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Fabio Capello isn't coming to New York

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Rumors have the highly-decorated Italian manager taking over from Jason Kreis. He isn't.

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Fabio Capello isn't coming to New York City.

I mean, he could be coming to the Five Boroughs. Lots of people like to visit, after all! So I wouldn't rule out a vacation stop for him here.

Oh: you meant that he was coming here to work. Yeah, that's not happening. Goal.com is saying that he could be taking over for Jason Kreis as head coach of New York City FC, but I'm highly skeptical.

Sources have confirmed to Goal USA that the 69-year-old former England national team manager is in discussions with New York City FC ownership to take over as the club's new head coach.

Capello would replace current NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis, who has been rumored to be on the hot seat as the club's Manchester-based ownership seek a high-profile option to help NYCFC improve on a disappointing first season in MLS.

Fine. Let's do this. Here's why Capello isn't going to be New York City's second head coach.

  1. He's 69 years old. There's a reason why his most recent managerial stints have been with national teams. It's because coaching national teams is far, far less taxing than the minute-by-minute, hour-to-hour, day-after-day grind of coaching a club team. It's not the kind of gig where you can kick up your feet and take it easy, particularly in MLS. Not that national teams are easy, either, but it's a much more episodic job. Aside from tournament & friendly play, you're simply not doing that much.
  2. He's a high-profile coach. Much of Kreis' frustrations this past season are directly due to his relative lack of control over signings, particularly high-profile signings. Are we to really believe that Capello is going to be copacetic with not having that kind of control over his team? That brings us to the next reason.
  3. He's a high-profile foreign coach in MLS. I'm actually going to expound on this for a bit.
There's this idea that the reason foreign coaches haven't succeeded in MLS is because we haven't had any really "good" ones. You see this a lot with people who are new to the league. Well, why couldn't we get [Guardiola/van Gaal/Garcia/insert name here] here? Those dudes would kill in MLS! They'd coach circles around Porter/Kinnear/&c!

It's not about the X's and O's. The hang-up isn't on the field; it's off the field. Specifically: the front office. A guy like Guardiola is used to operating in a certain fashion, even with a director of football. You look at your squad, you highlight your deficiencies, and either you promote from within to address them, or you sign someone to make up for that flaw.

In MLS, that's a far more difficult process than you'd think. Squads have to be constructed carefully within the salary & roster constraints of the league. It's a fantastically tricky process; make the wrong signing, and your roster becomes hamstrung. It's not just a matter of signing X numbers of players and cutting Z number.

On top of that, in order to maximize their roster's potential, any coach would have to become extremely familiar with the player pool; not just in the United States, but in the Americas. Realistically, that means spending years in MLS. There's a reason why the vast majority of MLS coaches are people who've either been coaching in the league or playing in the league.

Ask yourself: is that really something that describes Capello? Or Guardiola? Or any one of the number of foreign coaches that you'd think of? These are guys who coach three or four years at one place, burn out there, then move to the next team. They aren't, any of them, people who put down roots for the long-term.

I'm not slagging them for that. They're just following the Béla Guttman model of management. But it's not something that's amenable to MLS.

But wait, you say. Why couldn't you pair someone like Capello with someone who knows the league as his director of football? Like Reyna?

Well, for starters, Reyna doesn't know the league at all. (His role at New York City is also remarkably ambiguous, about which more anon.) But I get what you're asking: why not pair Capello with a Garth Lagerwey-type? Sounds good on paper, but in effect, that would involve Capello taking a junior position to Lagerwey.

Does that strike you as something that a Capello-type is likely to do? Even if the answer is yes, it still requires him -- or any foreign coach -- to have some base-level knowledge of players he wants to target who could fit under MLS' arcane roster construction rules.

Yeah. Capello isn't coming to New York City, or MLS. And there's one last reason.
  • Jason Kreis is the highest-paid coach in MLS, at around $1 million per year.
  • Fabio Capello made around $10 million a year whilst coaching Russia.
Are we seriously to believe that Capello is going to take a 90% pay cut in order to coach in MLS?

Yeah. Capello isn't going to coach New York City.

One other thing: it's remarkably interesting that a news-phobic organization like New York City -- a team that's been incredibly sealed off, speaking only when it deigns to -- is suddenly springing all kinds of leaks. Leaks that are coincidentally dismissive of Kreis, but argue that Reyna will be sticking around.

Combine that with the very open questions -- raised by Kyle Martino, among dozens of others -- about just what it is that Reyna is paid to do as a "director of football" with next to no knowledge of the league, and it really makes you go hmmmmm about whom is leaking to whom.