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The Perfect Captain – Chelsea’s Terry Better Than Rio?

John Terry’s appointment as England captain has got me thinking about what a ‘good captain’ should be. The man who famously dropped David Beckham, before realising the errors of his ways (albeit, too late) and lost his job because of it, has made yet another controversial decision on awarding the captaincy to Terry.

Of all the qualities I believe to be important, Terry is lacking in far too many of them, letting down his team and team mates are too many occasions. I suppose then it’s fortunate he’s not captain of any team I have hopes of doing well!

Strong: Losing is painful and feeling at fault for losing hurts all the more, but there is no excuse for Terry’s self-absorbed behaviour following the penalty shoot out in Moscow. He had a team full of crushed players that evening and wasn’t the only man feeling the guilt from missing a penalty, but did Terry behave like a captain? Rallying his men together? No, he sat by himself crying. In what kind of warped world is that the behaviour of a good captain?

There is no denying that Terry loves Chelsea and his TinyTears impression has been excused by this. Fine, he cares, that’s why he’s crying, but does caring so much that you turn in to emotional wreck whenever you lose qualities of a good captain? Is it fuck.

In all the years of following United, the highs and the lows, I’ve never seen such a self-pitying act as Terry’s display in Moscow. United have lost finals and semi-finals, but Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player I can recall making such a show of himself, and he’s as selfish and self-obsessed as they come. Terry is emotionally weak, just like our very own Ronaldo. Can you imagine the likes of Roy Keane bursting in to tears because United lost a match? Roy always put the team first, shown best in the self-sacrificing performance he put in against Juventus to get us to the European Cup final in 1999. Had Terry received the yellow card that would see him suspended the final, no doubt he’d be subbed due to his inability to see past his tears.

When England lost to Portugal in the last World Cup, and Terry sat on the deck, crying, it was Gary Neville who rallied the troops. Armband on, he comforted those who were crying, forgoing dwelling on his own personal emotions. As he supported those who missed the penalties, putting his arm around a crying Owen Hargreaves, Neville had to know this was probably the last World Cup he was going to play in. There was no time for tears though, because as captain, he had a job to do. His team mates came before him. That is the behaviour of a good captain.

There when you need him the most: England were playing in their crucial last qualifying game against Croatia. Their opposition were already threw, so a draw on their home turf would have been enough for England. The back four was rocked with injury and suspension, and Steve McClaren opted for an inexperienced and unproven keeper to go behind them.

So where was captain JT? Unavailable. Fair play, injuries are injuries, and if he could have featured he would have done, right? WRONG. Terry was so injured that he couldn’t play for his country when they needed him most, eventually losing because of dreadful defensive errors, but just three days later, was travelling up to Pride Park with Chelsea.

John Terry played for the full 90 minutes just days after not being able to feature at all for his country. England now couldn’t feature in Euro 2008, but at least Chelsea picked up a cleansheet and 3 points at the weekend, eh JT?

Michael Essien got sent off in that game and John Terry verbally abused the referee, surrounding by his baying team mates.

Setting the right example: Of all the captains in the Premier League, none seem to believe they are beyond the law as much as John Terry. Maybe it’s part of his natural character or maybe it is a cockiness instilled by Jose Mourinho, but Terry’s behaviour on the pitch is nothing short of appalling.

If he himself is not verbally abusing a referee, he is standing back and letting his team mates do it. With Chelsea being fined far more than any other club over the past two or three seasons for failing to control their players (and on the pitch, it is the captain’s responsibility to claim this control), it speaks volumes of Terry’s failure to behave as a captain should.

John Terry watched Ashley Cole reacting ridiculously at Tottenham Hotspur, which really brought attention to the way some players were behaving in regards to the referee. There was the incident at Derby following Essien’s red card, which Chelsea pleaded guilty to. Then there was John Terry trying to take the red card from the referee’s hand at Old Trafford after John Obi Mikel’s sending off. Before this was the mass brawl in the League Cup final against Arsenal, then the fines that came following their behaviour at West Brom and Fulham. This is just going back to 2006. Chelsea players have little to no discipline, and that is a direct result of Terry’s poor leadership.

For all Rio Ferdinand’s wrong-doings, they are all a part of his past. His behaviour on and off the field over the past year or more has been exemplary, in contrast to a whole host of misdemeanours littering Terry’s recent history. Yet Fabio Capello has today strangely picked Terry ahead of Ferdinand as captain. Whilst England aren’t really any of my concern, our players are, and I feel for Rio who will obviously be gutted to lose out. He’s not getting any young, meaning this was his last opportunity to claim the captaincy on a permanent basis, and he’s missed out.

But the upside of this is business can resume as usual, with me finding amusement in all of England’s failings, which of course there will be many, with a weak captain like Terry at the healm and a manager lacking decent judgement like Capello. Never mind Rio, you’re too good for those mugs!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. nagraj says:

    Let him be captain and blamed if (when) England screw up again and crash out of the next world cup

  2. Kevin says:

    I think Terry has some qualities to make a good captain. He is a powerful center back, one of the best in the EPL, and players tend to listen to the hard noised defender. While there are some faults who should have been captain? Rio?

    Lets not forget 8 month ban, kicking a female steward (all be it on accident), and he argues with the ref and when he is captain Ronaldo and Rooney argue with the ref constantly so judging a player by his team mates is not justified, in my opinion.

    While I agree Rio has made some changes in his life and things have turned around, but it was last season he kicked the steward. I think Rio ultimately has had more success and knows what the big games feel like and what is necessary to win! However, while I believe he is a better choice than Terry, I can see the merit in Terry being appointed captain. He has been captain in the past (which didn’t work out well), he is a quality center back, and he is the organizer in England’s defense.

    While I agree Rio would have been a better choice, I am biased, very biased. And there are some reasons Terry makes a good captain, he has won trophies, he is a clear first teamer, and he is the leader of the back line.

  3. Kevin says:

    ON a final note, I hope Rio can take this snub and use it to show the Capello he made a mistake. He played well against Newcastle and I have every confidence he and Vidic will continue to improve.

  4. jsos says:


    for feeling so strongly about terry being an ok captain, you have a pretty empty (albeit long) response to back it up. your only argument against rio is a years ago ban and an accidental kicking that hit a steward (of which both rio AND the steward have said was an accident).

    didn’t see a whole lot of “accident” in terry snatching red cards, spitting at tevez, and shouting at the ref on the pitch. piss poor comment, and i’m highly doubting your claimed “bias” has much to do with you being a red.. be careful, your blue is showing…

  5. Scott the Red says:

    Kevin – you can see the difference between arguing with the ref AND half the team surrounding and verbally abusing him, resulting in the FA dishing out fines of £thousands?

    You kindof made my point for me. He was given the chance of being England captain in the past, and failed, miserably. Capello is mad to think things will be different this time around.

  6. Stephen says:

    Capello is no better than any other England manager, taking the easy option. Terry is a falacy as a footballer, a bully with no pace and no class, hence the reason why he plays for Chelsea.

    This Terry Butcher style of shouting and fist clenching is old hat now and England need to move on, and Rio who is clearly the best defender in the world @ the moment is an obvious choice, as is more of a leader by example.

  7. Drew Vader says:

    As Scott has hinted at….who cares?? This just means it will be JT who gets shit after the inevitable ass kicking that England receive in the quarter finals of 2010. (If they qualify this time, of course!)

  8. Raisnhell says:

    Ummm… guys… you do realize that there is tons of politics that goes behind it all don’t you?

    United > England

  9. Kevin says:

    I agree completely that Rio is a better choice let me say that first off. I think he should have been made captain but I don’t want to write Terry off completely as he has been successful as captain in the past.

    @ JSos calling me a blue because I can look at a situation with a sense of rationality doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. My whole point is that England has no real stand out captain choice. Rio, for me, should have been chosen as he is the only English player who has tremendous success in recent times. Terry has qualities that does make a good captain, he has faults but I can understand Capello’s decision. I would like to finish by saying, please read the entire post and not pick out things you disagree with and ignore the rest of my post and accuse me of what I contend is the worst insult possible. Telling me my blue is showing is like telling me I am the worst piece of s___ on earth, which is what I think about when I think about Chelski fans. Just because I don’t let me seeing red blind me from understanding other points of view don’t make me any less of a supporter than you.

    @Scott – I completely agree that the way Chelsea behave is arrogant and horrible. I think the way Terry acts at times is horrible. Are Ronaldo’s antics (pre this summer) worhty of being captain? My whole point was that Rio has done things, in the past, that are as equally bad. He cost us a EPL crown when he got suspended, as are back line was shit that year, and we had to have Rio to have a good sesason. I agree with you that Rio should have been chosen but that doesn’t mean I can’t see some merit in Capello’s decision. Terry is a Capello type player, no nonsense and do whatever it takes to get the W, no matter how bad he looks in the end. Rio has class, he is a proven winner at the top level, and just won an impressive double. Ultimately, I hope Rio takes this snub and rubs it in the faces of both Terry and Capello, which I think he well. All I care about is United, and this might help Ferdinand play at a continued constant level and hopefully he will show Capello wrong.

  10. Kevin says:

    My Ronaldo comment made little sense re-reading my last comment. My point is Ronaldo has behaved in many ways that, in my mind, make him a poor choice of captain, but he was named by Fergie. I do realize this isn’t a fully equal situation, as being named captain of a national team is different than being named club captain for a few games. My point is that both have prior bad acts and both have merits to being captain. I agree that Rio is the better choice, I just understand the idea of Terry as captain.


    i bet that when Capello went to break the news to terry – that rio will be captain, he started to cry and in hopes to stop him crying Capello said “no im only joking its going to be you!” to which he stood up stuck his chest out and said in a manly voice “thats what i thought you said!”

    i agree with everything scott said, granted rio isnt a saint but you dont have to look much further then the success that united had last season and a lot of it was a result of our defense. also if i am being honest if you compare rio and terry in ability terry couldnt hold a candle to rio. terrys slow, man handles people and relys on the other CB bailing him out.

    not being bitter just cant see why the media and co seem to love terry, hes a thug or better put a racist thug (see UCL final when he calls tevez a argie cunt)

  12. Sam says:

    Article was spot on. Apart from you forgot to mention Terry refusing to go down the tunnel after being sent off at Tottenham a couple of seasons ago! Terry’s commitment is their to see not playing for England then playing 3 days later, this is the man who plays through the pain barrier!!! Rio kicked that woman but 1) she’s from London so who cares? 2) Rio obviously did because he sent her some flowers, this was before any F.A investigation.

    Personally I felt Backham changed from being England captain and his head was more focussed on winning the world cup than the European Cup. Let Terry have it. Rio can prove everyone wrong by helping United achieve success this season

  13. Mr Blackett says:

    Lets not forget John Terry laughing in the face of Americans the day after 11th September, 2001. Or cheating on his wife with a 17 year old in the back of his car. The alleged racist remark when he received a red card for no obvious reason but managed to infuriate the normally mild mannered Ledley King (and the other black players in the team). All in all he makes Rio Ferdinand look like Nelson fucking Mandela.

    Frankly, the ability of the captain to be a captain is wholly irrelevant in the England team. There are at least three club captains in there already. It’s purely a token gesture these days but it’s still a role with great responsibility. That is Bobby Moore’s armband after all. You wouldn’t see him crying like a girl or trying to grab a card out of the referee’s hand.

  14. Gapi says:

    Well I was impressed with Capello… until now. Terry is a poor choice for a captain and I’d rather see Gerrard get it than that twat. Rio should have got it, but then, it’s England so who really cares.

  15. Tom F says:

    I don’t believe Terry is better than Rio, not by a long shot, but I can understand why he has been given the captaincy and if I am honest, it’s good news for united.

    Terry is all talk and England need that. Rio can just keep his head down and carry on playing like he does and continue to be the best player in his position in Europe.

    I only ever watch INGERLAND for our players and alaways hope to see our players do well (avoid injury) and here’s hoping that some Chelsea players get injured :D

  16. Gazza says:


  17. Kokka78 says:

    Giving the armband to Terry its a shame he never show any class on and off the pitch he’s not good enough to take this job no balls enough and even when Becks is on the pitch you got the feeling the captain is not Terry.

    My dog would be a better captain than Terry is.

    Rio on the other hand always shown what kind of player/fighter he is and he should had give a proper chance!

  18. john scarry says:

    capello has chosen terry because psychologically they are the same (egotistical, self-absorved, and unreasonable). terry is an authoritarian much like capello (honorable mention to fat frank lump-of-lard, as well). They view the world through an Us- vs.- Them mentality. On the pitch when England plays, they will not play as a team but as a group of disjointed stars because of capello’s and terry’s psychological authoritarian personalities. Being angry and having a bad attitude does not make one a leader. We need a captain that can bring us together and Rio is that captain. Terry is by far the worst choice. Believing that he is untouchable, terry will put England in grave danger, it is only a matter of time (and capello is feeding that fire). Great article.

  19. Gary says:

    Who cares to be honest. There are still 30/000 tickets available for the England game tomorrow night, that shows the lack of interest in international football. You can shove your fucking England up your arse!

  20. Peter says:

    I really think this highlights the problem with England fans these days – bringing club loyalties into supporting England has undermined the support recently. England have probably the worst support of any major country at the moment – jeering players in the warm up because they play for the wrong club – what a joke.

    Both Terry and Ferdinand are good players and both would do a good job as captain. All this ‘JT’s a cry baby’ or ‘Ferdinand’s a drug cheat’ is just childish.

  21. Kings says:

    The last paragragh summed up my thoughts entirely. As much as I have no time for England, I want to see our players do well, and I think it’s a fucking disgrace that Rio was overlooked for the captaincy after not only displaying true leadership qualities at United, but exhibiting impeccable behaviour off the pitch. As you rightly said Scott, at least when England fuck up, then that cunt Terry can be exposed for the weak leader he truly is. United greater than England.

  22. Gabriel says:

    I think Rio would be the better choice for obvious reasons. However, Terry has occupied this role before and like a politician, has already got his protractors in the squad (more than Ferdinand has anyway). Capello knows this and went with Terry so as not to cause friction in the squad. Also, tbh, Terry seemed to want the position a bit more, so that could have helped his chances.

    Another way to look at it is to choose Terry now due to his influence on the team and adoration by the english media, watch him eff up and see if Rio can step up a bit more, then replace Terry with Rio later on, as I believe Rio will have a longer playing career than Terry.

  23. OTRed says:

    If this helps Rio focus more on his United career, then thank you Capello

    @Kevin: mentioning that Fergie gave Ronaldo the armband after what he has done doesn’t make sense, considering you’re comparing what Terry has done to what Ronaldo has done and Ronaldo was named captain before the whole Madrid nonsense. Diving aside, Ronaldo is a well behaved player on the pitch, even though he whines at the refs, he doesn’t mouth off at them.

  24. UnitedRay says:

    Obviously even capello never read about nelson mandela.

  25. virgopq says:

    So, Capello has appointed a pussy to be England’s captain!. Oh!, man, I just hope he won’t shed tears when England loses out for the World cup!.

    JT is rubbish!. Rio or Gerrard wud hv been better choice!. These r MEN who wl put the team before themselves!. These r MEN who wl not cry in front of the cameras for the whole world to see just to show they r hurting!. These r MEN who wl hv complete control over their own emotions!.

    What has happen to the glorious captains of past???. Why is it tt England or more likely, the manager not able to see the qualities tt wl seperate the men fm boys???. We need captains in the mould of Captain Marvelous Bryan Robson. Sadly, JT is NOT!.

  26. Jeoff says:

    But you guys don’t care about England right?

  27. Stephen says:

    Jeoff, who do you support France?

  28. Jeoff says:

    How is who I support in any way relevant to anything?

  29. Kevin says:

    OTRed and anyone else who disagreed with my points, I stand corrected. After watching the first half, Terry’s pre-season comments more thoroughly, his press conference before the game, and any other material on the web that I could find I now sincerely believe Terry to be the wrong choice. The goal for Baros was Terry’s fault for letting him turn. His comments about United are ridiculous, and somewhat show his hypocratic nature. He refused to comment about doing well at the world cup and focusing on qualifing, maybe he should focus on Chelsea getting better and not how United will perform. That on top of the previously mentioned comments.

    On that note I still want to say that doesn’t mean Rio is a “perfect” or the right choice. He does have a spotty history and there are others who could do the job well. I saw someone say something about Gerrard which makes sense but it would should have came down to Ferdiand and Gerrard.

    I hope Ferdinand well just use this snub as motivation to perform on a even higher level (if thats possible). England don’t look bad but the Czech’s look sharp.

  30. Kevin says:

    and Cole is rubbish, I hate him more than any ex-Gunner or Rentboy.


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