Roy Hodgson has demonstrated that he has some teeth and is not afraid to make tough decisions. But was the decision to leave Rio Ferdinand at home during the summer that difficult? Ferdinand has not played for England since June 2011 – that’s almost a year ago. Furthermore, he has not had the benefit of a sustained Champions League run after Manchester United’s sloppy campaign in both that competition and the Europa League.
Ferdinand is under pressure at Old Trafford from team-mates Jones and Smalling, and even his manager, Alex Ferguson, went on record as saying that “#5” is not fit enough for tournament football.
Ferdinand has often been a controversial and seemingly arrogant figure. There’s no doubting he has been a more than decent Premier central defender and he has flickered brightly on the international stage, notably in the 2002 World Cup. But he’s often courted disaster – although no more than his back-line partner for England, John Terry. His own “watergate” when forgetting to take a drugs test, banned him from international football for eight months. But he came back well from that.
In recent years, his injury problems and time have blunted his edge and pace, although he played his part in United’s run-in in 2012-13.
But what has made up Hodgson’s mind may well have been the fermenting feud between Ferdinand and Terry, given the latter’s upcoming court case. Rio has every right to be aggrieved about the supposedly racist comments made by the Chelsea skipper to his younger brother, Anton. The case is a mess, but Terry will do well to come through it with his Chelsea and England careers intact. One feels that the latter will certainly come to an end for Terry after this summer.
There was talk of Terry being left out, but he has the experience and many of England’s squad for Euro 2012 are lacking in big-game knowledge. One had to go and it was the player with fitness issues.
As for Ferdinand, he may be Shanghai or Middle East bound. Now that would be something to write about in his #5 magazine. To quote Ferdinand, it would be “dope”.