Found pinned under a desk at FA headquarters, a hastily scribbled note with a Friuli phone number attached for further information. At least, that’s how I’ve imagined it…
To whom it may concern (probably ‘Arry),
I just wanted to leave you a few words of advice before I fly out of the country never to be seen again. They might come in handy as you take over the helm at England. I certainly wish somebody had done the same for me.
First of all, beware what the English call the “honeymoon period”. This is their term for the time when everyone cosies up to you and tells you that you are brilliant. Watch out for the tabloids in particularly. “Absolutely Fabio!”, “For He’s A Jolly Capello!” - oh how these headlines made me chuckle. Not!
This, I found out, is to soften you up for what they really think. Despite the overwhelming evidence of nearly 50 years since they last won a major tournament, they go into every one believing they will emerge victorious. When they don’t, they begin another favourite national game - Hunt the Scapegoat. Watch out, because you will be number one candidate for that.
Hopefully, you will not have to worry about committing one of the major crimes that I did - being foreign. They seem to forget that no Englishman has won their own domestic league in about 1,000 years! But, if you have a funny accent (don’t know if that includes Cockney, I’m afraid!) you run the risk of being told you “don’t understand” their game.
Oh, and a few subject matters to steer clear of - reincarnation, racism, captaincy, sporting indexes, court cases, how bad their food is and all the stuff the players get up to at the weekend. There are probably a few more I haven’t mentioned. In fact, try to speak as little as possible.
Above all, don’t think the job is actually about football. That was the mistake I made by producing one of the best results records of anyone ever to hold the post! Forget the tactics, get yourself a guide on how to handle the latest crisis when your players are caught in a fight/drinking session/romp with a page three girl.
I say all of this, but I realise it won’t actually make a blind bit of difference. You’ll be hailed as a saviour, slowly they’ll realise you’re not and the dismantling process will begin. My advice? Make sure you get as good a contract as you can and get the hell out of there as soon as the opportunity arises. Emergency exits are here, here and here!
In bocca al lupo!
PS If it is you ‘Arry, could you pass me the details of your legal team to forward to my old boss Silvio?