Capello is a Lawyer

I’ve often thought that I spend a disproportionate amount of time watching, playing, analyzing and discussing football.  However, with the nation, if not completely infected with World Cup fever at least showing early symptoms, perhaps I could be forgiven (at least for a few more weeks), for seeing things through football tinted specs.

It occurred to me that England’s preparations for the tournament resemble how I might prepare a case.  Indeed, Mr Capello has adopted such a meticulous and methodical approach, it did not surprise me one bit to hear that his son was a lawyer; the apple falling closer to the tree than it might first appear.

When I take instructions from a client, my first job is to listen to my client’s story and have a look at the supporting evidence.  This is tantamount to Mr Capello, scouring the country for our best players.  The players therefore, are like the evidence.  I’ve never thought of a particularly useful piece of evidence as a Rooney before, but if England go on to win the World Cup anything is possible.

Sometimes my client will come complete with a comprehensive bundle of evidence, but often I have to do a bit of digging.

Much of the evidence required is obvious, your Gerrards and your Lampards – clearly useful and pretty much indispensable.

Some evidence is uncovered in the course of investigations, you know it’s out there but you just need to find it – Walcott, Adam Johnson, Lennon – and is of varying degrees of usefulness.

On occasion though and especially satisfying is finding evidence you had no idea you had, such as evidence from third parties.  England is not a great recipient in this respect but some make excellent use of this weapon.  Just ask Australia, who took a 4-0 drubbing from Germany with goals from 2 Poles and a Brazilian.

One final thing to bear in mind with evidence however is that not all evidence is helpful and can do more harm than good – no prizes for guessing who I am referring to here.  The trick here is to minimize the impact and shield it with a good defence (as far as possible).

Your own evidence is only half the story though.  Once you’ve had a look at your own case, you need to assess your opponent.  Using the USA, although it could be said that their evidence gels together well in some respects to make a reasonably compelling argument, generally they consider football to be a game which involves throwing the ball to one another and compared with England’s superstars, their players are no more than Premier League-also-rans and Becks’ cheerleaders in Major League Soccer (how can a country that calls its top league Major League Soccer – it sounds like something for 6 year olds – draw with the creators of the game!).

After assessing the evidence I then consider how best to maximise my client’s case by pleading the appropriate causes of action, paying due consideration to the strength and type of the evidence.  Mr Capello might think of this as adopting a formation to get the best out of his key players.

If England had been my client I would have felt confident on Saturday morning as to its prospects of success at trial that evening.  When going in to a trial/match though, you can never be totally certain of the outcome, as there are almost always going to be some weaknesses in your case and occasionally matters arise which couldn’t have been predicted, such as a witness straying wildly from his statement, the equivalent of a goalkeeper spilling the ball into his own net.

In this respect I have an advantage over Mr Capello, in that I can look to settle matters before the case goes to trial.  Once Fabio has set his stall out he then has no choice but to go into battle and take his chances.

Most of the time he’s been successful and I can thankfully say the same, but when things go wrong or matters you can’t legislate for pop up (or out of your hand and into the goal), that’s when there is some explaining to do.  This is another area where Mr Capello appears to be ahead of his predecessors and in line with the advice I would give my client however.

By giving a frank and realistic opinion beforehand, warning of the risks as well as the rewards, England’s draw with the USA was not so much met with calls for his head and cries of; “where did it all go wrong”, but rather something that was not entirely unexpected and something to build on.

Mr Capello it seems, although meticulous in his pursuit of success, is also astute enough to weigh the evidence objectively and provide advice appropriate to what he has been dealt, meaning this time, if England where to progress as far as the semi-finals, most of us will see that for what it really is; progress and a good result with what we had to work with, rather than another year of failure.

Actually forget all of that.  After we beat Algeria, I’ll be saying we’re definitely going to win it like everyone else.

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