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MARTIN SAMUEL: It's time the boo boys stopped hanging John Terry out to dry...
Published : 03 Mar 2010 00:37:01Rss feed
John Terry: have you ever considered that he might have learned his lesson? He has lost the England captaincy, almost lost his marriage, lost a friend, lost standing and respect within the game, lost the unqualified support of the England manager, Fabio Capello, and, most recently, would seem to have lost the one quality on which he could always rely: his rhino-hide ability to overcome negative headlines and adversity and play his game unaffected. Could it be he has now suffered enough? Could it be he does not need to hear the vocal outrage of that exacting group of moralists otherwise known as the Wembley crowd? Crucified: John Terry could face further flak when he plays for England against Egypt at Wembley on Wednesday night The certitude of their judgements is well-known. They have, in recent years, taken against Joleon Lescott for seeking a better job, Ashley Cole for causing mental anguish to a much-loved celebrity mime artist, Peter Crouch for being tall, Phil Neville for being called Neville, Owen Hargreaves for possessing inconspicuous talent and Frank Lampard for not making himself available for booing in Andorra. Now it would appear to be Terry's turn. Indeed, anticipation of the ferocious reaction to his appearance against Egypt tonight is such that in the build up to the game, Wayne Rooney and Capello have both commented on the subject, asking for support not opprobrium. The moral to this story, then, is do not commit adultery. No, wait, it can't be because David Beckham is adored by the Wembley crowd and he was at it with Rebecca Loos. Right, the moral to this story is if you are going to commit adultery, make sure your wife is not a singer with a popular girl band. No, scratch that. Hold on, let me think. Aha, the moral to this story is, if you're going to commit adultery don't do it on your doorstep, with the ex of a team-mate or, say, a personal assistant. Damn, nearly had it that time. Look, let's just say that the moral to this story is if you're going to commit adultery, first make sure you are David Beckham or people are going to take a pretty dim view of it. So this is a saga and in each saga there is a tipping point, at which the momentum of opinion becomes unstoppable and action must be taken. Terry, who has endured a series of uncomfortable episodes this season, reached it when news broke of his affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the ex-girlfriend of his England team-mate Wayne Bridge and mother to his child. The resulting fissure in the camp and another round of lurid headlines threatened to knock the World Cup mission off course, prompting Capello to act and sack Terry as captain. Yet not all tipping points are propelled by the righteous. Sometimes the chorus of moral indignation grows so shrill, so sanctimonious, that reasonable people, those who may previously have been on the same side, decide enough is enough and come charging back the other way. We may have reached that point for some on Saturday with Craig Bellamy's arrival in the pulpit. In a post-match interview following Manchester City's win at Chelsea, Bellamy bagged Terry, as Australians would say, when asked if City's victory was in part inspired by support for their team-mate, Bridge. 'I know what JT is like and nothing surprises me about him,' said Bellamy. 'I'm not going to comment on that guy. Everybody in football knows what he's like - that's off the field.' Bellamy left it vague but made his point. He presumed to speak for the whole of football, which was cheeky, but successfully conveyed the impression that Terry was a rotter, and not to be trusted, even as a team-mate. And, overnight, Bellamy was a hero. More from Martin Samuel... Martin Samuel on the Carling Cup final: We've no right to a free hit on the house28/02/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: How can so many broken legs be down to chance?28/02/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Jonny Wilkinson is just a mirror of England's mediocrity28/02/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Left back at home, Wayne Bridge let nobody down 25/02/10 Martin Samuel: Jose Mourinho is a master of both Chelsea and Inter Milan24/02/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Here's why Jose Mourinho really is so...special23/02/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Jowell deserves an Olympic medal in utter madness21/02/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Brand Tiger is out of a hole, now let the cash tills ring19/02/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE That's right, Craig Bellamy. Mr Loyalty. Mr Team Spirit. The bloke who threw a chair at Newcastle United's first team coach, John Carver, during an argument at Newcastle airport; who sent abusive text messages to Alan Shearer after Newcastle had been knocked out of the FA Cup at the semi-final stage by Manchester United (Bellamy was on loan at Celtic at the time); who was accused of threatening to feign injury before a match against Arsenal by manager Graeme Souness; who took a swing with a golf club at his Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise because he would not join a karaoke session. This is a guy who feels empowered to judge Terry. In this open season, Terry has been taken to task as an egotist by Piers Morgan in a newspaper column that included 31 uses of the word I, or its derivatives me, my and mine. (Then again Piers also told somebody called Ptolemy that he had a silly name, so maybe it was tongue in cheek.) The thought of 50,000 or more blameless souls, who have never committed adultery or treated a friend or colleague thoughtlessly or behaved in a way that may have compromised professional integrity, now lending their voices to this chorus of disapproval is where the new tipping point may be found. Terry has erred; but nobody can argue that he has not been punished. Professionally, his career is in ruins because he has lost what many regard as the highest individual honour in the game, the captaincy of his national team. Apparently, he maintained a forlorn hope that, in time, with good behaviour, it might be returned to him if the new captain Rio Ferdinand or his vice-captain Steven Gerrard were unable to play. Capello crushed that dream at the weekend when he made it plain that Terry would never captain England while he was manager. As the squad is drilled to obey Capello or else, this ruled out even a battlefield promotion resulting from injury. No departing player would carelessly hand the armband to Terry now, even if it meant hobbling the length of the field to give it to Joe Hart. Some will find Capello's subsequent words in support of Terry hollow, believing that he created this problem by making a personal issue a matter of professional discipline. Bridge's resignation from this England squad over the affair, however, means that Capello was correct in identifying it as a problem for the national team, not private individuals, and the adverse reaction to Terry had he remained captain would without doubt have been worse. It is unthinkable that England should take the field to jeers in World Cup year because the man leading them out has alienated supporters. Had this happened it may even have forced Terry to stand down before South Africa for the good of the team. At least Capello took charge of the situation, rather than being overwhelmed by events. Also, as England's manager, Capello is paid to make tough calls as he sees fit. The supporters have a different role. What has happened lately, however, is the blurring of boundaries, encouraged by phone-in votes and message boards, so that all opinions are considered equally valid. When the Wembley booing craze was at its height under Steve McClaren, the unpopular former coach, some fans were greatly affronted by the suggestion this was counter-productive. 'McClaren doesn't listen to what we say,' said one. 'What else are we supposed to do to get our feelings across about choices we are against?' Well, not much, really. This is not Pop Idol. Wembley is a stadium not a debating forum. The loudmouth on the public address system may seek to get the juices flowing by calling it your England team, but do not be fooled. It is Capello's England team, because he selects it, and if he thinks Terry is the best available central defender - which he is, by a mile - then there is no red interactive button to press or premium rate number to call to dispute it. You can boo, but he will not listen, although it may put the skids under a player England need desperately if they are to have a chance of winning the World Cup. This does not mean support has to be offered unequivocally, or that fans have to buy in to the culture around a sport, however odious. It may be that many feel they cannot yet cheer Terry. Then don't. The choices are not celebration or odium; there is also silence. It delivers the message without undermining the team; it makes its point without descending towards the bullying of the mob; it does not disconcert the player, as happened when Lescott came on as a 64th minute substitute against Slovenia on September 5, 2009, was booed for leaving Everton for Manchester City, and was subsequently responsible for the goal scored by Zlatan Ljubijankic with five minutes remaining. Nobody can consider Terry's actions without consequence. Indeed, it is hard to think of a player who has suffered more from behaviour that was not illegal. He did wrong and the punishment has been huge. Further scorn is hardly required. Right now, does he look to be playing like a man who is unaware of public opinion? Who is this Red Knight?Manchester United supporters may be interested in this report on Jim O'Neill, the chief economist of Goldman Sachs, from the business pages of the Daily Telegraph. City slicker: Jim O'Neill 'When O'Neill was appointed in 2001 to arguably the most influential economist's job in the private sector, he knew he needed to come up with something to define his career. "I thought, 'Oh my God, I've got to put my own imprint on this department for the future,'" said O'Neill. What he came up with was the acronym BRIC to describe the shifting balance of global economic power from the west towards Brazil, Russia, India and China.' See what he did? BRIC. Genius, isn't it? He could have gone for BIRC (Brazil, India, Russia and China), but that might have rebounded. All things considered, though, O'Neill is lucky the fastest growing economies were not Pakistan, Russia, India and China; or Canada, Oman, Belgium, Bulgaria, Liberia, Egypt, Rwanda and Sudan. That would have been a real pain in the Aruba, Romania, Switzerland and Estonia. O'Neill is the head of the Red Knights, a group of City experts - no, stop giggling at the back - and Manchester United fans who are discussing the overthrow of the Glazers at Old Trafford. The irony is that Sir Alex Ferguson seems content with the current owners. So, on one side, the man who came up with BRIC; on the other, the man who came up with two European Cups, 11 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, one European Cup-Winners Cup, one World Club Championship, one Intercontinental Cup and a European Super Cup. There is only one Red Knight that needs to be kept happy in Manchester. Lose him and O'Neill could end up looking a right Tuvalu, Indonesia and Turkmenistan. CONTACT MARTIN AT: email@example.com
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