The verdict on the Capello Index

“Own goal” is the phrase which crops up most this morning in analysis of the England coach’s decision to launch the Capello Index. What exactly is it and how might the index cause more problems than it solves?

According to the press release, “the Capello Index establishes a new formula for objectively measuring a player’s performance. The Capello Index will create an international player ranking system as well as providing the scoring mechanism for a new fantasy football game, the Capello XI.”

“Using a scoring system which takes account of every key event that occurs during the course of a match, the Capello Index has a unique formula that measures a player’s contribution from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.”

“The score a player’s action generates is weighted depending on a number of factors, such as the area of the pitch in which they are completed, their impact on the match and the importance of game.”

Fair enough; what’s the man himself got to say about it?

“Everyone who follows football enjoys debating the merits of particular players,” said Fabio Capello. “I have sought to use my experience as a manager at both club and international level to identify the attributes and qualities that make players valuable to a team.”

Which is pretty much what he does for a living anyway, so this isn’t exactly illuminating.

How will the new system be used?

The Capello Index will measure and evaluate the performances of players in England, Germany, Spain, France and Italy, along with the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. The 2010 World Cup is its first tournament.

For footy geeks like me this all sounds very useful. Unfortunately for Capello, writers responsible for obscure but growing blogs don’t own newspapers, most of which have given his Index a poor reception.

The problem seems to be this – England players will be evaluated two hours after every World Cup game by Capello himself. Not behind closed doors but in the harsh glare of the public eye. This will break a cardinal rule of the Capello era: never criticise in public.

That would be fine if we were talking about stable individuals who can accept criticism, but we’re not. These are footballers, petulant, moody, immature men who see enough of these instant ratings from the press and won’t take kindly to seeing this type of popular judgment in the dressing room sponsored by their coach.

Under the Capello Index one poor performance could crush a player’s confidence. Some of the 30 players to be named in England’s provisional squad may come to regard the Capello Index as just another way to expose their weaknesses. Is this really what the England coach wants?

There is also a wider issue here, namely the decision to involve himself in a sensitive commercial venture at a time when most England fans would expect Capello to be 100% focused on the World Cup.

Of course he’s quoted as saying the Index won’t make him any money unless it first makes a profit. My guess is the people who have developed this system over the past two years didn’t do it for charitable purposes. They will be desperate to ensure the Index gets as much press attention as possible.

Is there a better way to do that than by having a leading World Cup coach use the Index named after him to slag his own players in the middle of a tournament?

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