AS generations of former African freedom fighters can attest, the problem with a coup attempt is that you really have to pull it off. Get it right, and the course of history can be changed in an instant. Get it wrong, though, and you put yourself in a position of extreme vulnerability.

As a 29-year-old playing in what will almost certainly be his final World Cup tournament, John Terry does not have to worry too much about the effect of Sunday's incendiary press statements on his relationship with Fabio Capello.

But for the rest of squad, preparing for a game against Slovenia that will determine whether they progress to the second round or board the next available flight for Heathrow, the impact of Terry's thinly-disguised challenge to Capello's authority is harder to gauge.

Will it bring an increasingly-divided squad back together? Or will it increase the factionalism that appears to be ripping England's World Cup campaign apart? And ultimately, in the face of two dreadfully disappointing displays against the United States and Algeria, will any of it make any difference?

By building up the importance of Sunday's scheduled team meeting, Terry was paving the way for a showdown he, and a number of other senior players, clearly believed would result in a marked change of emphasis from Capello.

It would enable them to air their grievances, offer suggestions for improvements and advance the argument for a change in formation that would provide Joe Cole with a route back into the team.

There were precedents for such a move, most notably in the 1990 World Cup when a delegation of senior players including Peter Shilton, Bryan Robson and Gary Lineker persuaded Bobby Robson to adopt the 3-5-2 formation that eventually took England all the way to the semi-finals.

Robson, ever the pragmatist, was prepared to engage in a rational discussion. Capello, a much more authoritarian figure, proved markedly less accommodating.

From the outset of Sunday's meeting, the England boss decreed there would be no forum for heated debate. Terry had already been dissuaded from speaking his mind anyway, and the supposed showdown quickly turned into little more than a routine reassessment of issues that had become apparent during the Algeria game.

With his authority confirmed, Capello felt moved to make a number of limited concessions, and it is believed the Italian will name his starting XI well in advance of tomorrow's kick off time. He has already confirmed that Matthew Upson will replace the suspended Jamie Carragher.

That is a marked departure from his preferred method, but can hardly be described as a capitulation in the face of player pressure. For better or worse, Capello has underlined once and for all who is boss.

In time, that might be seen as a good thing. Previous England managers have wilted at the first challenge to their authority, and as the crises engulfing the French squad prove, anarchy is the end result if players are allowed to have things all their own way.

But how will England's players be feeling this morning after their attempt at engagement was quashed so ruthlessly?

The worst case scenario is that Capello digs his heels in and refuses to alter either his system or his personnel, and the England squad respond by effectively throwing in the towel because they do not feel their concerns have been taken seriously.

Such a scenario cannot be ruled out, as the evidence of the opening two matches suggests they do not feel comfortable in their current set-up. If Wayne Rooney was thoroughly dejected at the final whistle of Friday's game, what will he be like if things are looking no better in the opening half-an-hour of Wednesday's decider.

Terry was not speaking as a lone dissenter on Sunday, and while support for his actions gradually dissipated once the full fall-out from his words became clear, there remains a feeling within the camp that something needed to be said.

The response to his words was not what had been hoped for, but what would it say about England's players if Capello's intransigence was interpreted as a signal for the beginning of the end?

Plenty of players play for managers they do not get along with. Plenty of players also play with players they do not take too kindly to, and after a frantic 48 hours, this is now the time for everyone to take a step back and take stock of where England actually are.

They are in a World Cup finals, one positive result away from a place in the second round. Argentina, Brazil and possibly Holland apart, nobody is playing particularly brilliant football, and with a fair wind in their sails, any of the second-round qualifiers could potentially find themselves heading deep into the competition.

England do not possesses a faultless squad, but there is enough ability to make a positive result against Slovenia a distinct possibility.

Consequently, this is not the time to allow power struggles, personal grievances and petty infighting to wreck England's hopes of progression.

There will be plenty of time for recriminations once the tournament is over, but for the likes of Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David James, there is unlikely to be another opportunity to achieve something meaningful on the world stage.

If things do not go to plan tomorrow, will anybody look back in ten years time and say, 'We were right to write off that World Cup because it hastened the departure of Fabio Capello'?

I'd hazard a guess not. Instead, the abiding memory will be one of failure and chronic underachievement.

But imagine the sense of satisfaction if England could drag themselves from their current sorry position and begin to generate some positive momentum just when it is needed most.

Africa is no stranger to failed coups, but in the continent's most celebrated democracy, England's players should also reflect on history's propensity to throw up sudden displays of unity at moments when they seem least likely.

Together we stand, divided we fall. England's choice will become apparent in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow.