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MARTIN SAMUEL: Never mind morals, sacking of Terry was stand for England

07 Feb 2010 09:14:16

MARTIN SAMUEL: Never mind morals, sacking of Terry was stand for England

The numbers would appear brutal but the time it took Fabio Capello to dismiss John Terry as England captain was measured not in minutes, but days. All that thought on his terrace in Lugano, all that studied reflection away from the commotion, served its purpose. By the time Capello returned to London on Thursday, he as good as knew his mind, the further drip, drip of revelations overnight merely reinforcing his instinct. No messing: Fabio Capello acted swiftly for the good of the England team Capello removed Terry for fear the controversy around him would become, and had become, a distraction for the England team. He removed him to release the pressure. A small part of his decision-making process considered Terry's relationship with other members of the squad. Together those factors made Terry's tenure a risk that was no longer worth taking. The denouement was brief, even ruthless, but that is Capello's style. He does not have the command of English to engage in drawn-out conversation, nor the disposition for long explanations of his choices. He does what he believes to be right and draws a line. Terry accepted the conclusion to a sorry affair, at the end of what must have been a horrendous week, without complaint. Now he moves on, and so do the team, with Rio Ferdinand as captain. The best managers are problem solvers and excuse removers. Capello's job since arriving in England has been to identify the flaws in an underachieving team and refute any reason for its future failure. Rio Ferdinand: Unites the squad He has been magnificent at this, so far, but the storm around Terry presented his biggest examination. An outsider, he was required to negotiate a minefield - professional, personal and ethical - on an issue that has divided the country. The dichotomy suggested that whatever the conclusion, he stood to be accused of weakness: either by failing to take a moral stand or by introducing irrelevant moral issues to the sporting arena. It is to Capello's immense credit that he has steered a logical third way and emerged with reputation intact. He has made a popular decision without being accused of pandering to the mob; he has shown strength while not turning international selection into an unworkable fit and proper persons test. Importantly, he has shown his teeth as a boss without losing credibility with his players. It would have been easy to alienate the team by humiliating Terry in public for the sake of favourable headlines. Sensibly, Capello's statement made no judgment on Terry's character, merely presenting the change in professional terms. Had Capello dressed his announcement in morally appealing rhetoric he would have been back to square one. Instead, this is the right decision for the right reasons. There will never now be a statue to Terry, like there is to Bobby Moore, at Wembley. His dreams of lifting the World Cup in Johannesburg on July 11 will remain only that. Whatever Terry's human failings, it is hard not to feel a pang of sympathy for him because, in football terms, he has led the team well. Yet it had to be this way. The most successful managers have a way of cutting through all distractions to the essence of what is best for the team. Privately, Capello might even say it was a simple decision once he became aware, not so much of the facts around Terry, but the furore. Capello's form of common sense resolution is best explained as having its inspiration in the film, The Dirty Dozen. Put simply he does not mind if he puts murderers on the job, provided they are the best men to execute his mission successfully. If one of these murderers, however, ends up killing an innocent party on the way, attracting attention and making it less likely the mission will succeed, Capello is the one who will put the gun to the man's head and remove him for the greater good. Do not be fooled. He has not taken a stand for morality over Terry, but a stand for England winning the World Cup. If some want to read great ethical depth into his decisions, he will neither support nor deny, but dumbly refuse to engage. He saw the furore around Terry as an increasing point of weakness and thought had he remained it could grow to be a bigger issue by the time of the tournament in South Africa. Perhaps it would even be used in mitigation at the World Cup had England disappointed. Capello would never countenance that and, in time, even Terry may come to understand his stance. Still strong: Terry has accepted Capello's decision with respect and will still be a big part of the Italian's World Cup plans Had he remained captain, there would always be a fear that the England team could be undermined by an indiscretion or an untimely revelation: relegation to squad member status turns the heat down. Capello knows that Terry will never stop being a leader, never stop being an inspirational presence on the football field, so he will still have that advantage. He will always believe that Terry is the best captain in the country, and he is right about that. He is an exceptional leader, one of the few footballers that is prepared to take personal responsibility for the direction of a game, and almost alone in being able to do this from defence. Terry wins matches. He did when Chelsea beat Burnley last week, he did when Chelsea overcame Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in Jose Mourinho's first season; he tried, and failed, when courageously electing to take the vital fifth penalty against Manchester United in the Champions League final. He is England's best captain but not England's best man; not in the present climate. Capello knows what he represented but also what he now represents; and he knows he can no longer square that circle successfully. It was for this reason that his mind was made up by the time the pair met at Wembley. Having first taken his time, with the path now clear, Capello acted fast. That is his great quality: cool efficiency and with a rather English reserve. A pity his captain did not share this singularity: he would still be in a job.  John Terry sacked as England captain in just 10 minutes by Fabio CapelloDES KELLY: Captain Chav John Terry is now England's Daddy FoolRolls-Royce Rio Ferdinand: He's the captain players respect, says Jamie RedknappJohn Terry didn't kill anyone, says Chelsea boss Carlo AncelottiTerry scandal will NOT affect Chelsea when they face Arsenal, claims ArseneJohn Terry axed as the England captain! Fabio Capello gets tough as Wembley box revelations prove final straw for shamed Chelsea star


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