How messy have things become for England / Chelsea captain John Terry of late? Terry’s crimes range from A-Rod-esque poor p.r. to allegedly having an affair with a teammate’s girlfriend. Such is the international furor over Terry’s indiscretions, former U.S. coach Steve Sampson was forced to appear on “Fox Football Fone In”, ratting out John Harkes for similar offenses once upon a time. The Guardian’s Barney Ronay surveys the fuss over “the Most Important Story In The History Of Getting Tearful And Stern about the ‘responsibilities’ of being England captain”, and concludes it’s all “a cloud of hot air floating on hot air buoyed by hot air heated by the heat from hot air.”
Weighing in with the arms-spread fight-intros on behalf of England’s Brave John Terry is the Sun, whose exclusive deal with the England captain probably sparked off the whole tedious business by cutting every other red-faced football hack out of the official EBJT picture. Today it counter-attacks by suggesting Wayne Bridge’s ex Vanessa Perroncel has previously tango’d with “five Chelsea stars” [whom we can’t name; the fifth one the Sun couldn’t even name – Fiver Lawyers], which makes for a convenient “five-a-side”-type gor-blimey sneer. Maneater, you see. Loose cannon. EBJT the victim. This is the case the Sun, and his media crisis manager Phil Hall, are making for their man.
On the opposite side of the table, grunting, swearing and attempting to lever your thumb down like Sly Stallone in Over The Top, we have Max Clifford. Today The Master is insisting his client Perroncel “knew some of the players but she didn’t have affairs with them”, and that in this whole saga she had been “betrayed by someone close to her” and “never wanted this out in public”, the equivalent of Blu-tacking a sign across her nose with the words “NOT A PUBLICITY-SEEKER”.
There they go: lurching and wrestling and Chinese Burning across a self-contained media land of shout-boxes and mud-flings and cash-grabs. Where will the money fall? Who will end up on top? Entirely innocent west London beefcake EBJT? Or The Master and his hurled together betrayed-comely-victim schtick? Who does the Fiver back? If only it was possible to find someone sympathetic in all this, beyond poor old Fabio Capello who, even now, is discussing with his assistant Franco Baldini the essential rules of dating your friend’s ex, like a pair of screechy New York singletons on their fifth Martini in a downtown bar called Fagulous.