As England get set to play Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday a large section of the UK media will be sharpening its knives ready to plunge them into Fabio Capello. There is a sizeable majority of the media who would be only too pleased to see England lose to Bulgaria as it would ensure his immediate dismissal and the installation of a more media-friendly English manager called Harry.
These journos write to an agenda so no matter what happens in the game it can be portrayed as yet another example of Capello being hapless.
If England plays well and wins it will reported as all being down to the players. Last month’s win against Hungary was said to Gerrard digging Capello of out a hole. The Capello haters won’t accept that he can do anything right now. Whatever he does it will be seen as wrong. The wrong players, the wrong tactics. Wrong everything.
This is easy to do because under no manager has England ever played well all the time nor have they been successful and this likely to continue, so there is plenty of opportunity to bash Capello regardless of his own culpability for the football played.
This always happens to England managers sooner or later and once the tide turns it rarely stops until it has washed the manager away into the history books. The only exception was Bobby Robson who suffered a four year-long campaign of abuse from the British press but stuck it out to emerge a hero and for all his critics to later sing his praises in some of the worst examples of stinking hypocrisy ever seen.
The unreasonable nature of this criticism makes the more sane, less hysterical amongst us want to defend Capello. After all, we know he can mastermind a qualification campaign. He was damn good at that. So it seems a safe bet that he’s got as good a chance to get the team qualified for Euro 2012.
We also know that it is possible to learn from mistakes so he could well be a better manager at 2012 than in 2010. But learning from mistakes doesn’t seem to be a concept that the British press and its more slavish acolytes are familiar with. It’s either all wrong or all right for them. You’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus.
He has no capital to draw on now. One bad performance, one bad result and the pressure for his dismissal will be deafening, regardless as to whether it is the right thing to do or not. Scores are waiting to be settled. Many in the press have never liked him and the way he – as they see it – disrespects them. That’s why we see him in The Sun mocked up with donkey ears.
The players know this too and it’s likely that the idea that a bad performance might remove him sooner rather than later has crossed their minds.
This is all such an unhealthy situation and it’s hard to see it ending well for Capello or for England. A couple of good wins and good performances are essential to restore belief and to knock down the anti-Capello press. But those same critics will lie in wait and will be back to get him on another occasion. Failure to deliver two wins could be the end for him by Wednesday morning.
The Jackals are circling and one day, probably in the not too distant future, they will have their day.