Denglischer Fussball is a comment blog on German and English football written and edited by Kit Holden. It was born in January 2011.
The end of the Capello era.
To paraphrase an example of light hearted patriotism from a better man than I, who do you think you are kidding, Mr Capello? If the Italian’s reign as England manager could have ended in a more typically farcical manner, it probably would have had to involve Benny Hill. The man who once stripped John Terry of the captaincy has resigned on moral grounds. Why? Because John Terry has been stripped of the captaincy.
That the FA were contractually quite justified in not consulting Capello in that decision, that the decision in itself was quite ostensibly the correct one given the legal storm surrounding the former England captain seem to have been erased from the Italian’s brain in the blink of an eye. The blink of an eye with which it took him to perceive that this was his chance. His golden ticket out of a job which had become as tedious to him as it had been to the England fans who have long been eagerly awaiting his departure.
The moral grounds on which Capello claims to have handed in his notice are a façade, to mask the uncomfortable truth that his tenure had become nothing more than an ugly symbol of the FA’s infamous lack of backbone. The support which players such as Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker voiced for their former manager over Twitter was equally hollow. That he gave them their first chance was, as they well know, purely a happy coincidence that he happened to be in office at the time of their reaching international standard. In the case of Walker, he would be better advised to revel in the departure of a man who mistakenly and lazily preferred Glen Johnson at the right back position.
As for the debate over Capello’s eventual successor, the army of those stoically shouting the name Harry Redknapp in the general direction of Wembley has already become tedious. Though Redknapp is undoubtedly the best English club manager around at the moment, his eye for a transfer and talent for nurturing dressing room harmony will not necessarily transpose onto the international game. A valid suggestion he may be, but he is by no means the only option worth considering.
Those who claim that England, above all else, must now be managed by an Englishman, are also tragically guilty of romanticising what was wrong with Capello’s tenure. The problem was not that the man did not understand the English game – soccer has, would you believe, almost exactly the same rules everywhere else in the world – but rather that he did not care enough about anythign but his pay cheque to bother to learn to communicate with his players. If the next England manager is from Honduras, it will not make any odds, so long as he has the right credentials, one of which – and maybe even the most crucial – is that he speaks English fluently and confidently enough to command his dressing room properly.
Redknapp is certainly high on the list, but there are others who should be considered. What England need now is far more than a new manager. They need a new approach to the national team entirely. One which rejects the idea that the players of the now ironically named “Golden Generation” are necessary in order to develop the wealth of young talent the country has at its disposal. One which focuses on the legacy a team built around the likes of Wilshere, Sturridge, Jones and Hart is capable of creating. One with a proper long term plan.
Short term solutions, and pandering to club reputations is a tactic which should be consigned to the rubbish bin. In relieving Terry of the armband, the FA have shown, for once, that they are capable of making sensible decisions. England fans should hope they can do so again when picking Capello’s long term successor.
Stanislawski’s sacking from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
It was just over ten days ago that Dietmar Hopp told kicker that he hoped Holger Stanislawski would still be at Hoffenheim in eight years time. In the same interview, he stated that many people saw him “as Baden’s very own Abramovich”. With the benefit of hindsight, there was perhaps a little more pride in the latter statement than we had all first assumed.
Certainly, the sacking of Holger Stanislawski was an example of the iron but fickle rule over a club which we have come in recent years to associate with Chelsea’s polemical benefactor. The sacking of Holger Stanislawski, particularly in light of the aforementioned kicker interview, lived up to just about every Dietmar Hopp stereotype ever voiced by sneering opposition fans. In this decision at least, Hopp has shown that his efficacy really does lie much more in the world of finance than it does the world of football.
There are those questioning what possible grounds Hopp had for dismissing the St. Pauli. Even Abramovich, they say, would not have made such a decision. Hoffenheim remain, as they have done for most of the last two years, in a comfortable if not safe mid table position, and, despite being knocked out of the Pokal to second division upstarts Greuther Fuerth, are certainly able to enjoy a level of comfort for which Michael Skibbe and co would give, at the very least, their right arm.
In truth, this has been a season of major trial and error for the Bundesliga’s rural representative. A rip roaring start quickly gave way into the type of mediocrity that the club’s dwindling (record minimum attendances are seemingly broken every week) fanbase are accustomed to. It had become increasingly clear that something in “Stani’s” philosophy was not clicking with that of his squad. Disciplinary issues and increasingly unremarkable on field performances had become the order of the day, and for Stanislawski, the Utopian days of over achievement and hero worship at St. Pauli seemed but a distant memory.
And yet, how Hopp can justify the culling of a manager on which he claimed to pin such high hopes remains a mystery. The sacrifice of two key players over the winter in Obasi and Ibisevic may have been necessary from the point of view of finance, but if the Abramovich of Baden truly believed it would not be a sporting set back, he is naïve beyond imagination.
The one club cult figure from Hamburg was never going to cut it at a club as soulless as Hoffenheim, they say. It was inevitable. And yet, was that not the whole point of hiring Stanislawski in the first place? Hopp has spoken of his desire to create a history and a legacy at the club; a legacy, though, takes time to build. A figure like Stanislawski was never turn Hopp’s beloved project into a Traditionsklub over a period of six months.
Nor, for the record, will Markus Babbel, who is being lined up as Stanislawski’s replacement. As accomplished a manager as he is, Babbel is far from messianic. He is a classic example of the Trainer Karussell mentality which engulfs the mid table around this time of year. A manager with as much promise and as many shortcomings as his predecessor, who simply happens to be the only one going on the given day.
The developments at Hoffenheim are not the decisions of a sensible man looking to build a legacy. They are the whims of a businessman who wants football to change as quickly as the stock market.