Jul 16, 2012, 1:29 PM EDT
In hindsight, we should have seen this coming. Fabio Capello was lured to England by a huge pay day, and Russia’s not scared to commit big money to a name coach (see Guus Hiddink). The fit’s too good, particularly since Russia may still have enough talent to make Brazil.
On Monday, the Russian Football Union announced the imminent signing of the former Milan, Real Madrid, Roma, and Juventus head coach. He takes over a team which, after a disappointing end to Euro 2012, must navigate a World Cup qualifying group that includes Portugal, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.
Though Russia’s confirming the hire, the contract still has to be worked out. Capello has only agreed to take the job. Ink has yet to hit paper.
“I am happy,” Capello told the news agency ANSA. “[I]f contract negotiations go well as I believe they will, it will be a wonderful adventure, as Russia is a great country.”
A great country that provides him an avenue to another World Cup, and as UEFA groups go, Russia’s is on the easy side (particularly considering Portugal has had trouble winning its recent qualifying groups). The bigger challenges for Capello will be culture and roster. In England, he either didn’t try that hard to absorbs his players’ culture (including language) or he maintained an act for the press. In Russia, assimilation will also be an issue, particularly given a roster of players transitioning from their prime into the latter stages of their careers – players who are almost entirely based in (and have never left) the Russian leagues.
The only starter from Euro 2012 who will be under 30 by Brazil 2014 is Alan Dzagoev. Some egos may need to be coaxed as roles are redefined. Can Capello do that? And if not, is he the right person to identify and implement a whole new leadership structure?
Capello’s new players are the remnants of a golden generation in Russia, one that’s lost its luster. Brazil represents a final chance to convert on their promise, with the memories of Euro 2008 tarnished by 2012′s failure. If Capello seems a swing for the fences, it’s because the RFU needs a home run.
Jun 19, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
Fabio Capello is the latest manager to say “no” to the defending Ligue 1 champions.
Jun 19, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT
Liverpool take a huge net loss on the 24-year-old while West Ham set their transfer fee record.
Jun 19, 2013, 9:48 AM EDT
Tragedy struck Chivas USA’s youth squad Monday night.
Jun 19, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT
At the call of fans and media alike, the FA Cup final at Wembley will return to its post-league date.
Jun 19, 2013, 8:35 AM EDT
The United States had the perfect lineup to slowly whittle away at the Honduras defense before it finally broke.
Jun 19, 2013, 7:45 AM EDT
The 24-year-old American has found a new team after spending 5 seasons at Villa Park.
Jun 19, 2013, 7:08 AM EDT
The Premier League has released its fixture list for the 2013/2014 season in its entirety. Find out the opening fixtures plus your favorite team’s derby here!
Jun 19, 2013, 2:00 AM EDT
Feel free to ask yourself at this point: where would the United States be in World Cup qualifying without its young, in-form striker:
Jun 18, 2013, 11:54 PM EDT
Jozy Altidore was the hero for the United States, cooly slotting a left-footed shot to hand the Stars & Stripes a 1-0 victory over Honduras.
Jun 18, 2013, 8:33 PM EDT
The LA Galaxy coach has taken aging players and made them useful parts of the roster before:
Jun 18, 2013, 7:14 PM EDT
Everyone loves “The Pope”
Jun 18, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT
Our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 16 rounds of play:
Jun 18, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
Some of the best U.S. success in the past has come when the United States was backed into a corner. Tonight looks much different:
Jun 18, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
There are a few choices to be made ahead of Tuesday’s match in Utah:
Jun 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
Unsaid in this narrative is this: most U.S. sites are bright and alive these days.
Jun 18, 2013, 11:06 AM EDT
Stuart Pearce has been relieved of his duties as manager of England’s U-21 squad.
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