England confirms Capello as coach

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/capello_ap.jpg' class='caption'> One of soccer's most successful coaches, Fabio Capello now has probably the toughest job in the game.

Updated: December 16, 2007 12:36 IST
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One of soccer's most successful coaches, Fabio Capello now has probably the toughest job in the game.

The Italian, who won 14 trophies with four different clubs, was appointed manager of England's ailing national team on Friday by the Football Association.

Capello replaces Steve McClaren, who was fired last month after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship. McClaren was the latest of a long list of failures who have been unable to add to England's World Cup triumph in 1966.

The FA said Capello signed a 4 1/2-year contract through the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 championships and would begin work on Jan 7. His contract is worth a reported $12.2 million a year.

"When we set out to recruit the new manager, we said we were committed to appointing a world-class candidate," FA chief executive Brian Barwick said. "In Fabio Capello we have that man."

Capello will have to get the best out of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and, of course, his former Real Madrid star, David Beckham, the player he dropped and then reinstated.

Inheriting a team which failed to qualify for Euro 2008, Capello not only has to make sure it qualifies for the World Cup in South Africa but also turn soccer's perennial underachievers into a title-winning team.

Capello, who was in Italy on Friday and will be introduced at a news conference in London on Monday, has a tough job on several fronts. Apart from a lack of fluent English, he also has to deal with a skeptical nation, many of whom wanted an English coach.

Instead, Capello's staff will include Italian assistants Franco Baldini and Italo Galbiati, goalkeeping coach Franco Tancredi and fitness coach Massimo Neri.

The FA said Capello will discuss with FA director Trevor Brooking the possibility of bringing an Englishman into the coaching staff. Stuart Pearce, the England Under-21 coach who was at FA headquarters on Friday, is the favorite for that role.

Four days after former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho announced that he was not interested in the job, the FA board approved the hiring of the former AC Milan, AS Roma and Real Madrid coach on Thursday. But both sides still had to finalize the terms of the contract.

"Fabio is a winner," Barwick said. "His record over the last two decades speaks for itself. At every club he has managed, Fabio has won the league title and Trevor and I were left in no doubt of his passion and commitment to bring that success to the England team."

Although Capello's record of nine domestic titles and one Champions League triumph is impressive, he will be under pressure immediately from England fans to deliver.

Because England failed to qualify for next year's Euros, the team has no competitive matches until European qualifying for the 2010 World Cup begins in September.

His first match in charge will be the Feb. 6 friendly against Switzerland at Wembley, followed by a March 26 trip to Paris to face France.

A renowned disciplinarian, Capello won't hold back from dropping some of the biggest names on the team.

There is speculation that he will take the captaincy away from Chelsea's John Terry, who has had disciplinary problems on and off the field. The only player Capello has firsthand experience of coaching is Beckham, the Los Angeles Galaxy star who helped Capello win the Spanish title with Real Madrid last season.

The former England captain has 99 caps and hopes that his 100th will come against Switzerland. Capello dropped Beckham from the Real Madrid side after his move to the Galaxy was announced last January. But Beckham's impressive performances in training forced the Italian to put him back into the lineup, and he was a key figure in the Spanish league title drive.

While the appointment of such a successful manager was welcomed by many England followers, the fact that the FA again hired a foreign coach has divided the nation. The move comes only 18 months after a Swede, Sven-Goran Eriksson, was in charge.

"Hopefully he gets the support he needs because it's not going to be an easy job," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. "There's a bit of work to do with the England team to get them to the level that you all expect. There's tremendous pressure on the England coach which Fabio will understand when he's two minutes into the job. But you need the experienced that he's got."

Reading's Steve Coppell and Middlesbrough's Gareth Southgate, both of them English, and Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger are among those who opposed appointing a foreign coach. France's Raymond Domenech said he was amazed that the FA had not picked an Englishman.

"I find it a shame to go and find a Swede or an Italian," Domenech said. "Those who know the players best, the English mentality, are the English themselves. This is like saying to the other (English) coaches: 'You are in England, you are rubbish, we'll look elsewhere.' That's how I see it."

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