Yesterday, John Terry appeared at a press conference during which he spoke at length about the problems inside the English camp. He did so with careful deliberation and forethought. He’s an experienced player who knows that whatever troubles they have, they ought to remain private, between the players and coach, and not be aired in public like that.
The old adage of what happens in the dressing room should remain in the dressing room isn’t limited to the place where players shower and get changed. Terry openly challenged the authority of Fabio Capello, saying:
If it upsets him then I’m on the verge of just saying, “You know what? So what, I’m here to win it for England”.
Terry’s use of the first person is telling. It wasn’t ‘We’re here to win it for England’, it was I. And this is all about Terry, obviously still smarting from the way he was stripped of the England captaincy.
The story goes Terry phoned Capello when the stories over Vanessa Perroncel started and told him he’d meet him at Stamford Bridge. Capello insisted he came to Wembley. Expecting nothing more than a dressing down that he could forget the moment he left, a casually dressed Terry was stunned when Capello sacked him as England captain. And it’s clear that he’s now out for revenge. He wants payback and he’s using England’s World Cup campaign to get it.
We’ve heard before of Terry’s ‘hands-on’ approach at Chelsea. When Mourinho was sacked there were whispers that player power, and the power of the captain in particular, was behind it. John Terry’s ego and his belief that he was more important than the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history won out. And it reportedly happened again with Avram Grant, a man who got them to within a missed penalty of the Champions League (who missed it again?). And again with Scolari, a man who has won the World Cup.
He seems reasonably content with Carlo Ancelotti but reveals that he openly challenges his club manager in front of his teammates, saying:
I might say something to Carlo in a meeting in front of the players that he doesn’t like, but we walk out of the meeting and it’s forgotten.
Yet his attempts of self-justification sound false:
I’m doing the best for Chelsea, and if I say something tonight, and I probably will and a few others will, then I’m doing the best for England. As I said before, I’m doing it for my country.
It doesn’t sound like it though. Terry publicly dragged eight teammates into his personal vendetta, the speed at which insiders from the England camp have reported those, and other, players distancing themselves from Terry’s comments tells you everything you need to know. John Terry isn’t doing this for England, if he were he’d work hard in training, he’d respect the sanctity of the England camp and he’d put aside his obvious personal differences with the manager to ensure England did as well as possible in this tournament.
Instead he comes across as a rabble-rouser, a man bitching to all who will listen about the boss, challenging his authority privately and in public and believing his waning star status as a player is enough to justify his actions. That a man who was so ruthlessly and publicly humiliated over the captaincy should feel he has the platform to speak out like this tells you he’s learned nothing.
Fabio Capello is one of the most successful football managers in history. The English players might not like his methods or the way he names his team but they really ought to look at the bigger picture. He is a manager who has won things over and over again in his career. He’s different from Venables, from McClaren, from Keegan, from Sven. He has the trophies and the medals, yet some of them think they know better? It’s astonishing.
If I were Capello I’d think seriously about leaving John Terry on the bench for Wednesday’s game against Slovenia. The dearth of available centre-halves in the squad will probably mean the Chelsea man will play, but when England’s World Cup campaign comes to an end those who will invetably sharpen their knives and point fingers should start with John Terry.
He’s prepared to put his personal differences with Capello ahead of England’s World Cup. Some great leader he is.