When Tottenham face West Ham at White Hart Lane tonight, both sets of fans will hope their club can offer a substantially more entertaining performance than they have done in the first four months of the season.
The visitors, crippled by the lack of centre-forward have been stripped one of Big Sam’s favourite – arguably the only – weapon, while Spurs, despite their plethora of attacking players, emerge from the AVB era with the same conundrum: how do we score goals?
It is then rather ironic than the man largely billed as the favourite to replace the beleaguered Portuguese is Fabio Capello, a man that has made entertainment as important to his brand of football as strawberries are to the perfect gin and tonic.
The Italian, quite plainly, is the wrong man for the Spurs job and not only because his ruthless football isn’t what Spurs fans dream of.
Capello hasn’t managed at club level since being sacked by Real Madrid in 2007 when, despite delivering La Liga in his first season at the club, his defensive playing style costed him the job.
In football, particularly club football, six years are an extremely long time, as players evolve, owners change and contacts might retire or be lost altogether, which does not mean Capello is “out of the loop”, but history shows that the route from international football to club duty is arduous one to venture upon.
Furthermore, while the Italian’s collaboration with Franco Baldini delivered league titles in Rome and Madrid, Capello has always demanded total control of the proceedings in terms of recruiting players.
While during his spell at Roma that attitude proved shrewd as Baldini and Capello secured the services of Emerson, Gabriel Batistuta and Walter Samuel, after his arrival at the Bernabeu many questioned the wisdom of signing Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson – who ended up starting only 12 games between them – from Juventus.
Andre’ Villas-Boas seemed to allude more or less blatantly that his squad hadn’t been entirely assembled to his wishes, but who’s to say Capello, were he to be succeed the Portuguese, would be happy with the current Spurs’ crop?
Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado are undoubtedly extremely talented players but none of them, as it stands, is the sort of world class player the former England manager has always built his sides around.
At AC Milan Capello could count on the likes of Paolo Maldini, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marcel Desailly all in their prime, while Marco Van Basten remained a crucial part of that team, despite the injuries that blighted his career in the second part of the early 1990s.
During both of his spells at Real Madrid, Capello worked with the likes of Raul, Roberto Carlos, David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy and, again, all of them were in their pomp, as were Francesco Totti and Emerson at Roma.
The last time that Capello took on an expensively assembled squad, during his second spell at AC Milan, the Rossoneri’s stellar cast of Leonardo, Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids failed to gel as the Italian, who had won La Liga the previous season, could only muster an 11th-place finish.
Furthermore, one of the main criticism aimed at Villas Boas was that he couldn’t get the best out of the talent at his disposal, but Capello is hardly a man known for giving more creative players free reins, nor is he afraid of locking horns with some of the high profile players, as David Beckham can testify.
Those claiming that Capello’s spell in charge of England would give him a head start over other foreign managers are missing the point, for while he might know English players better than other European managers, pretty much every coach in the country would know what to expect from a team managed by the Italian, after his largely unimpressive four years in the Wembley dugout.
Fabio Capello knows his football, the numbers don’t lie and the Italian will probably be remembered as one of the best managers of the last three decades, but Spurs would be better off looking elsewhere.