John Terry sat in front of the media yesterday and laid bare many of the problems within the England squad. If you read between the lines of the press coverage and the information coming from within Fabio Capello’s ranks, it’s not hard to decipher what’s going on.
Since the start of this competition there has been a growing, and almost universal as far as I have seen, clamour for a switch to 4-5-1 amongst the media. We’ll call this the Gerrard/Rooney axis.
It is very rare to find such support within the press for one solution, as usually everyone has different ideas. So today it was no surprise to hear that this was the view of senior England players as well. Could it be that the press consensus had been fed to them by the players?
When John Terry then tells the world how the squad are unhappy with the strict methods of Capello and that he is planning to have it out with the coach at a crisis meeting that evening, the press, or at least most of them, and pundits like Alan Shearer scrambled to back him, praising his honesty and forthright views.
Shearer, it should be remembered, challenged the authority of Glenn Hoddle during the final months of his tenure – “have you ever considered that the problem might be you” – albeit without bleating to the press.
Imagine the response from Sir Alex if one of his players had said publicly the things that EBJT said yesterday. Actually, you don’t need to imagine because Roy Keane did something similar. His contract was terminated faster than you could say Fletcher Christian.
Airing your differences within the dressing room is all well and good, but to do so in front of slavering press hounds is an unforgivable sin.
Terry is no longer captain, which makes this quote very revealing indeed:
Since I lost the armband, nothing’s ever changed for me. Off the field, in the camp, in the dressing room, I’ll still be the same. No one will take that away from me. I was born to do stuff like that. I will continue to do that in the dressing room and on the training field
So in a single press conference Terry has managed to openly question Capello, reveal the inner-dysfunctions of the squad as well as his resentment at losing the captaincy and undermine Steven Gerrard’s captaincy.
It’s no secret how highly Terry esteems the captaincy, and also how lucrative a position it is for someone who is willing to exploit it. That quote from yesterday tells us that he has a sense of entitlement rather than just a desire. It is also clear from his actions at Chelsea in the past that he is a budding Macchiavellian.
The news that last night’s meeting was anything but a no-holds-barred slanging match, however, suggests that Terry has been put in his place.
He might be able to curry the favour of the press by passing on inside info, and whilst there is the prospect of World Cup diaries and autobiographies to be ghostwritten, but he is rapidly running out of friends inside the England setup.
The players, as reported in today’s Times, are unhappy at the leaking of information and Terry’s claims to be speaking on behalf of the whole squad yesterday, which he was not. Gerrard, as captain, has particular cause to be upset.
Capello and the coaching staff had already lost faith in Terry as a result of his various indiscretions and his general attitude.
If Terry thinks he can successfully make a grab for power, or force change behind the scenes, he has chosen the wrong adversary in Capello.
Whatever the result against Slovenia, if Capello is still the manager come September he may take the opportunity to “build for the future” by clearing out any disruptive prima donnas from the squad.
After yesterday, John Terry will be firmly on top of the list.