From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.34 :: NO.45 :: Nov. 10, 2011
Fabio Capello must be beginning to wonder whether a jinx really is attached to the role of England football manager.
The England boss should be bursting with positive energy and ideas after his side qualified for the UEFA European Championships next summer.
He should be looking forward to the double-header against world champions Spain and Sweden in November to experiment with the bright young talents attempting to stake their claims.
Instead, he is faced with two unwanted distractions. First, how to cope without his best player Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker's senseless sending off against Montenegro which ruled him out of the first three matches of Euro 2012.
More importantly, how to deal with the racism allegations swirling around his captain John Terry.
It is difficult to see how Capello can win whatever the outcome of the inquiries into whether Chelsea's Terry racially abused QPR's Anton Ferdinand recently.
Terry strenuously denies the accusations but if an FA investigation finds him guilty then the Chelsea defender's controversial international career must surely be over.
The FA have invested much sweat and cash and integrity into tackling racism in football, in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association and the ‘Kick it Out' campaign.
They have always been quick to condemn opposition supporters who have abused England players in the past and recently they accused Bulgarian fans of abusing Ashley Young in Sofia.
It is inconceivable they could leave the England armband with a player guilty of anything similar, even given the rumbustious, heat-of-the-moment atmosphere of a frenetic Barclays English Premier League game.
So a guilty Terry would rob Capello of a defender he regards so highly as a leader that he reinstated him as captain earlier this year despite having stripped him of the armband in the wake of the Wayne Bridge saga last year.
If Terry is found to have no case to answer, and accusations of verbal abuse are notoriously difficult to prove conclusively, Capello still loses.
The England boss would then be committed to the skipper he has already backed to lead his side in Poland and Ukraine, which leaves the vexed question of how Rio Ferdinand, Anton's brother, could also travel to Euro 2012 and play alongside Terry in the heart of England's defence.
Capello, of course, might already have decided that Euro 2012 is a step too far for Rio Ferdinand who has had a doubtful injury record in recent years.
But are England so well off for top-notch, tournament-hardened, ball-playing central defenders that they could jettison a fully-fit Ferdinand?
It is doubtful, which is why the allegations against Terry have the capacity to damage seriously the harmony of the England dressing room.
There are those who will say Capello has only himself to blame. That he should never have reinstated Terry as his captain, a move which at the least was likely to alienate the usurped Ferdinand, the World Cup skipper Steven Gerrard and senior professionals such as Frank Lampard.
Whichever way you view it, it is another mess, another England distraction, another notch in the bedpost of excuses which seem to haunt successive England managers in the run-up to a major championship.
Is it really so difficult to find an England captain who does not court controversy? Or an England manager who does not appear jinxed?
Manchester City are on top of the EPL table, scoring goals galore, playing football with panache and giving every indication that they could dominate European football for years to come.
Carlos Tevez collects considerably more than £200,000 a week for the privilege of being on their books.
Yet the incident against Bayern Munich at the Allianz stadium when Tevez allegedly refused to play for City has cost him £800,000 in fines and descended into the bitterest of disputes with threats to sue and counter-sue while Tevez's reputation lies in tatters and his transfer value plummets by the week.
Some people are only happy when they are unhappy. One suspects Tevez might be one of them.
The big clubs have not always been up for the Carling Cup. Not these days if the quarterfinal line-up is anything to go by.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are all represented. It is either a sign of renewed respect or that the top clubs are now so powerful that their second strings are better than the best of the rest.
On balance chances are it is the latter.
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