Sam Wallace: One man is responsible for the trashing of John Terry's reputation – the Chelsea captain himself
Unfortunately it was Terry who dragged the whole racism thing kicking and screaming back into the room
You can search all you like for the unforgivable remark that John Terry says David Bernstein made about him – the one that prompted the latest non-handshake – but you won't find it. If it exists then it does so in that inventory of grudges that Terry carries around in his own head, no doubt an intriguing list and one that must be growing on a weekly basis.
You have to hand it to the Chelsea captain. He somewhat stole the show on that wondrous night in Munich in May when Chelsea won the Champions League and, suspended for the final, he turned up for the trophy presentation resplendent in full kit. Then, on Friday, at a Uefa shebang in which the previous year's winners are obliged to hand the trophy back, he did it again.
No costume-change this time, just a refusal to shake the hand of Bernstein, the Football Association chairman, thus ensuring that the final act of Chelsea's year as kings of Europe would be remembered for something, well, pointless and embarrassing.
When he refuses to acknowledge the head of an organisation whose verdict on his race case Terry has formally accepted – and apologised for – all he does is suggest that he has not moved on. That he is stuck in the past, nurturing grievances and behaving like the man who has been wronged.
"It's a difficult one for me," Terry said later, by way of explanation. "Obviously, he [Bernstein] was the one who spoke about me in the court case and said things that I don't want to talk about on air. It's probably a subject that we should just avoid."
A bit late for that. Unfortunately it was Terry who dragged the whole thing kicking and screaming back into the room. Yes, that thing. Racism, the independent regulatory commission verdict that Terry had not simply called Anton Ferdinand "a f****** black c***" by way of repeating a question. The same allegation he was, nonetheless, cleared of by a court in July working to a much higher burden of proof than the 62-page commission report.
It is depressing, but let us work through this saga once again for the benefit of clarity. It was only after Terry's legal team had the date of his trial moved back until after Euro 2012 that the FA board, including Bernstein, stripped him of the captaincy for that tournament. However much Terry felt aggrieved, he continued playing for England until the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Moldova in September.
There are very strong indications from credible sources that Terry had a telephone conversation with Bernstein before the independent commission sat late in September in which Terry accused the FA of reneging on its own rules by not simply accepting the verdict of the court. The commission accepted the FA's lawyers' argument that new evidence which had emerged subsequently justified the process going ahead. When that decision was made, Terry retired from international football.
In that context, what did Terry expect Bernstein to do? Insist the FA drop the case against him ahead of the September hearing? Even if he wanted to do so, thus trashing his own reputation for the benefit of Terry, it is extremely doubtful that an FA chairman could intervene so radically in a disciplinary case.
When at last Terry accepted the commission's verdict on 19 October, and apologised, Bernstein, who had no involvement in Terry's trial at Westminster magistrates, released a statement in which he mentioned the player twice by name. He was most expansive at this point: "Terry has now been sanctioned and held accountable for his actions. I am pleased he has apologised and we must now draw a line under this matter. However, we too will learn from the case."
Not exactly Biggie dissing Tupac, is it? If this is what has got Terry seething then he must have an extremely low threshold for criticism which, given what has been said, written and sung about him in football grounds over the last 10 years is, quite frankly, surprising.
A thorough check of the archives throws up a couple of references since then that Bernstein has made to "the Terry thing", as he refers to the case, but really it seems we are looking in the wrong place when we attempt to explain Terry's behaviour on Friday.
It was so self-defeating as to be barely conceivable. Even in the manner of his so-called snub, he managed to recall what must surely be one of the worst episodes of his own career: Wayne Bridge's refusal to shake his hand in the aftermath of the Vanessa Perroncel saga.
What did Terry's actions really represent? It seemed something more than just a screw-you to a 69-year-old chairman soon to be ushered into retirement. It seemed like Terry was kicking out against everyone whom he feels have been out to get him: the FA, the Ferdinand brothers, Wayne Bridge and all those he perceives as the enemy.
Perhaps the resentment is fuelled too by a club that needs him less and less and a manager, in Rafa Benitez, who has not installed him as the heart of the Chelsea team as he has been for more than a decade. Perhaps Terry senses that this is not just the work of a manager empowered by his interim status, rather that this is a long-term situation he finds himself in, whichever manager walks through the door this summer.
Friday's episode must have caused a good deal of embarrassment to those in the Chelsea hierarchy who hoped Terry's acceptance of guilt, and the undisclosed punishment for it, had drawn a line under the affair. Unfortunately for them, Terry just doesn't seem to get it. He holds a lot of people responsible for ruining his public image, but really no one has taken a sledgehammer to it more than himself.
Who better to judge the awards than the players?
There has been the usual outrage over the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year shortlists, which is part of what makes it such a great award. My own view is that Leighton Baines should have been on the shortlist for the main award, but then I don't have a vote.
That is the point about all those who demand to know why Michu or Matija Nastasic are not on the respective lists. It's the players. They vote, and the only reason a player can be denied an award is if his team-mates have not taken part in the ballot. No voting for club-mates either. There are naturally plenty of opinions on this subject and the shortlist is hard on some, but who better to judge than those who play every week?
Good for Arsenal, saying no to Usmanov's billions
Last week it was Mario Götze, yesterday it was Julian Draxler whom the Sunday newspapers believe Arsène Wenger is pursuing as he approaches this critical point in his Arsenal reign, one year before the expiration of his contract. Either way, you just hope that he does not forget to sign a centre-forward.
As Arsenal inch towards securing that Champions League place that is so central to their approach, so their shareholder Alisher Usmanov is anointed by the Sunday Times as the richest man in Britain. Lest we forget, Usmanov does not even have a place on the board. Yet, it is a personal view that for all Arsenal's failings there is much to be admired in their refusal to take his money. It would, after all, be dull if everyone approached it the same way.
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