Video: Fabio Capello's rebellion will be stamped out in FA showdown
Published 08/02/2012 | 10:55
ENGLISH FA chairman David Bernstein will go into his clear-the-air talks with Fabio Capello with the full backing of his board to censure the Italian for his destabilising comments over the decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy.
The board is in no mood to concede the ground it made last week in taking the captaincy off Terry by allowing its best-paid employee to again defy the organisation so publicly.
Capello’s interview with Italian television, in which he said he believed Terry should remain as captain just 48 hours after the armband had been removed, could not have been a more direct challenge to his employers’ authority.
The FA acted after Terry’s trial on charges of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand was adjourned until after Euro 2012, stripping him of the captaincy but allowing him to continue aa a player if selected.
While Bernstein and the FA remain minded to retain Capello until the end of his contract after the European Championship finals in July, the chairman has established the authority to make his irritation at the Italian’s comments plain.
The FA has been officially silent on the matter so far but Telegraph Sport understands Bernstein has had further consultation with board members, who have backed him to challenge Capello over the comments.
There is a view that having taken a swift and clear decision to place the FA’s role as a regulator of issues including racism above the short-term interests of the national team and their manager, it now has a chance to restate that position by placing Capello on notice.
While Bernstein is irritated at Capello’s position his options are limited.
The complications of firing him are probably too disruptive to contemplate.
There would be a huge cost to any such move, and with Capello’s lawyer son Pierfilippo, who doubles as his agent, poring over his £6?million-a-year contract it is clear the Italian and his advisers know it.
The disruption to the team could be equally costly, although Capello’s dressing room already appears divided over Terry’s presence, with Rio Ferdinand, Anton’s brother, making his unease clear, and some of the black players making their disapproval plain at the last squad get-together.
Capello’s comments may only have made it worse, undermining his new captain, presumed to be Steven Gerrard, before he has even been asked but he has at least been planning for the tournament for 18 months.
Finally, there is the vexed issue of who would or could take over at short notice.
Harry Redknapp, the overwhelming choice of some on the board, is awaiting the verdict in his trial on tax evasion charges, and whatever the outcome he has club commitments at Tottenham.
So privately warning Capello about his conduct may be the best option for the FA, though it will pose a significant management challenge to executives Alex Horne, the general secretary, and Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, who is Capello’s day-to-day contact at Wembley.
Both men are understood to have been in favour of allowing Terry to continue as captain at the last FA board meeting, a week before the case was adjourned.
Bevington faces the added complication of being the FA’s director of communications, a difficult combination when the main issue facing the organisation, and the focus of media and fan interest, is the insubordination of England’s manager.