I didn’t want to contribute to Arrivederci-ville overkill but hard not to, in truth. Who doesn’t have an opinion on the smart exit of the cultured by slightly man-out-time Italian? Who doesn’t have a view of our ‘Arry’s flair, his money, his undoubted love of a loyal dog? (With money.) The thing is ripe for opinion and rich ground for the extrapolation of theories as diverse as the modus operandum of the two protoganists.
The thing with Harry has always been a football thing; an authentic, arm around the shoulder thing whereby mainly through sheer force of enthusiasm, players have been allowed to play- been liberated. Central to this hugely engaging phenomenon has been the personality of the man himself. In fact, it may be the case that Harry is very much the successor to a certain B Clough in the sense that though of course certain tactical mores are available to him, the success is all about inspiring belief. To the extent that matters of team shape and energy seem mere natural extensions of a faith inspired by Redknapp pre-game.
Harry has always done this; been close, been involved, shared the humour and the essential wit of the dressing room and training pitch. Then distilled/communicated/unleashed something of its irresistible force onto the park. Consequently, fans and players alike recognise one of their own – admittedly a brilliantly shrewd and knowledgeable one – who crucially commits utterly to an exciting and free-flowing model of the game itself; a model that coincides pretty exactly with what fans ideally want. So people love Harry; he is viewed first and foremost as a proper football man, or (more exactly, perhaps, given both his roots and his rootsiness?) a proper football geezer.
This slightly trench-coated version has recently come under scrutiny in a gruelling investigation – not without its personal edge – of Redknapp’s financial dealings. It was alleged that Harry dishonestly failed to cough up taxes due on substantial monies arising from football matters. The nature of those dealings – percentages upon transfers in particular come to mind – seemed all a bit East End Alley to many of us but did not, ultimately, either compromise his immediate liberty, or his reputation. Whilst the former of these two facts may be initially of most significance to the Redknapp family, it is clear that the lack of stain upon that manager’s Mac will be key in terms of a likely England Manager’s posting.
I am not I know alone in regarding the £300,000 received by Redknapp as his own percentage of the Rio Ferdinand sale as a rather crass throwback to allegedly simpler times; it feels inappropriate, exploitative, unwelcome. But it was not illegal and contravened no contract other than our own, ludicrously naive one with decency. Harry walked, indeed he strode manfully away – a touch further embittered against the police and the papers no doubt – but on and away he marched.
Meanwhile Fab was presumably smouldering. We can only presume because Capello has rarely opened either his heart or even his gestural vocabulary to us. (Unheard of for an Italian, surely?) If he did, it may be that we might have been more forgiving of his austere but cultured introversion. For though he was a thinker and a man of principle, he never showed us; apparently the will to assimilate and thereby associate barely entered his head. Capello either wanted a clinical (loveless?) respect-based relationship with some abstract notion of The English And Their Football or he wanted… what? High(er) art and music and the quiet life of a man in retirement from the slings and arrows? Who knows.
Fabio quite rightly never pretended to be anything other than an old-school man; believing in punctuality, respect, discipline. As such his appointment made sense at a time when our inclination was probably to punish those show ponies and their revolting circus. International players who binge-drink?!? Top top players who’s vulgarity offends us?!? And the flash gits can’t even PLAY! Let’s get FAB!! He’ll sort them out. And for a while, in a way, he did.
But it wasn’t much fun. Even the winning wasn’t, you felt. Too many obvious frailties; too little obvious progress. Then the World Cup.
The performance of both the players and the Management Team at the last World Cup was surely one of the greats. Rarely has such ineptitude, spinelessness and such petrification gathered together so spectacularly in a single team campaign. It was magnificently, insultingly poor. Fabio had the inspiring quality of a crinkle-cut chip – he was quirky and outdated and bad for us. The anti-ambience he had created destroyed any sign of life-affirming humour at an estimated distance of fifty yards. Performances were beyond parody – especially that of Wayne Rooney – and the manager’s inability to react, to help, actually, was remarkable. It remains a fabulous and appropriate irony that the only thing that kept Fab in his job was the fact the incompetent FA could not reasonably afford to sack him. Ha!!
Now Mr Capello may have quite reasonably resigned on a point of principle. Namely that he should have been consulted on the demotion (vol2.) of his preferred captain, John Terry. If that was the case, he has a point. (Not as big a point as those who argue that Terry simply cannot be England skipper whilst a live racism charge stands against him but a point nevertheless.) But clearly an opportunity has presented itself for all parties in this loveless marriage to walk with some dignity in the ‘different directions’ so oft-quoted in these affairs.
But setting aside the ushering in of The People’s Favourite, the thing lacks a feelgood factor pretty entirely. Ideally the rashly misunderstood but sadly unintelligible Italian, who will surely be remembered more as drab-Fab than as the hoped-for Cool Don of our own domestic game will be taking a soul-searing alpine route, with some symbolic elephants, perhaps? Inflatable ones; nice pink inflatable ones, on shiny new ribbons, clasped gaily up and over to his beloved Italy, grinning not gurning all the way.
How great would it be if by some happy touristic freak, Harry and Jamie and a spookily risen Rosie came smiling (beerily, post-apres-ski) past?