Absolutely Fabio: As England Prepare to Launch Their World Cup Campaign, Our Art Critic, Tim Adams, Presents 13 Ways of Looking at the Team's Mysterious Italian Coach
As a bibliophile
A couple of years ago, during one of the stranger hours of my life, I sat in a hotel room in the Kingdom of Lesotho and, in the course of an interview, asked Fabio Capello what book he had by his bedside. He started to answer my question, through an interpreter. "A political one," he suggested--but, ever careful, he took the precaution, before he named the volume in question, of whispering the title to one of the pair of nervy Football Association press officers who were in attendance. No sooner had the book's title left his lips than a shadow passed over the face of Adrian Bevington, then head of media relations for the FA. After a brief discussion, it was decided that under no circumstances should the England manager disclose the name of the book to which he turned for comfort in the small hours. Ever since, every time I have studied Capello's adamantine countenance on the touchline, I have found myself speculating about the book that dared not speak its name. If England are winning, I charitably assume it to be Machiavelli's Prince, or Sun Tzu's Art of War. If they are losing, I take it to have been The Da Vinci Code.
As a linguist
"Unfortunately," as Capello's Milanese mentor Silvio Berlusconi once observed, "Fabio has one small fault. It is that dialogue forms no part of his approach." The smartest tactic Capello has employed since he arrived in England has been to exaggerate that quality by extending it to selective difficulty with monologue. Capello promised that he would brush up his English conversation in the month before he took control of his first match. As it was--though he apparently spoke reasonably fluently in private--he did not address the press without an interpreter for six months.
Since then, one of the more postmodern spectacles of our time has been the sight of grown men on Sky Sports News attempting earnest textual analysis of the pidgin postmatch cliches of foreign managers--as if somewhere within them were contained subtle nuance. Capello established this triumphant, quietly mocking trend ("Is good that we play to win the ball, this I like"), one that has been happily picked up by his countrymen Roberto Mancini and Carlo Ancelotti. The trickier the question, the more their grasp of syntax seems to desert them. Capello's …
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Publication information: Article title: Absolutely Fabio: As England Prepare to Launch Their World Cup Campaign, Our Art Critic, Tim Adams, Presents 13 Ways of Looking at the Team's Mysterious Italian Coach. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: New Statesman (1996). Volume: 139. Issue: 5004 Publication date: June 7, 2010. Page number: 40+. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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