Seeing Gerrard put Liverpool one up yesterday afternoon, it wouldn’t have been unfair of me to expect a full day of good footballing potential to collapse at the first hurdle. Once again we were being battered and outclassed by a Liverpool side that was not only yet to win a match this season, but also down to 10 men and still looking comfortable. City’s tough game against Arsenal would inevitably see them batter the Londoners and the usual doom and gloom would be restored.
Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, the day turned out a lot better than I’d originally imagined, and not only did we respond to the shock (it wasn’t a surprise at all but it certainly kicked us into action) of seeing Liverpool go ahead, but we actually managed to turn the whole game around and bring back our first three points from Anfield in a good few years. City fluffed their lead in the final minutes at home to Arsenal and although there’s absolutely no reason for it to be significant at this stage, it’s still nice to have a lead over them.
But the icing on the cake was certainly the news that the lion-heart of English football, and the king of penalties – John Terry – had chosen to retire from international football ahead of his FA hearing today into his alleged racial abuse of Rio Ferdinand’s brother Anton in a game between Chelsea and QPR last season. There are many suggesting Terry has “jumped before he was pushed” and it’s terribly sweet to see Terry admit defeat in such embarrassing circumstances, with something that obviously means so much to him.
The initial uproar from United fans over the inclusion of Terry in England’s team for Euro 2012 in Rio’s absence finally seems the right one. You can call me bitter, but you get a real sense that justice has been served and the heavily lamented decision by Roy Hodgson to take Terry to the European Championships, who at the time was still facing the charges, has been proven the wrong one. The uproar and falling-outs that followed the events over the summer will all be forgotten in due course, but the next few days will have a big effect on the future of Rio Ferdinand for both club and country.
With Hodgson stuck in a one-or-the-other situation with Terry in the team, the departure of the latter will surely see the former re-approach Ferdinand over the possibility of reigniting his international career. But the question remains over Rio’s intention to do so. Time and time again Ferdinand has been messed around by both the FA and England managers – the latest is the Euro 2012 squad snub, but other examples include the stripping of his captaincy by Fabio Capello for no reason (ironically in place of Terry who had originally lost the captaincy because he slept with Wayne Bridge’s wife), and the ridiculously hefty 8-month ban for missing a drugs test when more recent cases have seen players who have admitted to taking drugs banned for less.
Many ask why Ferdinand would even want to aid his country and an association that have treated him so badly, but the fact he’s yet to retire from the England setup creates the assumption that he’s keen to get involved once again. From a personal point of view I’d like to see him retire from playing for England purely because he’s injury prone, and the last thing we want is him bumbling around Wembley in an England shirt at risk of getting injured. Obviously it’s his decision at the end of the day, but I’d be very surprised if Ferguson didn’t, if he hasn’t already, try and persuade Rio from calling it a day on the international stage.
Regardless of Rio’s obvious personal intentions to play for England by not retiring from it all yet, I still have my personal doubts over whether or not he’d be happy to do so under the leadership of Hodgson. Remember, Hodgson chose a potential racist over him (and all the nonsense that comes with it), and then had the audacity to blame it on “footballing ability” when the general consensus is Rio is both a better footballer than Terry and was fitter at the time. Time will tell what the future lies on an international level for Rio, but one thing’s for sure – with Rio proving yet again how he’s yet to lose his magic touch with an excellent performance against Liverpool yesterday – the call will probably come. Lets just hope Rio tells them where to go..
Published with permission from The Devils of Manchester.