There are few worse sights in life than the British public led by a feral media into a moral uproar. I mistrust the morality of the mob. I heard one fan saying he wouldn’t want a man like Terry holding up the World Cup or England. Do me a favour, do we have to like all our footballers now; do we have to find them morally and politically acceptable too?
Many England fans have never liked Terry as captain. Many think he shouldn’t even be in the side. He certainly pales terribly in comparison to his predecessor. But if you want to get rid of him because of this latest story, then you’ll have to accept he’s out of the squad too. If he has become a divisive figure in the dressing room, stripping him of the captaincy is irrelevant; he would have to be booted out all together to restore morale. With England’s lack of defensive strength, that just isn’t going to happen. If grievances exist they will remain as long as he’s there. So that’s the real choice here.
Capello knows better than most England fans that being captain is increasingly irrelevant. In Italy the guy with the most caps gets it and no one is really that bothered. The rest of it is all so much PR and posing. In other words, Terry is not nearly as important as captain as many, probably including Terry, thinks he is. I’m sure he’d have no qualms about demoting him from the captaincy per se, but he knows it couldn’t stop there.
The only thing Capello has to worry about is if all this hoo-haa affects Terry’s form and team harmony. This seems unlikely if the Burnley game is anything to go by. There’s a type of bloke who seems to thrive on adversity. The best example being Lee Bowyer’s form for Leeds while up in court day after day. His ‘no sleep til Hammersmith’ engine drove Leeds on in Europe in a streak of form he was never to replicate. He was so good that he was on verges of the England squad. In those circumstances, the pitch is a safe haven where you don’t have to think about all your problems.
Terry may do like-wise. If so, England will certainly benefit. If Bridge is present they should sort it out man to man. Traditionally this would mean the wronged man gets three free shots. Wayne gets to thwack John and that puts an end to it. A bit of blood, a few bruises and perhaps some uncontrollable weeping from England’s lion along with some alpha male back-slapping and knee squeezing should put it all to bed.
I hear people saying England team mates have lost respect for him, Really? Surely they all know what sort of man he is anyway, so it’s hardly likely to be a shock. It’s not like this a new thing. He’s not just stepped down off a pedestal of innocence. I mean, does this story surprise you? No, of course not. So do you really think it will surprise long-time team-mates?
Critics should also understand that sexual conquest is often admired by other men, even though it may break up a marriage. A lot of men can separate love and relationships from sex, or at least think they can. And if the woman concerned is a bit tasty then it’s even more admired. You won’t hear anyone admitting this, but it is true nonetheless.
While the wronged wives in these situations understandably attract all the sympathy, there is a reason why women stick with philandering millionaire husbands. They rarely emerge from such relationships in a less advantageous position than they went into the relationship. There’s no going back to the council estate.
If fans start booing him – in the kind of mass public moral outrage that we saw with Cashley – where will it stop? What about judging other fans by the same measure? No one who has had an affair is allowed in.
Adulterers stripped of their season tickets, maybe? Divorced referees hounded out of the game? If you want to start calling the moral shots then you should expect everyone to be judged by the same standards you expect of others. Such public censure feels just too self-righteous. I totally appreciate the need to stick it to Terry but many of us have felt like that his whole career, regardless of his sexual adventures.
There’s much tosh written about how he is an ambassador and a role model. I’ve written many times about the nonsense talked about footballers as role models. If you are letting your kid’s look up to Terry as a role model, then you’re not doing your job properly. Footballer’s can be inspirational to all of us, but they’re not people to copy. Stop worshipping them. They’re just men.
And it’s also worth bearing in mind that we don’t really know what was going on in the relationships of all these people before during and after. The tabloids like to spin a straightforward tale but life is rarely that simple. There are often many factors in play at once. Are you sure you know enough to be so judgemental?
Personally, I don’t care if England footballers are wholesome and decent; I just want them to win the World Cup. It’d be nice if they’re not all total bastards but it’s not essential.
Terry has had a well documented crass, obnoxious side to his personality on and off the pitch. He’s also been generous and charitable too. This is the sort of person Terry has always been whilst England captain and has surely already been factored in to the perception of him by fans and team-mates Nothing has changed, really. We just have a few more alleged details.
So when we boil all this down isn’t Rich Footballer Shags Pretty Woman Who Went Out With Best Mate all a bit of a non-story? It does bring a whole new meaning to Daddies Sauce, though.
Photo credit: Charlie Kinross.