I doubt I was alone in my surprise at Wayne Bridge’s decision to pull out of the England set-up indefinitely. I had expected the City full-back to travel with the squad to South Africa and because of Ashley Cole’s injury he stood a decent chance of being a regular starter at the World Cup.
However, his decision to pull out is, in my opinion, not a particularly big problem for boss Fabio Capello. Granted, he was the most experienced back up to Cole the England side had but Leighton Baines and Steven Warnock have probably been performing better at Everton and Aston Villa respectively and the left-back position was still up for grabs.
What has really annoyed me is the amount of coverage this whole Terry/Bridge scenario has got from non-football circles. In this world of celebrity gossip and reality television it is no real surprise, but why must they then offer their opinion on the game itself?
On Thursday night I sat myself down to watch Question Time, right at the end of the programme some goon from the audience asked the question “Shouldn’t John Terry be the one who gives up his place and not Wayne Bridge?” Unfortunately I was not on that panel but if I had been my answer would have been something along the lines of: “No you cretin, neither has been forced to give up his position in the team by anyone other than themselves. Wayne Bridge is a very competent player but Terry is an awesome defender and our chances of lifting the World Cup will be far greater with him in the side.”
Politics and football should never mix, it is a bad combination but still nearly everyone on the panel gave their two cents. Even columnist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter stuck her oar in and said Bridge should go over Terry – then stated she had no interest in football anyway!
If we started insisting our footballers become scandal free model citizens before they could win a place in the national side we would be in deep trouble. Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Cole and Terry have all had ‘tabloid scandals’ blemish their careers but should we leave those players at home? Quite simply, NO THAT WOULD BE INSANE.
I accept that Wayne Bridge’s decision to pull out is a personal shame for him and it is sad he feels this is the option he must take. For a professional footballer to rule himself out of the national side in a World Cup year he genuinely must have felt he had no other option. However, for people who don’t follow football to comment on the game itself seems a bit out of order to me. On a final note – as far as I’m concerned player’s private lives should have no bearing on their place in the national side – to put this in perspective, no one has broken any laws.