It is the year of the World Cup football championships, so it is only natural that the England Team finds themselves in some kind of chaos as months march on.
This time it is down to the loose morals and trousers of Captain John Terry, who was stripped of his armband following his high profile affair. Manager Fabio Capello, flew back to England for a showdown with Terry following the released allegations of his marital infidelity. Capello chose his words carefully and diplomatically but the message was perfectly clear, his interest lies with the performance of his team and any player will be allowed to distract from the matter in hand.
And, after years of witnessing lesser-willed coaches weaken when confronted with challenging decisions, the decisive and considered way in which Capello exerted his authority should be welcomed by all England supporters. The Italian hasn’t played to the crowd and courted popularity by opting for an easy way out. The truth is there was no easy way out of the situation that exploded into view following revelations about Terry’s private life, and specifically the allegations he had an affair with Wayne Bridge’s former partner. Moral indignation about Terry’s betrayal of his wife, and Bridge, his close friend and England colleague, has been matched by the similarly strong opinion that private lives should remain just that; private.
Faced, then, with a problem that quickly needed resolving, Capello has apparently weighed up the implications in a cold manner and, it seems, with only the best interests of the England team at heart and it is clear the decision was his alone. In a statement to the FA’s official website, www.thefa.com, the coach said: “After much thought, I have made the decision that it will be best for me to take the captaincy away from John Terry. As a captain with the team, John Terry has displayed extremely positive behaviour. However, I have to take into account other considerations and what is best for all of the England squad.
“What is best for all of the England team has inspired my choice. John Terry was notified first. When I chose John Terry as captain, I also selected a vice-captain and also named a third choice. There is no reason to change this decision. I would like to take this opportunity to thank The FA, particularly Lord David Triesman and Ian Watmore, for allowing me to make this decision in my own time and in the best interest of the team.”
Capello knew that taking the armband off Terry would hurt a player who revels in his role as leader and could, potentially, undermine the defender’s presence on the pitch. On the other hand, there are clearly issues affecting Terry’s relationship within the squad and his capacity to lead a group of players, some of whom may view his behaviour less favourably.
Some of those players will inevitably be, on paper at least, be less integral to Capello’s first choice line-up, but the coach knows the only way to success is to create a strong cohesive group, the kind of group that gels on the pitch and becomes capable of producing performances beyond their expected level. Rio Ferdinand will take on the job with Steven Gerrard as vice-captain, but Ferdinand will be all too aware that his chances of wearing the armband when England face USA in their opening game in South Africa in Rustenburg on June 12t depend entirely on him making the grade. The same will go for all the other places and in one strong move, Capello will have swept away any complacency that may have existed within the group.
His first task now will be to restore spirit and comradeship in the squad, and where relations can’t be repaired, ensure as professional working relationship exists for the benefit of the team. That won’t be an easy job, but a World Cup year is no time to pander to bruised egos and damaged feelings. This situation has arisen, and it has been dealt with. Now England must move on quickly.
From The Back Side. Learn more at www.anthonylund.co.uk