Capello blunder could cost him his job

Posted on February 8, 2012


Fabio Capello’s public criticism of the FA’s decision to take the England captaincy from John Terry may have won him the support of Sir Alex Ferguson, but it just might cost him his job as England manager.

Should the FA decide that Capello is in breach of his contract, as ex-FA Chief Executive David Davies suggests he has, they would be entitled to sack the Italian and seek a new man to lead England in Poland and Ukraine this summer. Such a scenario is unlikely and undesirable, but a certain amount of diplomacy is required from Capello in order to prevent a minor crisis becoming an apocalyptic one.

Capello is in the wrong, for sure. Though perhaps rightly aggrieved that he was not more heavily involved in the consultation process, he was told of the decision to sack Terry before it was made public. He may have significant trust in his leader, demonstrated when he reinstated the Chelsea player as captain two years ago, but it is a blind trust that threatens to undermine both England’s bid for glory in the summer and the reputation of the English game in the eyes of the world.

Why Terry’s trial needed to be postponed until after the European Championships is anyone’s guess, but that postponement gave the FA a choice. They could let Terry continue in his position, and have every press conference, every pre-match build-up and his every touch overshadowed by the ongoing controversy. In removing him, they have made the right choice. A man who is set to stand trial for alleged, and denied, racial abuse should not lead the England team. His captaincy threatened to overshadow the tournament and divide the squad, as it was claimed he did at the World Cup in 2010. And it is the belief of this writer that his mere presence would have a negative impact on England’s Euro plans.

In any other workplace, a man who was accused of racist abuse would be suspended pending the outcome of his trial. Rather than just standing Terry down as captain, the FA should make it clear that he is suspended from duty as an England player until able to prove his innocence of what he is accused of. In 2010, a John Terry angry at not being captain caused divisions within the England camp and undermined both his manager and his replacement as captain, Steven Gerrard, with outspoken comments. Why would it be any different this time round? Is this a different John Terry we are talking about? England cannot cope with a media storm every time Terry takes a seat in a press conference or heads the ball. If Rio Ferdinand is picked for the squad, how will their relationship affect England’s preparations?

John Terry is not the player he was, but he is still one of the best in his position that England have. Nevertheless, a man that has been labelled a natural leader has once again demonstrated his ability to cause divisions within the England squad and problems for the FA and his manager. If Capello has any sense, he should apologise to the FA for his outburst, release a joint statement expressing unity, and abide by the decision to sack Terry. And in future weeks, he should think very carefully indeed if John Terry’s presence at Euro 2012 will be more or a help or a hindrance to England’s chances of success.

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