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Capello: Portrait of a Winner by Gabriele Marcotti

Release date: 15th September, 2008
Publisher: Bantam Press

List Price: £18.99
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Capello: Portrait of a Winner
By Gabriele Marcotti
Bantam Press

4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £8.49, saving 55% on rrp

England supporters have had to contend with some pretty odd selections as national team coach over recent years, several of whom have fallen well short of the requisite standard most fans expect.

Glenn Hoddle was a peculiar choice and Steve McClaren always looked and sounded like a capable number two, never quite appearing quite up to the very top job. Sven Goran Eriksson revelled in notoriety (remember Ulrika, Faria Alam and the Fake Sheikh?) but came close to hitting upon a winning formula, although when under extreme pressure - for which he was handsomely remunerated - he couldn't quite cut the mustard.

If this odd trio succeeded at anything, it was in transforming English football's most senior footballing job (which is completely different to the top job in English football) into a poisoned chalice. That Fabio Capello could be persuaded to take the position (admittedly at a price) is a testimony to the FA's persistence, although some observers would argue that one out of four is hardly a record to boast about.

The accomplished Gabriele Marcotti provides us with a compelling and comprehensive portrait of a manager who might yet restore England's fortunes at least to the level they were when Sir Bobby Robson resigned 18 years ago. That would be some achievement for a man who, according to Marcotti, has "given himself to the game" as a priest would to the Catholic Church.

Capello is in a different managerial league to Messrs Hoddle, McClaren and Eriksson, having successfully coached at AC Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and Juventus. As a player, he performed at the very top with Roma, Juve and Milan and as an individual, he is the epitome of a cultured Italian.

It would be a fair bet that there are few within English football who are avid collectors of contemporary art, but this, Marcotti tells us in a polished biography, is something Capello has done since the mid-seventies when a colleague introduced him to the Arte Povera movement, populated by artists who created sculptures using rubbish and other discarded items. If that sounds like the core of a team Hoddle may have sent out, Capello's managerial apprenticeship, which began under the gaze of Helenio Herrera, a man familiar with football's dark arts and motivational techniques, should ensure he sifts and selects with greater authority.

Even before he went into management after another knee injury curtailed a playing career which encompassed 32 Italian caps, Capello displayed all of the necessary attributes required of a leader and man-manager; Marcotti suggests this began during the Inter City Fairs Cup in 1971, even though he was only 24 at the time.

Fabio Capello has been at the England helm for less than ten months, yet already fans sense that at last, they have someone appropriately qualified to turn a talented bunch of under-achievers into world beaters. That is a remarkable transformation, one which is surely attributable, in part at least, to the Italian having played with some of his nation's greats (Zoff, Baresi etc) and managed a considerable number of others, from Maldini and Cannavaro to Beckham and Totti.

After reading Marcotti's excellent biography, that elusive sense of genuine hope for which England supporters have been searching for two decades does not feel misplaced; that's partly down to the author, but unlike his immediate predecessors, it's mostly down to Capello himself.


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