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Archive for the ‘Fabio Capello’ Category

Hats off to FA for forcing out Fabio Capello – now hire Harry Redknapp and maybe England will have a chance at Euro 2012

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You can dress it up any which way you want but Fabio Capello has quit as England manager hours after saying he would not walk away from the job – and that can only mean the Italian resigned before he got the boot.

Congratulations are in order to the Football Association and their chairman David Bernstein for  getting tough and all they need to do now, as I’ve been urging them for more than a year is to appoint Harry Redknapp.

There is no coincidence that the announcement came hours after the Spurs boss was dramatically cleared of tax evasion by a jury that delivered a unanimous verdict. Everyone knew that the Inland Revenue were wasting millions of pounds of public money with their ridiculous case against Harry and his ex-Portsounth boss Milan Mandaric.

It’s been a truly remarkable day – but no more than I predicted in my blog on Monday urging the FA to sack Capello and hire Harry as soon as he is cleared by the courts.

Redknapp has yet to be offered the job. But this time the FA will not get away with failing to appoint the people’s choice, as they did all those years ago when they failed to make outspoken genius Brian Clough the manager of England.

Never have I welcomed an FA statement more than this evening’s that read: “The Football Association can confirm that Fabio Capello has today resigned as England manager.”

The statement went on: “This follows a meeting involving FA chairman David Bernstein, FA general secretary Alex Horne and Fabio Capello at Wembley Stadium. The discussions focused on the FA board’s decision to remove the England team captaincy from John Terry, and Fabio Capello’s response through an Italian broadcast interview.

“In a meeting for over an hour, Fabio’s resignation was accepted and he will leave the post of England manager with immediate effect.”

Bernstein said the resignation was the right course of action and you can take that as all the confirmation you need that this was what the FA wanted.

There is no doubt that Redknapp will accept an FA offer to accept the England job – the only question will be whether or not he attempts to juggle the role with completing the season as Spurs manager.



Sack Fabio Capello – and appoint English-born manager to ditch John Terry and re-call Paul Scholes: FA’s chance to unite nation

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The men in suits forever ridiculed by critics as the ‘jokers’ who run the game but ‘don’t know what they’re doing’ have a unique opportunity to make all the doubters eat their words.

There is a lot of absolute rubbish being written and said by so-called experts who have defended Fabio Capello’s ill-advised decision to take on the Football Association over their decision to strip John Terry of the captains armband.

The reality is the FA’s only mistake was not taking this action months ago when the crown prosecution charged Terry with racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.

Forget innocent until proven guilty. That is irrelevant. Terry will get the chance to clear his name in July. But it is inconceivable that England can go into a major tournament led by a skipper charged with being a racist.

Not only to protect England, but – whether he likes it or not -this is in the best interests of Terry. Can you imagine the controversy that would have engulfed England at Euro 2012 with Terry facing the world’s media and constantly being reminded about his racism charge.

The FA have been world leaders in their campaign to kick racism out of football. But the possibility that their skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending would have made England a laughing stock.

Fabio Capello told Italian TV: “I completely disagree with the FA about the John Terry decision. I have told that to the chairman.”

Fabio Capello told Italian TV: “I completely disagree with the FA about the John Terry decision. I have told that to the chairman.”

In any other walk of life anyone in Terry’s position would be suspended and removed from the firing line until after their court case.

For Capello to gamble his career by taking on his employers and so publicly supporting Terry is a shockingly poor decision for so many reasons. It is such a bad call one suspects the Italian secretly wants to be fired so he can walk away from an England job he has never mastered.

The reality is that Capello has made his position as manager untenable. Not just by challenging the FA’s authority but by inexcusably creating problems in the England dressing room

By making it public knowledge that his captain will no longer be his first choice undermines what already appears to be a fragile relationship with his players – who already know he is walking away when his contract expires in the summer.

By quickly ruling himself out of being re-instated as captain, Rio Ferdinand confirmed his lack of respect for Capello. And I am absolutely certain he is not the only one doubting the Italian’s ability to learn from his mistakes during and since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Imagine how the atmosphere would change if the FA have the balls to sack Capello and give the fans what they really want . . . an English-born manager.

Imagine if that man was Harry Redknapp after he successfully defends his Court case and kicks into touch those charges of alleged tax evasion.

And imagine if the new English manager leaves Terry out of his Euro 2012 squad altogether and successfully persuades this nation’s best midfielder Paul Scholes to make a sensational comeback.

There is no doubt in my mind Scholes will accept the challenge if he his given the respect he deserves and gets the call from a manager who wants his team to play a passing game.

The ginger haired genius has already publicly stated he wishes he had played at the last World Cup and Scholes is universally recognised as the best England player of his generation.

There is also no doubt that Redknapp will come to England’s rescue if he gets the call. But even if that is not possible there are several other Englishmen who could do better than Capello.

My message to FA chairman David Bernstein is simple. Step up and become the leader the English game needs by giving Capello the boot, ditch Terry altogether and appoint an English manager who will build his Euro 2012 team around Scholes.


Boring boring England are world champion underachievers

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Let’s be honest, whether we are talking association football or rugby football, England are not only boring to watch but pathetic underachievers.

Even when they win, as England’s rugby union stars did at Murrayfield this evening to give interim coach Stuart Lancaster a winning start against Scotland, it rarely gets the pulses racing. Not if we are talking about entertainment that is.

It was spot on when New Zealand’s former All Blacks’ coach Graham Henry described England as “the world champions of wasting talent” who play “a game based on fear” and failing to build on the success of winning the 2003 World Cup.

Rather than dwell on the irony of the Kiwis being the biggest underachievers in Rugby World Cup history – they even came close to blowing it on home soil when they narrowly pipped France to the Webb  Ellis Trophy a few months ago – the honest truth is that Henry is right.

Fear is the word that haunts England’s stars of both the beautiful game and the oval ball version. There was nothing to get excited about as a wasteful Scotland were beaten 6-13. It was the Scots who played the most entertaining rugby, their fightback undone when they were denied a try from Greg Laidlaw by the Television Match Official ruling the fly-half had failed to touch down.

Apart from Euro 96 when Terry Venables produced an entertaining England side that outclassed Holland’s total footballers and the one-off in 2001 when Sven Goran Eriksson oversaw an unbelievable 5-1 win in Germany, what have our international footballers done to be proud of since 1966?

It was shocking to see the way our overpaid, over-rated footballers failed to live up to all the hype and expectation at the last FIFA World Cup in South Africa. But will anyone be surprised if the same thing happens at Euro 2012 this summer?

At least the FA have had the wisdom to side-step the inevitable criticism that would have dragged England down if they had not stripped John Terry of the England captaincy. Guilty or not there is no way we could go into a major tournament with the possibility that our skipper could become a convicted racist within days of the tournament ending.

Sadly, the opportunity to replace Fabio Capello with England’s finest manager Harry Redknapp was trashed by the Inland Revenue’s claim that the Spurs boss is a tax cheat. Even if Redknapp is cleared it is too late for  the FA to ditch underachiever Capello, and can anyone imagine England making us proud of the way we play the game with the Italian pulling the strings?

Fear of failure will almost certainly haunt our footballers at the Euro Finals in Poland and Ukraine.







Time for Terry to get the boot – and Capello can go with him

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John Terry's abuse of Ferdinand - link here to the video courtesy of The Guardian

John Terry's abuse of Ferdinand - link here to the video courtesy of The Guardian


Whether or not John Terry is guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at QPR, it was not acceptable to see the England captain spitting venom at Rio’s younger brother in front of a worldwide TV audience.

Terry may be an inspirational figure to some of his team mates.But that does not make him fit to be a role model and captain of his country. How many times is the overhyped Chelsea skipper going to be allowed to bring shame on England? Fabio Capello made the mistake of reinstating Terry after he’d sacked him as skipper following the Wayne Bridge affair and ironically replaced him with Rio Ferdinand.

It will be interesting to see if Capello stands by his man now, whether or not Terry is found guilty by the FA. Personally I’d like to see Terry booted out for good – and he can take Capello with him. I’d rather see England lose than succeed with Capello and Terry at the helm.

Terry, who claims it has all been a “big misunderstanding” is in line to be recalled for Chelsea’s clash with Arsenal on Saturday after being left out of the midweek Carling Cup win at Everton. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has announced it is assessing evidence from the incident after receiving a complaint.

Earlier, Ferdinand thanked fellow players for helping him cope with the situation.

“I’d like to thank players like Jason Roberts  for the support they have given me,” Ferdinand told the Telegraph. “Not just professionals at other clubs but my team-mates at QPR. They’ve been fantastic for me. Having team-mates around you, like I have, is nice to feel and nice to see.”

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Gary Neville hits England where it hurts and admits Fabio Capello’s team are no hopers – with or without Wayne Rooney

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Gary Neville accepts the reality that England are short of quality

Gary Neville accepts the reality that England are short of quality

Since ending has career as the best right back of his generation, Gary Neville has established himself as football’s undisputed No.1 pundit.

There is no-one in the game who talks more sense than the tough talking ex-England and Manchester United hero who was grew up in the famous Class of 92 that produced David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and his younger brother Phil.

He has already been a revelation as Sky Sports’ most dynamic expert analyst, a million light years better than the excitable Scotsman Andy Gray. And he has also made his mark as a columnist.

Writing in this weekend’s Mail on Sunday, Nev the Red put it simply for the fans when he explained why England do not have a prayer of winning Euro 2012 – with or without Wayne Rooney.

“The real issue is that the spine of the team is not good enough,” explains Neville, who won 85 England caps, in his assessment of Fabio Capello’s chances of winning next summer’s tournament.

“When I look at it coldly, a team that has John Terry, Gary Cahill, Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Darren Bent and Rooney in its central positions is nowhere near good enough to take on the major nations such as Spain.

“I’m not having a go at individuals; there are some very good players among those names.

“Rooney aside, there is hardly any pace, very little invention and hardly any rotation of positions. Compare that with the spine of Spain: Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, David Villa and Fernando Llorente.”

England take on Spain in a friendly at Wembley next month with Neville keen to see a number of younger players given a chance.

“Let’s be clear, England are not as good as Spain but you can’t just accept they’re better,” said Neville.

“You have to find a way to stop them, to disrupt the rhythm and to hurt them going forward – because England need to believe that, in a one-off, they can beat Spain.

“The rest of Europe is watching and if Spain do what most people think they will do and destroy us, just like France did in February 1999 at Wembley when they were world champions, then England will go into Euro 2012 thinking they have no chance.

“There are younger players – Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck – who are mobile, talented and not tainted by previous failures.

“Somehow, Capello has to mould those with the more experienced players into a team to compete with Spain because the team that played on Friday would be well beaten. It’s now time for Capello to be brave.”

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He's the greatest! Scholes with Pele

He's the greatest! Scholes with Pele


Truly great footballers let their feet do the talking – and no one in the history of the beautiful game has epitomised that sentiment more eloquently than Paul Scholes.

The ginger-haired genius even managed to serve up a glorious strike in his testimonial match at a sold out Old Trafford tonight as the Manchester United side he has served faithful for nearly 17 years gave New York Cosmos a 6-0 thrashing.

Watched by one of his idol’s Pele, arguably the greatest footballer of all-time, and the incomparable Eric Cantona, Scholesy unleashed a trademark rasping drive past Brad Friedel to open the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes.

It was pure theatre as Unted’s shy and retiring midfield maestro bowed out with a flash of brilliance that brought the house down. It reminded everyone just why Scholes has earned the highest of accolades from so many of the greatest names in football.

Anyone who knows anything about football will appreciate why the unassuming Salford-born 36-year-old is rated as the best English footballer since Sir Bobby Charlton.

Had Scholes been given more respect by the bespectacled Swede Sven Goran Eriksson when he was England manager, who knows, our so-called golden generation may have emulated Sir Bobby’s feat of winning the World Cup in 1966 instead of falling to Portugal in the quarter-finals 40 years later in Germany.

The greatest players around the world have never understood why Scholes was allowed to retire early from the England team. Eriksson should have been down on his hands and knees begging him to carry on.

It is criminal that Scholes earned the last of his 66 caps against Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004. Fabio Capello came to his senses much too late when he waited until the last minute to sound him out for a dramatic comeback at last year’s World Cup in South Africa.

“I had only been given a couple of hours, so it was a bit of a rush job,” said Scholes. “But the World Cup is the biggest tournament you can be involved in. I wish I had gone. I did feel as though I had made the wrong decision. There was a touch of regret, but it doesn’t matter now. It’s gone.”

A great little feature here with Scholesy being quizzed by my old mate Mark Sullivan at MUTV

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Paul Scholes as one of Manchester United’s greatest players of all time”.  And many  legends of the game have added equally gushing praise for the man who is surely the most modest footballing genius in living memory.

“My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation” – Zinedine Zidane

“For me, it’s Paul Scholes. He’ll do ridiculous things in training like say: ‘You see that tree over there?’ – it’ll be 40 yards away – ‘I’m going to hit it.’ And he’ll do it. Everyone at the club considers him the best” – Rio Ferdinand

“Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team – that goes to show how highly I have always rated him. An all-round midfielder who possesses quality and character in abundance” – Marcello Lippi

“I tell anyone who asks me – Scholes is the best English player” – Laurent Blanc

“Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Paul Scholes. He knows how to do everything, and he is the one who directs the way his team plays. On top of that, he has indestructible mental strength, and he is a genuine competitor” – Thierry Henry

France’s World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez: “He’s the best player I ever played with.”

“Everyone of us should emulate him. We can all learn from Paul Scholes” – Edgar Davids

“I have no hesitation in putting a name to the embodiment of all that I think is best about football. It’s Paul Scholes.” – Sir Bobby Charlton

The last word goes to Scholesy – delighted with his farewell goal on his final appearance –  who told the fans at the end of his testimonial: “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone. The goal was nice, that’s what I say it’s about. Memories. I just hope I’ve given the fans some decent memories. It was a really nice goal and I was pleased with it.”

What the fans think of Paul Scholes

What the fans think of Paul Scholes


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England avoid France in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification

England avoid France in World Cup draw


England often fare better in qualification than they do when they reach major tournaments, and whoever succeds Fabio Capello was given a golden ticket for Brazil with a lucky escape in the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Second last to be drawn out of the pot, England narrowly avoided the fate of being placed in a five-team group with France, a fate which instead fell to World Cup holders and current European champions Spain when their ball was last to be pulled out.

It meant England were paired with Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino, leaving Spain with the trickier task of negotiating a group comprising France, Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

Even so, nothing is ever straight-forward with England, who must complete the process of choosing their next manager before qualification begins.

As Fabio Capello – who steps down as England manager after Euro 2012 – warned, shortly after the draw was made in Rio de Janeiro : “It is not an easy draw. You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final – but that will be another manager’s job.”

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100 Great Goals - CLICK TO BUY

The stand-out favourite to get the job with most bookmakers is Harry Redknapp, who is clearly the popular choice among fans – not least because he is English. Redknapp has fared magnificently since he took charge at Tottenham, who were the dazzling surprise package in last season’s Champions League. But you can never take anything for certain with the FA, who have a previous history of overlooking the best man for the England ever since they stubbornly refused to give the legendary Brian Clough the top job.

My bet is that the FA will keep their options open until the last minute and I would not be surprised if Jose Mourinho is high on their list. It is easy to make a strong case for the former Chelsea boss who has broadened his experience and reputation at Inter Milan and Real Madrid since leaving Stamford Bridge. But, in my book, the national manager must be English.

England’s claim to be a force in world football is nothing more than a fraudulent whim if we can’t find a manager to lead our country, and there is no shortage of candidates who could do the job just as well as Capello has done at the staggering cost of £6 million a year.  Roy Hodgson is another top boss who has the experience and the stature, despite his failure at Liverpool. But Redknapp is surely the outstanding English manager of the current generation.









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Ghana and their fans brought a flavous of last summer's World Cup Finals to Wembley

Ghana and their fans brought a flavous of last summer's World Cup Finals to Wembley


CREDIT where credit is due. The  Football Association deserve enormous praise for bringing Ghana to Wembley for tonight’s friendly international against England. And so does much-maligned boss Fabio Capello for giving the new generation a chance.

Ir was so predictable to hear most sections of the blinkered media pack  jump on the band-wagon of rubbishing Capello for having the forsight to leave out the old guard, who will be involved in next week’s Champions League quarter-finals.

After a series of shocking decisions in his handling of the England captaincy, and giving too much information to a media out to hang him, this was a big night for the Italian. And he got it absolutely spot on with his team selection and tactics. It was good to see Andy Carroll score a stunning first international  goal. And there were outstanding displays from Villa wing men Ashley Young and Stuart Downing in a free-flowing 4:3:3 formation.

But the real story of the night was the quality opposition provided by Ghana – who brought freedom, style, quality, adventure and a flavour of last summer’s World Cup to Wembley.  The passion of their colourful fans was  intoxicating and this was an occasion the likes of which is rarely seen in a non-competitive international.

Written off by  so many so called experts in the national media as a meaningless friendly and a fixture designed purely to help pay off the FA’s huge investment in the new Wembley Stadium, this was a memorable night worth its weight in gold for entertainment, its value to the manager and for re-connecting with England’s disenfranchised fans.

It was everything an international friendly should be. Competitive. Meaningful. A great atmosphere. And a true spectacle between two sides hellbent on getting a result. England hit the heights with their superbly executed team goal so decisively converted  by Carroll to take a 1-0 lead they held until the dying seconds.

But the sting in the tail crowned a marvelous evening. The joyous scenes at the end when Asamoah Gyan waltzed through England’s static defence to slot home a glorious equaliser that sparked wild scenes of celebration summed up what this match meant to the Africans.

Emotional hero Gyan conveyed the mood of the night when he said: “We have been waiting for this game for so long. And we did it for the fans. It was a moment I will never forget”

A rare England match at Wembley worthy of the beautiful game.

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How it should be - Katherine Jenkins sings the Welsh National Anthem before the Ashes match between England and Australia in 2009

How it should be - Katherine Jenkins sings the Welsh National Anthem before the Ashes match between England and Australia in 2009


THERE is nothing in sport that makes me more sick to the stomach than hearing fans boo the national anthem – whatever country we are talking about. And what makes it worse, I am ashamed to admit, is that we the British are the biggest offenders.

This time it was the Welsh who were the first to disgrace themselves with an ear-splitting chorus of boos that greeted God Save The Queen before the Euro 2012 Qualifying match against England in Cardiff.

But England’s mindless morons responded just as badly. And we all know they would have started the booing if the Welsh anthem had been played first.

How pathetic and condescending of England’s tainted captain John Terry, controversially re-instated by Fabio Capello, to infer otherwise when he claimed the boos provided the inspiration England needed to put the Welsh in their place. ‘They were booing the National Anthem and the players were very pumped up because of that,’ he said. ‘The players are very proud and ready for the game but when you hear that you get pumped up even more. We showed that from the start.

‘When you go away you expect things like that but, when you hear it, it makes you stick your chest out even more. You can hear the English fans singing and you want to do it for them as well as yourself.’

OK Terry, we get the point. But why don’t you lambaste the English fans when they do the same thing. What makes it worse on this occasion is that God Save the Queen is the national anthem of the United Kingdom, of which Wales is a part and one shudders to think what our brave servicemen around the world who give their lives in battle think of their own people acting so shamelessly.

But it is not just the football crowd who bring shame on Britain. Ricky Hatton was famously let down by his followers in Las Vegas in 2007 before he was embarrassingly outclassed by Floyd Mayweather Jnr in his WBC World title defeat.

Ricky Hatton was embarrassed by his fans booing USA national anthem before his fight with Mayweather

Ricky Hatton was embarrassed by his fans booing USA national anthem before his fight with Mayweather

Hatton’s British fans loudly joined in when Sir Tom Jones sang God Save The Queen. But when Tyrese, the R&B singer, stepped forward to sing The Star- Spangled Banner, the United States national anthem, he was almost drowned out.

The singer gamely plugged on. But many were rightly outraged. HBO’s commentators were quick to condemn the fans they had been praising moments earlier and one HBO technician in the ring gave a middle-fingered salute to the crowd.

The Americans have their faults. But it is hard to imagine their people lacking the class and dignity so often seen by so-called sports fans from Britain.

It is a sad fact that God Save the Queen is regularly targeted by England’s Celtic rivals back in the UK because it is the anthem used by England.

Embarrassingly, last September The Scottish Football Association was forced to apologise to Liechtenstein after Scotland fans booed their national anthem before a Euro 2012 qualifier – because it has the same tune as God Save the Queen.

At the time George Peat, the Scottish FA’s acting chief executive, said: “I was embarrassed and extremely disappointed by the disgraceful behaviour of some of our supporters during the Liechtenstein national anthem at Hampden Park last night.”

It was poetic that the booing seemed to spur minnows Liechtenstein on, and they took a shock 1-0 lead. Scotland only saved themelves from a humilaiting result with a winner SEVEN minutes into injury time at the end of a match against a team ranked only 141st in the world.

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FABIO CAPELLO may have been a successful club manager in Italy – but the England job is just too big for him. And the latest embarrassing saga of whether or not John Terry will replace the injured Rio Ferdinand as skipper is the last straw.

Capello's latest error of judgment has embrassed Rio Ferdinand

Capello’s latest error of judgment has embrassed Rio Ferdinand

The way Capello – who got it so hopelessly wrong at last summer’s World Cup in South Africa – has been manipulated by the media proves it is time for him to make way for Harry Redknapp, the outstanding English manager of his generation.

Even thinking about handing the captain’s armband back to John Terry on a permanent basis is a disgrace. But to chew the matter over with the press and appear to write off Ferdinand before he has discussed it with the player is shameful.

The England captaincy has become a big issue for Capello following February’s friendly against Denmark when Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Ashley Cole all wore the armband at different stages of the match because Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard were both out injured.

“I was really upset about what happened in Denmark, when I saw the players saying ‘who is the captain?’,” said Capello. “After one year of punishment, it was not the best moment for John Terry to see this. For that reason, I need to make a decision – and it will be a permanent decision, not just one game.”

Terry was stripped of the captaincy in February 2010 after reports surfaced that he had an affair with the former partner of England team-mate Wayne Bridge. Ferdinand, 32, was made captain. But has since made only four appearances for England and will miss the upcoming game against Wales because of problems with his back and calf.

Capello wants Terry back - how Daily Mail broke the story

Capello wants Terry back – how Daily Mail broke the story

Now it seems Capello has been persuaded to re-think his stance by “certain London-based media” close to the Chelsea skipper. England’s bungling boss revealed his thinking over an espresso in an Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge on Monday. His camp now insist no decision has been made but admit Terry is being considered.

He may be an experienced player. But Terry is past his best and has lost respect within the England team for a series of errors of judgement. World Cup skipper Steven Gerrard was undermined by Terry’s arrogant and ill-advised attempt to hold a players’ meeting to discuss their failings in South Africa.

Now Ferdinand has every right to be upset over the way Capello has managed the situation by floating his idea of re-instating Terry in public. It is not the first time the Italian has embarrassed one of his stars in this way. Last August he told the media David Beckham was finished as an England international and admitted in the same interview he had not even discussed it with the player.

Now it is time for the Football Association to tell Capello that he is finished. And the sooner the better.

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