Posted by Jerry Hinnen
An already volatile situation with the England national team exploded Wednesday with the resignation of manager Fabio Capello barely five months before the country's opening match at Euro 2012.
According to a statement issued by the English FA, Capello met with top FA officials "for over an hour" Wednesday to discuss Capello's comments to an Italian TV station regarding the FA's decision to strip defender John Terry of his England captaincy. Terry is accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand in a 2011 Premier League match, with the case set to be heard by the English court system following Terry's appearance at Euro 2012.
Capello (pictured departing FA headquarters Wednesday) told Italian TV he was "absolutely not in agreement" with the FA's decision and confirmed he had told FA chairman David Bernstein as much.
"It is going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime," Capello said.
The rift created between Capello and Bernstein could apparently not be smoothed over in the Wednesday meeting, and the two sides agreed to part ways.
“I would like to stress that during today’s meeting and throughout his time as England Manager, Fabio has conducted himself in an extremely professional manner," Bernstein said in the statement. "We have accepted Fabio’s resignation, agreeing this is the right decision. We would like to thank Fabio for his work with the England team and wish him every success in the future.”
Capello leaves England with a 28-6-8 record and comfortable qualifications for the two major finals during his tenure with the "Three Lions," World Cup 2010 and now Euro 2012, a not-insignificant achievement following the team's disastrous failure to qualify for Euro 2008. But Capello's tenure was also marked by a prickly relationship with the British press, the 2010 controversial stripping of Terry's captaincy (this time, on Capello's orders) for a tabloid scandal, and a deeply disappointing showing at the World Cup featuring draws vs. the U.S. and Algeria before a 4-1 elimination defeat to Germany.
Many England fans will likely welcome a change if it means the hire of current Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, the consensus favorite for the post after being cleared of tax evasion charges earlier Wednesday. Redknapp's Spurs sit a surprising third in the Premier League standings and are known for their attractive, attacking style of play--a substantial shift from Capello's frequent tactical caution.
But even if Redknapp accepts an FA offer (which is not a given on either side), the bottom line for England is that with mere weeks to go before they board their flight for the Ukraine, the team has no manager, no captain, and no direction. If England are going to finally shed their long-held label of major tournament underachievers at the Euros, they're clearly going to have to do it the hard way.