Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Winning Ways Capello Makes a Difference

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Winning Ways Capello Makes a Difference

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Blackhurst

WHO is Fabio Capello? It's a question not normally asked of a top football manager, not in this age of celebrity, hype and the ever-present paparazzi.

The fact we have to ask it at all shows how different this England manager is and why he deserves much wider celebration. It's not just the results on the pitch -- eight wins out of eight and comfortable qualification for next year's World Cup. Nor is it only the manner of the victories -- the national side is playing as a team, with highprofile players such as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney displaying the same drive as they do, week in week out, for their clubs.

It's also the lead that Capello is showing off the pitch. His dress sense and appearance are more plainclothes Italian cop than clothes horse.

Wags are banned before the game -- so gone, hopefully for ever, is the sort of unedifying circus of the partners shopping and carousing as their men train nearby. Capello can't abide flipflops.

Banned too is the mobile phone at team meals. And they can't order their usual ketchup and chips.

Calling each other by nickname is forbidden. Banished as well are the cliques of England members drawn from one club sitting at one end of the table and another group at the opposite end. Their talk and consequently their focus is on "England, England, England", not whether Man U will give Chelsea a stuffing the next occasion they meet. No outsiders are allowed anywhere near, so agents and the other hangerson who make up the entourage of the modern sports star must take themselves elsewhere.

All highly disciplined, militaristic, creditable stuff. But there is more to Capello. He's not a person who tolerates second-best. He pursues excellence, and will not let emotion divert him. After England beat Croatia 5-1 at Wembley this week and confirmed their participation in South Africa in 2010, the captain, John Terry, moved to hug him. …

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