3 March ~ England fans have it good under Fabio Capello. The players respect him, the media respect him and, most of all, the fans respect someone who gives off the stern demeanour of a headmaster nobody dare cross. This, he feels, is what is needed when dealing with multi-millionaire footballers, especially in a World Cup year when minds should be firmly fixed on football and that alone. Tonight however is going to be the first real test of his authority after he pleaded with England fans not to show any negativity towards the troubled John Terry.
Capello has already punished former head boy Terry by stripping him of the captaincy and claiming that he will not regain it while he is still in charge. But whether the England boss has done enough to stave off any attacks is debatable. Booing and jeering is not warranted towards Terry when he is representing his country. At club level it's a different matter but domestic allegiances should be put aside when it comes to England. Chelsea fans have been getting behind him despite some dire performances, so why shouldn't England fans? However, I get the feeling that the noise emanating out of north London tonight will not just be choruses of The Great Escape and God Save the Queen, especially given that there is a history of England fans showing hostility towards their own players.
The most recent show of displeasure from the Wembley crowd was when Ashley Cole gifted Kazakhstan a goal during a World Cup qualifier in October 2008. He was subsequently roundly booed every time he touched the ball. Cole admitted afterwards that he was hurt by the taunts and team-mates Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard claimed the Wembley crowd should be "ashamed" of themselves. Lampard himself has been on the receiving end of jibes from his own fans, during a friendly with Brazil in 2007. Lampard, like John Barnes in the 1990s, was booed for not transforming club form to the international stage – England fans deciding to make their annoyance heard rather than getting behind the players and showing some support. Hopefully tonight will remain about important World Cup preparation as opposed to obsessing over celebrity and who has held hands with who. Jonathan Walton