fabio capello england world cup

Fabio Capello and England: What went wrong at World Cup 2010

The more you think about it, the more you feel shocked by the fact that a star-studded team with Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry couldn’t live up to the expectations at the biggest footballing tournament in the world.

England manager for World Cup 2010 Fabio Capello

You can blame the manager, the players, the goal-line technology, but the fact of the matter is, England just couldn’t get a proper blend within their group. However, there are many more things to look at than just the blend within the group of players. We discuss them below.

Things would have been different if VAR was around back then

Fabio Capello had established himself as one of the greatest managers in the 20th century. The man who had reached three consecutive Champions League finals, including giving a 4-0 thrashing of Johan Cruyff’s dream team in 1994, was set to be the man who would bring back to the golden days in England football in the days of their golden generation.

However, he was on the decline since then.

These numbers show that Fabio Capello didn’t evolve with the game

No matter you look at the tactics, the language barrier, or the man-management, the Italian manager was well off the pace.

Poor Squad Selection

One of the biggest problems in the English side of 2010 was the lack of goals. Wayne Rooney was the star-man for them upfront but he was coming off a big foot injury that he sustained against Bayern Munich in the Champions League that year. There was a race for him to be fit for the biggest footballing stage in the world which he won, just about.

And to come back and get told that you will be the main scorer for us is something that creates doubts. When you have come from a long-injury lay-off, you need goals alongside you to take some pressure off your shoulders. You need Michael Owen alongside you and NOT Emile Heskey.

“Not only did he cut short a hard-earned international career with absolutely no explanation whatsoever, but he also went on to be one of the least effective England managers ever.

He was absolutely crap. In my opinion, Fabio Capello caused catastrophic damage to both my career and English football in general and got paid handsomely to do so.”

Michael Owen

Regardless of how poor his debut season was with United, Michael Owen was still a phenomenal goal-scorer and should have been part of the squad.

The two never got going together

He has scored 40 international goals and, despite a career that has been constantly hampered by injury, he has amassed an impressive 89 caps.

Zero Man-Management

You won’t often see the biggest personalities in your dressing room throwing toys out of the pram before big games or swearing at their own fans. That is exactly what happened.

After a poor performance against Algeria, Wayne Rooney turned to the on-field camera and shouted “f%£k you” to the English fans who were continuously booing him an the rest of the players.

Wayne Rooney swearing at the England fans on camera after getting knocked out

The situation only worsened when English captain John Terry started questioning Fabio Capello’s regime as a whole.

The players were bored with little to do in the evenings at their training base. Clear-the-air team meeting would take place that evening,

John Terry
John Terry's 6 minute rant on England
John Terry’s 6 minute rant on England

Fabio Capello on the other declared these comments as “big, big mistake” by the Chelsea skipper and banned any English spokesperson or player to talk anything about John Terry.

“I think he’s more disappointed some players because, when you speak, you have to speak privately, not with the media. This is the big mistake. This is very big mistake. I know sometimes some players want to speak more with the media than with the other players. The mistake is you have to speak with the players, with me, with the dressing room”

Fabio Capello

No Professional Pride

No matter where you go, your heart is always filled with love for your country and Fabio Capello was unlike any other. However, when it comes to professional pride, you should stay focused on your team first before worrying about what team in your national colors is doing.

Wayne Rooney and Fabio Capello

“He brought in his Italian backroom staff. I remember out in the World Cup in South Africa, Fabio and his coaches were watching England play and were cheering when Italy scored

Wayne Rooney

Imagine being on the cusp of a humiliating exit and you being excited about what your national team is doing? That sparks problems no matter what.

Language Barrier

Many managers working off the box in not just football management but also any other job tend to find it difficult communicating with their colleagues and people that surround them. Capello’s press conference showed signs of a sore loser who was willing to blame the laws of physics but not put himself accountable for a poor campaign.

Fabio wasn’t able to communicate well with the team

“It’s difficult to read and to learn the Cyrillic alphabet, and also because there aren’t many people who speak English, so I always need a translator. To think that somebody is translating what I want to say, they might translate it with some of their ideas or according to their feelings.”

Fabio Capello in 2018

When there are only problems in the manager’s statements with no solution whatsoever. You will only expect a backlash from the fans and that is exactly what happened when he got given the boot 2 years later. This could be because he had some trouble understanding and speaking English. While over time his English improved, he struggled to express himself freely in the language


When you see the English team that reached the semi-finals only a couple of years ago, around 90% of the fans will take the 2010 squad over 2018 one. However, it goes to show that it is not just the player profile and the manager profile that needs to be good. There are many more implications to the game than just the sentiment.