POLOKWANE – This soap opera is beginning to develop more tasty twists and turns than Coronation Street.
In the latest installment of “How The Three Lions Turn,” the villain – defender John Terry – has now asked for mercy from the Godfather, Fabio Capello.
For the record, that’s the same Capello whose decisions Terry questioned in front of the media several days earlier. At the time, the veteran defender told the press a meeting had been held in which some senior players spoke of their bitterness at the coach’s tactics, leaving the team allegedly in chaos and divided.
Now Terry suddenly is sucking up to the England manager just in time for the team’s game against Slovenia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth Wednesday, a match midfielder Frank Lampard described as “do-or-die.’
“It was never my intention to upset the manager or the players and if I did upset anyone, I apologize,” Terry said. “I have told the manager he has my total support and I would like to stress that I don’t believe I have been a disruptive influence in the camp.”
Terry might be the only one who believes that.
To his credit, Capello is not holding a grudge and will start Terry against Slovenia rather than sit him, as many voices in the English press are calling for.
Then again, Capello might not have a choice.
If England somehow does not advance to the second round of South Africa 2010, his butt might be on the chopping block. With his job potentially on the line, Capello must use all his top resources – even the disruptive ones such as Terry.
Capello said punishing Terry by leaving him out was never an option because he is “a most important player.”
There are two ways England can ensure its qualification for the Group of 16.
The first is simple – beat Slovenia.
The other scenario is more complicated.
Should England only gain a draw, it would need the United States and Algeria to tie as well. At the same time, they would need to outscore the U.S. by three goals on the day, since the Americans enter the final group games with two more goals scored than England.
The bottom line: Win and you’re in.