Fabio Capello saga puts spotlight on World Cup hot seat
As much as Fabio Capello may want to remain England coach, he’s no doubt aware that his fate will be decided as much by the public as by the Football Association officials who’ve told him they need time to decide whether to keep him.
That’s the way it is at the World Cup. Win and you’re a hero. Lose and you’re out of a job — whether that’s because you don’t want the pressure anymore or you get fired.
The coaches of the five African teams eliminated in the first round, including South Africa’s veteran Brazilian manager, Carlos Alberto Parreira, have either already quit or have their positions under review.
Sven-Goran Eriksson, who only had three months in charge at Ivory Coast, said he was only on a contract for the World Cup. He could probably offer Capello some advice — after all, the Swede agreed to resign as English coach in 2006 despite guiding the Three Lions to the quarterfinals at the World Cup and the European Championship.
While the English media went into overdrive Monday in its criticism of the current team and coach, bookmakers were taking wagers on the likelihood of Capello being fired before the July 11 World Cup final. Capello announced after England’s 4-1 second-round loss to Germany on Sunday that he “absolutely” wanted to fulfill a contract that runs up to the 2012 European Championship.
He met with FA board member Dave Richards, who told Capello he’d get a decision on his future in two weeks.
“At the moment, no one is betting that he can see the tournament out, let alone the year,” said Graham Sharpe, a spokesman for gambling firm William Hill.
Before the World Cup, Capello was touted as the kind of strict disciplinarian that England’s star players needed to harmonize into a winning combination. He improved his resume with nine wins in 10 qualifying matches. Now he’s in limbo.
Several coaches with World Cup experience were aware of the no-win situation for underperforming coaches and announced before the tournament that they’d be stepping down regardless of results in South Africa.
That saved the Italian and French federations having to fire Marcello Lippi and Raymond Domenech — opposing coaches in the 2006 final — after horrendous first-round exits. France’s debacle prompted a government review. Lippi’s Italians, winners in 2006, returned to taunts of “Shame on you” in Rome this time.
“When something like this happens, it’s always the leader’s fault,” Lippi said. “I thought I played an important role when the team won, so it’s only fair to have had just as big an impact in this failure.”
Pim Verbeek left the Australian job for Morocco with debate raging Down Under over his tactics in an opening loss to Germany, despite the subsequent draw with Ghana and win over Serbia. New Zealand finished a point less than Australia in another group, but coach Ricki Herbert was feted as a national hero for guiding the Kiwis in three unbeaten matches (they were all ties).
Javier Aguirre said before the World Cup that he’d consider jobs in Europe after the tournament, but backed down amid a rush of criticism about his commitment to the Mexican team. After Mexico’s second-round loss to Argentina, he’s expected to look for a club contract. U.S. coach Bob Bradley didn’t want to discuss his future after an extra-time, second-round loss to Ghana, the only African team still in the tournament.
While Diego Maradona has shrugged off most of the pre-Cup criticism of his coaching methods in qualifying by guiding Argentina to four straight wins and is already telling his critics to hang their heads in shame, Vicente Del Bosque is still very much in the hot seat after taking over a European Championship-winning Spain.
Spain won 25 of 26 internationals after Del Bosque replaced Luis Aragones following Spain’s victory at Euro 2008, but opened the World Cup with its first ever loss to Switzerland, a dent to its early favoritism for the title.
Much attention has been on Del Bosque’s formation, which seems to blunt the attacking instinct of the team, but he’s prepared to stake his reputation on results, even if he’s winning ugly. His next big test comes Tuesday in a second-round match against Portugal.
Brazil coach Dunga’s position is fairly safe, along with his counterparts from Chile and Paraguay, who took their teams into the second round. Brazil beat Chile 3-0 in the second round on Monday night.
South Africa was the first host nation not to progress past the group stage, despite a stirring win over France in its last match.
The most-traveled of the World Cup coaches put the job into perspective when he said he’d earned the right to “take it easy.”
It was a sixth World Cup as coach for the 67-year-old Carlos Alberto Parreira, who guided his native Brazil to the 1994 title after leading Kuwait in 1982 and the United Arab Emirates in 1990. He took Saudi Arabia to France in 1998 — when he was fired after losing two matches. Then he returned to Brazil for the 2006 World Cup, which ended in a quarterfinal defeat.
“South Africa allowed me to be the first coach to participate in six World Cups. It’s a privilege, an honor and I am deeply grateful,” Parreira said. “This team now has an identity and, if I am proud of anything, it’s that I have given this team an identity.”