Crunch week looms for England and FA
World Cup 2010: Rustenburg
This is not only a critical week for the England team, it is a critical week for the Football Association.
As Fabio Capello's side returned to training on Monday - the last time they may practise at their Rustenburg base if they are eliminated on Wednesday - all eyes were on the players for any signs of the tensions that have emerged since Friday's draw with Algeria.
Despite Sunday's supposed clear-the-air talks between the players and the manager, it seems little has changed. John Terry's extraordinary rallying cry appears to have fallen flat with team-mates, who were not prepared for a French-style revolution. Instead, the meeting passed without a player challenging Capello over his tactics, team selection or Rustenburg regime.
Capello is said to have agreed to listen more to the players and to have agreed to relax the tight constraints on their free time but the message was clear: he will not back down to player power.
Capello talks to his charges at training on Monday
In training, the players put on a display of apparent unity with no obvious evidence of Terry being shunned by captain Steven Gerrard or any other team-mates for going too far with his comments.
There was also no sign of the pressure building on the two men now running the England team for the FA - Club England chairman Sir David Richards and former press officer turned managing director Adrian Bevington
But as they looked on at training on Monday morning, one could only wonder whether they were starting to reflect on the storm that could lie ahead for them.
Premier League chairman Richards, who has strong business and family connections in South Africa, played a key part in the FA's decision to base the squad in Rustenburg.
He is also the man who agreed to remove a break clause in Capello's contract just before England flew out here for this World Cup, a decision that could dramatically backfire if the Italian's team fails to produce a performance worthy of their reputation against Slovenia on Wednesday.
And if Capello refuses to walk away after a humiliating group-stage exit, then the FA may be forced to consider sacking him - a move that could cost in the region of £10m.
That would cap a disastrous few months for the FA, which has already lost a chief executive and chairman this year.
First, Ian Watmore resigned in March after he became frustrated at the pace of change within the organisation.
Then chairman Lord David Triesman was forced to quit in May following the publication of a private conversation in which he claimed Spain and Russia were colluding to bribe referees at this World Cup. The move not only destabilised the FA but also England's 2018 World Cup bid.
The fine dividing line between success and failure means football teams are often only one result away from disaster. England may well win in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, sparking a new round of optimism and warding off another crisis for the FA.
But reaching the last 16 will only mask the deeper problems witnessed at the FA over the last few months: namely a lack of leadership and, just like the England players, divisions inside the organisation.