England's blame game
Oliver Holt said Fabio Capello's exit has eased his fears of a repeat of England's 2010 World Cup campaign.
Last Updated: 12/02/12 1:18pm
Oliver Holt told the Sunday Supplement that Fabio Capello's departure has eased his fears of a repeat of England's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign.
Capello resigned on Wednesday despite guiding England to the Euro 2012 finals after the Football Association decided to strip John Terry of the captaincy pending his trial over alleged racial abuse of QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
Holt, chief sports writer of the Mirror, had mixed feelings about the Italian's departure but admits that he feels more optimistic about England's future World Cup chances as a result.
"I wouldn't say I'm pleased [that he's gone]; I'm not crying a river either," said Holt.
"I quite admire the way that Capello recovered from the World Cup in 2010. I thought he should have been sacked after that World Cup but when he wasn't and it appeared that we were with him - I was going to say 'stuck with him' but I think that's a rather disrespectful way to talk about one of the greatest managers of his generation - until the Euros I thought 'well, we have to go with that'.
"I think he's done a pretty good job in terms of the qualification. He said he was going to bring young players through, which I thought was just a pragmatic thing at the time, but he did.
"He's been slightly unlucky with a player like Jack Wilshere, who was becoming one of the cornerstones of the team but has obviously been injured.
"I was never totally convinced about him and I think that was really a product of the way that it all fell apart before and during the World Cup. So when I say I'm not full of regret it's because I think there is probably a fear in the back of my mind that the same pattern would repeat itself and that we have a smooth qualifying campaign and then when it really mattered, it would all fall apart at the tournament."
Holt suggested that Capello might have had a greater chance of achieving success had he developed a better understanding of the English language.
"If we have a problem about the team, is it down to the manager or is it down to the players?" he asked.
"[The manager] is my default setting but I think we also have to look at the players that he is working with. If Harry Redknapp comes in, I think he will get more out of them than Capello did.
"That brings us back to another point - nationality. It's an easy accusation to make - Capello's lack of command of the language - but I think it was important.
"I think that there was a communication problem there and I also think there was a lack of understanding and I think we saw that at times at the World Cup where he didn't grasp the English mentality.
"He didn't understand that the 'retiro' system of cooping them up for weeks on end wasn't going to work, was going to send them stir crazy; the atmosphere was bad in the camp.
"He didn't understand our mind-set. When John Terry spoke to him about it, for which he was roundly criticised by the way - bizarrely, Capello suddenly thought that they wanted to go out on a bender every night and was offering them drinks the night before games and they were saying 'no - that's not what we mean'.
"That lack of understanding was partly a cultural thing and I think that somebody like Redknapp would get more out of the team at the Euros."