Date: 29th March 2011 at 1:17am
Written by:
Fabio Capello losing the plot?

"Whatsa matter you....."

The idea that people wishing to live and work in England, need to speak ‘the Queen’s’ is about as outdated as Manchester City’s trophy cabinet.

There’s no reason that with the right support you couldn’t spend your entire life in England without learning even as much as a sentence.

However there are certain circumstances where learning the English language is not so much an advantage as more of a necessity. Teaching at a primary school, or perhaps being a doctor, or maybe being a midwife could be circumstances where speaking English to a fairly competent degree is arguably vital. One such  ‘circumstance’ you would expect speaking English to be fundamental is managing the England football team, at least you would think so anyway.

I know that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and John Terry are undoubtedly fluent in Italian, as well as several other languages, but not everyone is as cultured as that trio of cosmopolitans.

Communicating with your team is at least from what I’ve read, a fairly important part of being a football manager. Again I may be well off the mark here but one would think that if someone was paid around£6 million a year to manage a national football team then after three years in the job they’d have grasped the language of that country by now.

The thing that amazes me when it comes to Fabio Capello and the England job is that for anyone who traveled to a country to take on an important role, learning the lingo is a must. If you were a banker or a sales rep and you were got a job working in Italy for say £40k a year would you learn the language? Of course you would, it’s arguably top of the to-do list for most people who work abroad.

Yet for some reason Fabio Capello doesn’t feel it’s as important as I do. The England boss had this to say when it comes to his lack of a full – or dare I say even intermediate level understanding of English.

“I think when I speak with the players they understand everything. I think in this job, it’s important when you speak with the players. If I need to speak about the economy or other things, I can’t speak.

“But when you speak about tactics, you don’t use a lot of words. I don’t have to speak about a lot of different things. Maximum 100 words.”

Perhaps some of the words Fabio could do with learning would be “Rio I’m taking the captaincy off you, Gareth are you sure you’re fit to play against Germany, Robert make sure you concentrate fully, Paul is there any chance you could come out of retirement please, Wes are you still available for England?”

The England boss’s lack of proper communication with his players has become a source of concern for many in the media  and isn’t helped by his penchant for suddenly becoming confused or lacking in English when faced with difficult questions.  

The Italian seems to revert to broken English when the press conferences get a little bit uncomfortable and he’s not helped by the fact his statements have often been contradictory. “Injured players won’t be going to the World Cup,” ditto “ones not playing regularly,” are just two comments the England manager has made which have turned out to be nonsense.

Then there’s been the whole captaincy saga, which only became a ‘saga’ because Capello made it into one. Even now after months, weeks and days of on/off problems surrounding his choice of skipper there’s still ambiguity about his actions. He tells the press he didn’t call Rio because he wanted to speak to him face to face, yet calling Gerrard was fine, how do we know this? Gerrard tells the press in an interview that’s how.

It seems Capello’s lack of English is hindering him in the two places he cannot hide- his dealings with the press and the statements his players make.

We’ve already seen John Terry leave Capello looking like a manager losing his grip during the holiday in South Africa which was billed by some in the media as England’s attempt at winning the World Cup.

Capello should have learnt English by now, as dealing with the media properly is a fundamental part of the England manager’s job. The country need to know the “who why where when and how” behind some of his decisions, never mind that the players need that basic information as well. Yet three years since he was handed the biggest contract in international football -and a year after it was extended beyond the bounds of wisdom- Capello’s English is no better than a three year-olds- or a fully grown person from the North East.

The fact that he’s having to defend it now and claiming that a mere “100 words” in English is enough to coach the national side and explain tactics and give motivational team talks would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.

Although the argument about “people coming over here need to speak English” is as outdated as it is erroneous, call me racist but when it comes to the England manager’s job- I’m afraid it’s valid.

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