This was written in between the period of John Terry being stripped of the England captaincy and Fabio Capello resigning…
For the second time in three years John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy, not this time by Fabio Capello, but by the Football Association. Some will praise the heavy-handed and decisive nature of the FA’s decision but it beggars the question – why has it taken so long?
The incident, involving an allegation of racial abuse towards Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand, took place in October. Terry was placed under police investigation in November before being charged for the use of racist language in December. Why has it taken the FA four months to eventually strip Terry from his role as captain?
Once again the FA has displayed ineptitude, indecisiveness and inertia, waiting for the Crown Prosecution Service and latterly the Magistrate’s Court to co-ordinate their own processes rather than hold their own internal enquiry, which has left them in this unsavoury predicament.
The delay of Terry’s trial until July 9th, after this summer’s European Championships, forced the FA into making a decision that they clearly did not want to take in November, a decision that they hoped the legal procedures would take out of their hands.
Conversely it shows a glaring lack of consistency with previous FA policies towards players involved in legal procedures. Back in 2000 Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate were suspended from international selection pending the outcome of charges against them for racially aggravated assault. Neither had the same international pedigree as John Terry does now, suggesting that the FA have sacrificed official policy to safeguard the England captain.
In any other walk of life the allegations that have been levelled against Terry would have led to his indefinite suspension from the workplace. That is why the FA have, belatedly, reached a partially correct decision and emphasizes why they have not gone far enough. It is harsh to accuse the FA of prejudging the verdict of Terry’s trial; he is after all, innocent until proven guilty, but when facing such a heinous charge the position of national team captain surely becomes untenable.
Yet the manager Capello must take a share of the blame for the debacle that has ensued. His decision to remove Terry from the captaincy in 2010 was motivated by issues of morality and possible corrosive implications on team morale that came with the allegations of an extra-marital affair with a team mate’s ex-girlfriend. That decision did at the time feel harsh, though Terry’s position seemed to have become untenable largely down to a political storm whipped up by media frenzy.
Terry’s reinstatement as captain just a year later however was beyond ludicrous and this ensuing mess can almost be seen as an inevitable consequence of Capello’s baffling u-turn. Terry has never strayed far from controversy, and Capello’s reasoning behind his reinstatement was that the Chelsea defender had ‘learnt his lesson’; clearly not.
How on earth Capello believed that Terry had ‘learnt his lesson’ after he had attempted to lead a mutiny during the 2010 World Cup campaign is nonsensical. One would have thought that Terry would never play again under the Italian, but the myth of Terry as a natural leader of men persisted, clouded Capello’s better judgement and betrayed his reputation as a disciplinarian.
Rio Ferdinand took to his Twitter account to rule himself out of the running ‘after the last episode’, a reference to being discarded by Capello in March last year, and this is symptomatic of the disarray that the Italian has created.
Finally the time has come for Steven Gerrard to be instated as England captain; the suggestion that there is any other credible candidate is risible. Arguably Gerrard should have been handed the captaincy ahead of John Terry back in 2006; fresh on the back of his heroics in that year’s FA Cup Final and with the legacy of his inspirational role in Liverpool’s Istanbul comeback of 2005, he was widely touted and would have relished the responsibility.
Gerrard had the misfortune to be handed the captaincy for England’s woeful World Cup in South Africa, yet can hardly be blamed for a campaign that was undermined from the beginning by dubious preparation and selection.
Though the Liverpool captain has not appeared for his country since November 2010, he is finally beginning to regain match fitness after various injury troubles that blighted his 2011. To suggest that any of Gareth Barry, Scott Parker or even Frank Lampard should be considered above Gerrard is frankly preposterous.
His passive influence, the complete antithesis of Terry’s brand of fist-pumping, helped inspire a largely mediocre Liverpool side to Champions League glory from an improbable position in 2005 and could play a crucial in England’s journey to Poland and Ukraine this summer.