Capello had resigned as Juventus manager after they were stripped of their titles and relegated following the Calciopoli scandal
He headed back to Spain for a second spell in charge of Real Madrid. Despite having what was at the time, the most expensive team ever assembled, Real had gone three seasons without a trophy. Their Galacticos could be mesmerizing to watch on their day and had won the biggest prizes but were no longer as cohesive a unit as Barcelona had become under Frank Rijkaard.
Capello was keen to make sure that no player’s ego would undermine the team and as always wasn’t afraid to upset big name stars. He often left David Beckham out of the side, especially after the England captain declared that he intended to leave for LA Galaxy at the end of the season.
A lot of Real’s fans were critical of Capello because his team played with a defensive style. The fans wanted to win spectacularly but Capello said that as he had come to bring the title back to the Bernabéu, winning was the most important thing.
Sacked after winning the title
Capello grew more impressed with Beckham’s attitude and work rate despite his exile and put him back into the team. Real had a great run of form towards the end of the season that saw them overhaul leaders Barcelona to win the La Liga title with victory in the final game.
Despite winning the title, Capello was sacked by Real for his team’s negative defensive performances. He was out of work until December 2007 when he became manager of the England national ream.
When Capello arrived in England, the team was in crisis. The so-called ‘golden generation’ of players had failed to even qualify for Euro 2008. The team’s limp performances against Macedonia, Croatia and Russia under the guidance of his predecessor, Steve McClaren, had left the country disillusioned with their national team.
Managing the England national team
The appointment of Capello gave the fans something to be excited about and it went down well with the media in both England and Italy. The English were delighted to have an experienced manager who had won so much. They were also pleased that he was renowned for being a strong disciplinarian as they believed that one of McClaren’s problems was that he was too friendly with the players.
The Italians were proud that their countryman had been chosen by a big football nation like England.
He started to repair the English pride in his first game with a 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland in February 2008. They also beat the USA and Trinidad and Tobago, lost to France and drew with the Czech Republic in friendly matches.
World Cup qualifiers
The serious business started in September with the World Cup Qualifiers. Capello led England through a fantastic campaign which saw them qualify for the World Cup as the highest scorers in Europe. England won nine of their 10 games and qualified as group winners. They got their revenge over Croatia, beating them 5-1 at home and 4-1 away.
Their one defeat came away to Ukraine when England had already qualified. The result meant that Ukraine were able to reach the playoffs at the expense of Croatia.
It was starting to look as though Capello was going to be the man to finally unlock the potential of the ‘golden generation’.
However, things started to unravel in the months leading up to the tournament. Captain John Terry made the headlines for allegedly having an affair with the ex partner of his teammate, Wayne Bridge. Capello stripped Terry of the captaincy but decided he would remain part of the team.
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