Terry to remain England World Cup captain?

It’s a sordid tabloid tale which threatens to overshadow England’s World Cup preparations. Can John Terry survive as England captain and who will take over if the Chelsea man is forced to step down?

I won’t bore you with the details behind a story which made the headlines around the world over the weekend. This Aussie website does a good job of bringing the main threads together. A Canadian Press writer based in London had a great time with the story and what it might mean for our strict privacy laws. This blog could, I suspect, be filled with hundreds of similar stories from websites if only I could be bothered, which I’m not.

Why? Because there are weightier issues to consider here. Don’t get me wrong. The pain some if not all of the participants are feeling will be genuine and heartfelt. This must be a terrible time for all of them.

That said, what a well-known player, his girlfriend, a failed gagging order and alleged payments to cheer said girlfriend up after an alleged abortion has to do with football is anyone’s guess.

Paul Wilson of The Guardian hits the nail on the head here. Fabio Capello should only take the captain’s armband off Terry if the Chelsea defender loses the respect of the other members of the England squad. The man is paid to play football for £150,000 a week. He isn’t on the Standards Commission.

Henry Winter of The Telegraph disagrees. He wants to see Terry’s time as England captain ended without further discussion. The affair “really is an embarrassment too far. It’s time for him to stand down.” Having gone so far himself, Winter also considers morale to be the deciding factor in whether Terry retains the captaincy: “If it seems that Terry’s conduct and continued ownership of the captain’s armband affects morale going into a World Cup then Capello has no choice. Terry should go.”

Meanwhile, Martin Samuel of The Daily Mail wonders whether an “executive judgement” must take precedence over the moral headshaking. Can Terry still command the respect of the other England players? He suspects not. His paper also helpfully charts Terry’s love life and includes alleged quotes from other players which, if substantiated, could prove fatal for Terry. These debates will be played out in the pages of our newspapers and on our websites for days. This story has, in the parlance of Fleet Street, “legs”.

So if Terry is demoted, who will take over the captaincy? This Liverpool site thinks it has the answer and more besides. The problem is this – Gerrard is hardly in the form of his life and has been in trouble himself recently. He arguably should have been given the captaincy three or four years ago when his drive and determination could demonstrably change the course of major games. Age and disillusionment may have taken the edge off his game just as an unexpected vacancy arises. Of the other candidates, Ferdinand may be too injury prone and Rooney too raw and in the wrong playing position to take the job on. Fabio Capello may have to consider the paucity of his alternatives before taking a final decision.

Talking of age, this is for anyone who understands what “linear regression” and “quadratic fit” mean. It’s from a US writer who tried to establish whether there is a correlation between the average age of World Cup teams and their success rates. He succeeded in giving me a headache, so that’s 1 – 0 to you guys (again).

The Africa Cup of Nations is over, meaning it’s time to draw some conclusions on the tournament and highlight any implications for the World Cup in South Africa.

None of the qualifiers have really caught the eye. Algeria, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana all made the later stages after undistinguished progress through the group stage. The first two offered a quarter final glimpse of what we might expect in June (five goals, late drama and an extra time winner), Cameroon were swept aside late on by Egypt, and the remaining two contested a dour semi before Ghana prevailed.

Only Egypt looked decent, the North Africans amassing 15 goals and taking their revenge on Algeria on the way to a third successive victory. The Egyptians also seemed to have the edge over the other teams late on, somehow finding the energy to score when the rest would flag. This article doesn’t say so, but we could be seeing a World Cup without Africa’s best team.


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