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16/5/2010 No.27
rends in Football/Rugby
Andrew Anthony
Sunday 16 May 2009
  Yes, the Capello Index wasn't a good move, but remember Glenn?

When Fabio Capello announced the launch of the Capello Index last week, there was such a heated response from the media that it seemed as though the England team's physio might need to be sent into the press room with a soothing cold sponge.

The Capello Index is a system of assessing footballers' performances that was devised by the England coach and backed by an online gaming company. The intention was to debut the system at next month's World Cup, which would have meant that England players were to be publicly marked after each game according to evaluation guidelines set by their own manager. You could see the media's point. "Do you realise what we'd do with this information?" they implored. "Please, someone stop us!"

Fortunately the FA, in a rare moment of decisiveness, stepped in to kibosh the plan. It wasn't Capello's finest moment, and certainly out of keeping with his normally shrewd, which is to say low-key, approach to public relations. Besides which, anyone whose trousers annually bulge with a six-million quid salary has no need to get involved, however tangentially, with internet bookmakers.

But this was a footling misstep by Capello when set against the elaborate pratfalls and embarrassments committed by his predecessors. Take, for example, the fiendish psychodrama conceived by Glenn Hoddle on the eve of the 1998 World Cup. First he included an obviously fragile Paul Gascoigne in his squad and then, in the glare of the world's media, ejected him from the final 22 because he was obviously fragile, though not quite as fragile as the lampshades and flower vases on which Gazza then proceeded to vent his frustration.

As if to confirm his gift for man management, Hoddle then published My World Cup Story, a behind-the-scenes account of the 1998 tournament, which essentially refashioned the holy writ of football into a new doctrine: "What happens in the dressing room is made into a lucrative book deal." Before Hoddle we had Graham Taylor's starring role in that imperishable tragi-comic documentary Do I Not Like That, filmed during his hapless and doomed campaign to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. Suffice to say that the image of Taylor screaming "Hit it big!" is one from which the reputation of English coaching has yet to recover. Then, of course, there was Sven-Goran Eriksson, a man who was never shy of exploiting his England position for commercial gain. Promoting pasta sauces, PlayStation games, classical CDs and Sainsbury's, he was a one-man walking advertising billboard. The only surprise was that he didn't don a sponsor-decorated jumpsuit to maximise a marketing potential said to have been further increased by his infamous bedroom workout regime with Ulrika Jonsson.

All things considered, then, Capello is probably running at about 2.3 on the Catastrophe Index. He will have to raise his game, and really lower his dignity, if he hopes to match the record of his forebears. The other option is to do whatever the hell he likes – just as long, that is, as he wins the Cup.

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