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Captain insensible

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Robbo Robson | 09:40 UK time, Friday, 5 February 2010

Just imagine that it's the World Cup final, England v Spain. It's 1-1 at full time with goals by Iniesta and Heskey (I said imagine, OK?). Extra-time can't separate them (although I guarantee that we'll be denied a clear winner by some bogus decision concerning an Oscar-winning keeper's goalmouth writhe) and it's down to pens.

Now, again engaging the full range of possibilities here, imagine both teams score four each (HA!) then David James puts off Nando Torres by turning the luminosity setting on his pink jersey up to 11.

So it's down to one man to win the World Cup. Up he steps, armband on, hair spiked up, and most importantly studs screwed in good and proper. We don't want another Moscow, now do we? And John Terry strikes home the winning spot-kick.

How do we feel as that particular bloke lifts the trophy in the name of England?
On the whole I'd rather it was someone else... anyone else... but will I care? Won't I be punching the air like my fellow beer-soaked Englishmen? Won't I be bawling out that flaming Baddiel and Skinner anthem even though 44 years of hurt doesn't quite scan? Yes I blinking well will.

I mean I'd love some quasi-Mother Theresa in an England kit to lift the trophy but it's not going to happen is it?
John Terry
Hands up who wants to be England captain?
Young men, more money than sense (and in the case of most footballers that would amount to about 50p) and great herds of lasses who think that life is a choice between a lottery win and a footballer husband, cornering them at every turn. It's a tough life, I'm sure, and not one likely to produce a saint.

Not that the England captaincy doesn't come with certain standards of behaviour attached. And the tabloid allegations claim Terry's dipped below them standards.

Capello may be a pragmatist - and judging by how long it's taking him to make any public pronouncement on the issue he may well be a tease, too - and Terry has been good on the pitch as a skipper. Centre-halves make good captains. Midfielders tend to be too busy, strikers are too damn selfish - at least you'd hope so... centre-backs take a more considered view.

The best club captain of recent times was probably Tony Adams, who was more than capable of making an ass of himself too, but that was before sobriety brought him them unusual sporting qualities of empathy and, gawd help him, poetry.

Even so, it's hard to imagine Terry still wearing an armband come South Africa unless he's having swimming lessons. So the pragmatist will have to find someone else... and who's waiting in the wings?

Wayne Rooney: Touted by one Guardian columnist as the man to bring a sense of honour back to the job. No disrespect, Wazza, but if we're looking at you to do that then we really are near the bottom of a very deep barrel. Rooney's form is officially 'imperious'. And he is behaving well. Them two facts are not unlinked.

Wayne's capacity to turn from toothy street-soccer kid into snarling ogre is a matter of how well stuff is going for him. The idea that fatherhood has brought him a new maturity has not remotely been tested. Ricardo Carvalho's knee in the small of his back for 45 minutes would be a far greater examination. Plus he's a lip-reader's nightmare. So no to Wazza.

Steven Gerrard: Looks like a good choice - I mean he's virtually kept Benitez in employment for five years - but we've heard him bleating way too often about where he plays in the England set-up, and he's all too rarely captured his Liverpool form in an England shirt. He's not ducked the odd kerfuffle himself either. Until he's properly fit again, we just don't know what we're going to get from him. No.
Fabio CapelloCapello is due to hold talks with Terry
Rio Ferdinand: There's that drugs test he never took 'cos he was buying that jumper (priorities, Rio, priorities). And he's another flaky lad injuries-wise. No.

Frank Lampard: England form has been better recently, but odd to think of him skippering a team with his club captain in the same XI. I have to say though that Lamps has handled a lot of flak with more than a little grace and if he can just avoid a metaphorical up-yours at Hammers fans then he's an OK option.

Ashley Cole: Well he's a definite starter every time and... and... ermm... NO.

David Beckham: He'll be good at all the pre-and post-match waffle. Can't see Becks being anymore than a glorified place-kicker but he could probably muster a good conversation with that egghead Andy Townsend. (On Wednesday night Andy surpassed himself: Leeds had a chance at half-time if the fans could 'raise the roof-levels and the temperature of the noise'. Me neither.)

And who else is there? Barry? James? Milner? And here's the point... none of the real candidates have spotless reputations. None of them look foolproof. We're stupid to think that they would.

Capello is expected to meet Terry on Friday. P.S. Just heard the news about Terry being sacked so that renders the first few paragraphs of this piece superfluous!!


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