Representatives of England’s former captain Rio Ferdinand have this week heaped pressure on the Football Association and, in particular, England manager Roy Hodgson. They’ve suggested the FA have shown “a lack of total respect” towards Ferdinand, who has earned 81 caps for The Three Lions.
Ferdinand’s omission from Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad might have angered some fans, but as far as I am concerned Roy Hodgson has made the correct decision in refusing to call up the defender for both “personal reasons” and “footballing grounds” – the latter of which was the reason given by the FA for the omission.
John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were once a formidable central defensive partnership considered one of the best in world football, by pundits as well as players. Both players were playing regular Champions League and international football as well as winning Premier League titles, but those days are long gone. Ferdinand has lost the spark he had five years ago, but Terry seems to have remained consistent, putting in performances of the highest order for both club and country. It seems only right that Hodgson should select Terry ahead of Ferdinand, based on form over the last two seasons at least.
I also struggle to see why England fans have the right to suggest that Rio Ferdinand should have been called up to the squad after injury to Gary Cahill resulted in the Chelsea defender being ruled out of Euro 2012 and subsequently, England were a central defender down. When Roy Hodgson named his 23-man squad, Ferdinand was not included and the Manchester United defender was also not included in the list of players who were on standby, should such an injury occur. England, like every other team in the European Championships, must use the reserve list of players to alter their squad prior to the start of the tournament. Martin Kelly, the man who was chosen to replace Cahill, was on the list and as a result, was legitimately able to travel with the squad.
Finally, and most importantly, there would be the highly likely possibility of squad unrest and conflict between Terry and Ferdinand, amidst the former’s imminent court case for allegedly racially abusing Rio’s brother, Anton Ferdinand. Why would England purposely invite off-field unrest in order to please the fans? It would seem ridiculous for Hodgson to put himself in the impossible position of pleasing both the fans and the media. The media and the fans clearly wanted Ferdinand to play at Euro 2012, but imagine the flack Hodgson would have received if unrest had led to another under-par performance at a major championship. Roy Hodgson is an experienced manager and it’s clear from his actions in the last few weeks that he knows how to manage such a situation.
Regardless of whether Rio Ferdinand was called up to the squad or not England supporters and, in particular, the media would have pressurised the situation. Inevitably, selecting Ferdinand would have led to unrest amongst the squad and would have caused yet another dissapointing campaign. At least this way, England have a chance and Roy Hodgson’s integrity remains in tact.