collected data is adequately compensated for in passion and a deep, deep concern for the English game.

It was, the media felt, completely wrong that the England players could return to their hotel two hours after the game, go online, tweet and then check their rating under the formula Capello used.

Capello said the index would not recognise the psychological aspect of players, a concession at least to the old world order which has often taken upon itself to rattle the equilibrium of players and managers.

Players are famously mistrustful of player ratings which, as a performance-analysis resource, have a strong impact on the psychology of the player, even if the composition of them can be, at times, quite random.

I know of one journalist who received a call from a Premier League player wondering how he could have been given 5/10 as he had an outstanding second half. My friend was a Sunday journalist who had been writing a match report as well as doing the ratings which, when working to the early deadlines, means you don't get to see the second half, let alone give a considered performance analysis. Of course he could not say this to the player.Instead he mumbled something about an oversight and the mutual distrust and paranoia deepened.

The newspapers will insist that there "is no bigger fan of England" than the newspaper and the writers themselves. This is the standard position all of us who cover international football have to take even if it makes little sense and nobody believes it anyway.

Capello, despite the regime of discipline he has brought, would have hoped to have been less mistrusted than the press by his players, even if he is equally feared. The press were quick to point out that his index jeopardised this position of trust while equally destabilising their own territory of mistrust.

On Monday, he spoke of how his index could help his relationship with the players. "Sometimes you play well, sometimes you don't," he said. "It's good. It will be easy to speak with some players and say 'your index is no good'."

At that time, the index for Owen Hargreaves can't have been that promising. Capello was said to be considering taking the player after he played 53 seconds of first team football, a decision which would have left many pining for the rigorous order of Sven-Goran Eriksson's time.

The inclusion of Jamie Carragher, a player who had many reasons not to go to the World Cup with England, was also barely touched on. These reasons included, in no particular order, his poor season for Liverpool and the understandable impression he has often given that he does not consider himself English, sharing the mentality with most right-thinking people on Merseyside who are now being asked to consider the arrival of another foreign coach, Roy Hodgson.

Carragher is in the squad for now but Paul Scholes has elected to spend more time with his family, or even other people's families given that he has decided to coach kids in Florida for the summer.

Capello was said to have been weakened last week but, to my mind, he revealed his weakness when he sacrificed Terry. The rest is now beyond his control. It will be revealed to him when others decide he hasn't gone far enough or else too far. They have hundreds of criteria too and they have no problem sharing their data.

Sunday Independent

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