With the Azzurri en route to Euro 2012, two Italians who fled the nest will be following them to Eastern Europe. But should Fabio Capello deserve as much praise in England as Giovanni Trapatonni receives in the Republic of Ireland?
Unlike Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, English and Irish football’s figureheads are not two greedy Italians but just one, according to a swelling consensus.
Fabio Capello, foolishly handed a new contract by the Football Association before the 2010 World Cup, earns £6m a year. When inking that deal, he also unwittingly signed up to the equivalent of being placed in the stocks and having tomatoes pelted at him.
Giovanni Trapattoni earns a fraction of that – €1.7m per annum, having taken a €100,000 paycut last year. Money most definitely makes the man in the public’s eyes. Capello oversaw a near-flawless qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup with the Three Lions, yet when failure arrived the sharpened knives were flung at him despite his incompetent charges.
He wasn’t blameless from the inquest into England’s African atrocity by virtue of his archaic tactics and debatable squad selections. So suddenly he morphed into Johnny Foreigner, people couldn’t understand what he said and he was a rapacious mercenary. Never mind Gareth Barry or habitual international failures Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, John Terry etc.
Despite failure with the Azzurri at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, Trapattoni retains his godfather-like stature in Europe’s boot.
Trapattoni is charm personified meanwhile. Not subjected to as much intense scrutiny as Capello, he has endeared himself by doing, well, nothing. Unlike Capello, he doesn’t watch his players in person and he didn’t qualify for the last World Cup, whilst his broken English – arguably worse than his England counterpart – rarely vexes supporters or the media.
Both arrived in their incumbent roles at similar times almost four years ago, yet despite similarly fruitful CVs (Trapattoni has won 21 honours as coach, Capello 16) they draw contrasting perceptions from the nations they serve.
Few in football begrudge Trapattoni sampling success again. The Milanese man remains an idol in Turin, where he was sweeping up major honours before he turned 40, and in Milan, after he ended Internazionale’s nine-year Scudetto drought to bring them a 13th title. Despite failure with the Azzurri at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, he retains his godfather-like stature in Europe’s boot.
The Boys in Green were disconsolate after Thierry Henry’s cheating in Paris two years ago, scuppering a palpable chance of play-off qualification for the 2010 World Cup. With the Republic about to end their major tournament fasting since 2002s Saipan stand-off between Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy, Trap’s popularity is spreading throughout the Emerald Isle. A 4-0 demolition of Estonia in Tallinn ensures that the national side’s team plane is being refuelled and refined ahead of venturing to Poland and Ukraine in the summer. Only a monumental oil spillage could prevent the inevitable.
For all the monotonous yearning for an English manager, name a brilliant home-grown coach since Brian Clough and Bobby Robson’s heyday.
Whereas he is gaining trust, Capello is losing it despite even a win over the European and world champions. His stoic nature, contrasted against Trapattoni’s benign charisma, handicaps him irrespective of results as he is shouldered with unfeasible over-expectation. England have only won 1997s Le Tournoi since a Russian linesman helped them over the line during 120 minutes in 1966, and, unlike Sven-Göran Eriksson, he is hamstrung by technically-incompetent players. Across the Irish Sea, the Gaelics were not listed the happiest nation in Europe without merit, hence the contentedness with their own coach.
Frivolous Ireland’s approach may have been at past tournaments, but Il Trap is a winner. He has a Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and a Primeira Liga with Benfica to add to his Italian successes, and a wish to continue beyond Euro 2012 underlines his desire to improve the Republic. Alleviated of extreme pressure, he even cut loose of catenaccio in Friday’s win as Ireland went for the jugular, albeit with an extra man after Andrei Stepanov’s red card.
In respect to Capello, Little Englanders should start to back him and cease with the puerile bile. He has been accused of a lack of commitment yet missed his son’s wedding for a friendly. And for all the monotonous yearning for an English manager, name a brilliant home-grown coach since Brian Clough and Bobby Robson’s heyday.
Although a sea of green will paint the stands of Eastern Europe, the cameras should divert their lenses to Trapattoni, whose history of losing it again and again and again is legendary. Capello too, despite the maresciallo moniker, has physically moved players to a preferred position during training. Regardless of performances, Trap and Cap will offer a feast to rival Antonio and Gennaro at the Euros.
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