Chris McGrath: What Capello was (probably) thinking when he tempted Arteta to switch sides

The Last Word
Click to follow
The Independent Football

When I start in this country, I am in a good moment. I think: "These players, they think they are very good. But they are good." This they need to understand.

So first I learn English football words. "Utility player", for example. This means someone very slow. "Wag". This is someone who makes jokes. Like pretending to be a player's wife for reasons not about money. "Icon", this Beckham teaches me. A verb, mainly for agents. I con, you con, he cons.

Then I learn some English names, to be friendly. My wife, she said not to be too much like the teacher. (She tells my English teacher this also.) So there is James. Terry. Barry. Gerrard, also, which short is Gerry. But when I use these names, everyone says I'm very like the teacher. But they say also that this is good.

Family names are harder, like Wayne. We had two brothers, Bridge and Rooney. One was no good. Not even wags think so. Now the other one is no good either. Maybe it is their blood. But people say he is no good because I am too much the teacher. This is not fair. Really the problem is he played against Bayern only with one leg. All players need two legs, especially English players.

That is why I want Arthur. This is his English name. In Spain he is Arteta. But in Spain they have very good players. Arteta is good. He is perfect for us. I like him very well.

The men from the FA say Arteta cannot play because he is not English. This is crazy. Where they think I come from? Wilshere?

They say Arteta will make young English players sad. But this is what young English players do to me, exactly. The newspapers say I must pick a new, young team, but they never give me names. Johnson? Hart? Yes. But I still need nine more.

Arteta can have a UK passport. Maybe if I do not have him, he will decide to be Welsh, like Bale. (I tell you a secret. Already I am a bit scared by our games with Wales.)

Other countries, it is OK. Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy have Brazilians. In this strange dance, cricket, they say all the Englishmen are from South Africa. In football already we have Hargreaves, from Canada, and Beckham, from Hollywood.

Ah, Beckham! That is how crazy this country is. After the World Cup, everyone is angry with all the old players. For this funny red man with the umbrella, they were terrible. Even for me they are not so good. So we need new players. Like Arteta. Beckham is not new. He is like the old lady in Sunset Boulevard. You see this famous film? "I am ready for my close-up, Mr Capello." (This is like a wag.) But when we beat Hungary – Gerrard in a very good moment, especially when I take off Lampard – everyone wants to talk only about Beckham. Everyone knows he has finished. Everyone. Only one person is so silly to ask. For the television. Nobody else, from all the newspapers. I see them every day before the game. Then they see the television, and go crazy. Why I did not tell them?

For the newspapers, that was my last mistake. Now they want me to go home. Everything I do, it must be wrong. They say I must make a new team with boys not yet playing for their clubs. And why are these boys not playing? Because their managers have better players from other countries. Like Arteta.

So this is my plan. I ask the FA to search players all round the world. We are all Adam's family. There is some Englishman in everybody. Look at these players Maradona did not like. Players Dunga did not like. Let us speak with them before their new coaches do.

Maybe Fifa can help, make new rules. A long time ago they let Di Stefano play for Argentina, Colombia and Spain. Laszlo Kubala played for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain. Maybe we can make a new life for Riquelme, Lisandro, Aimar, Gago.

In Italy, we have always known agli oriundi. Our rugby team has many Argentines, Australians. Even one player from Birmingham called Marko Stanojevic. A good old English name, no? So let me bring you your new King Arthur.

A chance for Wenger to put substance into his style?

So the angels of football have decided they need a bit more devil. Javier Mascherano is the type of player who is more likely to break legs than hearts, and the manner of his departure for Barcelona will not change that on Merseyside. Having also shed the brittle Alberto Aquilani, however, Roy Hodgson desperately needs Christian Poulsen to refresh a midfield that was hopelessly overrun by Manchester City on Monday. City fielded three holding midfielders, but there was nothing static about their formation, with Yaya Touré supporting striker Carlos Tevez.

You have to wonder what Arsène Wenger makes of Barça's admission, having discarded Touré, that they need Mascherano. Away to Blackburn is just the sort of game that should help Wenger show whether Arsenal are finally ready to marry form and function. He has prudently resolved not to introduce Monsieur Squillaci, but it remains to be seen whether Laurent Koscielny can introduce substance at the back. The most significant name in the squad could be Johan Djourou. Having shown glimpses of immense potential, the fragile Djourou has not started a match for 15 months. He is still only 23, but his own crossroads condenses that of the whole team.

Comments