John Terry’s influence, once as a defensive motivation but now as a divisive figure, remains at the core problem in the England’s squad. Terry wants to put the latest scandal behind him but creates a whole new problem ahead for teammates and England’s manager Roy Hodgson.
Can Rio Ferdinand, the brother of Anton Ferdinand who Terry was accused of racially abusing, come back on the team? Can Hodgson and Ferdinand fix their relationship, which was damaged when Hodgson chose Terry over Ferdinand for Euro 2012? Can Ashley Cole, who defended Terry in court, play alongside Ferdinand?
All questions with answers that have nothing to do with soccer. Anton refused to shake hands with Cole before a match last weekend and British media reports that Rio plans to do the same when Chelsea plays Manchester United.
Hodgson has to soon make a decision as he is to announce next week who is invited to play for the national team against San Marino and Poland next month in the World Cup qualifying matches. The Guardian writes that Hodgson is hoping Terry will change his mind if the FA finds him not guilty. That is, however, highly unlikely because despite of what happened, Terry quit the national team because he is offended by the FA’s own case against him despite the fact that he was cleared in court.
The good news for England is that there are not really under pressure. That should give them enough time to put the pride behind them and come together as teammates for the national side. England, as a team, has not been regarded a threat on international stage since they did not qualify for Euro 2008. Expectations were low this summer when England reached to quarterfinals only to lose to Italy on penalty kicks.
During Euro 2012 Terry proved that at 31, he was still the best defender England has got. Terry is known for giving nothing but his all for the national team when he’s called to represent his country. His latest most memorable moment was against Moldova earlier in September when he refused to leave the pitch 20 minutes before the end of the game. He was injured but Hodgson had already made the three substitutions and Terry did not want to leave his side with 10 men.
The captain, leader and legend of Chelsea has been playing for England since 2003 in 78 occasions. England’s captain since 2006, Terry lost the armband in 2010 when then-manager Fabio Capello stripped it off him for an alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of former Chelsea and England teammate Wayne Bridge. Terry was captain again the following year. After the racial abuse allegations, the FA took the captaincy from Terry resulting in Capello’s resignation as a form of protest.
Without Terry, England will struggle. The defense needs him. Terry’s pace and courage will be felt and missed on the pitch. He was the commanding leader in the back as a center half.
Younger players will step up. Soon Terry will be effectively replaced by another defender. The physical side of the problem won’t be an issue for long. It’s the mentality and attitude that will threaten the unity of the team.
Hodgson ruled out Ferdinand once for “football reasons,” he can do it again. Ferdinand is not fast enough and often shows lack of concentration. He has had injury problems recently and he missed the 2010 World Cup.
Hodgson can choose Ferdinand for the qualifying games next month leaving the feeling of controversy up in the air. He could chose to invite younger players and begin to repair the squad, as a coach should.