John Terry issues grovelling apology to Capello
John Terry issued a grovelling apology to Fabio Capello on Monday night for his controversial criticisms of the Italian's tactics.
Earlier, Capello had accused the former captain of making a "big mistake" in openly questioning him and showing a lack of "respect" to the rest of the squad.
The strength of Capello’s condemnation will raise a question mark over Terry’s international future after his outspoken attempt to apparently undermine the Italian’s authority during this troubled World Cup campaign.
"I went into [Sunday's] press conference with the intention of being honest," Terry said. "I was asked a question about Joe Cole and maybe I went too far. It was never my intention to upset the manager or the players and if I did, I apologise. I have told the manager he has my total support. I don't believe I have been a disruptive influence."
Whether those contrite words are enough to appease Capello and Terry's team-mates remains to be seen. Captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are understood to be angry with Terry after they were implicated in some kind of mutiny against Capello. Both players fully support him and were amazed at the defender’s comments on Sunday.
But, as Capello has admitted, there is tension within the England squad. Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he spoke to Wayne Rooney prior to the striker’s angry post-match outburst following the 0-0 draw against Algeria. The Manchester United manager urged Rooney to “relax” and said he detected signs of the “debilitating” weight of expectation.
Capello held a meeting with the squad on Sunday evening to review the match in Cape Town, during which Terry stayed silent, despite saying earlier in the day that he would voice his concerns. He is understood to have been headed off by senior figures from the coaching and playing staff, and he realised he did not have any support.
On Monday night Capello said: “I spoke with some players. Only John Terry said this. No one spoke with me about the problems. My door is open always. If you want to speak with me you can speak with me. Every time we have a meeting I ask the captain, problems? You want to say something? Never. I read yesterday that John Terry said this. I don’t understand why he doesn’t speak with me every time.
“I think he has disappointed some players, because when you speak you have to speak privately, not with you [the media]. This is the big mistake. This is a very big mistake. I know sometimes some players want to speak more with you than with the other players. The mistake is you have to speak with the players, with me, with the dressing room.”
Capello said that he acknowledged that “probably one or two” players were not happy but added, pointedly: “One player is not so important compared to all the other players. But we are here to play at the World Cup and not for a holiday.”
Capello expressed his annoyance at Terry’s comment that Joe Cole should be restored to the side for Wednesday’s must-win final Group C match against Slovenia.
“It’s another mistake when you speak about one player, because there is no respect for the players that play before,” Capello said. “When you speak you have to be careful. That is most important – the respect of the other players.”
Capello evidently believes that Terry failed to show that respect, and it is understood that the 29 year-old has been a disruptive influence at the training camp, where he has questioned the regime.
With injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King and with Carragher suspended, Terry will, nevertheless, retain his place against Slovenia, when he will be partnered by Matthew Upson for a game that Capello says is “one of the biggest in my career” and for which he is considering making “one or two” changes as he tries to remove the mental block he feels the players are suffering from.
“When you are under pressure, big pressure, sometimes the legs do not work normally,” Capello said. He appears set to start with Jermain Defoe alongside Rooney, but he has not ruled out the possibility of fielding Gerrard as a second striker. The likelihood is the manager will stick with a 4-4-2 formation, with Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips in contention to start.
Capello was watching both of Slovenia’s games on Monday night before deciding his team and formation. On Monday they practised a 4-5-1 with Rooney as a lone striker. However, Capello will not alter his policy of naming his side two hours before kick-off. “Before was OK, every time the players play well and now they have to know the first XI?” he said. “I don’t understand why. In my career I use this system always, why change?”
Capello will talk to Rooney because of the concerns with his form and psychological state.
Ferguson, speaking to Sirius XM, a New York radio station, claimed he sensed there were problems in the England camp. “I didn’t watch the Algeria game, I was out with friends, but I just get a feeling that the expectation is affecting the England team,” he said.
“Sometimes the expectation can be debilitating in terms of getting the players to perform to the levels required to get through this group. I had that feeling. I spoke to Wayne Rooney last week and just said, ‘Relax and enjoy it’. I just sensed there was a tension in and around the camp from what I was hearing.”
Chelsea captain no fan of German referee
Wolfgang Stark, the referee for Wednesday’s match in Port Elizabeth, was accused by John Terry of disrespecting him during Chelsea’s Champions League clash against Inter Milan at Stamford Bridge in March.
“When a decision didn’t go our way I, as captain, went to speak to the referee and he turned his back on me,” Terry said about the German official at the time. “I wasn’t shouting. I went to try to talk to him and when he wouldn’t talk that is when I got frustrated. That is just pure disrespect.”
Stark, 39, has taken charge of three previous England internationals – all of which ended in victory for them.