England manager Fabio Capello has faced a national backlash following England’s dreadful performance this summer in South Africa but the media abuse of the Italian has started to get out of hand. The Sun have been the chief architects in the war against Capello with the tabloid running the recent headline of “Jackass” to describe Capello’s decision to drop Jack Wilshere for England’s European qualifiers this month. The article written by chief football writer Shaun Custis is relentless in its attack on Capello, referring to the Italian as ‘gormless’, ‘a silly ass’ and a ‘donkey’.
The inflammatory headlines spouted by The Sun in their childish attempt to oust Capello is deplorable to say the least. What the editors at The Sun fail to realise is that their sustained assault on Capello is tantamount to playground bullying. They should be ashamed of their actions. The newspaper is sending out a very dangerous message that name-calling and bullying is acceptable when it quite clearly isn’t.
Fine, you can have a go at Capello’s tactics, his stubbornness or his man-management skills but to descend into an all-out character assassination is in my opinion, wholly unacceptable.
Football is without doubt a fickle business and the tabloids are fully in tune with this fact. When England were winning, they were the first to sing Capello’s praises; hailing his new era of discipline following the free reign given to the players under Steve McClaren and Sven Goran Eriksson. They were the ones praising England as they romped to World Cup qualification in free-scoring fashion but once things started going wrong, they were quick to jump on the Italian’s back.
The media were quick to lay the blame for England’s World Cup performance squarely at Capello’s feet. After all, how could he fail with our so-called ‘golden generation’ of players reaching the peak of their careers? But the players have to look at themselves as being largely responsible for our poor showing in South Africa.
While Capello may have been unbending in his formation selection, he was undermined by the egotism of senior members of the squad as player power reared its ugly head once again. There was the instance where John Terry attempted a remarkable coup against the Italian, saying that the players were unhappy with the manager’s tactics. Terry’s revolt was stopped dead in its tracks after none of his fellow players backed up his claims.
The performances of the players did Capello no favours as almost all of our players were beyond awful in the World Cup. John Terry was caught out on many occasions, most notably against Germany when he let a Manuel Neuer goal kick bounce over his head for Miroslav Klose to score. Wayne Rooney was atrocious in South Africa, failing to make an impact in any of England’s games and has carried over his insipid form into the season for Manchester United as he has failed to shake off his World Cup hangover.
The players were able to get off largely scot-free for their role in England’s woeful World Cup performances because they always have club football to rely on. The players slipped back to their clubs where they are revered by their respective fans and all has been forgotten as international disappointment has given way to the excitement of the domestic season.
Capello is afforded no such luxury. He is conspicuous in his role as England manager, be it in the director’s box watching players for his future squads or dominating the column inches on the back pages of our nation’s newspapers.
Whether we like it or not, Fabio Capello is here to stay- for two more years at least. As England fans, we surely want our national team to do the best that it can. But by slandering Capello’s name, we are ensuring that we don’t succeed by distracting from actually improving as a team. Maybe that is The Sun’s agenda. They want to see England fail so that they can see Capello out. If that is the case, then we have really reached a new low in sports journalism.
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