Which route to take through the John Terry moral maze? Unless you have an admiration for highly-paid supposed role models behaving with the same devil-may-care attitude to monogamy as the courtiers of Caligula, it's fair to say he's been a very silly boy. Not least for getting caught.
Perhaps most damaging to Terry and by his extension his fellow members of the football millionaires' club is that no-one seems particularly surprised that the self-styled strong man of the King's Road is a love rat. Indeed, the sense of moralising towards such people would seem to have long since passed. It's been obvious for years that footballers live by their own rules and indulge in practices, sexual and otherwise, that are not considered normal by or accessible to the man in the street. The money and privilege now afforded to footballers would seem to offer access to a lifestyle and opportunity akin to that of the classic rock ‘n' rollers of days gone by. Without the drugs, of course.
The late Sid Vicious was once asked about the public's response to the Sex Pistols. "I've met the man in the street and he is a c***," came the response. Similarly, when Oasis singer Liam Gallagher was asked at the height of his fame whether his lifestyle of heavy refuelling and acquiring ladies was anything to be ashamed of, his response was this: "You'd 'ave it, wouldn't you." Keith Richards famously told a court that "we are not old men and we are not governed by petty morals". Some of the recent pratfalls of a group of young men whose brains are obviously restricted to below the waist would suggest a prevalence of similar attitudes, though perhaps without the style or articulacy.
An association, though it continues to fray, with the grassroots of supporters means that footballers are not quite able to throw off the shackles of responsibility like their rocker counterparts just yet. Judging by Terry's no-doubt expensive attempts to get the Vanessa Perroncel affair hushed up, he does actually care for his public image, though ultimately it was his suggestion that the publishing of the tawdry saga may damage sponsorship deals that led to the beak overturning the so-called super-injunction. The law, thankfully, is not yet beholden to potential loss of earnings to a multi-millionaire. Nobody but Terry and his agent are shedding tears over the loss of his endorsements.
Similarities have been drawn to the case of Tiger Woods. Yet, perhaps as a reflection of the cultural difference between England and America, Terry is yet to adopt the sackcloth and ashes of penance of Woods' terse public statements after his Nike slacks were caught round his ankles. It may soon follow - the first step on the road to redemption for the famous would seem to be the sort of public apology so far missing from "JT". It must surely be in the post.
And, being a player of a team sport, Terry cannot take himself away into hiding to sort out his family affairs. Not for long at least, give or take the missing of an FA Cup match with Cardiff City to head off on a mission of mercy to his Dubai holiday home, because this is a vital time for his teams. He is, after all, on-field leader of both Chelsea and England in a season in which his club chase serious silverware and his country seek global glory in South Africa.
To captain or not to captain? That appears to be the question that Fabio Capello must answer. The Italian, in usual autocratic fashion, will be making that decision himself, with due deference to his team’s general manager, Franco Baldini.
Carlo Ancelotti, who once played under Capello at AC Milan, has played the card of public indifference, backing his player while making clear that this will not be a matter for open discussion with the media. However, his experiences with Terry may be instructive to his former mentor and one-time rival for Serie A supremacy. Ancelotti may have been glad that Terry's hogging of the spotlight had drawn attention away from a 1-1 draw at Hull City that further blew open the Premier League title race, but he may not have been too keen on the showing of his captain.
After being the match-winner at Burnley, this time we saw a hesitant Terry allow Steven Mouyokolo to steal in to score Hull's goal. Equally, when Didier Drogba scored the Chelsea equaliser, the fact that Terry chose to gesture towards Tigers fans rather than congratulate his colleague showed that his mind was straying on to matters other than football and that he was now reacting to the barracking of fans.
Taking one's eye off the ball is unforgivable in the court of Don Fabio and it may be that he delays his decision in order to gain the long view of Terry's ability to deal with the hot breath of public humiliation. And with suggestions that there may be more dirt to follow, he may wish to avail himself of the full facts. Plenty more to see here.