RUSTENBURG, South Africa: England`s preparations for their pivotal World Cup meeting with Slovenia on Wednesday have been left in disarray after Fabio Capello savaged former skipper John Terry for challenging his authority.
Terry will start Wednesday`s must-win match in Port Elizabeth but the Chelsea defender has been left in no doubt about the extent to which he enraged Capello with his public revelation of disgruntlement in the England camp.
"This is the big mistake, this is the very big mistake," was the damning verdict from England`s head coach, who appeared unable to resist the opportunity to portray Terry as a loose cannon in a squad that has otherwise accepted his leadership, methods and tactics.
"My door is always open. If people want to speak with me they can speak with me," Capello said. "Then I read that John Terry said this, I don`t understand why he doesn`t speak with me. When you speak you have to speak privately, not with the media."
Terry, who was stripped of the England captaincy by Capello in February, has been left isolated and humiliated in the wake of his pledge to raise concerns over the way Capello was running England`s campaign, even if that meant upsetting the Italian.
Capello`s response to that broadside was to confirm that Terry had not dared say anything to his face while voicing his own displeasure at the defender publicly pushing the cause of his Chelsea team-mate Joe Cole, who has not been involved in England`s first two matches in South Africa.
The Italian said: "Joe Cole is one of 23 players who are here but, when we speak about one single player, you have to respect the other players that played before. That`s the most important thing, the respect of the other players."
In a direct reference to Terry, Capello dismissed the concerns the Chelse defender had raised about players being bored under his training regime.
"One player is not so important compared to all the others. The group is more important," Capello said. "For this reason it is no problem. We are here to play at the World Cup, not for a holiday."
Having vowed to raise his concerns with Capello, even if that meant upsetting the coach, Terry was persuaded to keep quiet at a team meeting on Sunday evening, which was, according to his Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard, exclusively dedicated to Capello`s dissection of what went wrong in the goalless draw with Algeria.
Lampard insisted that Terry`s comments had been misinterpreted. "I don`t know if John backed off," the midfielder said. "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.
Lampard insisted 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 team-mate Wayne Bridge`s former girlfriend.
Terry has apologised to Capello and his team-mates since, admitting that he might have gone too far when he vowed to challenge Capello at a squad meeting, and stressed the manager had his "total support."
Apologising for his outburst, Terry told the Daily Mail on Tuesday: "I went into yesterday`s press conference with the intention of being honest.
"I was asked a question about Joe Cole and maybe I went too far. But it was never my intention to upset the manager or the players and if I did upset anyone, I apologise.
"I have told the manager he has my total support and I would like to stress that I don`t believe I have been a disruptive influence in the camp.
"I would now like to put this episode behind me and concentrate on trying to win what is a massive game for England," he said, referring to the side`s make-or-break match against Slovenia on Wednesday.
"All I was trying to do was to say how important it is to me to try to win the World Cup."
BDST: 1206hrs, June 22, 2010