Fabio Capello risks all by giving John Terry his bark back

Matt Jarvis of Wolverhampton Wanderers will step into the England camp for the first time to find the big man back on top.

Fabio Capello risks all by giving John Terry his bark back John Terry is on his old manor again, calling the shots, setting the tone. Barking's JT will be barking out the orders once more after a re-appointment that some England fans see as a pragmatic U-turn by Fabio Capello and others regard as retrograde.

England are either hurtling back into a discredited clenched-fist past or acknowledging that one strength worth recovering from the wreckage of the World Cup was Terry's leadership. The Chelsea captain's demotion was never straightforward. Within days of mounting his moral stallion Capello was saying privately that Terry would remain his leader "on the pitch". About the only thing clear in this extended armband farce is that Capello has been seduced by the English obsession with ceremonial roles.

With no Rio Ferdinand or Steven Gerrard around to grumble on the training ground, Capello has invoked the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act without immediate risk of mutiny as England prepare for Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff. When the other two return, assuming Ferdinand does, Terry's resurrection will be a fait accompli which they either accept or store up as autobiographical cordite for when Don Fabio stands down.

Ferdinand's persistent injury problems render him a spectator in this game of pass-the-ribbon but both he and Gerrard are capable of nurturing a grudge. "Upset" is how sources close to Ferdinand described him after the pendulum had swung back Terry's way – chiefly, one suspects, because another member of Capello's staff had encouraged the Manchester United centre-back to believe he would keep the post.

The principal risk, though, is that all these England players, bar Terry, will again think Capello's thinking is scrambled, which is at odds with his reputation as a martinet: an Italian Yorkshireman who knows his own mind and then gives it to you whether you ask for it or not. Few are likely to feel sorry still for Wayne Bridge.

The great truism of football dressing rooms is that players disengage from a manager the minute they suspect him of indecision or political inconsistency or even untrustworthiness. In South Africa several senior players felt Capello was leading them up a dead end with his boot- camp ethos and adherence to 4-4-2.

Terry was among them. Selected by Franco Baldini, Capello's right-hand-man, to appear before the press after the dire draw against Algeria, Terry was expected to tell the suffering England masses that all was well in the compound. Instead he recommended a truth-telling session and appeared to call Capello to account. Now the coaching staff claim they had no beef with Terry's message, only with his decision to make it public before the team meeting scheduled for that evening.

In Terry's newspaper column on the subject a telling phrase appears. He writes: "Anyone who ever asks me about Fabio, I can only say good words about him and that's the truth, regardless of what people might hear." The clue is "regardless of what people might hear".

Did Terry passively accept his decommissioning? No. Did he disparage Capello around the camp or to friends and family? He says not. "People look at what's happened between us and think there must be trouble, but there isn't. There's no problem, really. I've got nothing but respect for him. Hopefully, that's the same the other way. Fabio has been great. I've got to give him loads of credit for that. Whatever's gone on, losing the captaincy and the like, I still think he's a great manager and right up there with the best of them, especially on the training field."

This is Terry straining every sinew in his ghostwriter's arm to persuade us there was no rift. It will complicate his reinstatement only if colleagues feel he is being hypocritical with these sentiments or if Capello is felt to have caved in on a clear moral position.

After Terry was stripped the England coach said: "Until the World Cup John Terry will not be captain again. After the World Cup? If I remain as England manager, I think not. I asked for the captain to set an example for the young people, for the children and the fans. What he did was not good. I told him this and he understood."

Now the normally unemotional Capello confides that he was "really upset" to see the armband being passed around the team (but not to Terry) against Denmark in Copenhagen. "I was really upset for John Terry," Capello said. "I felt fine because Fabio told me before the game I wasn't going to get it whatever happened," Terry now writes. "I appreciated so much that he told me beforehand."

On the up side, Capello has been impressed throughout by Terry's determination to go on striving in the England shirt, in a squad with few natural leaders, and plenty who shrink on international duty. So they have placed a safe bet on Terry's yard-dog vibe. For Jarvis, Kyle Walker, Andy Carroll or any other novice the squad will appear to have a clear leader: voluble, aggressive and sometimes overbearing. Each may think: "I'm joining the England team I've spent all these years reading about."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Hayward, for The Guardian on Tuesday 22nd March 2011 00.06 Europe/London

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