Capello’s captaincy debacle

examines the chaos of the English captaincy

Capello has settled on the one captain he wants for England. Image: Dekuwa via Flickr Creative Commons

Capello has settled on the one captain he wants for England. Image: Dekuwa via Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to the England football team the past year has been a hard one to take. Elimination in the Second Round of the World Cup was simply not good enough, especially with hopes so high after dominating the qualifying group. Many have claimed that Fabio Capello was to blame but prior to the World Cup the FA decided to alter the Italian’s contact making it virtually impossible for them to sack him after the disastrous campaign in South Africa. A large number of supporters felt that his selections and formation were questionable with the decisions to leave Theo Walcott out of the squad and to install Robert Green as the number one goalkeeper particularly criticised.

Post-World Cup, the outlook has been slightly rosier. Capello has seemingly been turning the team around with younger players such as Adam Johnson, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Young beginning to shine. With the ‘golden generation’ once again failing in 2010 the blooding of these new stars has been exciting for English fans and has been seen to perhaps signal a new generation.

However, there has been one area which has been cause for concern throughout the tenure of Mr. Capello and that is the captaincy of the squad. At first Capello chose to alternate between captains to establish who he would prefer as captain in his England team with John Terry eventually getting the armband after Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and former captain David Beckham all had a trial game. Many seemed pleased with the appointment until Capello has no choice to strip Terry of the captaincy due to an alleged affair with another member of the squad’s girlfriend.

This left Capello a decision but he did opt for the vice-captain at the time Manchester United central defender, Rio Ferdinand. Most pundits felt Capello had made the right decision in stripping Terry of the captaincy as he had crossed the line and would have possibly lost respect from his England counterparts. So, it seemed the captaincy was organised but once again it wasn’t as Ferdinand got injured shortly before the world cup and was forced to miss South Africa meaning newly appointed vice-captain Steven Gerrard would be promoted to the full-time job for the World Cup at least. With the World Cup over and Euro 2012 qualifying beginning Ferdinand was back as captain but as he struggles with injuries Capello has chosen to reinstate John Terry as captain, sparking huge controversy.

Rio Ferdinand to this day has not been spoken to by Fabio Capello about the decision and many believe he could shockingly quit international football over the debacle. Ferdinand also lost his Manchester United captaincy to his central defence partner Nemanja Vidic but it is thought that Sir Alex Ferguson discussed the decision with Ferdinand at length and resolved the captaincy issue in the direction he saw best for the team.

Manchester United legend Bryan Robson has said that Capello ‘blundered by failing to inform captain Rio Ferdinand in person’ and BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson has branded the handling of the situation as ‘a farce and an embarrassment.’ The fact that Ferdinand is no longer captain is perhaps understandable as there seems to be no guarantee over his fitness anymore but the fact Fabio Capello has reinstated John Terry is massively controversial due to the circumstances he lost the responsibility of being the captain in the first place.

Although John Terry is widely regarded as one of the greatest English central defenders of his time he is not everyone’s idea of the ideal England captain especially after the news broke about his private life shortly before he was stripped of the captaincy. However, despite this Carlo Ancelotti insisted that it should not affect his football and he therefore remained as Chelsea captain and lifted the Barclays Premiership title just a few months later. After Terry was reinstated officially at a press conference Terry himself said that he understood he was not ‘everyone’s cup of tea’ but he reassured the fans and his teammates that he would do everything he could for his country in the coming months and years.

There was another twist in the captaincy tale this past week after the Euro 2012 qualifier as England were once again looking for a new captain as Capello chose to release several key players who would be involved in UEFA Champions League matches in the coming weeks. One of the players was captain, John Terry meaning Capello would have to find another temporary captain for the friendly at Wembley against Ghana.

That man ended up being the Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry who wasn’t even in the squad for the match at the Millenium Stadium just days before. It was however perhaps an obvious choice although I would have preferred to see a young star who is likely to be in the squad for many years to come given the armband. The man who comes to mind is the number one English goalkeeper by a distance, Joe Hart. However, Capello decided to go with Barry and this could be interpreted as a way of letting the central midfielder know he is still very much in Capello’s plans despite the emergence of both Jack Wilshere and Scott Parker and the ever present Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Gareth Barry became the seventh captain under Fabio Capello following Terry, Gerrard, Ferdinand, Lampard, Rooney and Beckham and now finally we can have stability with John Terry as permanent England captain. Whether Rio Ferdinand is involved again we will have to wait and see but with the impressive performances of Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson and Phil Jagielka there are players anxiously awaiting a first team birth so Ferdinand has an extremely important decision to make.

Whether Ferdinand has ‘snubbed’ Capello or not, the meticulous England manager should have discussed the issue with him before re-appointing John Terry even if it meant waiting for the next round of England fixtures. One thing is for sure Fabio Capello is under more scrutiny than ever and fans and journalists will not be slow in calling for his head if there is any sort of blip along the qualification road to Euro 2012.

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