By Jonathan Birchall
The news that John Terry is to be reinstated as England captain is likely to be met with wide scale disapproval from the nation’s football fans. Hardly surprising, you’d think, considering the man’s apparent disrespect for his fellow professionals shown for the duration of his affair with the ex-girlfriend of former team-mate Wayne Bridge.
Removal of Terry’s armband 13 months ago as a result of the scandal was a punishment that appears to have now been served in the eyes of Fabio Capello.
It is an unusual decision from an England manager who looks ever-increasingly like a man alienating himself from supporters of the national team. The Italian, we are assured, is a pragmatist, uninterested in the emotional side of a results business. Why then, it must be asked, has sympathy over Terry’s on-field embarrassment in Denmark last month, in which the armband was flung from one player to the other, missing out the Chelsea skipper each time like a school playground prank, been a factor in the decision making process of the Italian? Is Terry really the on-field general that Capello craves or is it more a case of brothers in armbands?
For many, the captaincy has become an amusing sideshow within the circus of the Three Lions. The red armband, supposedly a symbol of leadership and fortitude is no longer befitting any of the cogs in the perpetual disappointment machine that is England.
This is indicative of the problem. Is a good a captain the cause of a great side or its ideological effect? If England had the on-field ability to challenge for major honours, would the question of who attended the coin toss at the beginning of a group game against Montenegro be as prevalent among its football fans? You wouldn’t think so.
Redemption | John Terry looks to be the only viable candidate to captain Fabio Capello's side
There is certain sympathy for Capello as a result. As a manager of undoubted experience, issues as inconsequential as this must be baffling. He may claim not to care about what is written about him but it would be easier for all involved if the former Milan boss put an end to the saga and went with an option other than Terry. Ridiculously enough, there isn’t one.
|"It is an unusual decision from an England manager who looks ever-increasingly like a man alienating himself from supporters of the national team"|
England as a footballing entity is stuck in a period within which it’s finest players are too old to lead a new generation for the foreseeable future or too young, namely Jack Wilshere, to be burdened with the millstone of the captaincy. The exception to the rule is Wayne Rooney , who at 25 is nearing the ideal age to be the country’s latest skipper, though the moral justification of selecting the Manchester United striker over John Terry would be skewed at best.
The man who suffers most from this decision is undoubtedly Rio Ferdinand. After the Bridge scandal, the on-loan West Ham defender’s career as an England player effectively came to an end. Unwilling to play alongside the man who had embarrassed and disrespected him so publicly, Bridge called time on his international career.
For Ferdinand, you can’t help but feel that a similar sense of betrayal may be at the forefront of the mind. Having been given the captaincy to have it snapped away a year later by his national team boss, it would appear that reverberations of 13 months ago may once again lead to the premature retirement of one of Terry’s teammates.
Disappointing indeed, but more worrying still is that in the eyes of Fabio Capello, he wasn’t given any other choice.