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to Rio Ferdinand is that through this whole process, Terry has always seemed untouchable and seemingly unable to be withdrawn from the England set up.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.