The relevant authorities, if that be the word, seemingly knew of Capello’s opposition before they issued their edict. So at least both parties were apprised of the situation before Capello’s defiant interview last Sunday on Italian television. There can be no doubt that he overstepped the mark as an FA employee, but should the situation have been allowed to arise at all?
Though I’ve known Capello for so many years, admired him as a footballer, a manager and an expert critic of the game, I have long felt that his appointment as England manager was a disastrous and hugely expensive mistake. His idiotic indulgence of a faded David Beckham, with cap after meaningless substitute’s cap, was ludicrous to a degree. To drop the clause from his contract, which gave both parties the chance to terminate it after the South African World Cup proved after his and England’s performance a colossal mistake; the fruit of one misguided dodderer whose decision was inexplicably crucial.
Capello arguably made a dog’s breakfast of the World Cup in South Africa. It should be noted – by and large it surprisingly hasn’t been – Terry at one point tried to implement a mini revolt, which Capello speedily put down; yet still seemed to trust him as a captain. When Terry was previously deprived of the captaincy, it was on account of his liaison with the ex-girlfriend of left-back Wayne Bridge though, however unacceptable, it was hard to see what it had to do with football.
As for the matter of Rio Ferdinand’s lost captaincy on Terry’s return, it was always hard to see the justification for Ferdinand’s role given that he had served an eight-month suspension for failing to take that drug test at the Manchester United training ground.
Yet surely the salient point in this whole sombre business is that English law historically decrees that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty and Terry’s case has been arbitrarily postponed to be tried in distant July. I have no idea what the verdict will be; Terry as we know, still denies that he insulted Anton Ferdinand – who didn’t hear the words, anyway – and was merely emitting into the void. That Terry’s reputation is hardly pristine, given a number of controversial episodes off the field, is neither here nor there.
Nor is the fact that while, in this country, anti-racism has become almost an obsession, in other countries such as Russia – mark the repugnant case of Lokomotiv Moscow and Peter Odemwingie – it is endemic. Yet FIFA happily granted Russia the 2018 World Cup at England’s expense.
Meanwhile, at Chelsea, all seems to be turbulence, with the billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich turning up at the club’s Cobham training ground and invigilating his hapless young manager, Andre Villas-Boas, reportedly for hours. But surely, when he appointed the then 33-year-old inexperienced though precocious Portuguese, Abramovich must have known he was taking a risk. In the event Chelsea have hardly flourished under Villas-Boas, all too liable to expostulation. Some of his actions have seemed excessively and even harmfully draconian. Notably sidelining Anelka and Alex from first team training and almost petulantly failing to invite them to the team’s Christmas party. Now both have gone. While the reserve players have also been banished from first team dressing room facilities. Some kind, it seems, of a punishment for inadequate form. Yet arguably the best of them, the teenaged midfield strategist Josh McEachran, has been sent out on loan to Swansea City.
Ah, youth schemes! Arsenal’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, has recently been trumpeting the virtues of the Gunners version, boasting that it produces players in abundance. Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere, yes; but who else?
By Brian Glanville