Football: Capello captures the Roma hot-seat

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The Independent Online
FABIO CAPELLO returned to football after a year on the sidelines yesterday when the former Milan coach was confirmed as Roma's coach for next season.

Capello, who was reportedly approached to succeed Glenn Hoddle as England's coach, will replace Zdenek Zeman, who has coached the Italian Serie A side for the past two seasons, guiding them to fourth and fifth in the league. "No one is to blame. It's just a consequence of the facts and of the passing of time," the Roma president, Franco Sensi, said.

Capello's appointment propels one of Italy's most respected coaches back into top-flight football after a year in which he has worked as a commentator and pundit for Italian television. His last job was at Milan in the 1997-98 season but it ended badly. The five-times European champions finished 10th in the league and Capello left after falling out with the club president, Silvio Berlusconi. One of his last matches in charge was a 5-0 defeat at Roma in May 1998.

Capello, who played for Roma for three years in the late 1960s, made his name as a coach at Milan between 1991-96, guiding them to four championships in five years and three successive European Cup finals. He left Milan on good terms in the summer of 1996 for a spell in Spain at the helm of Real Madrid. He guided the Spanish giants to the 1997 league title but announced his decision to quit before the trophy was won, citing interference from the club president, Lorenzo Sanz.

The Barcelona coach, Louis van Gaal, has begun a spring clear-out at the club, putting four first-team players up for sale and telling another two they are not wanted. The Dutch coach, announcing his plans for the new season after Barcelona secured the Spanish league title for the second successive year, also hinted that another four players could be sold as his rebuilding work at the Catalan club continues.

The veteran defender Miguel Angel Nadal - once wanted by Manchester United - the highly rated Garcia brothers, Oscar and Roger, and the Yugoslav winger Dragan Ciric were all put on the transfer market yesterday, Van Gaal said. The third-choice goalkeeper, Carlos Busquets, whose contract is up at the end of the season, will be leaving, along with the Argentine defender Mauricio Pellegrino, who will return to his former club, Velez Sarsfield.

Another four players - the Catalan midfielder Albert Celades, the Nigerian defender Gbenga Okunowo and the Brazilians Giovanni and Sonny Anderson - are also expected to leave. Barcelona have already received offers for Oscar and Roger Garcia and Albert Celades, with Celta Vigo ready to pay 2,000 million pesetas (pounds 7.8m) for the trio.

Chelsea have also expressed interest in Oscar, while Monaco have enquired about the midfielder Roger. Real Zaragoza are reportedly keen on Ciric.

Croatia Zagreb are expected to name Osvaldo Ardiles to coach the team jointly with their former player and coach, Marijan Vlak. A local paper quoted club sources as saying the former Tottenham manager and Argentina midfielder would earn pounds 330,000 per year.