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The Libero - Ruthless Capello delivers on his reputation

Published: 10 Feb 2010 - 08:09:50

So it turns out that John Terry was unable to do the honourable thing - hardly surprising really, given the recent revelations - leaving Fabio Capello to bring the axe swinging down on his head.

The decision to bring an end to Terry's reign, following the Chelsea defender's refusal to walk, did not come as a surprise either, given that he really had no choice in the matter anyway.

That is not to say that previous incumbents of the England hot seat would have chosen to take the same course of action. There have been those who may have bowed to a man of Terry's influence, swept the incident under the carpet and let things in the dressing room sort themselves out.

To sack Terry took balls. Big Italian balls, and not the kind that go nicely in a rich tomato sauce, accompanied by a nice Chianti. To strip a player of the captaincy of England is no trifling matter, regardless of the indiscretion. And doubly so when the player is very much the coach's own captain and someone in whom he had publicly placed his trust not too long ago.

Clearly Capello is no shrinking violet. He arrived in the England job with a reputation as a hard man, a man who has distinct values and codes of conduct and who is defined by sticking to them. The sacking of Terry has merely reinforced that view.

From his first day in the position, he has garnered respect from his players, many of whom are visibly scared of him. He is not Fabio or the gaffer to the players, he is Mr Capello. He is not there to be their best mates, he is there to get the best out of the them on the pitch.

And the message is clear: play by Capello's rules or pay the price. Perhaps that is just what England's overpaid, over-rated, pampered superstars needed after so long without a role model in the manager's seat.

Terry has paid the price for letting Capello down and in doing so has become somewhat of a national hate figure of near Heather Mills proportions. On the flip side, Capello has emerged from the episode smelling of roses - and rightly so - with his decisive action having served to reinforce his position as England manager.

Capello's swift handling of the situation now means there is unlikely to be any repeat scandals between now and the run up to the tournament in South Africa. If any of his players were considering stepping out of line under the Italian's watch, the ruthless sacking of Terry will likely have made them think otherwise. At least that is the hope.

Of course you never know with Premier League footballers. The next scandal may just be round the corner, but for the time being at least we can thanks our lucky stars that this particular one came now, a good five months before the World Cup begins, and not in the weeks building up to the tournament in South Africa.

Far better to get it out of the system now. That way any dressing room rifts will have time to heal, Rio Ferdinand will have time to bed into his new role and the frenzied media can focus their attentions elsewhere, leaving the England team to concentrate on one thing that really matters - bringing home the trophy.

And if they do, we all know who can take a great deal of the credit - a certain Mr Capello.

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DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.

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