In his latest TEAMtalk column, Danny Mills discusses John Terry, the England captaincy issue and the weekend's Premier League action.
In this week's Mills & Boom column, I give my views on the John Terry England captaincy saga. The FA have created even more of a problem with their conduct over the issue, and must now deal with the consequences. Also, who will assume the armband now?
I also discuss a pivotal week in the title race, and why Andre Villas-Boas and Fernando Torres need time.
Give my latest offering a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below - Danny
Terry decision wrong
After Fabio Capello's vocal criticism of the FA's decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy, I find it difficult to disagree with the Italian supremo. The FA initially took the decision not to get involved due to the issue becoming part of the Crown Prosecution Service. It's completely different to the Luis Suarez saga as that was purely dealt with by the FA. But in this instance, they took a backseat, allowing the investigation to continue. Now, all of a sudden, they've completed a huge U-turn and stripped Terry of the captaincy. First of all, the law in this country clearly states that you are 'innocent until proven guilty'. How is that the case here with the FA's decision?
FA have created the problem
I've heard the FA's arguments over the decision; that it would cause numerous issues surrounding the captaincy, mainly emanating from the media. But the fact is that the FA have created the tumult over the England captaincy. By making David Beckham so incredibly powerful when he had the armband, the FA are at fault for creating so much speculation and fervour over the captaincy. It begs the question: if Terry is still in the team then what is the difference? I have to agree with Capello that he should not have been stripped of the captaincy, and if of course Terry is found guilty, he deserves every single punishment he gets. But until that point, if Terry is still allowed to play for this country then there is no reason whatsoever that he shouldn't be captain.
Do the FA feel Terry is guilty?
The FA involvement is unnecessary. They could have easily come out and said that the issue is out of their hands, that there is a Crown Prosecution Service going on and that they cannot get involved as the case would be prejudiced. The FA have already conducted - presumably - a large part of their own investigation, and have come to their own conclusions. As a result, you have to ask whether the decision to come out and take the captaincy away from Terry means that the FA think that he is guilty? That's certainly the way it looks.
Another tournament, another controversy
Will there ever be an international tournament where something major doesn't threaten to scupper England's chances? Is that maybe what the FA want? They must have spoken to Capello about this decision and garnered his opinion. But we are now going into a major tournament without our star striker for the opening two games, without a captain currently and with a discontented manager. Even the second choice manager in Harry Redknapp has his own problems. It doesn't look brilliant if we're honest. Watch us go on and win the tournament now though!
Terry deserves credit
Having spoken and spent some time with Terry during Chelsea's 3-3 draw with Manchester United, it was interesting to view the reaction of not only the England star himself, but also the press. Terry was freely speaking to some of the media, which, whatever your views on the man, you have to commend. He's openly fought his case when he could easily have hidden away. He's shouldered the responsibility, and you have to respect that. It was clear he was understandably disappointed, as of course he loves playing for and captaining his country. It was obvious when speaking to him that from his demeanour, rumours of him quitting the England squad are off the mark. Anton Ferdinand must not be forgotten in all this either, he has come in for a fair amount of abuse from spectators and has handled himself with maturity, dignity, and kept a private council. I'm sure he more than anyone would like the trial sooner rather than later and what ever the outcome he can then deal with that and move on.
Situation should strengthen squad
Speaking from experience, controversies like this just bring a squad together. Rio Ferdinand, having become embroiled in the Terry saga, is hardly a stranger to it either, and so will know how to handle it. The issues surrounding his missing a drugs test are well-documented, with threats of strikes from the players included. But you just learn to deal with it. You know that when you take up the mantle of a footballer - especially an England international - you expose yourself to the media spotlight, and so have to conduct yourself accordingly. Reverting back to the England captaincy situation, Terry will still most likely be involved in the squad and he is still being charged with the same offence. The fact that the armband now goes to Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Joe Hart or anyone else (although many have distanced themselves from it) merely means that Terry will now conduct a couple less press conferences than before. Everyone will still want to talk about Terry, and likely even more now. How has the issue affected Terry? How has it affected the team? How will the new captain cope? I'd say it has raised far more questions than answers.
De Gea at fault for first
Back to the aforementioned Premier League action, we really were treated to a thriller at Stamford Bridge. It highlights clear problems at the London club though. Chelsea of old would have sewn that game up at 1-0, never mind two or 3-0. It was almost equivalent to their calamitous collapse against Arsenal earlier in the season. United were the better team for the first half an hour, playing some good, promising stuff, but then Juan Mata produced a stunning reverse pass to Daniel Sturridge who bewildered Patrice Evra and Chelsea suddenly had the breakthrough. For me, you'd expect David De Gea to do much better with that goal, an Edwin van der Sar or Peter Schmeichel would surely have got more of a foot on that one? Then half-time comes, and you expect United to come out and give it a real go. But Fernando Torres comes up with a cross reminiscent of David Beckham in his prime, resulting in Mata's great goal. All of a sudden it's 3-0 and you think it's game over, dead and buried.
One right, one wrong for Webb
That wasn't the case though, as we know. United's first penalty, although a soft one, was the correct decision. The second was very, very debatable however. I still don't think it's a penalty. What was Branislav Ivanovic expected to do? He stops, pulls his leg out of the way and it is planted on the floor. Red cards are being handed out for intent and dangerous play, and there was absolutely none of that in this instance. United pushed on from there though, and I was surprised that the ineffective Ryan Giggs had stayed on the pitch in all honesty. But the Welshman provided a delightful little cross for Javier Hernandez, and for the first time in the game Chelsea had gone to sleep at the back. Ivanovic and David Luiz I felt had a great game, while Gary Cahill marshalled the defence impressively, but one moment where concentration was lacking made them pay. Then for the last five minutes or so you'd back United for a win if anyone, but De Gea, for all the criticism I've given him, produced one of the best saves we've seen all season from Mata's free-kick.
City or United for the title?
This weekend was hugely significant in the title race. Manchester City, despite the convincing 3-0 victory over Fulham, did struggle over the Christmas period. Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany have been massive misses for the Premier League leaders. But Fulham were poor. City didn't have to push themselves considerably for the result, and arguably played better in the loss to Everton. However it was a win that put the pressure back on United, and at 3-0 down the ascendancy is with City. But as we've seen with Manchester United so many times before, they never give up. They might have got a touch fortunate, but perhaps Cahill should have been sent off in the first half? It wasn't one of Howard Webb's better games, certainly. The result was akin to the Community Shield earlier in the season, where City took a commanding lead and you immediately feel that they're going to be tough to beat this season. Suddenly United pegged them back, and gained a psychological lead, just as this weekend. they have the belief and they have the experience. Although they're two points behind currently, United are still my slight favourites for the title.Villas-Boas and Torres need time
Amidst the disappointment of the result, I still expect Roman Abramovich to stick with Andre Villas-Boas. Chelsea must accept that getting into the top four this season will be tough, with Arsenal hitting form, Liverpool pushing on and Newcastle doing incredibly well with their two in-form Senegalese strikers. So you've got to give Villas-Boas time. He's trying to change things around at Chelsea, and is doing well dealing with Fernando Torres, who is clearly improving. He had one real chance, and you could see that it's just a problem with confidence. He was formerly one of the greatest strikers around, but the confidence is just gone. Because the confidence is gone, he's trying to be too precise in making sure that the ball finds the net. I'm convinced that given time, he will be back.
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