Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I fully respect Fabio Capello’s decision. I will continue to give everything for England.” – John Terry.
Runner-up: “There has been no exchange of money between John Terry and Miss Perroncel to my knowledge. I have not been informed. I haven’t been in contact with John Terry, or anyone on his behalf, in the last few days.” – Max Clifford.
Today’s overview: After a week of constant sleaze, smut and controversy, John Terry was stripped of his England captaincy on Friday while (drug test missing, constant injury-prone doubt, Craig Fagan lamping) Rio Ferdinand was upgraded as the leader of the Three Lions. Unsurprisingly, the fourth estate is in a frenzy this Saturday.
The general consensus, as voiced by Owen Gibson, is that John Terry is set to be shamed by more revelations before this episode is finally put to bed. “The possibility of further Âdamaging revelations appearing over a weekend when Capello will be in Warsaw for the Euro 2012 qualifying draw is understood to have been a factor.”
Richard Williams also is on tenterhooks waiting for more controversy to be revealed in the tabloids. “Quite clearly the manager was not prepared to entertain assurances from Terry that there will be no more revelations to disrupt the squad’s equanimity as it approaches the start of the 2010 World Cup finals, now only 18 weeks away… Some of Sunday’s papers will be planning new installments, and who is to say that a further series of scandalous exposÃ©s would not be waiting to explode as the tournament draws near?”
Always happy to dish the dirt, The Mirror’s Victoria Ward then crashes in with the latest skeleton for JT’s walk-in cupboard. “John Terry had a sexual liaison with a pretty blonde in a kitchen just six months before he married Toni Poole. The serial cheat had flirted with the girl, in her early 20s, for months and made it clear he was â€œgoing to get herâ€. On the night in question he gatecrashed a 2006 Christmas party with fellow players and made a beeline for the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons. He was later caught as she performed a sex act on him in the kitchen of the venue.”
After pointing out that “John Terry became the first England football captain to be dismissed for off-the-field behaviour,” Oliver Kay then revealed that JT is alleged to have “paid as much as Â£400,000 to Ms Perroncel to stop her divulging details of their liaisons.” That figure explodes over in The Mirror, where Jeremy Armstrong claims “[Terry] struck a Â£800,000 deal with his mistress Vanessa Perroncel, 33, to buy her silence.”
The Sun’s Vikki Orvice though reports how Terry is set to lose a lot more money, announcing “Terry will lose up to Â£20million in commercial deals over the next four years after being axed as England captain.”
Side-stepping the issue of future scandals and rewriting the importance of Terry’s affair, arrogant Matt Lawton boasts to his Daily Mail readers that that pseudo-tabloid was central to the dismissal of JT by revealing that he was selling his Wembley box at a profit. “Even as late as yesterday morning, John Terry was still trying to lie and deceive… What possessed him to try to deny the details of the Mail investigation that revealed that his 12-seater facility, made available to him at a discount because of his status as England skipper, has been ‘touted out’ on the black market to anyone who has a spare Â£4,000?… The sordid Perroncel scandal would follow and then the final straw, the Mail’s story concerning his Wembley box.”
The bitchiest opinion of the day comes from Des Kelly, who vented “on the pitch [John Terry] is a stoic centre half. Off it, he has proved to be Captain Chav… Terry was simply too dumb or too arrogant to comprehend his role as England captain.”
Pushing the issue of future unspecified scandals to one side, Barney Ronay expresses his main problem with the whole Terry affair – the nation’s sympathy for Wayne Bridge. “I keep thinking I’ve hallucinated a crucial detail in all this: the fact that it’s Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend who has now become Terry’s rather sulky-looking Delilah. En ex. A girlfriend who has ceased to be. But still within the ossified sexual politics of football the big issue is how Bridgey feels… This is confusing. I always thought the thing with your ex-girlfriend going out with one of your mates was that you had to just suck it up and pretend you’re not bothered, even though you might actually feel sick with illogical jealousy. Not so in football where the sacred bond of “being mates” is apparently more important than other popular bonds, like the one that involves being married, and where Bridge’s ex-girlfriend is seen as his private chattel.”
Like a one-man band in support of Fabio Capello, Henry Winter cheers over the removal of Terry and equally the appointment of Rio. “Being captain of the England football team is the greatest sporting honour in this country and Terry sullied that honour. He had to go… [Rio’s] appointment is good news. One of the most popular characters in the dressing room, United’s former West Ham defender combines north and south. Anybody who questions whether Ferdinand can be a role model need only visit a sink estate with him. This is a man who spends time, money and energy tackling inner-city knife crime. He has far more social awareness than Terry, who always seemed too self-obsessed.”
Signing from the same hymn-sheet, and getting In a low-blow against Chelsea captain for good measure, Patrick Barclay scoffed “in giving Ferdinand the job, Fabio Capello is correcting the error he made in selecting Terry to wear it during the World Cup qualifying matches.”
Yet, other scribes opt to assess the appointment of Rio independently of any discussion of JT, and after paying lip-service to the missed drugs test, “four driving disqualifications and that infamous Ayia Napa sex tape in 2000,”commented “any concern about Ferdinand now is more likely to centre on his troubling injury record and, in particular, a back problem that kept him out for three months this season and prompted questions about whether he would be able to recapture his best form.”
Jeremy Wilson is also concerned about Rio’s overall fitness. “The big question mark now, of course, relates to his recent injuries. With concern that the problems all stem from his back, Ferdinand has completed only six of Unitedâ€™s 24 league games this season.”
Wrapping up the rest of the Terry-gate opinions, Jason Burt turns on Chelsea for failing to chastise their club captain. “It would be heartening if his club, rather than behave as if Terry is being unfairly attacked, realised they also have a care of duty and tried to explain to the 29 year-old father-of-two that it is time for him to be a leader, a captain rather than a man who appears to have discarded any pretence of a moral compass.”
Paul Kelso praises the FA’s handling of the Terry situation. “In contrast to previous regimes, the current Wembley leadership have been sure-footed under fire. From the moment stories about John Terry’s affair with Wayne Bridge’s former girlfriend emerged, Lord Triesman and chief executive Ian Watmore have taken a calm, pragmatic approach.”
Also coming in for a wealth of praise is Fabio Capello, with James Lawton applauding the Italian’s swift and decisive action. “[Capello handle the situation] with impeccable command. He saw the issue â€“ and refused to accept that the ethos of English football is in such decline that he was powerless to make a stand. He made a stand, all right. He kept his authority and the credibility that has been such a potent factor in his reign. Most clearly, he understands the most important dynamic of his job. It is that if you surrender even an inch of what you believe to be the difference between right and wrong you might as well walk away. So he dug in his Italian heels. Bravo, Fabio.”
Martin Samuel also credits Capello. “He has made a popular decision without being accused of pandering to the mob; he has shown strength while not turning international selection into an unworkable fit and proper persons test. Importantly, he has shown his teeth as a boss without losing credibility with his players.”
Oliver Holt stands as the lone ranger arguing against the sacking of JT. “Fabio Capello made his first real mistake as England coach yesterday. What a shame it was such a big one… Capello made an illogical and arbitrary judgment yesterday, a judgment that belies his reputation as a clear thinker… Letâ€™s try and get it straight: Terry is not fit to be England captain but he is fit to represent his country. Heâ€™s not fit to wear the armband but he is fit to wear the shirt. How exactly does that work?…Well done Fabio â€“ you just flashed a green light at every gold digger and muck raker who wants the England captain as a trophy. Every pimp and every hooker, every thief and low-life, have got dollar signs in front of their eyes now.”
Arsenal fans have good reason to feel deflated this weekend after The Professor publicised his belief that finishing third in the league is more important than winning silverware.
Russell Kempson gives the facts, writing “it may fly in the face of popular opinion in the red corner of North London, but Arsene Wenger claimed yesterday that finishing in third place in the Barclays Premier League this season would rank as a better achievement than winning the Carling Cup or FA Cup. Tell that to the long-suffering Arsenal fans.”
Touching on an argument which is common in north-west London, Patrick Barclay compares the talents of Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Spurs’ Aaron Lennon. “Like many an English youngster, [Walcott] has almost infinitely more athleticism than game sense. Nor, when driven into tight areas, has he the technique to outwit Barclays Premier League opponents. This, as much as injury, is why Walcott seems likely to fall farther and farther behind Aaron Lennon in Capelloâ€™s pecking order; the Tottenham Hotspur flyer, though not the cleverest of players, does have a few tricks and devices with which to complement his speed.”
Staying in London, Geoff Marsh reports on the latest attempts by the Hammers to raise cash. “West Ham have announced plans to raise Â£20-40million from professional investors in a bid to solve the clubâ€™s financial problems… West Ham have approached Shore Capital and Corporate to conduct the fundraising, which is initially aimed at professional investors but may be opened up to fans at a later date.”
On the latest transfer guff, the Independent report “Franck Ribery’s agent has revealed that Barcelona is the Bayern Munich star’s most likely next destination.”
The Daily Mail report that Liverpool are in a 3-way battle with Valencia and AC Milan to secure the signature of Milan Jovanovic, while in a separate article in the Mail we learn that Manchester United and Everton are both in the chase for Norwegian defender Even Hovland.”