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The elephant in the room

I like Rio Ferdinand as a player.

He has always provided a contrast to the typical Johnny English defender in that he likes to play with the ball at his feet. Not for him the Carragher-esque hoofing of the ball up field in hope of finding a burly striker, or the desperate lunging tackle (John Terry?) on an opponent because you failed to read the attack properly.

To the contrary, Ferdinand has always been a composed and intelligent footballer and has even faced accusations of looking “lazy” or “disinterested” because his footballing style has always been contrary to the majority of English defenders who believe that rushing about willy nilly and displaying plenty of passion (John Terry?) are the key attributes to making a successful defender.

Ferdinand has suffered with fitness problems over the past couple of seasons. A recurring back injury has meant that his club and country career have often suffered as a result. However, those who point to Ferdinand’s lack of fitness should note that he has not missed a game through injury since January 2012. It should also be noted that the current England captain, one Steven Gerrard, has also battled with injury problems over the past two seasons but he is seen as a key figure for the England team.

It is therefore understandable that Ferdinand feels so aggrieved at being left out of England’s Euro 2012 team. After all, Ferdinand has accumulated 81 caps over a 14 year international career and has been overlooked in favour of a 22-year-old promising young footballer who plays mostly as a backup right back for his club. Roy Hodgson, the England manager, claims that the reason that Ferdinand was omitted from the England squad is due to “football reasons”. Reading between the lines and gathering all the available information together, however, points to the (white) elephant in the room – a certain John of Terry.

It is well publicised that John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy in the wake of the allegations that he had racially insulted Rio’s younger brother, Anton during a Premier League game. What is probably particularly galling to Rio Ferdinand is that through this whole process, Terry has always seemed untouchable and seemingly unable to be withdrawn from the England set up.

The other player who has a grievance with Roy Hodgson, and arguably a stronger case than Ferdinand for being omitted from the England squad is Micah Richards. This is a young man who has recently won his first Premier League title with his club, Manchester City, and played a significant number of games in assisting his team to glory.

How does Mr Hodgson explain this one? Well, according to reports Hodgson did not even give Richards the courtesy of telephoning him personally to break the bad news. Instead Hodgson delegated the responsibility to Stuart Pearce, who coaches the England Under 21 team. It is rather curious that Hodgson managed to pick up the telephone and speak directly to the other omitted team members but could not do so for Richards. Stuart Pearce was then requested to speak to Richards a second time to ask him if he would be willing to be placed on the standby list. Surprisingly enough, Richards opted to take a holiday in Barbados instead.

What would be nice is if Mr Hodgson could see fit to disclose the “football reasons” that led to him leaving Rio Ferdinand out of the England team.

Until then, there will be a lot of conjecture and speculation about that (white) elephant in the room.


About Ticha Pfupajena

I'm beginning to get the sense that my career as a professional footballer may not happen. As a result, I'll try write about football and sports instead....


5 thoughts on “The elephant in the room

  1. Objective as always. I think that Pearce was asked to call Richards coz they had a better understanding and Pearce managed him at U21s. I doubt that Richards was the more shocking exclusion. He even said he was more shocked at Rio missing out than himself. Richards was excluded from the City starting line up for the last 5 or so games and would come on as a sub in the 85-89th minute in some of them. That means Mancini didn’t trust him and Balotelli for the crunch games. Balotelli for obvious reasons and Richards because he is positionally suspect. He is always caught out of position vs the bigger teams. Furthermore a host of managers didn’t trust him at RB including Capello. They would rather give the younger Phil Jones a run out. Richards for me suffers the same problem as Johnson. Good going forward but tactically ill disciplined and with poor anticipation but great going forward. Much like our Rafael, who did finally get a call up. I have a feeling that Richards won’t be in the England starting 11 of the future as Smalling is better than both him and Jones at fullback and Walker better than all 3. The default CB pairing of the future seems to be Jones and Smalling which is the modern Terry Rio combo. Jones seems to be valued for his “leadership” qualities (surprisingly always goes with a white dude) and potential so I doubt Richards would get in ahead of him and Smalling being the new Rio, the ball playing defender.

    Posted by Tafadzwa Marere | 06/06/2012, 08:19
  2. I had problems with Roy Hodgson when he coached Liverpool but he had some success at Fulham.

    Obviously he likes certain players because he wants to play in a certain way. Unfortunately we don’t know what way that is.

    I think Micah Richards is a good all round right back. And was surprised to see him left out.

    The English still have a love affair with hard man defenders who throw themselves in front the ball. Commendable characterisrics I’m sure. Sorry for Mr Ferdinand.

    Posted by Ning | 06/06/2012, 09:31
  3. Hodgson is English. Destined for failure. English pride is based on passion and not common sense. English coaches have a history of leaving out top (black players). Remember Glen Hoddle and Andy Cole. I think there is a anti black quota system vs merit. Central defender is the place where over 30’s are necessary. Calm heads that understand/read the game can anticipate movement.Terry-Lescott, that is a joke. Footballing Reasons? lets analyse Terry, He racially abused a player, got sent off in two key games this season including missing Champ league final and had his worst season ever – and remember don’t leave your women around him! I wonder how focused he will be knowing that he has a court case pending, at least the tournament is being held in a place where his rhetoric is appreciated. I am happy though nothing gives me more joy than seeing England leave tournaments early, then we can focus on real football and not media circus.

    Posted by Farai Dhliwayo | 06/06/2012, 10:41
    • I agree somewhat with Farai’s point (not a frequent occurance) that you need experienced heads at the back, who have good reading of the game and great anticipation. I understood the Cole, Terry, Cahill axis as a reason for leaving out Rio. Cahill reads the game well and has similar characteristics to Rio. Now that Cahill is gone there is no reader of the game left. Rio is the outstanding reader of the game in world football among the central defenders along with Thiago Silva and Carvalho. And now you have these all heart all action defenders like Lescott and Terry. They are often exposed when their game reading partners aren’t there. We saw how Terry’s game has plummeted since Carvalho left Chelsea and is only picking up when Cahill joined as Luiz was just too raw. Lescott was similar when he didn’t play with Kompany. They will have to play Jagielka at this rate coz Terry Lescott could be a disaster. If Carroll can repeatedly make a mug of you in a single game what happens when you face Benzema and Zlatan??? The legend of John Terry may be finally unmasked

      Posted by Tafarell | 06/06/2012, 12:19
  4. Im following this Woy vs Rio & Richards saga! I can not wait till Thursday when Roy has to explain himself at a press conference. Roy insists it was all footballing decisions. Redknapp has already started putting his boot in for not getting the job ”If its just football, it’s difficult to leave Rio out because he’s just a fantastic player”. Robbie Fowler was more precise ”There’s not a chance Rio was left out of the squad for footballing reasons, not a chance”….”The public knows that too”. Oh yeah Rio also said ”nice article Ticha Pfupajena”.

    Posted by Ivan Mudzudzu | 06/06/2012, 10:45

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