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The idea that people wishing to live and work in England, need to speak ‘the Queen’s’ is about as outdated as Manchester City’s trophy cabinet.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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9 responses to “Call Me Racist But It’s Just Not Acceptable”

  1. I think I've found you a Genius says:

    Fair article Justin! I think in laymen’s terms the use of a common communication between groups of people evokes passion especially where team spirit and camaraderie is such an integral part of being successful. This is where, unfortunately, Capello fails miserably.

    Sorry to be pedantic Justin but seen as you have been referring to the Queens English during the article your use of “Capello should have learned English by now” is a little hypocritical. The use of the word “learned” is not incorrect by any means and is a correct (or widely accepted) past tense and past participle of the verb “learn” but it would be fair to suggest that its use is more of an Americanism whereas “learnt” would be perceived as more in kind to “Queens English”. Again, sorry Justin, just in one of those moods today (God help my staff this morning!)

    • Justin Mottershead says:

      Ha ha! It’s a fair point, that’s been duly corrected- I did actually have ‘learnt’ but allowed my spell correct to get the better of me. It’s obviously American as these things often are.

  2. will says:

    i agree someone in his position should have learnt the language but i find the english attitude to it ridiculous and hypocritical. i know a lot of english people who have lived in spain for example and know nothing more than hello, please and beer, yet kick off that people can’t speak english in england
    and learnt/learned are neither english english or american english, it’s just learnt is spelt more like it sounds so is more commonly used, both perfectly grammatically correct. ask the queen, i’m sure she’ll agree

    • Justin Mottershead says:

      The point I was making is that it’s fine to live in a foreign country without speaking their language, or to reside here in the UK without speaking English, but if you’re the England manager then I think, to be frank it’s absurd.

  3. bruce thomas says:

    Both are not perfectly gramatically correct.

    Context: Once you have “learned” the language, then the language has been “learnt” by you.

  4. Rob B says:

    I was all for Capello’s appointment after McClarens tenure. His track record is second to none. But there’s no doubt in my mind that his blatant decision to not learn the language of the national team he manages shows him for what he really is. Arrogant and a complete disregard for communication. Managing high profile players isn’t just about saying “4-4-2 this, mark x and y at corners”..its about psychology, and also connecting with the players..making them run through brick walls for you. Maybe as a technical Italian he believes that that is unnecessary? After all these years in the job he should at the very least be able to have a conversation about most subject matters with his staff and players. It is a failing on him to believe he can get by with just 100 words of our language. Time to go.

  5. Shaun says:

    I reckon you lads are massively wrong here. It’s obvious that Capello has more than 100 words in his vocabulary, as he has shown in interviews and press conferences. He’s saying that talking to footballers about football doesn’t need more than 100 words. I don’t think he’s counting and, or, the etc, he’s saying that a footballing vocabulary doesn’t need to be ridiculous.

    Do you really think that if he needs to say something he doesn’t know how? Do you think his assistant can’t help out with some of the words if he was stuck during a game? He’s used about 35 words in the two paragraphs you quoted alone, do you really think he only has another 65 words of language?

    Try naming 100 football related words, I bet by the end things are pretty tenuous.

    I think people are happy to misquote him when it suits them, which is sad really.

    • Justin Mottershead says:

      I’ve not misquoted anyone, the 100 words statement is exactly what he said. I understand that he will have more than 100 words in his vocabulary but the point is he doesn’t have a full grasp of the English language after 3 years of being England manager!!! It’s just not good enough. I’m sorry but even if he was missing one word that would be of use, then that’s still one word too many.

  6. rg.nadal says:

    Interesting article and well-written. Landed on this page while I was looking for an article on the Rooney-Racist-Rant (RRR).