Harry Redknapp, David Bernstein, and Fabio Capello in Les Liaisons Dangereuses
A day ago, Harry Redknapp was in the dock on tax evasion charges. If proven guilty, it would end his chances to be England manager, a post that he has long coveted. Worse, as a convicted felon, the punishment could mean jail time and a leave of absence from football for a long, long time.
Today, less than 12 hours after being exonerated, his ascent to England manager become red hot reality as Fabio Capello resigned. You could not screw your tin foil hat any tighter.
It almost sounds like the FA played this right from the start. Setting up John Terry as bait, Capello bites, they then cut the line loose by axing Terry without Capello’s knowledge, enraging the Italian enough to go on the air and publicly chastise them. Meanwhile the FA puts pressure on the court to get Redknapp a favourable verdict by promising the judge and his family luxury seats to every FA Cup final.
Outside the court, everyone and anyone in the FA or connected to them jumps down Capello’s throat accusing him from breach of contract to moral hazard for his ill spoken words. Cut to Southwark exterior, Redknapp vindicated walks out blinking and twitching into the cold winter morning, bemoaning his three weeks spent trying to explain Rosie 47. In a corner room, the England manager demoralized and isolated, resigns in less than an hour after a meeting with the FA’s David Bernstein.
In fact, we could even dig deeper, the FA set up the court case so that Redknapp would be cleared in time to coincide with Capello’s resignation after running a parallel Machiavellian scheme to undo him.
But we know human nature is actually far more frail. It’s more like this Redknapp dumb, FA dumber, and Capello dumbest.
Good old Harry was naive thinking HM Customs would not try to bring him to book with a red flag like a Monaco overseas account that was getting pumped by someone as dubious as Milan Mandaric, who cooked the books while at Pompey. The FA was caught with their pants down thinking John Terry’s racial abuse did not merit an investigation with commensurate punitive measures while doing the same with Luis Suarez. The deferment of Terry’s legal case till after the Euro championship only helped the controversy metastasize. And Capello was in a spider hole thinking his tone deaf Terry advocacy would have no backlash as a desperate FA sought a scapegoat. It all coalesced together in one single day, confirming that indeed the most blindingly happy coincidences are the result of stochastic forces. Yeah, fractals and chaos theory.
Now, onto the next play in this tempest. John Terry seeing his biggest supporter leave with a cloud over his head, will not only be happy to give up his captaincy, he will retire from international competition. Because Redknapp probably has his own selections in mind and he will be keen to set a tone that will consciously separate him from his predecessor and that ugly World Cup blight. Getting rid of Terry would be the fastest and easiest way to score him some brownie points with the FA and most of the players.
Did Capello deserve this? In sum, he wasn’t the smartest manager. There was too much of his Milan imprint in going for older, more experienced players, and little faith in youth. He was also remote and somewhat condescending which never went down well with his players. And of course, the World Cup stinker will always be laid at his feet. But he was tough, disciplined, and principled. England achieved qualification to the Euro in some style with a welcome cohesion that was missing in South Africa. Someone with his pride was never going to have it easy in one of the toughest footballing job in the world.