David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
As readers of this column figured out long ago, English is not my first language, which, it turns out, could have helped land me the England coaching job. Today, they hired Italian legend Fabio Capello, who doesn't speak a word of English, to lead them to a first round elimination in the next World Cup. This makes perfect sense, given that his predecessor could barely speak it himself, and he 's a native son. In fact, yesterday Steve McClaren was honored — or if you prefer honoured — for his contribution to the language. He received the highest prize, The Plain English Campaign's "Foot in Mouth" Award, for his brilliant assessment of Wayne Rooney of whom he said "He is inexperienced but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through."
To give you a sense of how monumental this feat is, consider that McClaren beat out an American named George Bush, who has had a lock on the competition for nearly a decade.
Meanwhile, Capello has collected some silverware himself — nine domestic championships and an Champions League title over the course of his 16 years at Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and Juventus. What kind of leader should England expect? Capello is a self-professed fan of Generalissimo Franco who, I understand, coached Spain to some impressive victories in his time by executing those who underperformed. Some say he was a fascist; I say "a winner's a winner."
Capello's clearly in the Franco mold. He once famously raged at his then star Milan player Paulo Di Canio "your face looks like a penis" (apparently, it takes a dickhead to know one) and, of course, who can forget his pronouncement that David Beckham would never play for Real Madrid again? Certainly not David Beckham, who now finds himself in the odd position of trying to make nice with a guy who had written his epitaph.
But recently, as the above photo shows, Capello has tried to soften his hard-ass image. That will go a long way in the England locker room with twinketoed players like Rooney and Terry. Then again, maybe he's simply saying he's a nutcracker.