Weak at the back

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September 24, 2012 by Jake Cantona

John Terry’s retirement from international football is not going to cause me any sleepless nights worrying about the future of the England team[1], nor am I particularly sorry to see him go. It is indicative of the manner in which he has polarised opinion that when I saw the headline of Keme Nzerem’s blog for Channel 4[2], I was half expecting (and hoping) that it included more salacious or damning revelations about Terry just so that I could be happily confirmed in my prejudicial opinion of the man as a morally repugnant sleaze with an over-inflated view of his own importance.

An obvious replacement for Terry would be one of the coppers who came to an altercation with Andrew Mitchell outside Downing Street. International teams tend to be quicker than on the attack[3] than most premiership sides, so having been able to stop an MP on a bike, the pace of, say, the Spanish shouldn’t present too many problems for the boys in blue. Of course, if we’re looking for a like-for-like replacement for Terry then Andrew ‘Thrasher’ Mitchell himself is shaping up nicely when it comes to distasteful characteristics.

The major difference between them is that Mitchell is attempting to brazen out behaviour of the kind that would, rightly or wrongly, have landed most of us in a spot of bother with the law if we had done it ourselves, while Terry has, belatedly, stood himself down. Neither, however, appears to be contrite about their actions – Mitchell, despite his disingenuous denials and grudging apology, gives the appearance of believing that he has done nothing wrong, whether or not he actually used the phrase ‘fucking plebs’ towards two of the Met’s finest. As a political animal[4], he understands that apologizing for less than what actually occurred is a convenient way of drawing fire and living to fight another day. Terry believes that his acquittal in court on charges of having described QPR’s Anton Ferdinand as a ‘fucking black cunt’ should mean that the FA have no reason to pursue disciplinary action against him.

Both are wrong. Mitchell is wrong because being an MP and Conservative whip does not, contrary to inbred belief, place you above the law. Terry is wrong because the FA cannot duck its responsiblities simply because an exterior body has come to a judgement. Matters on the field of play are very rarely dealt with by the law courts[5], and if the FA were to abdicate their responsibility for issues that might, just might, come before a court then the game would quickly become a thuggish free-for-all. Like watching Stoke at home.

Both of these sweary millionaires appear to feel that they are the victims, rather than the authors of any misfortune, and here we run up against the sense of importance and entitlement that typifies both men. I would humbly suggest that so far both have been treated leniently.


[1] Which, defensively at least, is a back four of Johnson, Lescott, Jagielka and Baines, with Phil Jones and Tom Cleverly in front of them.

[3] With ball at feet, rather than route one.

[4] Terry is not political

[5] Which is just as well. United got away with robbery in broad daylight at Anfield on Sunday. Well done lads.

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