Thirteen months ago Fabio Capello was applauded for the decisiveness he displayed by sacking John Terry as England captain. The Italian manager now looks set to make an embarrassing U-turn in a move that is likely to open his management of the England team to a fresh wave of criticism.
Reappointing John Terry as captain would be a dire step backwards for numerous reasons, not least because it will make Capello’s reign look weak. The Italian mastermind has gained many a fan throughout his career because of the strict and uncompromising disciplinarian approach he has adopted. Reappointing John Terry following what was a gross act of professional misconduct will be a clear contradiction of the methods he has deployed throughout his career. One has to ask, is Capello losing a touch of his managerial genius?
It will also leave people the world over wondering about the morals of English society. Do we let adultery go by unpunished? The England national team represents the nation as a whole; it would be embarrassing to have someone who so publicly betrayed a team mate serve as captain. The affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend was not only a sign of a lack of self-control but also poor leadership.
Ethical issues aside there is a wealth of footballing reasons as to why Terry should not be reappointed. Most importantly it will signify a clear step backwards while the England squad is supposed to be going through a period of transition. England need to be looking towards the future, to do that leadership needs to be consistent. Ferdinand should continue as England captain, despite his injury woes. If however Capello has decided that the Manchester United centre back is surplus to requirements it would make more sense to appoint a younger candidate- Wayne Rooney for example.
Rooney may not be the ideal candidate in a team that also boasts Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry but he is young; young enough to represent England in the next few tournaments. John Terry will almost certainly not feature in the next world cup. Under Rooney’s leadership the new generation of English talent will be able to develop without having to deal with a constant change of leadership. It may also help control Rooney’s temper, which to his credit has improved greatly in the past few seasons.
John Terry’s club form has not been impressive this season either; Carlo Ancelotti has even stated that the Chelsea skipper is no longer guaranteed to start every game. He has been plagued by injuries and it looks likely that his career is on a downward spiral. If Terry’s injury problems continue, and he does not play regular club football, it is not fair that he occupies he place in the England team by default.
What’s more, he is not the defender that he used to be, his positioning against Germany at last year’s world cup perhaps serving as the clearest example of this. If Terry occupied England’s central defence by default, despite the decline in his ability, it will no doubt send a negative message to defenders such as Gary Cahill, who are undoubtedly worthy of a chance to play at the highest level.
The move will also create a feeling of disharmony in the England dressing room. Rio Ferdinand would rightfully feel dejected if he was to lose the captaincy for no apparent reason other than being injured for upcoming games against Wales and Ghana. Would Ferdinand still want to play for a coach who does not rate his leadership credentials? Would he want to play alongside Terry?
Even selecting Terry as stand in captain will send out a negative message. Terry was rightfully punished for abusing the trust his players had him in. He does not deserve to captain England and had no qualms in accepting his punishment. The captaincy should go to someone new, perhaps Wayne Rooney who seems to rediscovering the form that made him so dominant for Manchester United last season. Like Terry, Rooney is a familiar face in the England locker room. Unlike Terry, Rooney has done nothing to make his teammates question his integrity.
The farce surrounding the controversy of Terry’s captaincy once again brings attention to Capello’s lack of vision as an England manager. When he was appointed boss it was obvious that the current crop of England players were aging; the apparent “golden era” of talent had to be replaced. Capello has done precious little to show he has a vision on what the future England will be. Apart from the appointment of Joe Hart as England’s number 1, and the constant praise of Jack Wilshere in the media, Capello has done nothing to reassure fans England has a future at the helm of international football. If anything he seems overly reliant on the dead wood of the previous England generation that failed to bring fans the success their potential promised.
John Terry should not be England captain.