Unless you’re Stevie Wonder, blindfolded in a darkened room – you are simply not excused if you believe Rio Ferdinand’s Euro 2012 England squad exclusion is down to ‘footballing reasons’. Yesterday, following the withdrawal of Gary Cahill from the national squad through injury, new England boss Roy Hodgson called up Liverpool’s Martin Kelly from his stand-by list, (who has played two minutes of International football) rather than the experienced Rio, who is no doubt fuming with the latest snub. This blog is not to discuss what the England squad for Euro 2012 should be, but it will focus on the reason as to why Rio Ferdinand is not there – because of John Terry.
Rio Ferdinand has been one of the finest central defenders this country has ever produced. Criticism in his early career for lapses in concentration and lethargic passing (at times) were valid, but since his move to Manchester United in the summer of 2002 following an exceptional World Cup finals, he became the best centre half in the country. Comfortable on the ball, which allowed him to step into midfield, a good reader of the game and athletically superb. His eight month ban (following missing a drug test), refusal to sign a contract extension and injury problems have of course been big talking points in his ten year career with Manchester United, but his overall performance across the 398 games he has played has been top class. He has played played in 38 games this season (five more than Ashley Young, who is set to start against France in England’s first Euro 2012 fixture on Monday), so why did Hodgson declare that it was purely ‘football reasons’ as to why Ferdinand should not be part of the squad?
Fact of the matter is, its all nonsense. Rio Ferdinand is not part of the Euro 2012 squad because John Terry is. The Chelsea captain is accused of racially abusing Rio’s younger brother Anton in the fixture between QPR and Chelsea on October 23rd last year. This story has obviously been well documented, like the Evra/Suarez one, and will not be discussed in this blog – but one aspect will be, the trial. What buffoon decided to move to trial to after the Euro 2012 championships? Is it because John Terry was too vital to England’s cause that ethics shoot out the window? The trial was initially scheduled for March, but as Terry may be found guilty of racism – I guess it was too ‘risky’ to have him charged before the tournament. This decision was set in February, which was when Fabio Capello also decided to step down as manager following the removal of Terry as England skipper. Harry Redknapp was the favourite for the England job, but fast forward three months and Roy Hodgson is appointed. Was the fact that Hodgson – a well respected and knowledgeable coach – would be more of a ‘yes’ man to certain requests made? Would Redknapp have put up more of a fight for a player he brought through at West Ham? How can one man (John Terry) have so much of a hold over English football? Innocent until proven guilty? Agreed 100% – but why not move it to 2017 when John Terry will have retired so that it doesn’t hinder any football he plays?!
If we do look at the Football side of things, Rio Ferdinand has arguably performed better than Terry this season, despite his injuries. I came across a very interesting chart on Twitter that compares Ferdinand with Terry for the 2011/12 season (via @UtdView). So with these statistics in mind, can there really be any debate over the reasons as to why Ferdinand isn’t going but ‘JT’ is? In the absence of club captain Nemanja Vidic through injury, United needed a leader at the back and Ferdinand has aided the development of Evans, Smalling and Jones no end – can it really be for ‘footballing reasons’?
Again, if this had of been dealt with right away we would have a much clearer understanding of it all. However, if indeed Terry was found guilty, it would have put the FA in a spot of bother as it wouldn’t look good having a ‘racist’ associated with the national side would it? A farce. Absolute farce that he allowed to continue playing whilst the trial continues. Weren’t Woodgate and Bowyer dropped from the England squad whilst the trial was ongoing?
Why do people in this country say stuff like ‘great player, crap bloke’? Franco Baresi was a great player, John Terry is a good player but epitomises everything the English are known for and what has held us back over the years in developing talent. “He’ll run through walls for you” – thats great. We have focused (things are changing but we will not see the benefits for a generation yet) over the years (at all levels) in producing athletes and hoping that the talent will come through as they get older, which is fine for lower leagues, but what about when you get to the top? In my eyes, Rio’s elegant and graceful style is far superior to John Terry’s juggernaut impression? This isn’t about slagging off a player at another club, Marcel Desailly and Ricardo Carvalho were two of the best central defenders I’d seen – but both were eclipsed by Terry. Anyways, you get my feelings on Terry. A good player, but immensely overrated in this country and protected by the powers that be.
So Ferdinand misses out on a European Finals, most probably the last one he’ll ever play in and having missed Euro 2004 through his eight month ban and England not qualifying for Euro 2008, it is a sad end to his International career. What is worse is that he is missing the finals through not fault of his own. He isn’t directly involved in the impending racism case set for July 9th and it is quite clear that Roy Hodgson isn’t being entirely truthful over Ferdinand’s exclusion – so I would argue that he is justified for his ‘What reasons????’ Tweet yesterday and the statement released by one of his advisors. So some concluding points:
- John Terry is quite clearly the main reason Rio Ferdinand is not present in the England squad
- Rio Ferdinand has played in more games this season than a number of England players present in the squad
- Why was the trial moved to after Euro 2012, rather than dealt with before the tournament like any other case would have been?
- What hold does John Terry have over the FA that he gets so much protection?
“JT. Captain. Leader. Legend” reads the banner at Stamford Bridge. Really?