The issue of England captaincy has been something of a pantomime over the past few years.
Six years ago following England’s World Cup exit in Germany, there was the question of who would replace David Beckham. John Terry was eventually given the armband by then manager Steve McClaren, ahead of Steve Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand.
But after the national team’s failure to qualify for the 2008 European Championships, a change in manager looked set to be followed by a change in captain.
Fabio Capello opted to rotate his choice of leader, selecting a different player for each of his first few games, though finally settled on John Terry in the summer of 2008 after his rotation policy attracted increased criticism.
However only 18 months later, tabloid revelations over John Terry’s affair with the ex-girlfriend of an England and ex-Chelsea teammate sparked new controversy and ultimately resulted in Terry being stripped of the responsibility.
Capello received widespread praise for his swift handling of the decision, and the feeling amongst those who knew the England manager best was that Terry had blown his chance and would never be reinstated.
Rio Ferdinand took over the role, but injury limited his ability to participate for England and it was in fact Steven Gerrard who captained the team at the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Ferdinand’s continued problems with injury along with question marks over his form caused another rethink, and after little more than a year since originally losing the captaincy, John Terry was reinstated on a permanent basis by Fabio Capello.
But just 11 months on, the matter has yet again resurfaced with Terry set to stand trial after being charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.
The issue has sparked strong debate from both sides, with some claiming that Terry should be considered innocent of all charges until proven guilty in court and that he should therefore be allowed to continue.
The other side of the argument is whether someone facing such a serious charge should be in the position of leading out his country at a major football competition, especially in light of the Football Association’s tough stance on racism.
If Terry is stripped once more of the captaincy, as is expected to be the case, it will remove him from a high-profile position which is inevitably going to attract plenty of negative attention.
Taking him out of the firing line will help to turn attention on the team towards footballing matters rather than a constant wave of questions surrounding the charge which Terry faces.
It will be the correct move for the FA to make.
But we shouldn’t for one moment think that this will be the only time that the captaincy debate surfaces this year.
With a high chance that Fabio Capello will not continue as England manager beyond the conclusion of the European Championships in the summer, a new manager may wish to make his own choice of skipper.
So for the moment, the England captaincy merry-go-round shows no sign of slowing down.