Whatever John Terry said or didn't say on October 23, 2011 is still potent enough to leave reverberating shock waves in its wake.
We must always stress the fact that Terry has denied any wrong doing on that fateful day that marked the beginning of problems for erstwhile Chelsea manager, André Villas-Boas.
The frustration of having two players sent off and losing to an unfancied opponent via a penalty kick may have caused Terry to hurl an offensive word at an opponent. John Terry said he only clarified a statement he thought the opponent made.
The shock waves include apparently denying his opponent's brother a place in England's Euro 2012 squad.
The player, Rio Ferdinand, was outspoken in the wake of the allegation that Terry had abused his brother. Circumstances—firmly denied by the new England coach, naturally—seem to indicate that Rio Ferdinand's exclusion from the squad is beyond the "footballing" reasons that have been advanced.
If this isn't mere insinuation and there's substance beyond the coded surface of things, then one must recall that all this could have been avoided in the first place had no ground arisen to make the allegation against Terry.
But if we may stick with insinuations for a moment, there seems to be ground enough to suppose that should England inadvertently crash out of Euro 2012, the fundamental root of this wouldn't be unconnected with Terry.
It was he, after all, who indirectly caused the resignation of former England manager, Fabio Capello, who was under contract to lead England to the Euros, but resigned—according to him—on matters of principle.
He didn't understand why Terry would be stripped of his captaincy of the national team since he hadn't yet been found guilty.
It is clear that what Terry said or didn't say that day on October 23, 2011 is connected to England's current situation and may have a bearing on England's fortunes at the Euros.
Indeed, it already does.
For a country that prides itself as the inventor of the sport now being showcased to the rest of the world, the way it is playing borders on the pathetic, at least that's how it seems, when a country plays only for survival in lieu of initiative.
Nor can anyone be blamed (but perhaps the FA, who couldn't find a compromise with Capello, and Terry, himself, of course). Certainly not the new manager, Roy Hodgson, who barely had time to prepare the national team before the Euros were firmly upon him.
Writing on April 28, Daniel Taylor of the Guardian drew a tacit connection between Redknapp and Terry thusly:
On Sunday it is 81 days since that almost freakishly entwined February afternoon when, on one side of London, Redknapp was walking free from his tax evasion case and, at the other end of the Jubilee line, Fabio Capello was putting in place his resignation. Since then, Spurs have played 10 league games and taken nine points. Only two clubs – Aston Villa and Wolves – have a more calamitous record. It is dangerously close to relegation form from a team that includes some of the most exquisite passers of the ball in their profession.
It needn't be spelled out in black and white to note the connection:
- Terry snaps and abuses (or didn't abuse) someone.
- The FA feels constrained to take action (strips him of his captaincy).
- Fabio Capello takes exception to this and resigns.
- The English press goes wild with their prediction and expectation as to whom should be the new manager (Harry Redknapp).
- At this point, Spurs are doing splendidly in the league: on their way in fact to a third-place finish.
- The speculation and adulation distract Redknapp and his team—the team falls apart.
- The FA decides that a manager who couldn't arrest such an ignominious fall from grace (Spurs) isn't worthy to be the England manager.
- The FA ditches Redknapp (not even affording him the courtesy of an interview) and chooses Hodgson instead.
- Hodgson decides not to risk it: he ditches Anton Ferdinand's brother (allegedly: he denies this).
- Hodgson decides that negative football is the best form of survival for him and England.
The point here is that Harry Redknapp just became the third (or shall we say fourth) victim of the John Terry saga:
- Fabio Capello
- Rio Ferdinand (apparently)
- England (negative football, unashamedly devoid of imagination and initiative)
- Harry Redknapp
In fact, we could even say Harry Redknapp is the fifth victim. I believe we should count Terry himself among his victims, after all, he has lost the England captaincy.
In the case of Redknapp, it is hard to imagine that he would be sacked had Tottenham not fallen apart and failed to finish ahead of Arsenal in third place on the Premiership table when they easily could have done so.
It is difficult also to resist the temptation to connect Spurs' lost form with the speculation that surrounded the entire team regarding the England manager job.
Let me quote at length from the above-mentioned article to illustrate how the dots have been connected:
The eyelash fluttering has gone on for so long it is threatening to sabotage Tottenham's season. Which is ironic, because this is precisely the reason the FA's headhunters decided to hold off in the first place, so anxious were they not to be accused of disrupting what was shaping up to be an exceptional year for Spurs. It turns out they have done that anyway, and you have to wonder whether the damage would have been any worse had the FA just had the gumption to approach the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, and not let it drag on.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. Bordeaux had a nine-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 midway through the 2009-10 season, with 14 wins from 19 games. They had sailed through their Champions League group, beating Bayern Munich home and away. They had won the previous season without a single home defeat and were daring to wonder whether the treble was on. "We all believe we can do it," the defender Matthieu Chalmé said in the final week of January.
Then Jean-Pierre Escalettes, the president of the French Football Federation, went public with his belief that Laurent Blanc had strong credentials to coach the national team after the World Cup. Blanc, he said, was "an exemplary man" and a "good candidate" to replace Raymond Domenech.
Bordeaux went into freefall, winning five of their next 19 league games. They finished sixth, outside the Europa League positions, with eight points from the final 10 matches. Lyon knocked them out of the Champions League and Marseille beat them in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue. "It was like a plane crash," the midfielder Fernando remembers.
My sympathies are with Redknapp since I feel he has been hard done-by the situation. But I mustn't rest this case without pointing a finger to a huge culprit in the saga: the English press.
If there's one characteristic that defines the English press, it is its singled-mindedness when it comes to paying obeisance to issues or ideas deemed thoroughly self-evident. It is here the entire body goes into overdrive, and every writer—or at any rate most writers—pushes or push the button marked auto-pilot.
It isn't a stretch to say they contributed to this situation when they anointed Redknapp the default manager after Capello. They, as much as the FA, should share part of the blame for the situation.
As for John Terry, I hope he is more mindful of what he says (or doesn't have to say) next time.
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