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Capello leaves England no better than he found it

By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The appointment of Fabio Capello as manager of England's national team in December 2007 was supposed to be a step in the right direction following the disappointing 18-months that Steve McClaren spent at the helm.

Yet on Wednesday, when Capello handed his resignation to the Football Association following a disagreement over John Terry being stripped of his captaincy, the Italian left the team in virtually the same state that he found it.

Under McClaren, England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships and was clearly in need of the type of manager who could restore confidence in the national team, which had been missing for years.

Enter Capello, a no nonsense Italian who had a history of success with some of the world's biggest clubs and who was expected to bring a fresh approach to the job.

In stints with AC Milan, Real Madrid, Roma and Juventus, Capello captured nine league titles and one Champions League crown, and the hope was that some of his winning pedigree would rub off on an England side in desperate need of some good results.

Yet Capello never really managed to take what many viewed as a talented but underachieving side much further than his predecessor.

The team that he inherited was filled with big-name players who had a history of success in the Premier League, like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney among others.

Capello's first big test came at the 2010 World Cup, and it was a performance that England fans are still doing their best to erase from memory.
Yet it was a mystery as to why the Three Lions had come up short time and again when the stakes were highest.

Capello's first big test came at the 2010 World Cup, and it was a performance that England fans are still doing their best to erase from memory.

England was handed a soft draw with the United States, Slovenia and Algeria in its group, yet somehow managed to only finish second behind the Americans.

It was an uninspired effort in the group stage to be kind, and England was soon on a plane back home after a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Germany in the second round.

Issues with goalkeeping, the inconsistency of star players like Rooney and an overall surprisingly poor level of play were to blame for yet another poor showing on the big stage.

Had Capello been relieved of his duties at that point, the decision probably wouldn't have been met with heavy resistance, but he was given another chance to get things right as he signed a new contract which ran through Euro 2012.

England's qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 saw the team finish six points clear at the top of its group, but despite a favorable draw in the competition that includes France, Sweden and the Ukraine in Group D, it's hard to see England being a major threat.

And maybe that's why Capello took such a surprisingly strong stance on the issue of Terry being stripped of the captain's armband by the FA.

At 65, it might just be easier to fade into the background and let someone else take the heat for another tournament that saw England come away empty- handed.

Whomever takes the reigns from Capello will be facing essentially the same challenges he did when he inherited the team from McClaren.

A roster filled with aging stars who have never quite been able to come together as a cohesive unit and play up to their potential.

The new boss must find a way to transition from players like Lampard, Gerrard, Terry and Rio Ferdinand to the next generation of English talent, something Capello wasn't able to accomplish during his tenure.

In the end, Capello's time in charge of England will not be remembered in the most favorable light.

His challenge of the FA ending in much the same way as his bid to bring titles to England.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?
Contact Tim Keeble at tkeeble@sportsnetwork.com.

Follow Tim Keeble on Twitter and Facebook.

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