/ 21 June 2010

Lampard the peacemaker as England revolt crushed

Fabio Capello was back in charge of England’s Soccer World Cup campaign on Monday after a player revolt launched by John Terry fizzled out, two days before a decisive meeting with Slovenia.

Terry had challenged Capello’s authority by promising to air a string of grievances at a squad meeting on Sunday evening, even if that meant upsetting the Italian.

If it was intended as a coup, it proved to be an abortive one. It emerged on Monday that Terry did not utter a single word at a meeting which was, according to his Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard, exclusively dedicated to Capello’s dissection of what went wrong in the goalless draw with Algeria.

In a typically accomplished performance in front of the world’s media, Lampard smoothed over the cracks that have appeared as a result of England’s stuttering start to the tournament, suggesting his team-mate’s comments had been misinterpreted.

”I’ve not read the reports but from what I hear, I think it has been completely overdone in terms of crisis meeting and things like that,” Lampard said.

”I don’t know if John backed off. The meeting was the manager dealing with the Algeria game and we moved on.

”I’m not going to say John said this and the manager said that. I’ve had enough of people trying to make out there are different factions in the camp.

”The Algeria game had to be addressed and it was not nice viewing.”

Lampard said Terry’s comments were simply a reflection of his plain-talking nature, rather than him pursuing a personal agenda — which some have linked to Capello’s decision to strip him of the captaincy in February following revelations about his affair with England teammate Wayne Bridge’s former partner.

”Every person deals with things differently,” Lampard said. ”Some won’t say much and others want to hit things head-on.

”We’ll try to hit things head-on on the training ground. I think that is the best way to hit things head on.”

One of the issues Terry appeared unhappy about was Capello’s reluctance to use Joe Cole, whom he described, as one of only two England players — along with Wayne Rooney — capable of unlocking defences.

But Lampard insisted that Terry had not been trying to pick the team for the coach.

”I think what he meant was that Joe is one of those players who have that special ability,” he said, dismissing a suggestion that Terry’s comment could be taken as a slight on him or Steven Gerrard.

”I really don’t think players are that sensitive,” he laughed. ”I wasn’t knocking John’s door down saying ‘You don’t think I can unlock a defence.”’

Terry’s mute presence at the meeting was in sharp contrast to the tone he had adopted earlier on Sunday.

”If we feel something has to change, we owe it to the country and the manager to say it in that meeting,” he said. ”If it upsets him or any other player, so what.”

Terry had also claimed that he had the backing of up to eight other members of the 23-man squad, including Lampard, who again reiterated that his team-mate’s account of a discussion after the Algeria match had been unfairly spun.

”There was no rebel gang,” Lampard said. ”The media have to report it honestly and at the end of the day it was the lads sitting there talking about the Algeria game. The fact it has become about rebels just baffles me honestly.”

Whatever the exact truth, it seems clear that Terry has been prevailed upon not to rock the boat any more ahead of the meeting with group C leaders Slovenia in Port Elizabeth.

That is a match England must win to ensure they avoid their earliest exit from a World Cup since 1958.

It was all smiles for the cameras at England’s training session on Monday morning, but it remains to be seen whether Terry’s misjudged challenge to Capello’s authority costs him his place in the side.

That looks unlikely given that England lost captain Rio Ferdinand before the tournament and will be without the injured Ledley King and the suspended Jamie Carragher for the Slovenia match.

That means Capello has only three fit centrebacks to choose from: Terry, the uncapped Michael Dawson and Matthew Upson, who started four qualifiers when Ferdinand was injured but has since suffered a slump in form and fallen down the England pecking order. — AFP