No love lost as Capello takes his leave
And so what started with such optimism in December 2007 ends just over four years later in rancour and another unholy mess.
"We wanted a winner with a capital W," barked the FA chief executive Brian Barwick at that unveiling in central London. "That was the template. This is the man. Fabio Capello!"
You could understand Barwick's brio. Capello came to the England job with a CV like few others - nine major league titles and a European Cup in 16 years as club manager, a successful enough itinerant to have won championships in four different big cities.
For a while he appeared to be bringing the same success to international football. Under his stern gaze, England made their best ever start to a World Cup qualifying campaign, winning their first nine matches, including demolishing Croatia 4-1 in Zagreb in exhilarating fashion.
Much like the 5-1 win in Germany pulled off by one of his predecessors, Sven-Goran Eriksson, it proved both a false dawn and an inaccurate reflection of his present-day managerial abilities.
At least Sven made World Cup quarter-finals. Capello's sole World Cup in charge was as chastening a campaign as qualification had been assured, a joyless trudge from disappointment to humiliation, and it left him fatally compromised for the remainder of his stewardship.
For a reported salary of £14,000 a day, English supporters expected a corresponding excellence. Only on rare occasions during Capello's reign did they get it.
Before the tournament even began there was the misjudgement of the ill-fated Capello Index, followed by the strange decision to select an injury-prone Ledley King and out of form Emile Heskey but not Theo Walcott, whose form and goals had done so much to get the team to South Africa.
Capello's helpless fury as a young, energised Germany side destroyed England at the 2010 World Cup became a defining image for his tenure. Photo: AFP
As England subsequently fell apart in South Africa, Capello appeared not to know the identity of his first-choice goalkeeper, that Steven Gerrard might be stymied by playing on the left wing or that his players resented the tactical and social restrictions he placed upon them.
England managers can survive 0-0 draws with Algeria, no matter how dismal. Humiliation at the hands of a patently superior Germany side is a different matter.
Just as Eriksson had been excoriated for sitting quietly in the dug-out as England drifted out of the previous World Cup, so Capello's helpless fury as Joachim Low's young, energised side pulled his labouring superstars apart became a defining image.
On the face of it, the qualifying campaign for this summer's European Championship brought a marked improvement - unbeaten, impressive in winning away in Bulgaria, blooding young players like Jack Wilshire and Phil Jones.
Yet there was an almost complete absence of expectation that England would actually continue that record in Poland and the Ukraine. Capello may have got the team through. But almost no-one believed that he could take them all the way.
The FA had wanted a disciplinarian at the helm - hardly surprising, given that Steve McClaren, the man he succeeded, had so little authority over his players that they reportedly rugby-tackled him in training, or that Sven had given his so much leeway that their wives made a bigger impact at the 2006 World Cup than the team did.
But disciplinarians are also often inflexible and autocratic. Capello was loath to change either his management style or tactics. When he finally did ditch his beloved 4-4-2 for a more expansive 4-3-3, his players still only seldom looked as if they actually enjoyed playing for their country.
Capello will not depart without some sympathy.
His cause was not helped by his and the media's mutual dislike; as PR guru Max Clifford had presciently written in a national newspaper at the time of his appointment, "Dear Fabio, you are going into a war zone."
Despite his claims on his appointment, Capello never mastered English and his relations with the media were characterised by mutual dislike. Photo: AFP
Capello had once said of the press: "Why should I waste my time talking to people who are clearly less intelligent than me?"
Stern in bearing and distant of character, he never cultivated or indulged journalists in the way the favourite to replace him, Harry Redknapp, has always done. As a result he would be afforded less leeway when fortunes on and off the pitch went against him.
Then there is the xenophobia sometimes hurled in his direction. Foreign coaches do not need to be failures by definition. They certainly seem to do well enough in English club football, or in charge of the England cricket team. If the quality and communication are there, the nationality can be irrelevant.
The flaw with Capello was that he seldom seemed to enjoy England or its culture. As a club manager he never bought a single British player, let alone an English one. As an international coach he spent almost as much time on holiday or at home in Italy as at Premier League grounds.
Capello's first sentence at his unveiling was a linguistic car-crash. Asked how he felt to be the new England manager, he haltingly replied: "I am very proud and hon-or-ried."
For the rest of that morning he lapsed back into his native tongue, an interpreter taking up the slack. "He says that, when he meets up with the squad in a month's time, he will be able to speak English," relayed his assistant.
If that appeared a remarkable claim at the time, it seems even more fanciful now.
Capello not only never mastered English, he seldom sounded as if he wanted to. His compatriot Carlo Ancelotti cracked it in half the time while at Chelsea. Coincidentally or not, Ancelotti also won trophies. As it was, it seems apposite that Capello's last interview as an England manager was also in Italian.
England's failures at international level go far beyond Capello's regime. There are structural problems in the national game, let alone within the dysfunctional committees of the FA, that leave the national side at risk of repeating the same pattern of underachievement for years to come.
Capello was also the unwitting victim of the FA's regular habit of appointing an England manager as knee-jerk contrast to the failings of the one who has gone before.
Back in 1994, Graham Taylor's lumpy playing style and low public stock led directly to the tabloid-friendly and eye-pleasing regime of Terry Venables. When that was ended by questionable business deals and unseemly court cases, the clean-cut Glenn Hoddle was called in - replaced in turn by the crowd-pleasing populism of Kevin Keegan when Hoddle ostracised himself with poor man-management and outre public utterances.
Keegan proved tactically naive. The result? The summoning of Sven, urbane, sophisticated and supposedly a supreme Serie A strategist. When the foreigner was deemed to have failed, the FA switched to a no-nonsense Englishman, who promptly did the same.
After the Wally with the Brolly, Capello was meant to bring class and composure. Yet he was never loved by England fans, never in the way Venables was for a period, not even regarded with the same fond affection as Keegan.
His win-loss record as England boss is better than even Sir Alf Ramsey. By that reckoning he fulfilled Barwick's promise that he would be a winner. But with a capital 'W'? No.