Of course, it is completely his choice. No-one can second guess Wayne Bridge’s emotions over the small matter of John Terry having had an affair with his ex-partner (and it may or may not be worth pointing out that Bridge had spolit from Vanessa Perroncel three months before Terry’s dalliance with her began) but if he feels that it would be inappropriate for him to be in the England squad for the World Cup finals this summer, then he should be left to get on with it. It is clearly not for him and to have made such a decision obviously cannot have been an easy one.
If we have learnt a little about Wayne Bridge from his reaction to this incident, though, we may be learning a bit about John Terry from it, too. According to The Guardian this morning, “friends of Terry responded by suggesting Bridge had long been considered a “bottler” in the dressing room”. The media uses coded phrases which are a language in themselves, and it is generally considered that, in the realms of tabloid journalism and celebrity stories, “friends of” means the person themselves, their agent or their PR people. What we can be reasonably certain of is that these anonymous “friends” aren’t just a bunch of mates that Terry goes to the pub with that were caught off-guard and asked an innocent question.
If this is indeed the case it marks Terry out as a wretch, but we shouldn’t be particularly surprised by this. The whole matter of the way that this matter has hardly covered him in glory, but if such statements are being released from people that are at the very least close to him, then he should probably do the decent thing and offer some sort of olive branch. The likelihood of this happening, though, seem slim. Fabio Capello may seek to wonder whether Terry is worth all of this hassle. His career has been on a downward trajectory for the last couple of seasons and on Wednesday night his recent lack of concentration cost Chelsea a goal inside three minutes against Internazionale. Going back a little further, it also may be worth asking the question of whether “friends of” the man that missed what would have been the winning kick in a Champions League final penalty shoot-out calling someone else a “bottler” is a case of “friends of” the pot calling the kettle black.
Bridge’s withdrawal from the England squad is primarily significant for two reasons – the injury to Ashley Cole which casts doubt over who will be England’s right-back this summer and the tabloid sensationalism of the story. Cole, whose own inability to keep it in his trousers has had its own effect on his personal life, is touch and go to be fit for the World Cup finals, was expected to be the first choice in the right-back this summer, with Bridge as cover. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, though, and Steven Warnock of Aston Villa, who has been quietly impressing for much of this season, may get a call up for next week’s friendly match against the Afrian champions Egypt.
The tabloid angle of the story is also worth briefly looking at. There are no depths to which the red top press won’t stoop to get a story (have a read of stories about the News of The World’s phone-tapping antics over the last two or three years for confirmation of this), and they will be more than happy to sabotage whatever they have to in order to score themselves a soaraway exclusive now. As we mentioned on here once before, this may be worth remembering when they are honking their devotion to the flag and the queen and demanding that we do the same. Trying to pick sides in a moral argument between John Terry and the tabloid press, though, isn’t a particularly appealing prospect.
Chelsea play Manchester City on Saturday and the hype will be ramped to the absolute limit, with high definition cameras doubtlessly trained on the two players’ hands and faces, trying to work out whether they made eye contact, how long for and how firm the grip of their handshakes is. Considering this, it feels like something of a relief to be able to say that this site will be in Bury at the Beyond Debt rally which is being held by FC United of Manchester. Somehow, this feels more important than whether Wayne Bridge shakes John Terry’s hand and how long he does this for. Indeed, with regard to the England national football team, it is starting to feel as if the only way that we are going to be able to retain any sanity until the summer is going to be to sit in a darkened room with loud music on and access to newspapers completely cut off. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better.