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Capello right to sack Terry

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Phil McNulty | 17:11 UK time, Friday, 5 February 2010

Fabio Capello's message was short and sweet - delivered in a 12-minute meeting at Wembley that left John Terry no time to wonder about his fate as England captain.

Terry was hastily and brutally reduced to the ranks after Capello had taken time to sift through the fall-out of the Chelsea defender's alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of England team-mate Wayne Bridge.

And having seen the evidence, the 63-year-old Italian clearly reached the conclusion that his side could not be led into the World Cup by a captain who threatened to fracture the unity of squad and purpose essential to success in South Africa.

Capello made a football judgement - not a moral one - on the claims made against Terry and decided his skipper's credibility and ability to lead by example had been irreparably damaged.

John Terry and Fabio Capello

The fact that Capello communicated this bleak news to Terry so swiftly and ruthlessly only adds to the belief that England's World Cup campaign is safe in the hands of the former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach. As executions go, it was logical, impressive and without fuss.

The Football Association was criticised in some quarters for placing Terry's fate in the hands of Capello alone. The decisive manner in which the coach brought matters to a conclusion at Wembley on Friday afternoon vindicates that move.

Capello's vast experience made him best qualified to make the decision - and the FA knew it. Why have a dog and bark yourself?

Terry has proved an excellent captain on the pitch in England's World Cup qualifying campaign - but hardly a safe pair of hands off it. And Capello could not afford the issue of the captaincy becoming a sideshow in the countdown to South Africa.

The irony is that Capello regards the obsession with captaincy as a peculiarly English disease, a view shared by former England manager Graham Taylor. Capello regards it as an over-rated honour and expects shared responsibility in his teams. Still, he has come to realise its meaning whether he accepts it or not. Even Prime Minister Gordon Brown was pressed for his reaction to Terry's sacking.

Capello looked startled to be ambushed as he pushed his luggage away from the carousel at Heathrow on Thursday after flying back from Switzerland. And to be quizzed again outside his home would have left him with a pain in the neck to go with the one in his knee after recent surgery.

This will have left him in no doubt about the scale of the furore surrounding Terry and the obvious threat of a circus enveloping England's squad unless he took decisive action.

Imagine the captain's traditional pre-match press briefing had Terry survived and led England into the friendly against Egypt in March? It is a fair bet the first question would not have probed Terry's knowledge of the intricacies of the Egyptian attack, or what victory would mean to England's World Cup strategy.

Terry has already suffered personal abuse from supporters at Burnley and Hull - and there would have been the real and highly-embarrassing prospect of England's captain being jeered by his own fans had he led the team out against Egypt.

Capello, to put it bluntly, does not need his skipper carrying such excess baggage in the most crucial months of his outstanding England reign.

All these factors made Terry's sacking the only option when the pair met, albeit briefly, and Capello will have acted safe in the knowledge that, no matter how heartbroken Terry may have been as he drove away from Wembley, the Chelsea defender has shown the ability to put personal stresses to one side and perform on the pitch.

Capello could take the captaincy away from Terry, cure a problem that had the potential to become a long-running sore as South Africa approached, but still be certain he is strong enough mentally as a player to continue as one of England's pivotal defenders.

Nothing will be allowed to compromise Capello's meticulous preparations for the World Cup. He certainly could not risk factions emerging in the dressing room. And now the summary dismissal of Terry has made that point emphatically, Capello can return to football business.

Terry will be succeeded by Rio Ferdinand - an appointment not without risk given the Manchester United's recent dismal injury record. Capello will hope Ferdinand can now steer a safe course to South Africa and there are no further disruptions to his plans.

My own personal choice would have been Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, although his naturally introspective nature - which may come as a surprise to those who have witnessed him winning games single-handedly at home and abroad - may have counted against him.

Wayne Rooney would have been the so-called "People's Choice". but his time will come. Capello may well feel that England's outstanding player is in such a golden spell that he does not want to risk cluttering his thoughts with added pressure and responsibilities.

One man who emerges with his reputation confirmed, indeed enhanced, is Capello. He is a man paid to make the big decisions.

And by taking the captain's armband away from Terry, he got this one right.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with you, Phil, but it's a double standard, ain't it? Our TV shows, music, and Internet habits implicate most of the human race. Breaking up isn't hard to do, it's expected. Cheating isn't rare anymore, it's the norm. Affairs have become commonplace. The problem for guys like JT and TW is the unrealistic expectations we all place on guys like that to be perfect, and the cameras and press that show us they aren't even close.

  • Comment number 3.

    Think you have got it spot on Phil. Gerrard for me should have been given the nod as I believe he should have above Terry in the first place. Terry's position as captain was untenable given the alledged affair was with a team mates ex. Swift and sensible. Mr. Capello just gets the job done doesn't he. Maybe this is the incentive Ferdinand needs to get his act together. We know the talent is there, we need his head to be too.

  • Comment number 4.

    He was absolutely correct to sack him, it sends a message out to his squad that he will not tolerate any kind of bad behaviour (if they didn't already need reminding). Also, I think Capello has in mind that the World Cup is still 4 months away, which will give Terry a chance to knuckle down and earn back the captaincy, which I think is what Capello will have said to Terry in their meeting.

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  • Comment number 6.

    Good blog Phil.Hopefully Capello did this for morale,and not moral,reasons.

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  • Comment number 10.

    Right decision, it takes the pressure right off Terry and gives him the opportunity to be useful for England at the world cup. The only way is up for Terry who is a world class central defender. The only thing left for him now is to concentrate and excel at football. Between now and the summer the only thing that will be any good for him is outstanding performances. We know he can do that.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well the media and anti Chelsea mob have their way and in a way i don't mind it means his focus will shift more to Chelsea where he's appreciated. Of course as usual there will be adverse press and subtle digs if Chelsea continue to be successful but we are used to it by now.

    As for England who's captain matters little there are too many superior teams for them to win the world cup so good luck. I will watch out of duty but as ever my affections are elsewhere.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Its a shame because John Terry was a decent captain and was a welcome return to a genuine "leader of men" figure after the rather cringeworthy and lamentable reign of the hairstyle or David Beckham as he was better known who displayed no tangible leadership qualities across 3 woeful tournament disasters.

  • Comment number 14.

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  • Comment number 15.

    phil it has just shown that you are among those that judge players by how they spend their time outside the game. If Terry, which we all know is the best captain for England now, brings the cup to England tell me who will not be happy? As it stands now his replacement will be hard to come by. Capello got this wrong simply because of the pressure from you media.

  • Comment number 16.

    AudenGrey
    ========================================
    the fact that you refer to capello as "weak" shows how little you know about him. interesting you blame everyone who's not english, but john terry....who's english. terry must shoulder some of the blame in this. capello did what he thinks is right for England. try not to make the rest of england fans lok bad by talking tripe eh?

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  • Comment number 26.

    Media pressure certainly contributed to Terry's demotion, as did some public reaction, but far from weakness Capello understood it was the quickest and only decisive way to remove the unnecessary pressure and unwelcome distraction the 'Terry Affair' put on the team.

    That in turn gives Terry time to turn things around; leaving it festering on would have done no good to anyone.

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  • Comment number 31.

    Genius, Replace a perfectly good captain with a great footballing track record with an inconsistant defender who's currently serving a ban and has previous for missing drugs tests...

  • Comment number 32.

    From John Terry to Plug from the Bash Street Kids. The world is laughing.

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

    for heaven's sakes WHY???????????????????????????????????????????
    we have far better candidates for captain than this overrated donkey!
    this is the first time I've had to disagree with Capello.

    I do think that Terry had to go through his own stupid fault, these days of 24 hour overhyped news this was always going to happen.

    But Rio as captain I just can't see it at all.

    Fat Frank or Steve Gerrard, yes could go for either of those 2 but Rio?
    he's having a laugh.

    ah well, I'm part Spanish so all's not yet lost....

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  • Comment number 37.

    WOW Truth Hurts..... Where is so called the Freedom of expression.

  • Comment number 38.

    This is the right decision. What is wrong if Capello did make this decision on moral grounds? This is a position of great privilege. Terry should consider himself lucky to be going to the World Cup. With great privilege goes great responsibility. If you don't like it go and do a normal job with a normal salary. The only thing I will say in Terry's defence is that he seems to have taken this with good grace and he has done much less than the people who run our banks.

  • Comment number 39.

    Capello was forced to make this decision. I would be really disappointed if Rio is handed the captaincy. The man has had football-related problems and in my opinion they are way more serious for someone being considered to be a football captain. He has been injury prone and very inconsistent this season. Gareth Barry should be his successor even if he is no match for John Terry. England fans should hope this sack proves to enough for the 'Bridge boys' as any more disarray in the squad would mean England wont get past the group stages.

  • Comment number 40.

    Much is made of the Captain, but as Phil points out Capello (along with many other successful managers) is more sanguine about the whole thing. I don't think he involves the captain in team selection, unlike cricket, for example. We need to consider also the example of the last England team to win a World Cup in a major sport; Woodward's 2003 Rugby squad. For sure, the captain was a giant in the form of Martin Johnson, but there was a clutch of other informal captains. Dallaglio the physically impossible specimen playing at close to his peak. Dawson the motor mouth "little guy". Will Greenwood, the one with a trick up his sleeve for every occasion. Hill the rock on the blind side who never took a step back and Iceman Wilkinson who let his assassin's boot do the talking. Team's are more than one person and one person is never bigger than the team. Capello underlined that emphatically today and it was the best - indeed only - decision he could make under the circumstances.

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  • Comment number 46.

    why is a player picked to be a captain? because of his ability to play football and lead the team on the pitch.why is a player sacked as captain well it should be because he is not doing a good enough a job on the pitch. i believe peoples PRIVATE LIFE should stay PRIVATE and not be used to decide whether they make a good captain or not. can anyone please tell me why our press always like to distroy all morale of our national sides just before a very important tournament.and why are so many people quick to judge when they themselves are no angels. sorry but terry was a very good captain and should still be the captain.and no i'm not a chelsea supporter.

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  • Comment number 52.

    behave_yourself, I couldn't agree with your sentiments more - well spoken. I hadn't thought of the indiscretions of past footballing so called 'heroes' but you got it in one. At the end of the day, I am sure Terry has enough 'punishment' coming from friends and family to cope with - it is not the role of the nation, politicians or the dreaded media to judge him, which is exactly what everyone is doing!

  • Comment number 53.

    Unfortunately as David Davis said, John Terry got caught between the media and the right to privacy and the media united against him.

    The sad thing is that every World Cup the papers attack the England Captain.

    e.g NoW Rebbeca Loos
    NoW John Terry's dad's drugs setup
    NoW John Terry fake tour of Chelsea training
    NoW Wayne Bridge Ex
    Mail John Terry's Wembley box

    I hope poor Rio does better since, I am sure they will be digging now, and setting up different kinds of traps.

    At least with John Terry, there was plenty of past, and a track record of playing well under media pressure.

  • Comment number 54.

    Well i am shocked to say the least. I have my post removed because i suggested that Frank Lampard would, in my personal opinion, be a better captain in this situation that Steven Gerrard???

  • Comment number 55.

    My word, you can tell passions are running high, look how many comments have been moderated. I imagine some of those not making it past the moderators are questioning your recommendation of Steven Gerrard to be England captain.

    I am surprised Phil, that you have seen fit to mention Rio's tarnished past, but at the same time, felt there was no need to remind people that Steven Gerrard does not exactly come with a clean bill of moral health either.

    However, in spite of your omission, deliberate or otherwise, Gerrard has simply not played consistently well enough at international level, to be captain of England.

  • Comment number 56.

    We've all been merked by Signor Capello. Brrap etc!

  • Comment number 57.

    Absolutely dreadful decision on the football front. I thought he would take a leaf out of Ancellottis book and stick two fingers up at the press.

    The press seem to be getting their shots in early with England this year. Lets not forget, they are never positive once the tournament starts anyway.

    The gutter press and media of England have got their way again.

    Why can't people put their club support aside and think of England on this one?

    Don't need to plan my hols around the world cup now then!

  • Comment number 58.

    We probably weren't gonna win the World Cup anyway but this has made it even more unlikely. Our typical insular English attitude forgets that in football terms(for a change) no one is more scared of us than they are of Spain, Brazil, Italy, Germany probably also the Netherlands, perhaps Argentina, maybe even France.

    We should really stop believing our own press, apart from when they expose the horror of a footballer's libido. Oh the horror, the outrage. Won't someone think of the children.

    Do they have any?

  • Comment number 59.

    Phil...if you are still reading....could you please enlighten us as to why so many of our comments are getting rejected by the moderators? It might be useful to know, so that we can amend our posts accordingly? Thanks.

  • Comment number 60.

    Could there be some clarification from a moderator about what we are and are not allowed to say about this? I ask because my last post was removed despite only stating what has already been said in BBC Sport articles.

  • Comment number 61.

    Phil

    "Terry will be succeeded by Rio Ferdinand - an appointment not without risk given the Manchester United's recent dismal injury record....My own personal choice would have been Liverpool's Steven Gerrard"

    Your kidding right? And Gerrards not been injured this season? He's had on-off injuries all the time, has a suspected groin problem that one week needs an op and the next is fine, Benitez hasn't let him get better beacause of the impact a long spell out would have on his job and even when playing Gerrard hasn't even set liverpool alight, never mind the PL. Do you really think that with the abuse he's bodys going through this season he's gonna be ok come the world cup? I think not. Rio at least came back from a proper lay off, making sure he was better and has turned in two very good performances since his return, while he's not out of the woods at least if he stays fit he'll be fresh.

    And even if he does get injured as you say Cappello doesn't get the English captaincy obsession so he probably will consider Rio's loss more as a player than a captain, and apoint his next choice on the list.

    On Terry himself, I wish it wasn't an issue, I really don't care what he gets up to in his private life, however the media glare would not have gone away, not just at the Egypt game, but EVERY game, the pressure would build and build and it would distract the squad, not just Terry.

    It's not the deed itself, its the media reaction and the climate that creates in the team. Every press conferance would have brought questions about "team spirit" and if we didn't win it he'd be blamed for splitting the dressing room, true or not, the media were never going to let it drop, and Cappello could do without the distractions!

    Terry alledgedly made a mistake, he then tried to cover it up and in doing so annoyed the media, he then failed to confirm/deny creating a rash of speculation, showed no humility, no desire to do what was best for England, only what he wanted to do, the biggest "job" of the England captain is to handle the media, and this last week he has shown complete ineptitude at this.

    [note that parts of this comment have been censored by the BBC despite them only repeating articles allready written on this site about Terry, Rio and Andrew Flintoff]

  • Comment number 62.

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  • Comment number 63.

    i agree england has a captaincy obsession. it matters little who wears that band-it's merely ceremonial

  • Comment number 64.

    Basically, Capello has killed the media circus with one big blow -- the media will report Capello's decision, some will debate whether he wasright or wrong, and the focus will move away from Terry's private life.

    The media should be ashamed for this is just another one of those storms-in-a-teacup designed to kill England's hopes of at least getting to the finals of WC2010.

  • Comment number 65.

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  • Comment number 66.

    I feel Capello made the correct decision, but in my opinion it was done purely to douse the flames of the media.

    The players would still respect Terry as captain because they know he has the right mentality to lead a football team. However in order for Capello to be able to focus on football he had to change his captain. If he had not, the choice to do nothing would have been scrutinised up until our exit in this summers World Cup.

    To back up my point, the armband has been passed to Ferdinand; an excellent footballer but a man who was given an 8 month ban across the sport a few years ago and is currently appealing a well deserved punishment for violent conduct.

    Rio's actions are the lesser of two evils in the world where footballers are celebrities. So much so that Rio's lack of match practice and form is less of a distraction than the moral implications of Terry's actions.

  • Comment number 67.

    Rio Ferdinand? He is nothing like John Terry. What has what Terry does in his spare time have to do with how he captains potential World Cup winners?

    Footballers because of their fame & money have always been loose cannons.
    A previous England manager put himself about more than Terry has (alegedly), but he wasn't penalised.

    This decision is not a vote winner amongst supporters or players.

    A small relief is that we have a match before the World Cup to try and get things together, see how the team gels and let Terry re-establish his position amongst his peers.

    Good luck John. Good luck England.

  • Comment number 68.

    behave_yourself , comment 33
    *applause*

  • Comment number 69.

    My own personal choice would have been Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, although his naturally introspective nature - which may come as a surprise to those who have witnessed him winning games single-handedly at home and abroad - may have counted against him.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Phil........ It might have been more accurate to say

    My own personal choice would have been Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, although his naturally introspective nature - which may come as a surprise to those who have witnessed him on CCTV confronting DJs single-handedly, may have counted against him.

  • Comment number 70.

    right on Behave_yourself, and I throught I was ranting :)

  • Comment number 71.

    and, the slim hope England had of winning the world cup is now over. Well done you gutter press.

  • Comment number 72.

    Agree totally with M. McNulty; we hired Capello to do a job, to do something 'sensible' (which means at least the semis, better, the Final)in South Africa. So far, he's way ahead of the game. Total confidence in him. Strange that an Italian should have to teach the British the meaning of 'probity' in public life (and I speak as someone who lived for four happy years in Italy!)

  • Comment number 73.

    I may or may nto share the views of the average English football fan but for the first time in my memory (i am only 21) i fully trust the England manager and personally am prepared to back Capello and believe that he knows whats best whereas most of the England managers of my time have been at least 20%incompetant Capello is completely professional and i think as a nation we generally trust his judgement (whether or not we agree with it)

  • Comment number 74.

    thepupsplums: the reason that the gutter press / media / people can't think of England on this one is the same reason why Tim Henman never won Wimbledon or we are told that Andy Murray just 'can't win that Slam' - everyone in Britain loves to look on the negative side.

    What I can't work out is why! We should all be born with a tattoo across our heads that says: "Why should I be positive when I feel much happier being miserable when I am negative!!"

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  • Comment number 80.

    Terry staying on as captain would fuel the media frenzy and consequent distraction from the World Cup. It may be regrettable, but that's how it is.
    Sacking Terry is the quickest way to re-instate him in time for the WC.

  • Comment number 81.

    Thank God we have an England Manager with some class. He has dealt with the situation in a dignified way and should be congratulated for that. It was a good decision but not an easy one to make, especially in England. A pity Stuart Pearce didn't keep his opinions to himself. His assessment now looks a good bit off message, but that's no surprise is it?. Well Done Fabio ! English Football has been far too much in the hands of the chav player brigade, too much money and not much in the brain department. Excessive publicity for their WAG's. What would our stars of 1966 World Cup victory think of this latest behaviour?? This decision sends a sharp message to our players to smarten up their image and behaviour. Fabio has reestablished some pride, so now we can put this stupid diversion behind us and go to South Africa keen and determined to do well. A very good blog site, and well appreciated by the non-chav sports supporter.

  • Comment number 82.

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  • Comment number 83.

    I have to admit to hear some of the comments about John Terry by some of oh so respectful pundits of the BBC makes me sick.

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  • Comment number 88.

    Phil

    Interesting you waited this long to comment on the saga and decided to write your blog after Capello made his decision. I'm sure you would have agreed with his choice whatever the outcome.. Doesn't make much for discussion does it.

  • Comment number 89.

    Sorry to add something so soon after my previous mail: but I live in Morocco, so have perhaps a more detached view-point. Friendly against Egypt??? You've GOT TO BE JOKING!! They've just won their third CAN trophy on the trot, are desperately smarting over losing a World Cup place to Algeria, and will take total delight in smashing any half-concentrated England team off the pitch. Capello knows this, he's paid a bunch of money to do so, and as I said in my previous mail, so far he's ahead of the game: including his decision on Mr. Terry.

  • Comment number 90.

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  • Comment number 91.

    Good.
    Capello was right to sack him.

    Under house rules I am not allowed to
    say anything else.

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  • Comment number 94.

    I feel Capello is sending a warning shot to the whole team. Pure and simple.

  • Comment number 95.

    do not forget that terry's actions affected a work colleague. a colleague who has friends in the group meaning that they were/are going to start taking sides. insisting that it was his personal life shows shallow-mindedness as this was not the same as going to a hooker. he knew how wayne bridge was going to feel after finding out but he continued on. if he is a natural leader people are talking about he will still lead naturally eveb without the arm band. great players do not need the arm band to be true leaders in a team on the pitch. if it did not involve a fellow footballer in the england squad [directly or indirectly] i would understand why he could be allowed to continue,otherwise, CORRECT DECISION BY CAPELLO

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  • Comment number 97.

    Am i the only one whose is massively annoyed by these Chelsea fans thinking its a dig at them. Get over yourselves, no-one cares about you helpless little london upstarts, your just noisy neighbours who happen to live a bit further away.

    The reality is that this is clearly going to cause tension between Terry and Bridge, whatever the pair may say, Bridge then takes with him support from Barry, SWP (if he's there), Terry has Cole and Lampard supporting him as his Chelsea crew and the other 20 guys are left in the middle to pick a side or otherwise and you split the squad into to two or three distinct factions. The role of a captain is to unite a squad not divide it and thus Terry's behaviour is not the behaviour of a Captain.

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  • Comment number 99.

    The decision comes as no surprise, remembering that there was only two possible outcomes to this meeting. What surprises me is the hyperbole and conjecture in the blog.

    "Hastily and brutally reduced to the ranks." For sure it was not hasty, the issue has been played out in the media for over a week. And I am not sure what constitutes brutality in your mind Phil, but there is nothing in the statement or handling of this that comes even close to the dictionary definition of brutality.

    The rest of the blog is filled with your speculation as to what factors Capello used to make his decision, something we could only know for certain were we privy to his thoughts. After all, even in a statement he could cover his real thought process.

    As is very often the case, Phil, you are dazzled by the strength of purpose that occasionally a manager shows (Scolari, Hiddink, Ancelotti and Capello have turned your head notably in the past year or so) and then dashed to your computer like an awestruck sycophant. You really should sleep on things from time to time.

    Gerrard, by the way would be an equally poor choice as captain. The man was in court only months ago, and the video evidence that we all saw, cannot be erased by the juries decision. As for Rio, well I would be worried he might "forget" to show up.

    What you fail to point out is that by passing the armband to Ferdinand, he takes the real risk of having to make the decision all over again. Ferdinand's fitness is very much a question mark, and Capello has already stated he WILL NOT take any unfit players. In addition, fit or otherwise, Ferdinands form has been less than stellar. Will the armband mean an automatic place even if he is does not regain his form? That would be a story wouldn't it?

  • Comment number 100.

    Capello was left with view that Terry had lost his credibility with the rest of the England squad and therefore was left with no choice but to remove him as captain. Its the right decision and Im glad it was made quickly with little fuss. Rio was the vice captian so naturally it was always going to go to him. Cant see what all the fuss is about, Time to move on I think...

 

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