John Terry’s alleged infidelity has left Capello with a big decision

Allegations over the weekend about the private life of John Terry, the England captain, will provide the biggest challenge yet to Fabio Capello’s iron rule. Henry Cowen writes

England’s bid to win the World Cup this summer has suffered its first major blow, and surprisingly it has not come in the shape of a broken metatarsal. On Saturday a Judge overturned a gagging order that had previously prevented the media from reporting on an alleged affair between inspirational skipper John Terry and the ex-girlfriend of England team-mate Wayne Bridge.

The news threatens to seriously affect the tight ship that Capello has been running. When he took over the reins the stories focused on no mobile phones at dinner and heavy penalties for lateness, the players insist that the boss’ changes have not been too dramatic, but nevertheless the disciplinarian that is Capello must have reservations about having a captain who may not have the full support of his troops.

It has been suggested that Bridge will refuse to travel to South Africa if Terry is on the plane, and while it is nigh on unbelievable to imagine a situation where the Chelsea defender is dropped from the squad completely, is it right that he continues as captain?

If the allegations are all true then Terry is not the first football player to indulge in extra-marital affairs and, while I’m no Mystic Meg, I very much doubt he will be the last. The difference is, of course, that his alleged indecency took place with the girlfriend of a team-mate. The only people who are really qualified to answer the question are those who know the dynamics of the England set-up. If Wayne Bridge is a popular figure then the players may not be happy to take the field playing for Terry.

England would be in a bad situation if they had a captain in place who did not command the respect of his players. To really threaten in June Capello needs his players to all be pulling in one direction and that might not be possible if Terry is in charge. So what to do? Relieve the Chelsea man of his duties perhaps? This seems the obvious answer but you would then be left with a disaffected Terry, suddenly a member of the rank and file, and playing under his replacement. This would not solve the problem; you could easily see a situation with a split squad, those in “Team Bridge” and those backing their former skipper; anything but ideal.

Perhaps Capello will shock everyone and axe the man he appointed as his leader when he took over. Unlike Ancelotti he is yet to come out and vociferously support him. It would certainly follow his hard line on discipline within the squad but, in doing so, it would rip apart an already shaky backline. If Terry were to be given the chop, who would don the armband in his place? The candidates are numerous; Ferdinand, Gerrard, Rooney or Lampard all spring to mind and it’s not ridiculous to suggest they could all do an adequate job.

Capello has dealt superbly with any hurdle placed in his way since he was given the top job in English football, but this issue will most certainly test his mettle. Let’s not forget, even doing nothing could potentially lead to England losing an experienced back-up full back. The answer to Terry’s suspected discrepancies is not simple and it’s clear that the stern Italian has been left with a very tricky decision. Drop your captain and defensive lynchpin? Remove him of his captaincy? Or do nothing and risk splitting the squad? Mr Capello has a very tough decision to make and whatever he chooses to do someone will be upset. England’s skipper has left his boss between a rock and a hard place.

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