In England there are currently issues of statements and attribution, reputation and public image. It is always the same before a major sporting event: the manager of the team will rarely have a moments rest because everyone else is an expert on their role and their personnel.
Roy Hodgson has his work cut out for him right now and must surely be in a malaise over his defensive selections.
Rio Ferdinand has been left out of the England squad for EURO 2012 while John Terry sits at the heart of defense. This seems abhorrent to many because of Terry’s past issues and because he has an upcoming racism trial after the tournament. This very trial relates to an incident involving Ferdinand’s own brother and QPR defender Anton.
Of course these two could not play together. It would result in dressing room anarchy and would possibly undermine any manager, regardless of how hardnosed and experienced they are. By the same token, then Hodgson must be allowed to make his decisions as the all powerful coach.
Then it is reported that Ferdinand has claimed that to exclude him is a show of deep disrespect.
The whole problem here is one of words being given credence. Hodgson’s words carry less sway with red-top newspapers than those of a hugely successful defender. Hodgson says that ignoring Ferdinand is a soccer issue. The player reacts by demanding some sort of levy based on reputation.
Hodgson has allegedly been supported by Sir Alex Ferguson claiming that Ferdinand cannot play back-to-back games in such a short space of time. Harry Redknapp has said he feels Ferdinand could get a game anywhere. Sven-Goran Eriksson has hinted at a populist conspiracy against Hodgson before the tournament even starts.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk…
The problem here is three-fold.
First: Rio Ferdinand has the gall to assume that because he is an experienced and successful player the figurehead of a whole nation –one he claims to love -is due him some sort of preferential treatment. Meanwhile Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick insists on being left alone and Micah Richards is putting his head down to work.
Second: John Terry is a character constantly compared to the worst in sport. He has achieved a lot, but the more that is revealed about him the less he appears as worthy of his lofty position. However, in law you are innocent until proven guilty. Of course it is a farce that his trial is so far off in the future and he may well be guilty, but he should not be omitted for a crime he is not yet guilty of. By all means drop him because he is a disruptive force, or at the very least make it clear that this tournament is one that Steven Gerrard is in charge of.
Third: Roy Hodgson must clarify his position before the fans wish him ill in favor of flash Harry’s overly publicized views.
The ‘footballing reasons’ must be made known. If he were to announce that he simply rated Terry over Ferdinand and it would be suicide to take both, then who should question the England manager? Terry is after all a great organizer even if he has slowed, whilst Ferdinand was always famed for his reactions, engine and touch. Hodgson need only say he wants one more than the other.
He must also make clear why he has called up a right-back to replace an injured Gary Cahill. Lay it out that Phil Jones is now a centre-back again and young Martin Kelly is to shadow Glen Johnson in case of injury.
The time for niceness is over. Winning at all costs is something England should concern themselves with. Expectations are not high anyway, so worrying about leaving a boot print on the toes of aging stars should not be so pertinent. Instead focus on building a future for England.