In a recent article published in the Daily Telegraph, Fabio Capello the much maligned Italian coach of the English football team, claimed that he only needed to use 100 words (in English) to get his message across to the England players. Capello, who was criticised during the World Cup in South Africa for his inability to communicate effectively in English, will certainly raise eyebrows with his latest assertion.
What, one wonders, are these 100 words? These linguistic nuggets which will allow Signor Capello to build a cohesive, motivated and winning English football team? Something that escaped previous native-English speaking England managers.
Well we have racked our brains to come up with some useful words to add to this important lexicon. Here’s a starter for ten:
“If God had wanted us to play football in the sky, He’d have put grass up there” (courtesy of the great Brian Clough)
“Easy on the Krystal tonight, boys – big game tomorrow”,
“You get £100,000 a week – try at least get it on target”
“Keep it on the deck!”
“Game of two halves lads – all to play for”
“Who’s parked their Hummer in my parking space?”
“The Captain today is…”
Joking aside, some pundits have argued that hiring a non-native English speaking manager is bound to create communication problems – both with the players and the media. But there are plenty of success stories of foreign players and managers plying their trade in England and reaching an excellent level of proficiency in the language – who doesn’t remember the great Dane – Jan Moby who played for Liverpool in the 80s and his Scouse (Liverpool) accent?
The English Premier League is dominated by foreign nationals with 60% of players coming from overseas and 50% of the top 6 teams managed by French or Italians. They would not survive if they did not do a good job and the same is true for Signor Capello.
By stating that he only needed 100 words to get his message across, Capello was stating the obvious: we actually use very few words in everyday conversation – approximately 2,000. In a focused environment such as football where there is a set vocabulary Capello can undoubtedly get his message across – sure he won’t deliver an awe inspiring speech as Henry V (via Shakespeare) did prior to the battle of Agincourt:
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”
But a simple – “come on lads”, “I believe in you”, “do this, don’t do that”, etc. should be more than sufficient for seasoned professionals who, after all, are paid to do this day in day out for the best teams in the country?
There is another game tonight – albeit a friendly against Ghana. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”
Buona fortuna Signor Capello!
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011