Monday, 18 March 2013

Only a Phonecall Away.

He's in the squad.
But he's not going.
He is going.
Now he's definitely not.

Not a moment too quick, the Rio Ferdinand and England drama has come to an end. The joke is, it could have all been prevented if Roy Hodgson had just bothered to pick up the phone. It's so simple, it's not even funny.

For months, the whispers to recall Ferdinand have got louder and the England manager finally decided to listen yet doing it in the manner that he did; hasn't done him any favours.

We can all agree that the defender currently playing for the Champions-elect is not the injury-hit player of 18 months ago. His performances and the injuries and inconsistency of others, means he fully deserves a place in the squad. If not the team.

It was clear that Ferdinand and the medical team at Manchester United had worked hard to find a system that allowed him to play regularly, without any serious problems. So it's curious that the England boss didn't think to contact the club and/or the player before calling him up.

Given the way the defender was left at home prior to Euro 2012, some may also feel an apology should have been on offer. He was clearly aggrieved by Hodgson's decision to more-or-less take John Terry's side, while there are also the 'football reasons' that have never quite been explained.

Sir Alex Ferguson's comments last week were no surprise. The manager has long been vocal that Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs' decisions to retire, helped them prolong their club careers. But as well as thinking about the best interests of his club, he is thinking about the best interests of his player. At the age of 34, the former Leeds star is in the last lap of his top-flight career, it is logical that he would also want to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

That is why it is understandable the player has pulled out of the double header against San Marino and Montenegro. Two games that require a fair amount of travel and also games that England should win without too much fuss. The decision to meet and explain to the manager, makes it hard for many to question Ferdinand's motives or doubt his commitment to his national side.

As for Hodgson, it could be said he won't come out of this so well. His subdued character is a stark change from previous national managers such as Fabio Capello, but it appears to be working well enough with two wins and two draws from four qualifying games.

But you have to admit, this situation could have been easily prevented. That much is clear. Hodgson or his team don't appear to be on the ball in regards to what is going on with English players. An area they should know inside and out. Surely that is part of his job description?

Maybe this is the time for the England manager to become more thorough, and make sure he knows exactly what is going on with the professionals who are available to play for him.

Because when or if things go wrong, he may end up looking like a bit of a bumbling fool.


  1. Rio Ferdinand indicated he was available to play for his country - and has done so ever since the Euros omission - so why would he/we then expect a phone call to ask if it was OK to select him? He's not footballing royalty - he's the same as Joe Hart, Gary Cahill and the rest - and no one is asking why or if they should get phone calls.

    As for him being left out of the Euros because Hodgson "more or less took Terry's side" that surely is palpable nonsense but admittedly adds tabloid style drama. Ferdinand (and Ferguson) indicated he couldn't play 2 games in 4 days so that basically rules a player out of an international tournament for the "football reasons" you say haven't been explained.

    Personally, picking Ferdinand is a pointless thing to do anyway. He can't play in the next WC (too old, can't play 2 games in 4 days) so consign him to the history books. That goes for that lumbering fool Terry too.

  2. Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Firstly, as we know, SAF says a lot of things that should have been taken with a pinch of salt and Rio not playing for England obviously benefits United. Curiously, Rio went though several months uninjured, post-Jan and actually played more games than Terry. Even more curiously he tried to call him up when Cahill became injured... As it is, he only ever used the term 'football reasons' which I think we can all agree is loose at best. That's not 'tabloid style drama', merely fact.

    Also, Hodgson had taken Terry's side prior to the court case, when he expressed that he would prefer that Terry was found not guilty... Prior to the evidence being heard. So not nonsense, more more facts.

    And it is not that Rio deserves a call over any other player. But as Jermain Defoe mentioned last week, Hodgson had contacted him to see how his recovery from injury was going prior to naming the squad. As players get older, many have different regimes they have to follow in order to maintain fitness, for instance Ashley Cole has to ice his ankles after every game. These are things an international manager should be aware of. I wasn't saying he should personally have called the player, but the England coaching team regularly call clubs to check on players. It is something that occurs regularly between club and country. So, not about a player being 'football royalty', just about the management team knowing what is going on with the players available to them.

    And age should be irrelevant when picking the squad. It should be based on form, and currently he is one of the best centre-backs in the league.. But, admittedly that is a personal opinion.