Rio Ferdinand Should Fight His Own Battles & Accept He's Not Good Enough For England
Just when you thought we'd hurdled all the obvious obstacles in the run up to Euro 2012, up pops one of Rio Ferdinand's "advisors" and adds his two penn'orth to the discussion as to why the player he represents hasn't been drafted into the squad. It's a pity he couldn't have advised himself to do the dignified thing and just let him take it on the chin and get on with dealing with his disappointment at been left out.
And if the man himself is left to ponder whether he was actually omitted purely for footballing reasons or left out as a political casualty to restore harmony to a fractured squad, he should still know better than to question the wisdom of the England manager. After all, even his own gaffer has come to doubt his own capabilities over the last twelve months, so why would it be so wrong for Roy Hodgson to do so too? Despite all of the injuries sustained by the England players of late, perhaps it's the one to Nemanja Vidic that has proved of most consternation to Roy Hodgson. After all, if he had been fit, would Ferdinand have actually played enough games to have warranted to even be considered for England's Euro 2012 squad?
The only realistic choice was to pair-up one of his experienced defenders with a younger, quicker, more agile partner
As much as I'd have loved to imagine that Hodgson, sat in his armchair, pen and pad in hand, debating over his centre-half selection like Ace Ventura pondering the connection between Finlke and Einhorn, repeating over and over "Terry or Rio, Rio or Terry", I’m sure his thought process was much simpler than that. Coming up against the mobility of the forward lines that the likes of France and Spain possess, there was no way the England manager could go into these kinds of games with two central defenders whose best years, in terms of pace anyway, were behind them. The only realistic choice was to pair-up one of his experienced defenders with a younger, quicker, more agile partner in the mould of Cahill or Lescott. In the end, the Chelsea pairing of Terry and Cahill made perfect sense. Cahill and Terry have had time at club level to nurture an understanding together and Lescott, whilst perhaps not of the same ilk of his competitors as a ball player, has a newly acquired status as a Premier League winner that craved recognition.
Now that injuries have arisen in that very same area of the team doesn't necessarily mean that the discarded Ferdinand would be the obvious replacement. As all players of a certain age soon find out, experience and reading of the game can only compensate so much when faced with pure, raw pace.
England's opponents at Euro 2012 know only too well that when allowed to have easy possession, England lack the invention and creativeness to open up defences that are already well positioned. It becomes a passing exercise that is passing for the sake of passing rather than having any purpose or defined end product. The opposition's answer may be to let England harmlessly pass the ball in front of them, wait for them to become frustrated and play a hurried pass forward, only to intercept and break on them from there. That is why we can't have two central defenders struggling to cope with lightening quick attacks. In calling up Jagielka and Kelly, England certainly have the physically attributes to cope with that. Although, it has to be said, Kelly's inclusion over the more deserving Micah Richards is much more of a head-scratcher to me than the two main protagonists of this article.
That is why we can't have two central defenders struggling to cope with lightening quick attacks
I know it's difficult to differentiate between John Terry the person and JT the footballer but if you could suspend all knowledge of his numerous indiscretions and look at it from a purely football point of view, as Roy Hodgson has obviously done, John Terry is still a damn good out and out defender. He may not have played a single second of that Champions League final but his do or die defending got them there as much as Drogba's goals. And the same goes for their FA Cup success too, denying Spurs a certain goal during their semi-final clash when the game was still in the balance.
My only issue with Terry's selection is to question whether his character and persona around the dressing room is too overpowering and could possibly stifle or inhibit the performances of those around him. And I'm not just talking about the younger players within the squad. Whilst Steven Gerrard is man enough to leave behind issues that arose during the 2010 World Cup, even he doesn't have to contend with anyone as overbearing as Terry when he's regularly playing the role of Superman at Anfield. Even in avoiding the potentially explosive atmosphere that including both Terry and Ferdinand might have created, Hodgson's England camp may still yet prove be a fractious one.
There is a case to be said for Sir Alex sabotaging Ferdinand's berth in the squad merely to look after his own interests
As for the issue of pace, Terry was never blessed with same rangy stride of Ferdinand so any slowing of the legs is much kinder on Terry's game, making it easier for him to cope with any decline. You could argue that Rio's composure and cleverer use of the ball is more suited to international football but then again, what use is of that if we're spending our usual lengthy periods surrendering possession to superior opposition?
If the world within the England squad was all sweetness and light then perhaps Rio would have accepted a place as a squad player and been happy to play small cameo roles, seeing out the late stages of games or perhaps as a stand-in for an injured or suspended Terry but circumstances have denied him that luxury.
Amongst all the debate and angry discussion on the subject, not everyone will be getting so het up as Rio's agents. There is a case to be said for Sir Alex sabotaging Ferdinand's berth in the squad merely to look after his own interests and preserve his player for next season's assault at regaining their Premier League title. He may not admit it but Sir Alex will be quietly pleased Rio's summer will be as relaxed as a date night in Downing Street.
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