Sir Alex Ferguson backs Fabio Capello over England captaincy

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Fabio Capello's criticism of the Football Association's ousting of England captain John Terry.

Terry, 31, was stripped of the armband pending his trial in July over alleged racial abuse of QPR's Anton Ferdinand.

On Sunday, Capello said he "absolutely" did not agree with the decision.

Players' Union boss Gordon Taylor said England coach Capello's criticism was "bizarre" but Ferguson said: "There's nothing wrong with having an opinion."

Terry remains eligible for selection, despite losing the captaincy.

But Ferguson added: "I think what will happen in the next few days is there will have to be a coming together of the FA hierarchy and Fabio Capello because he's the team manager, he has the importance of that position.

"Without question the most important person at a football club is the manager."

It was widely accepted that England coach Fabio Capello was unhappy at the FA's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy - but to go public with his concerns may be regarded by the hierarchy as unhelpful and likely to prolong the debate.

The FA will not, however, be going back on the decision so Capello must accept it and move on if England's preparations for Euro 2012 are to progress with any degree of calmness.

And of course, Capello's public loyalty and faith in his deposed captain may also be seen as undermining the credibility of his eventual successor.

However, Taylor, who is the Professional Footballers' Association chief, told BBC sports news correspondent Dan Roan: "I cannot understand why he [Capello] came out so blatantly against the decision.

"I don't know what purpose it serves... it means there's not the right atmosphere conducive to a successful tournament [the European Championship in June and July].

"It asks a question of the unity of the FA and makes it difficult for whoever takes over the captaincy.

"The FA's decision was made to take the heat out of the situation, which has festered. It was a decision to focus on the football.

"And if the FA thought that was best for the team you would expect the manager to go with that."

Sports minister Hugh Robertson has backed the FA, no matter what the consequences.

"The FA had a difficult decision to make and took the right decision," he told Sky Sports News.

"If the consequence of that is the manager [and] John Terry walk away, I would regret both of those two things enormously, but so be it."

On Sunday, England manager Capello told Italy's state broadcaster RAI he did not believe someone should be punished by sporting authorities before a court had reached a verdict.

"I thought it was right that Terry should keep the captain's armband," the 65-year-old Italian said.

"I have spoken to the [FA] chairman and I have said that in my opinion one cannot be punished until it is official and the court - a non-sport court, a civil court - had made a decision to decide if John Terry has done what he is accused of."

AND THE SURVEY SAYS...

More than three-quarters of fans surveyed by a university backed the decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy. Staffordshire University surveyed 1,000 visitors to a range of football websites. As well as 78% backing the FA's decision over Terry, 34% believed he should be in England's Euro 2012 squad. Steven Gerrard was the firm favourite to take over as captain, with 44%, followed by Scott Parker 12% and Joe Hart 9%. 87% of respondents to the university's survey at www.topfan.co.uk were male, while researchers say all parts of the country were represented.

Capello, whose first game in charge was on 6 February, 2008 against Switzerland, is set to meet FA chairman David Bernstein this week, but it is understood that the Italian is keen to remain in charge for Euro 2012, which takes place in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

Davies, who left the FA a year and a half before Capello was hired, added: "There is strong leadership now at the FA from David Bernstein.

"Last week, he wasn't slow to take things forward and he may not be slow to do so now."

Davies told the BBC that the former Real Madrid and AC Milan manager's outspoken actions have frustrated his employer.

"My understanding - and I've talked to one or two very senior people at the FA in the last 24 hours - is that this matter with Capello is regarded very seriously," he said.

"He may well have breached his contract. There is a view that publicly this sort of matter shouldn't be aired in this sort of way.

"It will be for others to know the fine print of Capello's contract and I suspect people will look at it."