Chris McGrath: For Fabio: Handy guide to what we really mean

The Last Word

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The Independent Football

Bit late now, I guess. But since everyone keeps complaining that Fabio Capello never grasped "the English football culture", it only seems fair to equip him now with this handy lexicon. You never know. After all, there could be a tempting vacancy at Tottenham fairly soon.

1. "You will be judged purely on results"

Translation Once the FA and media again succumb to their collective, addictive delusions of grandeur on behalf of the national team, they will fall out with you on any pretext they can. Especially if your English is not equal to "I never said them things". It doesn't matter whether Capello jumped or was pushed. Ultimately, it seems, the English prefer a bloke who has mustered one FA Cup over nearly 30 years to one who, having won all those league and European titles in Italy and Spain, proceeded to a better ratio of success than any previous England manager – oh, and crowned an unbeaten 2011 by defeating the world champions.

2. "Captaincy of England is one of sport's great distinctions"

Translation The self-regard of the English game is so limitless that it vests preposterous significance in the armband. Only someone as disruptively vainglorious as John Terry should deceive himself that it bestows any honour more significant than a couple of handshakes and a choice of ends. In fairness to Terry, and other incumbents, this egotistical bulldog fantasy has been nourished to the point of derangement by the media and press.

3. "Everyone is innocent until proved guilty"

Translation Whatever Terry may or may not have said to Anton Ferdinand, he certainly volunteered himself as a convenient vehicle for the humiliation of the manager. Capello was not so much left out of the loop as presented with a noose. In turn, it must be said, he formed so perverse an attachment to this stirring principle of Anglo-Saxon justice that he almost seemed intent on contriving an untenable position for himself. Neither Terry nor Ferdinand's brother, Rio, should be permitted any nearer the plane this summer than they were to the pitch when England beat Spain. Meanwhile many who profess due outrage over racism in English football will, in the debate over the next manager, lavishly embody xenophobia in English football.

4. "You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear"

Translation A wages boom lent the Premier League temporary lustre in Europe, largely thanks to foreign players and managers – enabling a generation of precious, undisciplined Englishmen to bask in reflected glory. The only one with sufficient cultural curiosity and technical proficiency to be plying his trade in another European league is actually a Premier League and England reject, Joe Cole. Moreover the moment this generation terminally discredited itself on the world stage, the next one was promptly burdened with the sort of wholly unreasonable expectation that has poisoned national service for so many elite club players. Every other European power has talented colts, but few conspire against their fulfilment with incorrigible presumptions of world domination.

5. "Steve McClaren was too matey with the players"

Translation The insecurities of his predecessor gave Capello the usual media honeymoon, when everyone breathlessly admired his refusal to share players' infatuation with their own publicity. Unfortunately, their true worth would then be further exposed by a young German team, with embarrassing superiority in speed and skill. Overnight everyone decided that Capello was too much of a martinet. And now they yearn for the common touch of Redknapp so credulously that it has somehow become a spiteful, shorthand insult to refer to Capello's "collection of Kandinskys". As such, Redknapp knows his real priority must be to remain as matey as possible with the people who really count...

6. "Nobody wants England to succeed more than I do"

Translation Such errors as Capello may have made were grotesquely amplified by the one blunder from which he could never hope to recover. He reckoned the English press and media could never be as forensic and unsparing as their Italian peers. But he never realised how tenderly they resent indifference: they are now interring Fabio's regime with sanctimonious disregard for his abiding merits. Harry, they know, will use Christian names and make them feel important.

7. "Cry God for Harry, England and St George!"

Translation Right now everyone feels fate has choreographed the accession, Capello having resigned even as Redknapp walked free from court. Sooner or later, however, all this Shakespearean stuff will be crushed beneath the boulder as it rolls back down to the bottom of the hill. The media and press will rise above weaknesses that might cast them more obviously as Falstaff, and themselves turn round to declare: "I know thee not, old man."

8. "The English love animals"

Translation Every dog shall have his day; or, failing that, he shall have an offshore bank account. The real snarling, of course, comes on the field of play. But Capello's refusal or failure to "understand England's football culture" is sooner about England's refusal or failure to understand the deficiencies of that culture. Many of us had hoped Capello was hired to teach the English game some self-respect. Unfortunately, that is something the FA, players and media cannot distinguish from self-importance.