MARTIN SAMUEL: Behind closed doors John Terry has proved he is England's natural leader

15 March 2011 01:33
The most chuckle-headed take on Fabio Capello's desire to reinstate John Terry as England captain is that the FA should intervene. Last year, when the storm around Terry was raging, Capello was left entirely alone to make a judgment call on whether he was an appropriate captain of England. Quite right, too. Not much point paying a man ?6million a year to manage and then ordering him about like an errand boy.

So Capello decamped to his home in Lugano, Switzerland, had a think and returned convinced Terry's position was untenable. If he secretly wished the FA to do his dirty work, there was no suggestion of abdicating responsibility. He called Terry in, he broke the news, he allowed no argument.

A year later, his opinions have changed. He believes the England team miss Terry's leadership qualities and is considering returning him to the role. Those around the England camp detected a softening in attitude towards Terry before the last game against Denmark. Now, we hear in some quarters, the FA should blunder in and tell their manager what to do.

Time to return: John Terry's leadership skills have been missed since he was stripped of the England captaincy

If they sought involvement - and, remember, they didn't - the time for action was when the bullets were flying and there was a risk of Capello creating a rift with one of his senior players; not now, when to block Terry's return would be a far easier, populist call.

Right now, some would interpret FA intervention as striking a blow for the high-minded morality of which this country is so proud, when it is convenient and there is no money involved. Yet it would be the action of weak, not strong, men who missed their cue by 13 months.

  More from Martin Samuel. Martin Samuel: Southern giants would have England for breakfast13/03/11 Martin Samuel: It was right to demote Terry. and now right to give it back11/03/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: Schools can't learn a thing from Top Gear 10/03/11 Martin Samuel: Glorious Spurs make art of survival a thing of real beauty 09/03/11 Martin Samuel: Bungling ref Busacca makes it easier for Barcelona masters08/03/11 Martin Samuel: Stop the violence or kiss football goodbye08/03/11 Martin Samuel: Wilshere can make Guardiola pay for his Pep talk07/03/11 Martin Samuel: Kolo Toure gave a slim excuse which carries little weight06/03/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE As for the alienation of the players, Capello might generously invite them to win a few more matches against the likes of Algeria and Montenegro and leave him to make the management calls.

Who are these rebels anyway? Young players such as Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll and Joe Hart will surely be more focused on winning a place in the side, or staying there; of the seniors, the Chelsea contingent are unlikely to reject their club captain, and Wayne Rooney is known to be among Terry's allies.

Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand knew, and accepted, Terry as Capello's first choice before. So who should he ignore Terry to appease? Gareth Barry? Ultimately, players get behind a winning manager and a winning captain. If Capello can bring an end to England's inconsistencies, the team will go with whatever he wishes. Just as they did through World Cup qualification.

We can all have opinions based on what we see on the pitch, but the one area in which Capello's level of information is 100 per cent greater concerns what takes place behind closed doors in training and team meetings. Who has the strongest personality, who speaks up for the group?

What he sees of Terry in those moments is surely what makes him believe he is England's natural skipper, because Capello does not appear to be a man who changes course on a whim. He is also a manager approaching his final year in charge - and that focuses the mind, too.

Pretty soon, Capello will be looking back on his time, and he does not want to be wondering what would have happened had he followed his instincts. For the same reason, on the eve of the 1996 European Championship, Terry Venables made Tony Adams the England captain ahead of David Platt.

The final doubt surrounds whether Terry would take the job, or be put off by the thought of a fresh round of scrutiny. From conversations with him earlier this year, I know he would jump at the chance; for Terry, the England captaincy remains the greatest honour of his professional career.

He told me then that if he was ever offered it again - and he was thinking after Capello's departure, rather than anticipating a U-turn - he knew it would be a controversial decision, but it would still be worth the trouble. As, in England's present circumstances, is he.

 Pressure turns saints into sinnersFeeling the strain: New Charlton Athletic manager Chris Powell has a battle on his hands at The Valley

When Chris Powell got the job at Charlton Athletic, the big question - apart from why the hell did they get rid of Phil Parkinson who seemed to be doing perfectly well - was whether he was too nice to survive in the brutal world of football management.

Powell is a deeply religious soul who told the Christian Times in 2006: 'It gives me great joy to know that the Lord is around me at all times. Having Christian faith helps me along with the good and bad times. It gives me an inner peace, a well-being. I live my life this way.'

Last week, less than two months into the post, Powell received a one-match touchline ban for comments he made to referee David Coote after a 1-1 draw with Tranmere Rovers. Coote turned down three Charlton penalty appeals and Powell remains insistent he has been treated harshly.

What changed? Well, on January 14 when Powell took charge, Charlton were in the League One play-off places, sixth but only six points behind second-placed Southampton, with a game in hand.

On the night Powell berated Coote, Charlton slipped to seventh, but were seven points adrift of automatic promotion and 13 points behind second-placed Bournemouth. They subsequently fell to 11th this weekend, so expect more fire and brimstone.

Nobody is looking to justify verbal assaults on referees: but if the saintly Powell cannot keep his cool under pressure, what chance has Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger got?

 According to Javier Mascherano, far from honing their sublime skills on the training field, Barcelona do very little work on forward play. Mascherano told Rafael Benitez, his former coach at Liverpool, that Josep Guardiola concentrates mainly on defensive strategies and regaining possession.

With Lionel Messi, David Villa, Xavi, Pedro and Andres Iniesta in the side he no doubt presumes goals will come. Instead, Barcelona focus each week on what to do without the ball; the hunting in packs, the onus on a player who has surrendered possession to win it back as soon as possible.

Brains and brawn: Barcelona players hunt in packs to win the ball back

This side of their game often goes unrecognised, but they play arguably the most efficient pressing style in Europe and work on percentages.

If Xavi makes a bad pass, provided he wins the ball back as quickly as possible the chances are he will not make a consecutive one, and so the passing carousel starts up again. Also, as the errant pass will invariably have been made into a forward area, by quickly returning possession Barcelona will be back with the ball at their feet near goal.

Benitez was so enthused by this information he actually got out of the lift at the wrong floor to continue talking. You've got to love football men. He needs a job, bless him.

 French don't know what fair play isAs we know, the perfect model for football in Europe is found in France where the Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion effectively pre-empted UEFA's financial fair play rules, forcing clubs to spend within their means and exist in a utopia of economic balance. And guess what? It's not going very well.

What kept French football afloat, it turns out, was not merely prudence, bureaucracy and selfcontrol, but allthat lovely trickle-down lolly from pariah leagues like our own. Frenchclubs were being propped up by regular raids for their best players andassistance with stadium projects from local councils. And when the economic downturn impacted on these revenue streams, they were too boundby red tape to ride the storm.

Now faced with the prospect of lower TV rights, the crisis is so great the union of professional clubs refused to endorse the 2009-10 report by the DNCG, published last week. This announced a cumulative debt of ?111.7million for clubs in Ligue 1 and ?13.6m for those in Ligue 2.

Small beer compared to the Premier League, of course, but these businesses are heavily regulated to stay in the black. The figures had more than doubled in a year. As UEFA do not do irony, the fact the bottom has fallen out of French football, in part, because it can no longer rely on spending from the Premier League is lost on them.

The drive for financial fair play will continue, whether the road leads to salvation or over a cliff, and will ignore incidentals such as the external relief French football receives via municipal investment in stadium facilities. That money has dried up in the recession, too. Then there are declining ticket sales, perhaps as a result of financial red tape preventing French clubs from competing for the best world talent, causing an inferior league, resulting in a decrease in sponsorship.

The final straw is the collapse of the new TV deal, due to begin in 2012. The existing arrangement was worth ?577.3m annually but, faced with a shortfall of ?175.4m after broadcaster Orange pulled out, the league have been forced to go it alone, creating a TV channel, CFoot.

'I would say the financial state of French professional football is serious given the uncertainties, including TV rights,' said Didier Primault from the Centre for Law and Economics in Sport. 'If stadium projects are going well, France may challenge the big European leagues like Italy and Spain, but in the medium to long term.'

In other words, as long as the government pumps money in to bail out French football by building new stadiums for the 2016 European Championship - fortuitously awarded to the country of UEFA president Michel Platini (above right) - the French may yet escape the consequences of the ruinous restrictions that are to be rolled out across Europe. Sounds fair.

 AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT.A royal red nose dayPrincess Anne asked England's rugby captain Mike Tindall (right), if he was planning to get his hooter fixed before his summer marriage to her daughter, Zara Phillips.

A lifetime of playing with heroic abandon has left Tindall's nose looking like a particularly tricky chicane. It has been broken eight times in a 12-year career.

HRH does seem a little presumptuous, though. Tindall's nose may make a mess of the wedding photographs, but after all those centuries of inbreeding, royalty is in no position to judge.

It is the gene pool the young couple should be worried about, and if junior comes out with a schnozz like Jimmy Durante it will more likely be his grandmother's side of the family that are to blame.

 Didn't you just know that the third party ownership scandal that now besets Queens Park Rangers would be completely different from the Carlos Tevez affair, according to manager Neil Warnock?

If, however, representatives of Norwich, Cardiff, Swansea, Leeds or Nottingham Forest want a contact number for the famous Campaign for Fairness set up by Sheffield United four years ago, no doubt Warnock will be able to supply the odd lead.

Ask him who fixed it that Steve Kabba couldn't play for Watford against his old club Sheffield United in that 2006-07 season while you're at it, because he has never answered that, either.

 Among the men holding the key to the FIFA presidential election is Jack Warner, president of the CONCACAF region. Is it not the most depressing aspect of the modern game that this odious little toad manages to be pulling the strings around every major decision?

 Aided by desperate bowling, New Zealand battered 114 off the final six overs to help win a World Cup group game with Pakistan. Earlier, Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal had dropped one of the easiest catches the competition has seen in its 36-year history with New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor on eight. He hit 131. Cricket is a game of ebbs and flows, and this stuff happens. You've got to admit, though, it does seem to happen to Pakistan rather a lot.

 Kenny will waitAlan Hansen intervened in the big issue at Liverpool last week, saying the board should act quickly to secure his friend Kenny Dalglish on a permanent contract.

'If they don't, there might be a vacancy at a club like Chelsea in the summer and who knows what might happen?' he said. Nice try.

Waiting for the call: Kenny Dalglish has eyes only for the hotseat at Anfield

Unfortunately, the reason Dalgish is being left to hang on when any other manager who had turned the fortunes and the spirit of the club around in such a short space of time would have been snapped up, is that the owners know there is more chance of Paul Konchesky getting another game for Liverpool, than Dalglish being swept away by an offer from elsewhere.

He came back for one job and will wait patiently for it, even if the process takes all season. Fair play to Hansen for trying to help him out, but he fooled nobody.

 Referee Peter Walton forgot his cards at Goodison Park on Wednesday night (right), so was forced to mime his disciplinary sanctions to the players of Everton and Birmingham City.

Maybe this could have been the solution in the Nou Camp, too. Massimo Busacca could have mimed giving Robin van Persie a red card, Van Persie could have mimed walking off, Arsenal could have mimed putting three passes together and UEFA could have mimed drawing them out of the hat for the next round.

 A fat her wrote to England rugby star Chris Ashton telling him that his son broke an arm attempting to imitate his famous swallow dive celebration. Ashton actually considered stopping it. Time for another headline from The Onion, a satirical newspaper. 'Fun toy banned because of three stupid dead kids.'

 One quick question about Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, based on Saturday's performance against Arsenal. Why is he retiring?

 Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Robin Van Persie, John Terry, Mike Tindall, Tony Adams, Andy Carroll, Javier Mascherano, Gareth Barry, Lionel Messi, Rio Ferdinand, Steve Kabba, Steven Gerrard, Neil Warnock, David Platt, Fabio Capello, Paul Konchesky, Jack Wilshere, Kenny Dalglish, Xavi, Jack Warner, Edwin Van Der Sar, David Villa, Rafael Benitez, Joe Hart, Andres Iniesta, Wayne Rooney, Ross Taylor, Zara Phillips Places: Barcelona, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Norwich, France, Montenegro, Algeria, Pakistan, Italy, Denmark, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Europe

Source: Daily_Mail