In the aftermath of Rio Ferdinand’s knee injury which has ruled him out of contention for England’s World Cup campaign in South Africa the media hailed it as some sort of crisis, but is he really that important for the Three Lions?
Personally I do not feel as though we will miss him all that much during the tournament. Yes, he is the captain, but was he the right choice after John Terry was stripped of the armband? I don’t think so, I’m glad Steven Gerrard is the captain even though I thought the decision over Terry was a knee-jerk reaction about press speculation over a non-footballing issue. Not condoning what the player allegedly did, but nobody is talking about it now and if we’re going to start punishing bad role models then most of the squad are doomed.
I’m not denying Ferdinand’s quality as a player and as a defender, but even his most ardent fans will have to admit that he has not been the same player over the last 18 months. Over the last season the Manchester United defender made just 21 appearances for the Red Devils as his campaign was marred by unfortunate injuries.
When Ferdinand was playing he was something of a liability as he never seemed to be able to regain his form and he did stupid things…like landing himself with a four-match ban following an altercation with Hull City’s Craig Fagan, of which the Man United defender was found guilty of violent conduct. His ban was originally three games, but after the FA deemed his appeal to be frivolous and it was extended further.
One positive that almost everyone can agree on following Ferdinand’s injury was that Michael Dawson of Tottenham got the chance to join the squad. Many believe that his original omission over an out of form Matthew Upson was a criminal decision and now he has the place he deserved on merit throughout the good season he has had.
Another positive is that Ledley King, who I believe is England’s most able defender (such a shame about his chronic injury problems) can partner up with Terry, who was likely to be the loudest voice in the back four with or without the captaincy and remains the most natural leader in the squad. Terry has come into some stick this season for his performances, whilst it was not his best year his form was nowhere near as bad as it was made out. Of course he had a few bad games (against Everton, Bolton and most notably at White Hart Lane), but he was fantastic in games like the win at Old Trafford and in the FA Cup semi final victory over Aston Villa.
Having the captaincy could also be a real boon for Gerrard, who has not been able to showcase the best of his talent for England due to being wasted in a role on the left. Hopefully having him as the skipper will highlight the fact we are not utilising his talents well enough, or that of Frank Lampard (new vice-captain). We ought to be playing Rooney as a lone striker with the Liverpool captain just off of him and Lampard through the middle to get the most out of our three best goal scorers.
As for Ferdinand, it’s no crisis for Capello that you’re injured (sorry, Rio) and the press’ insistence that it is a disaster is a hyperbole. Now if Rooney, Gerrard or Lampard got injured (fingers crossed they don’t) then that would be fairly catastrophic.