Fabio Capello awoke on Thursday morning free of the shackles that he believed were holding him down in his attempts to add the European Championship to his already bursting trophy cabinet. After quitting as England manager, where does one of Calcio‘s greatest coaches go now?
The news of Capello’s resignation on Wednesday night was one of the most shocking and sensational football stories in years. Even at San Siro, whilst a Coppa Italia semi-final was taking place between Milan and Juventus, the press-box was buzzing as journalists spoke not of the battle in front of them, but rather a war that has happening exactly 804 miles away at Wembley stadium. As the days pass, differing stories will emerge. FA chairman David Bernstein said on Thursday afternoon: ‘There are moments when the board and the chairman have to step up to the plate and strong leadership is required.’ Yet the spark that caused the fire within FA headquarters, stripping John Terry of the England captaincy without consulting the team manager first, was something the decorated Italian couldn’t accept. In his first statement since resigning, Capello was true to himself and his beliefs, stating ‘I acted the way I always have in football. I cannot permit interference from the FA in my work. I have always been clear who should manage the team and the dressing room.’
Perhaps the saddest thing regarding Capello’s departure is the damage done to a reputation that stands up to the best. His record in Italy and Spain doesn’t need repeating, yet whilst his achievements with the three lions (Two qualifications, highest win ratio of any England boss, unbeaten in nine, and a win against Spain) are highly impressive, one thrashing at the hands of an excellent Germany side will be Fabio‘s legacy (at least on the field). So as the 65 year old returns to the peninsula six years after leaving Juventus, there is one bench that could seemingly tempt the wily tactician one final time.
Fabio Capello and Inter have a long history of flirtations with each other and it seems destined to end with a marriage. Although Capello’s greatest achievements were with city rivals Milan, this was a long time ago and won’t figure in any decision Inter president Massimo Moratti will make. Capello was close to joining the Nerazzurri in 2004 but was beaten to the post by Roberto Mancini. Instead, Capello went to Juventus where he was very successful in winning two Serie A titles, even if his achievements are slightly undermined by the Calciopoli scandal that followed in 2006. The tactician was again linked with the Inter bench in 2010 just before the World Cup in South Africa, but Moratti’s approaches were rejected by both the FA and the coach himself, leading to the ill-judged appoitment of Rafa Benitez.
But now in 2012, fate has dictated that Inter and Capello’s paths have crossed in the most surreal of circumstances. Yet the situation on January 15th was very different. Capello had (relatively) recently beaten world champions Spain and was preparing for Euro 2012, whilst Inter had just beaten Milan and were closing in on top spot after a terrible start. Since then, Capello’s situation has been explained, whilst Inter have picked up four points from four games to drop into 5th place. Current coach Ranieri seems unlikely to stay beyond the end of the season barring a miracle Scudetto push, paving the way for Capello to take charge for next season. Luciano Spalletti, former Roma and current Zenit St.Petersburg coach was the only other realistic Inter target and he has just signed a three year contract extension, ruling him out of contention. Moratti himself said the rumours of a move for Capello were ‘groundless’ but didn’t deny he’d be interested in bringing the tactician to San Siro.
Juventus is realistically the only other Italian side Capello would join, not in a coaching capacity but as a director. Former Juve hero Gianluca Vialli believes the Bianconeri would be interested in their former coach, telling Sky Sport Italia: ‘He could go to Turin, but only as a director and not directly affecting the team.’ Whether or not Don Fabio would want to settle down in a back-seat role remains to be seen. The sting of ‘failure’ with England however will surely drive him to one last coaching job, deeming la Vecchia Signora firmly behind Inter in the preferred option.
Wherever Fabio Capello decides to go next, he will be welcomed by most as the successful and decorated coach that he is. The fact the Italian won’t be deemed a success during his time as England coach says more about English football and the FA than it does about the coach himself. After all, he’s won everything there is to win (sometimes twice and thrice over) and in hindsight should never have accepted the job. One last crack at the Scudetto, this time in black and blue could make Capello’s final chapter a happy one.