Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Terry Press Conference - Not a 'Big Mistake'

It is hard to find a football writer who appears not to have spent the last two days trawling over the footage of John Terry's press conference on Saturday. In a climate of conservative and predictable responses to questions the former England captain's more honest answers have provoked a great deal of attention from the country's media.

We have become so use footballers using a set of rehearsed phrases to tackle any question thrown at them that most interviews have become like pulling a string from the back of the latest set of media-trained puppets with a set number pre-recorded responses. Press conferences and interviews are seemingly practised like set-pieces on the training ground. Terry's, however, did not follow a script.

Many, including Capello himself, have criticised the centre-back's outspoken attitude, while journalists have feasted at the buffet that Terry laid out before them. Was Terry right to stray from the safety of the 'Footballers Phrase Book'? At the end of the day, I think he was.

J.T may have been stripped of the captaincy but he remains a pivotal leader within the squad and he spoke like it. Terry claimed that some of the England squad were to have 'clear-the-air talks' with their Italian manager, which has been taken by some as a call-to-arms. This meeting never took place but yesterday Capello struck back at Terry's comments by saying it was a 'big mistake'.

England's uninspiring and lacklustre performances in their first two games have clearly heightened tension in the squad and it is pleasing to hear a player willing to offer his opinion on issues surrounding the team. His passion for the team to succeed led to his honesty and that ought not to be criticised. Perhaps, under the strict disciplinarian Capello, we have become too use to the England camp being shrouded in mystery.

It is well within a player's rights to speak their mind. It is also very refreshing. Terry's comments were far from detrimental for the team. Compared to the waves of unrest stemming from the French squad Terry has done little more than create small ripples in Capello's pond. Frustration would be the term to describe most fans feelings towards England's World Cup so far and Terry clearly shares this frustration. It is frustration at an under-performing squad and at a manager's unwillingness to correct a faltering tactical system.

Terry's hints at a desire for a change in formation and personnel, namely the inclusion of Joe Cole, were far from subtle. I have some sympathy for Capello's far from favourable reaction to the press conference. He has stated that the players have had the opportunity to air their grievances privately but instead Terry made his grievances inexplicably public. Capello's response - to publically criticise Terry.

No sooner, however, did Terry dare to speak out against Capello's absolutist reign then was Lampard swiftly sent in the paper over any cracks that had emerged. It was business as usual. The midfield played down a rift between the players and the manager and attempted to ease any worries that Terry had raised 24 hours earlier.

Ultimately, Terry's comments were blown out of proportion. Having been stripped of the captaincy by Capello many have now attempted, unfairly, to portray Terry as a loose cannon with mutiny on the mind. The reality was simply a frustrated man leaking more information than we have become use to and revealing more than the manager deems acceptable. Two dire England performances and the weight of expectation on the team may have worn down Terry's willingness to paint a picture of serenity within the squad.

I would be more concerned if Terry had done the latter. Changes need to made and to see a key player speak with the passion that the team has seemed to have lacked on the pitch thus far was a positive sign. So what if Terry was not cagey when confronted by the media on Saturday. He simply spoke his mind and answered the questions he was asked in a frank and honest manner. It may have been better to have been done in private but Terry's public comments were far from revolutionary.

Capello may consider Terry's press conference to be a 'big mistake' but perhaps the Italian ought to occupy himself with addressing England's on-the-field inadequacies rather than with maintaining his screen of secrecy on all things England.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...

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