Saturday, October 6, 2012

Is Rio Ferdinand really too old?

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Rio Ferdinand was left out of England’s Euro 2012 squad for “footballing reasons” according to Roy Hodgson, although it is widely accepted that the England manager preferred John Terry and the two couldn’t be in the same squad following the Chelsea captain shouting “black cunt” at Rio’s brother. The fact Martin Kelly, who had struggled to get in the starting XI of the 8th best team in the country, got the nod ahead of Rio when injuries struck the squad, made Hodgson’s excuses about “footballing reasons” appear ridiculous.
 
Terry went to the Euros, although the FA decided to strip him of the captaincy. In hindsight, this was a good decision, given that the FA have since ruled that Terry did racially abuse Anton last season. The damage it would have done England’s reputation to have a captain who has been deemed guilty of racial abuse would have been huge. You could even argue that his inclusion in the squad at all hasn’t painted England in the best light.

In court, the chief magistrate concluded that Terry’s version of events was “unlikely” and that the not guilty verdict was given because “nobody could prove Mr Terry was lying“. The FA rule on a basis of probabilities, rather than beyond reasonable doubt, and their conclusion was he was guilty of the offence.
If Hodgson had his way, he would have likely chosen Terry as his captain, but unlike Fabio Capello, he wasn’t willing to use this disagreement as a way out of the job. Instead, he chose Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who went on to have a very good tournament for England. With Frank Lampard forced out of the Euros through injury, Hodgson picked Scott Parker to play alongside Gerrard in midfield throughout the tournament.
Terry was picked for all England’s games following Euro 2012 but he still chose to retire, bizarrely claiming that the FA had made his position “untenable” by persuing the charge against him. The fact that the FA had allowed Terry to represent England in the Euros, despite having a criminal charge hanging over him, made a mockery of Terry’s excuse. Essentially, he knew he was going to be found guilty by the FA and his ego couldn’t bear the thought of being kicked out of the squad, so he jumped before he was pushed. It might have been a bit hasty on his part though, considering Hodgson would have still wanted to pick him anyway, claiming that he “reluctantly” accepted Terry’s decision.
Since Terry’s retirement, discussion has been on-going as to who should replace him in England’s defence. There have been some calls for Gary Cahill to take up the spot, although he only gets a game for Chelsea when Terry or David Luiz are unavailable. Phil Jagielka is probably nothing more than a squad player but will still throw his hat in to the ring. Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and Phil Jones might be earmarked for the future. Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott is probably the strongest contender for the spot though.
Reports have emerged this morning claiming that whoever Hodgson uses at Terry’s replacement though, it won’t be Rio Ferdinand. Hodgson told fans on the tube that Rio’s England career had reached “the end of the road”. The player who was chosen as captain for England’s last World Cup two summers ago, is no longer in contention. “I have to say it is over for him and England,” Hodgson reportedly said. “He is pushing 34 and hasn’t played for England for a long, long time.”
Whilst Rio is still first choice for Manchester United, it’s hard to see why Hodgson would think his age prevents him even being an option for England, particularly when you consider Hodgson’s other team selections.
Lampard, Hodgson’s choice for vice captain, is 34-years-old, Gerrard is 32, Scott Parker turns 32 next week, Ashley Cole turns 32 this year and Gareth Barry turns 32 in four months time.
Hogson was found out as being disingenuous when blaming Rio’s exclusion on “footballing reasons” and now to claim that Rio is too old for England, when Hodgson’s chosen vice captain is older than him, is ridiculous.
Why Hodgson seems to hold a grudge against Rio is unknown, although even now Terry has gone, Ashley Cole remains in the squad, so there would certainly be friction if Rio was called up again. The Manchester United defender laughed at someone on Twitter referring to Cole as a “choc ice”, implying that he had betrayed his race in supporting Terry’s “unlikely” version of events in court, suggesting there is animosity between the two now.
Just as Hodgson didn’t want to admit that Terry’s racial abuse of Anton is what really kept Rio out of the squad, he is strill struggling to be straight about the real reasons behind Rio’s omission.
What’s wrong with a bit of honesty, Roy?

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