FOX Soccer’s lead analyst reflects on the latest news in and around English soccer.
Fabio Capello’s resignation took English football by surprise on Wednesday, and I certainly was not alone in being blindsided when he walked away from the England job. While we had heard rumblings Capello was not happy after the FA took the armband from John Terry, I don’t think anybody thought the situation would come to a head so quickly. Now only four months before the start of a major tournament, England is looking for a new manager. Obviously, this wasn’t the plan.
It’s easy to see why Capello was disappointed by the way the Football Association handled the situation, with his voice not carrying enough weight in the discussion. It wasn’t so long ago that Capello gave back the armband to John Terry, who was Capello’s clear choice to captain the team, and it’s understandable he wouldn’t want another leadership change.
Since the FA’s decision, Capello was quoted saying that he "disagreed" with the FA, so he was obviously upset about the situation he was put in. Given how well things had been going on the field, it’s understandable the manager was upset his team had been destabilized. Ultimately, you can see why he felt he had to walk away.
Moving forward, the most important thing for England was to find somebody to steady the ship. The team has just lost its manager and its captain, so leadership and stability are going to be important.
The FA decided that the man to take charge of the Holland friendly is Stuart Pearce. Stuart is a colleague. I did my coaching qualifications and pro licensing with him, and if anybody is up to the task, it’s Stuart. He’s highly respected by all the players, and just as he did as a player, he will give the job his all.
People are sure to question his experience, but he’s been with England’s U-21s for a while now. Perhaps as important, he has the respect of everybody close to the team, including the players. Fabio Capello thought very highly of Stuart as a prospective replacement, as does Sir Trevor Brooking. Were the permanent position go to Pearce, the team would be in good hands.
But for now, as far as naming a permanent replacement is concerned, it’s important not to give in to any knee-jerk reactions. Now that Capello has left, the FA has a chance to wait, assess, see how everything unfolds, and then make the right choice.
It’s a huge decision, and there’s no need to rush. England can make it through the Holland match with Stuart in charge. It’s more important to some to make a good decision than to rush somebody into the job for the sake of that match. The FA needs to take stock, look at the team and who they can get in, and go from there.
Since Capello was due to leave the job this summer, it’s safe to assume the FA has been considering replacements for some time. The transition to a new manager had to be on their minds, and I’m sure there’s a plan. Now the plan has to be moved up, but the principles remain the same. Whether it was this summer or now, the FA was going to be looking for the right man for the job. The only difference is the plan needs to go into effect today, not this summer.
Of course, people are going to talk about Harry Redknapp. It’s been a difficult few weeks off the field for the Spurs boss, who was cleared of tax evasion charges on Wednesday. I’m sure the rumble behind the Redknapp-for-England campaign will grow. The man has a phenomenal Premier League record, and if the talked-about team of Harry, Stuart and somebody like Alan Shearer were in place, England would have a strong basis from which to move forward.
But right now, it’s still early days. After Wednesday’s surprising news, England needs to get its footing. The FA needs to stabilize and get to a place where it can make the right choice, not a rushed one.