It’s hard to believe Fulham’s decision to erect a statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage would be superseded as the bizarre football story of the week. But by demoting Rio Ferdinand as England captain and handing the armband to John Terry, that’s exactly what Fabio Capello has achieved.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the Italian commanded respect; arguably no more so than in his removal of Terry as skipper around this time last year having deemed him to have abused his position of authority one too many times. Whether you agreed with him or not, his decisiveness was impressive.
But that was following a near impeccable World Cup qualification campaign, when everyone had been convinced his school headmaster routine was the most effective way of getting the nation’s star players to perform to their true potential.
How things change.
Capello has made a decision that simply didn’t need to be made. In the absence of the injured Ferdinand and Gerrard, there would have been no problem with Terry filling in against Wales. Yes, Ferdinand’s long-term availability is a concern, but so is Terry’s. Indeed, it was only a few months previously when Capello questioned the Chelsea defender’s commitment to the national cause after becoming concerned at his persistent withdrawals from friendly matches.
But regardless of who is the best candidate, it’s Capello’s handling of the situation, undermining and embarrassing two senior internationals, that has demonstrated a lack of basic class and decency. Being unable to speak English is no excuse for ignorance or an absence of courtesy. It shouldn’t have been down to the player being publicly humiliated to take the necessary measures to avoid an awkward meeting in public, as was the case during Manchester United's game versus Marseille last week when Ferdinand steered clear of the directors’ box where he knew Capello would be present.
Similarly, those saying Steven Gerrard will be unaffected haven't paid close enough attention to the Liverpool player's career over the last decade or so. He thrives on responsibility. While not always for England admittedly, he has steadily grown into the role and performed admirably both on and off the pitch in South Africa last year. More importantly, he needs to feel loved and appreciated. By overlooking him, Capello has done the exact opposite.
For somebody in such a position of power and responsibility, the England manager's lack of self-awareness is quite startling. And, after initially ingratiating himself to his adopted nation’s press and people, his behaviour has become increasingly peculiar. Fulham owner Mohammed Al Fayed has probably already spoken to his favourite sculptor; there’ll be a statue of Capello alongside the late King of Pop in no time.
Do you think Capello was right to change skippers? Have you say at Baggies Banter here.
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