What does English football win? Sweet FA

They thought they had sorted out a mess, but ended up losing face as well as one of the most successful managers in the game. Hugo O’Doherty discusses how this is standard FA stuff.

With the less-than-shocking news that the Fabio Capello era is no more, the English FA has appeared to start 2012 – a tournament year – in just about the worst possible way. But this is not the start of something, rather the result of a bizarre 2011 filled with the kind of begrudgery and public relations disasters that make England fans wince and non-England fans hold together their sides for fear that they may split. It’s pantomime stuff.

Since this time last year the FA has:

  1. Made a pathetic bid to gain the rights to host the 2018 World Cup, the aftermath of which revealed a dormant bitterness towards pretty much everyone and everything in the game.
  2. Generated a series of idiotic and politically naive attacks on Sepp Blatter at the FIFA Executive Committee meeting and afterwards. (This should not be seen as a defence of Mr. Blatter by GrannyKiller).
  3. Gone on a begging mission to have Wayne Rooney’s three-match ban for blatantly kicking Montenegrin Miodrag Dzudovic reduced and, in doing so, revealing that, while not a one-man team, England pretty much have a one-man forward line.
  4. Embarked on an extraordinary quest for the team to be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts in a friendly against Spain, simultaneously roping in Prince William and David Cameron – two men who personify what Middle England aspires to be – as they managed to make a public political debacle out of something that ought to be a private choice.
  5. Removed the captaincy of the team from John Terry – undermining the wishes of the manager, to whom they paid a lot of money to make these sorts of decisions himself, ultimately resulting in his resignation.

Former England manager Fabio Capello

The FA’s argument for the last point is that it was Capello, and not the FA, who undermined the other party’s authority when the now ex-England manager gave a forthright interview to Italian media saying that he disagreed with the Terry decision. But this leaves only one rational explanation – the FA and Capello did not have any direct contact, let alone a face-to-face meeting, before Terry was stripped of the captaincy. Instead they had a meeting yesterday. It is astonishing to think that they met only after the decision had been reached and that there was no agreed coordinated media strategy to minimise the publicity damage that the whole affair would no doubt create.

The FA will point to a lack of respect on the part of Capello but, as in all walks of life, respect is a commodity that is earned. Given the series of blunders outlined above, why should Capello, the players, the England fans and the media give anything more than a modicum of grudging respect to an organisation that undermines them so much?

There is an intellectual connection between the poppy ordeal and the Terry case in the sense that the FA half-assed it while attempting a misguided publicity strategy. The concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is a good template for any society, but if the Terry case occurred in any other workplace the accused would have been temporarily suspended until it was all resolved. This does not equate to judging someone as guilty before trial, nor does it undermine the seriousness of the accusation. It is standard procedure.

Our crystal ball is looking pretty clear. ‘Arry will be welcomed as the Knight in shining armour, coming to save the team – no, the country – from the abyss

Applying this logic, Terry should have been temporarily suspended pending the outcome of the trial or allowed to continue to be made available in his current role as player and captain. The FA, fresh from the Suarez fiasco and the residual animosity it created, wanted to be seen to be doing something against racism, even if it wasn’t the right thing. Either Terry should have been treated the same as anyone in the squad – and therefore be eligible to be captain – or told he wouldn’t be picked until the court case was resolved. Instead, the FA came up with this half-baked solution that would allow it to have its cake and eat it: England would still have the benefit of Terry’s undoubted talent, it would be seen as acting against racism, and they would still have one of the most successful managers in football history as they head into a major tournament.

As it turned out, Terry’s involvement is surely in question given the now escalated situation, any anti-racism element is entirely and obviously superficial. Come June, Fabio Capello will be cheering on his native Azzurri from the comfort of his home in Northern Italy.

Our crystal ball is looking pretty clear. ‘Arry will be welcomed as the knight in shining armour, coming to save the team – no, the country – from the abyss. Brave Scotty Parker will be thrown the captain’s armband. “England’s Lion”™ John Terry, if picked, will score the goal that gets them through the group stage before a dodgy refereeing decision will be used as a scapegoat when they go out, on penalties, in the quarter-final. We’ve seen the trailer many times before, but this time we’re bringing popcorn.

Fabio Capello condemns FA decision to strip John Terry of captaincy

The England football manager hunt lexicon:

‘Not passionate enough’ = Not English enough

‘Doesn’t show commitment’ = Not English enough

‘Someone who plays the English way’ = any deviation from 4-4-2 is ipso facto the wrong way

‘Someone who can squeeze the last out of the golden generation’ = do you think Scholes would come out of international retirement? Beckham? Anyone?


One comment on “What does English football win? Sweet FA

  1. Pingback: What does English football win? Sweet FA | Hugo O'Doherty

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2012 by in Hugo O'Doherty, Sport and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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