Fabio Capello will step down as coach if England fail to qualify for the second stage of the World Cup. The Football Association's 'fears' over his future announced to the media, make it absolutely clear to Capello that failure's not an option.
It means power in the England camp has been dramatically transferred to the players for the vital final group game with Slovenia on Wednesday.
Will this group still play for the Italian?
Player power will force Capello into making a much earlier team announcement for Wednesday's game.
At a "crisis" meeting with the players after Friday's awful goalless draw with Algeria, Capello was slated by the squad for naming the starting line-up so close to kick-off.
It caused major tension inside the camp, voiced publicly by 'keeper David James, who only knew he was playing a couple of hours before the game's start. For the first time, dissention in the ranks went public.
The stakes couldn't be higher for both manager and players. A win and the 'crisis' is over and England will advance to the last sixteen knockout stages.
But failure to qualify and the Capello Project is done. The players will come home to a chorus of derision for under performance. Then that'll be forgotten come August as they don their club shirts and embark on another domestic season at home and in Europe. There'll be some low-level taunting from opposition fans as the only reminder of a cruel summer.
And as consternation grows among England fans as to why our campaign threatens to derail again, perhaps we don't have to look further than the struggle between club and country.
After all, why should these millionaires, heroes and leaders at their trophy-laden clubs, bother with such a poisoned chalice as playing for England? They and their families are the suffocating target of tabloid tales and painted as villains for their on-field exploits, rather than as heroes when playing for their clubs.
In this overly-commercialised footballing world, never has playing for England and giving all for your club represented such a large conflict of interest.
I tip England to scrape through against Slovenia, but for the reasons outlined here, we can't win the World Cup until the FA and the Premier League integrate their two clashing business interests more closely.
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