James Lawton: FA has started the job, now Fabio must finish it by excluding Terry

Capello plainly made a shocking miscalculation when he decided to give Terry a second chance

The King is dead, again, so long live the King, whoever he proves to be. Those who believe that the captaincy of England's football team is largely about tossing the coin and keeping out of trouble will say this is probably enough of a postscript on the latest stripping of John Terry's armband.

Unfortunately for Fabio Capello, it is only half the story.

Would Terry's presence in the dressing room at the European Championship be any less divisive after once more being turned into just another serving soldier? The England coach has been left with that dilemma by the Football Association elders but from this vantage point the answer does not seem too elusive.

Certainly, the evidence from England's last campaign at the World Cup makes a persuasive case for the complete jettisoning of a player who, despite having many admirably competitive qualities, has proved a lot more trouble than any coach might reasonably bear.

There can be little sympathy for Il Capo, however. The man who made a brilliant reputation on implacable – and unsentimental – professional values plainly made a shocking miscalculation when he decided to give Terry a second chance.

What was so stunning about that reversal was the still vivid memory of the force of Capello's first decision, how Terry was summoned to Wembley in the middle of the furore over his alleged affair with the ex-partner of a team-mate and then sent on his way, minus the captaincy, in a matter of minutes.

The coach's position then was utterly unequivocal. Nothing could impinge on the unity of the team.

Now he has to consider the risk of that already fragile status being ripped apart once more under the shadow of Terry's trial for alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand, who, of course, happens to be the brother of Rio, one of the vaguely viable candidates to reclaim the armband before he withdrew from the race yesterday.

All round, it is another perfect storm in Capello's troubled relationship with what passes for professional conduct at the top of English football.

It means that the weight of logic rests heavily on the FA conclusion this week that separating Terry from the captaincy again was inescapable. A Capello move to complete the job, to say that the Terry baggage that was so apparent during the World Cup campaign – when his self-appointed role in trying to rally a desperate cause was seen by many as yet another widening of the already existing division in the team – had simply become too much, would surely command the same reaction.

What we would have, albeit in the most halting way, is some attempt to create a few of the certainties the coach enjoyed before the first Terry crisis in 2010 – and the swiftly ensuing evidence that a brilliant qualifying campaign for the World Cup had merely delayed the onset of another England breakdown in discipline and competitive focus.

That was visible, quite horrifically at times, in the appalling England performance in South Africa. So Capello is obliged to agonise all over again, not just about the quality of individual members of his side but their ability to make some passing run at the kind of team spirit which glows from such contenders as Spain and Germany.

He had some interesting, if not totally ambiguous, input yesterday from John Barnes, no stranger to racism in his distinguished career with Liverpool and England. Barnes said: "I prefer to look at the bigger picture, tackling racism as a whole. I don't think it would be toxic in the dressing room but stripping him of the captaincy and saying he can still play for England is hypocritical."

Capello doesn't have the time, or probably the inclination, to juggle such nuances of feeling but he may appreciate Barnes' central point, the one that says you can't solve this particular problem by the simple device of removing an armband.

Another more pragmatic point which may just have occurred to Capello is that, while rival coaches have to do no more than fine-tune their squads and re-emphasise the values that got them to the finals, his duty is again to machete his way through the kind of problem that would have been inconceivable back home in Italy. It is as basic as imposing a degree of peace and comradeship in the dressing room.

Though he has taken himself out of captaincy contention, a fully fit Rio Ferdinand would obviously be a compelling candidate to share central defensive duties with Terry – though that possibility was not exactly enhanced by the belief that if Terry had been fit for tomorrow's collision between their clubs he was unlikely to have received a handshake from his long-time England colleague. It is a case of piling one absurdity upon another, especially when you consider that in normal circumstances Capello would be considering Terry's current playing form quite as much as his genius for causing industrial-scale distraction to all around him.

The sense of an international team – heir to one whose survivors remain as close to each other as they were when they won the World Cup in 1966 – chronically unable to grow up is only increased when you consider the leading candidates to replace Terry as captain.

Steven Gerrard? His record of discipline on and off the field is less then exemplary and it is also true his leadership in South Africa was a long way from inspiring. Wayne Rooney, given the passing honour against Brazil in Qatar, presumably left his candidacy in the desert, especially when you remember that he is able to play in just one of the group games only through a massive defence effort by the FA after he was sent off in Montenegro. Ashley Cole? It is perhaps not the most resounding thought. Probably the safest bet is Joe Hart, who two years ago was considered too raw for World Cup exposure.

It's all very well telling Il Capo to do the right thing, but with whom? He can and should discard the problem of Terry but then who replaces the culture from which the player came? This, plainly, is too much work for one man, even if he is paid £6m a year.

Lancaster has faced his big challenge in the right way

England's interim rugby union coach, Stuart Lancaster, needs some spectacular results to hold off more experienced opposition when a permanent appointment is made but it is certainly no hardship wishing him some good luck at Murrayfield tonight.

He was given a clean-up operation which seemed to call more pressingly for a hosepipe than a brush. His response, though, has been splendidly uncompromising in its investment in a new start for a team which had plainly lost its way both on and off the field. He could have put more emphasis on achieving a result against the pesky Scots than some unequivocal statement about the way the future has to be.

Undoubtedly, Lancaster chose the more honourable course. His reward, quite separate from the calculations of a Twickenham selection committee, is that he can always tell himself that he faced up the great challenge of his career. For some considerable time, not too many at the Rugby Football Union will be able to say that.

The man who showed a true love for Ali

Joe Frazier, now Angelo Dundee. Suddenly the human furniture of Muhammad Ali's life is going, piece by piece.

It is hard to imagine a more forlorn process for the man who once lit up the world with the consistently vital help of the genius cornerman Dundee, who died this week at the age of 90.

Dundee displayed his love for the great man most conspicuously when he defied the urgings of the Nation of Islam management and threw in the towel when Ali was being systematically battered by Larry Holmes in Las Vegas in 1980.

Sometimes Dundee's sayings seemed to come straight from the pages of Damon Runyon. But his greatest eloquence was provoked by the promptings of his heart. Angelo Dundee was a friend and ally to many great fighters but, of course, there was only one Muhammad Ali, as he reminded us in that unforgettably poignant moment all those years ago.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf