Rio Ferdinand’s much talked about return to the England squad has taken a dramatic twist, with the Manchester United centre-back pulling out of selection for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
Ferdinand’s decision was taken following a meeting between the defender and Roy Hodgson in London on Sunday evening, where Rio is said to have stressed his determination to represent his country once again. The Manchester United man also claimed that he wishes to be considered for selection for the summer and autumn fixtures.
Roy Hodgson and Rio Ferdinand both gave short statements regarding the latter’s current situation to the Football Association’s official website.
Hodgson said: “I’m disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it’s not possible.
“However, I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.
“This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games – he can and has proven so. He’s out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme.
“I must place on record how I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future.”
Ferdinand said: “It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face to face and explain the situation, and one thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever.
“It is disappointing that I won’t be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future.”
Tottenham’s Steven Caulker has been called up in Ferdinand’s absence.
News of Rio’s decision was met with disappointment within the football fraternity, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain spoke to Sky Sports News in the wake of the announcement and the Arsenal star summed up his thoughts regarding the player and how it will affect the squad.
“It is really disappointing for us. Obviously, Rio is an amazing footballer.
“But the players that will come in and the players in the squad are more than capable to do the role and fill in with good quality and good experience.”
“I do not think there is any reason why he should not [have a future with England], he is an amazing player and has been for so many years.
“But, obviously, it is not for me to say. I am not the manager. But, for me, Rio is an amazing player and would be a great asset to the squad.”
Gary Lineker took to Twitter to acknowledge the significance of the news by tweeting:
“Strange way to bow out, but Rio was a superb player for England, who always rose to the big occasion. Did his country proud.”
Clearly there are two views seen above, one from within the England camp and one coming from outside. Lineker’s comments are a good example of how the news has been received by the media, that this could well be the end for Rio as an international player. If he cannot cope with the extra games now, there is little hope that he will manage to do it in the future (he is already 34 years of age).
It is argued in some circles that this could be a ‘revenge mission’ aimed at Roy Hodgson by Ferdinand as a result of the decision to axe the United defender from recent England squads. Clearly, it is difficult to take such a view seriously as this is a professional who always gave his all for his country; it is hard to credit the view that he wanted to end his international career in such a manner.
Ferdinand’s “Defending” Statistics for Manchester United – From 2010/11
Although Ferdinand has not started precisely the same amount of games across the last 3 seasons but these statistics should be considered as they have been taken from a minimum of 19 games in a season. They indicate that Rio has been fairly consistent in the Premier League defensively despite his age. “Footballing reasons”, a phrase famously coined by Roy Hodgson when describing the omission of Rio Ferdinand in the Euro 2012 squad; has often been linked to Rio’s age. When taking into account the numbers seen above, evidently there has not been a significant drop in his defensive performance’s over the recent past. That being said, there is a negative correlation between aerial 50-50 percentage wins, to age. That statistic aside, Ferdinand has been a fairly reliable stalwart in the heart of the Manchester United defence.
Ferdinand has been getting good and consistent numbers over the last few seasons when it comes to ground 50-50 wins, tackle success rates as well as successful last man tackles. The numbers also show that although he is capable of errors, they are far and few between.
Although a high proportion of Manchester United fans are also likely to support the English national team, there is going to be a feeling among those from the red half of Manchester that their club will benefit as Rio may well have to focus on his domestic form.