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England – The Coup

Was it an attempted coup? Are we, the media, exaggerating it? Was John Terry abandoned by the rest of the England squad?

It is quite obvious there is squad disharmony in the England camp. We can’t take too much for certain from John Terry’s words but the disharmony is quite obvious. According to John Terry, the players have asked for Joe Cole to start in the final match, insisting that he, with Wayne Rooney, is the only England player capable of opening up rigid defences in this current system. The players have also indicated they are unhappy with the system. There is no balance and little fluidity. It is, nevertheless, strange that it is John Terry who has mentioned these things. After all, he is the player who Fabio Capello stripped of the English team captaincy.

Why didn’t Steven Gerrard, the captain,  mention these things? On what basis did John Terry believe he had the mandate to speak on behalf of the squad? What overall benefit for the squad is there if John Terry implies Joe Cole should start over Emile Heskey. This is not quite Zinedine Zidane stealing control at the 2006 World Cup but John Terry has, seemingly, attempted to wrestle a portion of the control. Why did John Terry feel the need to be the one to tell General Manager Francesco Baldini that the players wanted to unwind, have a beer and relax, after the Algeria debacle? That the players should wish to unwind and ‘get things off of their chest’ is understandable, the question is why John Terry was the one to suggest it, and perhaps more pertinently, why was John Terry the one to reveal it to the public? This not the way protocol works and has all the nuances of an attempted coup. The English players, unlike the French, have not quite decided to go on strike but Fabio Capello’s authority has been questioned. The discipline he demanded and the emotional distance he maintained was once considered a strength, representative of his professional totalitarian methods. Now, it is seen as unaccommodating and arrogant, indicative of a man who doesn’t care about his charges individually.

John Terry said he was ‘speaking on behalf of the team’ when he mentioned the problems. If that was the case, and it is hard to imagine he acted entirely alone, then the next obvious question is why did none of the other senior players support him by reiterating his comments? Terry mentioned that Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard all agreed with the proposals he made public, the need for more tactical innovation, preparation, more communication between management and the professionals and the inclusion of Joe Cole, but then why didn’t Rooney, Gerrard or Lampard also speak publicly? Was John Terry pushed?

The rumours have started. People are taking positions. Sides are being chosen. England are hoping for qualification but in case they do not the entire group, from the top of the English Football Association to the players, are preparing excuses. No one is willing to take the blame should England collapse. The Football Association are insisting Capello should resign if he fails, Capello is suggesting the players need to take responsibility, the players are demanding more from the management and some players are even abandoning other players. Two matches in, this is not how England pictured the World Cup.