What a strange journey it has been for Fabio Capello as manager of the England national team.
He began his tenure proclaiming his bafflement at the importance that the English supporters and media place on the question of who the Captain of the team should be and now looks set to end that tenure in dispute with his employers over that very same topic.
The rights and wrongs of the John Terry case are best left for another time, but what seems clear is that Capello and Terry seem fated to be inextricably linked in the story of English football.
The Chelsea defender was of course stripped of the Captaincy by Capello himself prior to the World Cup in South Africa (for what in hindsight seems the tame “crime” of an extra-marital affair) but was restored to the permanent role in March of 2011.
Back then Capello could surely have saved himself a world of grief by simply announcing that the Captain would be decided on a squad by squad basis but he gave in to the weight of tradition of his host country and that decision must now be one that he deeply regrets.
Yet even without the Terry saga he seems to be somewhat star-crossed.
At the start of this season it seemed that things may finally be falling into place for the England team-the old Gerrard/Lampard axis looked set to be replaced by Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverly; two young players who were comfortable with the ball and seemed ready-made for the international game.
The top teams in the Premier League were playing exciting, attacking football with the likes of Ashley Young and Phil Jones firmly at the core.
Capello must even have held out hopes that Andy Carroll could rediscover his form and become the target-man perfectly suited to the system that he likes his teams to play.
Scroll forward to the present and the picture is not so rosy.
Wilshere and Cleverly are both highly doubtful to be fit enough for the squad, Young and Jones have flirted with injury too (and have certainly fallen from the high plateau that they reached in the months of August and September) and Andy Carroll is, well, Andy Carroll.
Yet for all the other off and on field tribulations it now seems certain that it will be the denouement of the “Terry Affair” that will be the final act of his reign.
His interview for Italian television, in which he stated that he disagreed with the decision that the FA had made, leaves him vulnerable on two fronts.
If Terry fails to even go to Euro 2012 (as now seems possible) then Capello is left looking weak as a manager in the eyes of the remaining players.
If Terry does go then his presence will surely be even more of a distraction than it was in South Africa with the very real possibility of a Dutch style split in the dressing room.
The coming weeks will be both interesting, and almost certainly unedifying, as the powers struggles continue but future generations will surely wonder how great a player Terry must have been for a national team coach to risk everything on his behalf.
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