Sam Wallace: Capello must mend this dangerous divide or face his inevitable departure

Talking Football: The nightmare for the FA is an off-message manager at a time they need solidarity in public more than ever

If the Football Association was a military command then they would surely have described Fabio Capello's interview with the Italian broadcaster RAI yesterday as a case of one of their lead agents going rogue.

Just when the FA most needed the public support of their manager, he chose to hang them out to dry. Capello's declaration last night that he did not support his employers in their decision to relieve Terry of the captaincy, in the light of his case for racially aggravated abuse being moved back to 9 July, was the moment that the relationship between manager and employer was damaged, perhaps irrevocably.

The FA will have assumed that they had faced the nightmare scenario when Terry's court case was moved back to 9 July, after the end of Euro 2012. In the event it got even worse: now the nightmare scenario is an off-message manager at a time when the FA needs solidarity in public from Capello more than ever.

Asked whether he agreed with the unanimous decision of the 14-strong FA board on Thursday to sack Terry, Capello told RAI, the Italian broadcaster, "Absolutely not." He added: "I spoke with the chairman [David Bernstein] and I told him that I don't think someone can be punished until it becomes official. The court will decide.

"It's going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime that he is accused of. And I thought it fair that John Terry keeps the captain's armband."

The immediate flaw in this argument is that Capello signed a contract which gives the FA every right to change the captain if they so decide - whether the manager agrees or not. It is a clause that is there for a good reason and Capello signed up to it. Even his side acknowledged the provision is in the contract because they doubled-checked the paperwork over the weekend.

If he felt so strongly about the issue of a captain being demoted without his say-so then Capello should never have signed the contract in the first place. But unfortunately the time for those considerations has passed and the FA and its most famous employee find themselves in an extremely difficult position.

It is obvious that the next few days are critical in the relationship between Capello and Bernstein and the FA board. There will have to be some compromise on Capello's side or the FA will find itself in the impossible position come the end of the month of sending their manager into press briefings unsure whether he is about to turn his fire upon them.

So far Bernstein has consensus among his board over Capello but there is a limit to how much he can hold them all in check if they feel that England's £6m-per-year manager is undermining them. There are strong personalities on the FA board including men – and one woman – who have experience of running football clubs and who recognise the dynamics of a failing relationship with a manager.

Capello has had his say over Terry but he should know that if he persists then he will make his own position untenable. The next move has to be his and it has to be conciliatory.

Capello needs to understand that a footballer on a racial abuse charge is not an appropriate captain for the England team. Those, like Capello, who bang on about Terry being innocent until proved guilty, as if it had slipped all our attention, fail to see that no-one has suggested Terry is guilty. This decision is a finely-balanced judgement call about what is appropriate.

Whether Terry is proved innocent or guilty in July is irrelevant to the decision taken last week which had to be made on the situation as it stands. It would be nice if there was a simple rulebook that the FA could refer to in these moments of crisis but there is not and even if there was, it would not cover every pickle that the modern footballer conspires to get himself in.

The FA made the right decision to take the captaincy off Terry on Thursday and it is still the right decision today. Capello is an employee of the FA and he has to understand that there are certain decisions that cannot simply be left to him.

It would indeed be wonderful to have the kind of chief executive/manager relationship that exists at Manchester United between David Gill (also on the FA board) and Sir Alex Ferguson, as Gary Neville pointed out in his newspaper column yesterday. But that scenario is impossible to replicate within the FA, and Capello has to deal with the situation as it stands.

The friendly against Holland on 29 February is looming for the FA. If they do not have Capello's assurance by then that he accepts their decision then there really is no point him continuing. It would be a pity to part on these terms but it would be worse for England to go into the Euros with a mutinous manager.

Doubtless this looks to other big football nations in Europe like a typically English kind of mess. But it need not be as long as Capello accepts that a decision has been made for the best. No doubt he wonders how his employers refuse to make life easy for themselves. But given the circumstances the game found itself in last week, that is a strength, not a weakness.

Wenger's £15m gamble on Oxlade is paying off

The curious thing about the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain by Arsenal in the summer was that Manchester United were understood to have made an enquiry about the player but baulked at the price, £15m, being quoted for a teenager who had only ever played in League One.

As it turns out, Arsene Wenger was prepared to pay when other, more free-spending clubs, would not take the risk. Oxlade-Chamberlain is already worth £15m having proved beyond doubt that he is capable of making the step up to the top level, as demonstrated once again by his two goals on Saturday. Wenger will outbid others on occasion. And he seems all the more determined if it is an unproven teenager for whom he is bidding.

Keane's old roll is starting to look stale

There is much to be admired about the Indian summer Robbie Keane is enjoying on loan at Aston Villa, not least the manner in which he took his goal against Newcastle United yesterday.

Watching him do the "trademark" cartwheel and forward-roll goal celebration – followed by that thing with his fingers – you had to wonder if Keane might be a bit old for all that lark. His celebration might have looked novel back in the 1990s but in these days when the likes of Nani can do three or four tumbles, or launch himself backwards from a standing position, the old forward roll feels a bit redundant.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste