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Ferdinand must sharpen up

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Phil McNulty | 19:35 UK time, Saturday, 10 October 2009

Rio Ferdinand displayed a highly tuned sense of foreboding on the eve of England's World Cup qualfier against Ukraine when he admitted he has no guarantee of a place in Fabio Capello's squad for South Africa.

Ferdinand's concerns centred on fitness as opposed to form - as befits a player who was starting only his third England game in 12 months and had played just 14 of the last 40 competitive games for his country and Manchester United before this international.

Form and fitness go hand in hand at the highest level, however, and Capello's iron glare will be fixed even more firmly on Ferdinand after he was once again caught short as England's 100% record in World Cup qualifying ended in the hostile surroundings of Dnipropetrovsk.

Ferdinand's actual exclusion from England's squad is the unlikeliest of prospects unless he is struck down by injury again, but the pressure is mounting on a player for so long regarded as untouchable in the first-choice line-up.

Capello did not exactly laugh off Ferdinand's error that gifted the Netherlands a goal in the 2-2 draw in August, but he was uncharacteristically generous to claim defensive blunders from England in Amsterdam were "freakish."

He had more consoling words for Ferdinand after his latest aberration, but as the World Cup draws closer Capello will become increasingly unforgiving of mistakes that could wreck all his stated ambitions in South Africa.

Ferdinand was the man at fault when Robert Green claimed an unwanted place in history by becoming the first England goalkeeper to be sent off when he fouled Artem Milevskiy. The Ukrainian had escaped the attentions of Ferdinand, who was initially slow to react then unable to recover as he outstripped him to run into the area.

The unfortunate Green, playing for high stakes himself as the battle to be England's World Cup goalkeeper continues, took the rap but the villain of the piece was the dawdling Ferdinand.

The error was not punished as Andriy Shevchenko missed the resulting spot kick, but the wider context is significant and Ferdinand needs to up his game or face paying the price in a regime, unlike others before it, that does not play favourites or is shaped by reputations.

If Ferdinand is not exactly in a comfort zone, no-one ever is under Capello, then he is at least being cut some slack because of a lack of close contenders for his place. Matthew Upson appears to be his biggest threat, but as yet has not mounted a compelling case to oust Ferdinand.

Ferdinand's regular absences may just have taken a crucial edge off his mental and physical sharpness. He reduced Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to a hair-clenching, leaping figure of fury when an arrogantly misplaced flick gifted a late goal to Craig Bellamy in the recent Manchester derby.

Michael Owen's late winner allowed Ferdinand to wriggle off the hook, but there may be no escape at a World Cup, so it would be a major surprise if Capello does not make his point with force.

If Ferdinand demonstrates his true quality and maintains fitness, then he will form the cornerstone of England's defensive plans alongside captain John Terry. On this, and more recent evidence, he has ground to make up in both departments.

Rio FerdinandRio Ferdinand's error cost Robert Green dear

He was part of a sloppy England defensive performance that served as a timely reminder that work remains to be done before all the inevitable optimism that will accompany Capello's side on the plane to South Africa can be fully justified.

Allowances must be made. England had swept through their previous eight qualifying games with a perfect return - their job is done and they were confronted by a team with much still to fight for.

And it showed in the environment that greeted them, with the game twice being held up as flares were thrown on to the pitch, causing a hold up after only two minutes. Further interruptions forced referee Damir Skomina to threaten an abandonment and the Football Association to prepare an official complaint.

But there is still no place for the slackness on show defensively, particularly from Ferdinand, irrespective of England's successful campaign so far.

England captain Terry, and the outstanding Wayne Rooney were the two star performers, with even Ashley Cole dipping below the sky-high standards he has maintained for Chelsea.

For Green, the fall-guy for Ferdinand's failings, his prospects of starting in the World Cup were undermined by his failure to last the first 15 minutes, but there must be a measure of sympathy for the West Ham United keeper.

He was placed in an impossible position by Ferdinand and Capello will not let the red card count against him - but he saw rival David James take advantage of his misfortune.

James, seemingly Capello's preferred choice for South Africa, distinguished himself with fine saves from Yaroslev Rakytskyy and Andriy Yarmolenko and drew praise from the England coach.

England's fluency was affected by their numerical disadvantage and the early sacrifice of the pace and width of Aaron Lennon to compensate for Green's departure. Steven Gerrard's groin injury, which resulted in his substitution at half-time, did not help matters either.

Capello, however, will draw consolation from the way England dug in and survived long enough to have the home crowd anxious that a crucial win might be cast aside in the closing stages.

Rooney - how Capello must pray no misfortune befalls him - set a magnificent example with his tireless running and probing throughout, and if he had levelled affairs with a late show that flew inches wide, no-one but the Ukrainians would have begrudged him.

England's superb efforts in qualifying ensured there could be no serious harm done against Ukraine - but Ferdinand was given a sharp reminder of the cost of carelessness and the potentially prophetic nature of his words before the game.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Shame, as I think we're seeing the decline of a truly great player. As a United fan I hope he can get over these injuries, but it's been going on too long for that to happen in my opinion.

    From a selfish point of view I think a retirement from international football is called for after this World Cup in the hope of prolonging his United career.

  • Comment number 2.

    There is, clearly, something very wrong with Rio; whether it's a confidence issue or a physical problem, I'm not sure. He's 31 next month, not old, but I agree with #1, that it is possibly the time to retire from internationals.

  • Comment number 3.

    Who would take his place in the starting line-up? I'm not filled with confidence at the thought of Upson, Lescott or King being in England's starting line-up for the World Cup. We just have to hope that Ferdinand gets over these lapses in concentration - he's already managed it once before, a year or two after he joined Manchester United.

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree with keanesleftnipple. Lack of concentration AND loss of fitnesss surely must mean he must become second choice for England.

  • Comment number 5.

    I said on 606 Ferdinand would be the weak link before the game, he didn't prove me wrong. Although i think very few seem to doubt is ability, he hasn't played for Man Utd many times this season and he has concentration lapses. I know we were let off tonight, i would hate to see him made the villan next year if he does the same against Germany, Or Argentina or whoever Scolari is managing. We cannot place the sole blame on Ferdinand though, England were poor all over the park, indivdual performances deserve no praise. We win as a team and we lose as one. However on the plus side, id rather we get the mistakes out the way now than in a semi final or final of a World Cup.
    Aaron Lennon made no sense as a substitution but i think he deserves a starting birth on Wednesday. Up the England.

  • Comment number 6.

    Phil stop jumping on bandwagons.

    Rio has hardly played this season because of injury. He made a big mistake tonight.Is he suddenly a bad player?

    Who would you suggest as a replacement?

    Typical over reaction to a bad performance.

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Liverpool fan many will think I would jump on the idea of Mr Ferdinand been given the axe, but I don't feel he's been that in the last few games for England. Ok he's made some major errors over the past couple of games for England, but he knows what he has to do. I think many people are jumping on this to check if Capello will drop a top player, but when you see a striker missing an open goal they don't get the boot in the ass for it. Today Ashley Cole made an error which nearly led to another goal for the Ukrainians, but fortunately another man in the recycle-bin icon Glen Johnson saved him the embarrassment. So stick with him becuase Rio and Terry are the best we've got.

  • Comment number 8.

    First off It's sad to see the lapses are growing increasingly more frequent in Rio's game. As mentioned I believe his fitness is playing a part in that, the problem (for both Utd and England) is that he (when fit and in form) is so far and way the best person for that position that he is often rushed back from injury, when maybe a game or two with the reserves would be better.

    I disagree with the point about Greens sending off being all Rio's fault, yes Rio created the situation, but he didn't force Green to take out the Ukrainian! Green didn't have to bring him down in the area, it would have been better to go 1-0 down with a full team and have almost 90 mins to get it back together, than go down to 10 men for the same amount of time. IMO Green made the wrong decision.

    And as for the England defence generally Phil, how can you spend an entire article (almost) talking about it's weaknesses, then say Terry was one of the best players? he is 1/4 of the defence, not just that but he is the Captain, he therefore is supposed to be able to lead and others follow, to motivate, to pick his team up when they go 1-0, where was the guy who cut short the Chelsea goal celerbrations to have a huddle with the defenders? As far as I could see Terry provided no leadership at all tonight, apart from playing ok, and that is not near enough! Serious concerns remain about Glen Johnson, who was caught in posession more times than I could count, against top opposition he would have caused us to leak a lot more goals that Rio would. He is becoming a serious liability when he has the ball!

    Finally on a plus note, Rooney, cracking performance, he's in good form this season, and long may it continue to benifit both England and Utd!

  • Comment number 9.

    just a slip up. good to see the top performers mainly chelsea players.

    i for one an
    m not convinced about gerrards groin injury, probably just benitez sticking his fist in the pie and not wanting him to get tired.

  • Comment number 10.

    Unfortunately Rio has become error prone. It's a shame as he used to be a class player but his performances are on a downward spiral. England cannot afford his errors in the World Cup....

  • Comment number 11.

    are you guys crazy??
    ohh please, the guy has had a couple mistakes not even up to five and you say it is time for retirement! absolute overreaction!
    I'm shocked at the united fan who said "we are seeing the decline"...please! your telling me if rooney or torres have a ten match goal drought then we are seeing the decline?..please get real!
    yes maybe there are defenders who are english that are performing better than ferdinand and even terry at club level, but that does not mean rio should retire!

    the ignorance and naiviety!

  • Comment number 12.

    Rio is off the pace and lacking match sharpness, but also his desire doesn't seem to be there, not a good look when the World Cup is coming up. The goal began because of a mistake from Ashley Cole, also Terry lost the ball at times and Johnson was caught napping during other periods of uncertainty in England's defence. The whole team needs to sharpen up and be more solid as a unit if were to have any chance to win. We should taken Owen if he's fit, he able to get a goal out of nothing.

  • Comment number 13.

    Phil, England will still FAIL at the World Cup irrespective of Rio and Terry's fitness!!! I have always said it and wondered why Capello or any perspicacious soccer analyst that has followed Manchester United and Chelsea's games in the last five years to think - let alone suggest - of COMBINING Rio and John!

    First of all, I admire both of them - they are both dogged and resilient defensively; but conversely, at Chelsea, it is Carvalho that does the marking and dirty jobs in the defense, JT is only the last man! The same thing happens at OT, where Nemanja Vidic is the ruthless dog that hackles down the opponents terrorizing United defense, only for Rio to be the stopper, the sweeper. Thus, Rio is, just like JT at Chelsea, the master or the boss at the defense who commandeers Vidic, Evra, Brown or whoever plays with him at the defense.

    Everyone knows that the duo are BIG BOYS, with JT even referring to himself a "BIG MAN"! So, when both of them play together for England, who marks for who? Who anchors the defense? It is easy to assume that patriotism will make them shed the toga of their ego but how easy is it for a man to alter what he regularly does day-in day-out at his club side?

    Personally, I think both Rio and JT are in the same class but if Capello does not want England to travel to South Africa in 2010 as a mere participant, I think he should drop either of this duo and put someone else with a lower profile who can submissively do the job of tackling/marking for whoever is appointed/fielded to boss the defense - either Rio or JT.

  • Comment number 14.

    i've always seen ferdinand as an over-rated player.. i dont see why people are only realizing it now

  • Comment number 15.

    Injuries or no injuries, it's no excuse. You should expect some rustiness, that's fine. But this season, Rio has been nothing short of abysmal. I've seen him play three games so far (against Holland, Man City and Ukraine). In each of those games he's made a horrendous mistake, they're mistakes that even Titus Bramble has never made with such regularity and if he did, he would be absolutely villified. He's got to improve if he's to be the first choice centre back for the World Cup. I hope he does, because he's been a fantastic player, but he has to improve because Upson has done very little wrong to warrant being dropped.

  • Comment number 16.

    He's good. England didn't play their best, especially at the back, but were still worth a result, a bit unlucky. This internet viewing nonsense is a bit two-bob, maybe Phil, you should be giving out about that instead. If that's the future, God help England fans, well, those who can still see the games.

  • Comment number 17.

    poolfan8593 wrote:

    i've always seen ferdinand as an over-rated player.. i dont see why people are only realizing it now

    Yeah, you are right mate! No wonder Ferdinand - an "over-rated player" - has led United's defense to three consecutive league titles ( making it four titles since joining United ), two Champions league finals ( with one victory ), two Carling cups, World Club cup, etc!

  • Comment number 18.

    Whilst you're not wrong about Ferdinand's dip in form and lapse's of concentration tonight there's a whiff of individual persecution here. I quote "with even Ashley Cole dipping below the sky-high standards he has maintained for Chelsea". Bit of an understatement ! Cole was culpable for the goal that cost England the game and I remember a very similar incident against Kazakhstan (if you want to start dredging up previous incidents) quickly forgotten in the light of a comfortable win. Let's face it, England were just poor this evening, Ferdinand as off-colour as several others but not more so.

  • Comment number 19.

    Rio has arguably been one of our best performers at the last two World Cups, and to shoot him down now seems laughable at best.

    I'm not defending his performance; he was poor tonight, along with many others, and the spotlight will be on him for the next few games. But as Estesark above has noted, he's been through a phase like this before and come out of it a better player. He will again.

  • Comment number 20.

    @laughingdevil (10:12pm, 10 Oct 2009)

    I disagree with the point about Greens sending off being all Rio's fault, yes Rio created the situation, but he didn't force Green to take out the Ukrainian! Green didn't have to bring him down in the area, it would have been better to go 1-0 down with a full team and have almost 90 mins to get it back together, than go down to 10 men for the same amount of time. IMO Green made the wrong decision.

    The thing is, Rio had his hand on the Ukranian’s shoulder, trying to drag him back, and could have ended-up being sent off — in fact the Ref originally indicated Rio, in which case Green’s foul wouldn’t have counted. Had Green not come for the ball, England would still have been down to 10 men, with Rio being red-carded.

    For me, the more worrying aspect was Ashley Cole’s performance: you’ve lost the ball, you don’t have to scurry around like a rabbit in the headlights because there were others covering the area he ran into and, that ball was headed straight into James’ arms before Cole tried to head it out for a corner.

  • Comment number 21.

    Players should be picked for selection on current form and at the moment Ferdinand is not performing at an acceptable level for either England or Manchester United.

  • Comment number 22.

    Rio has been playing for Manchester United on reputation not form and now the same thing has happened with England. We all know he has been a great defender and should not be too old to keep competing. But neither England nor Manchester United can afford to keep playing him whilst he is making horrendous mistakes.

    He should not have played against Ukraine because he is not match fit and he is not playing well. If Sir Alex wants to risk Manchester United's season by playing him with the out of form Vidic then that is up to him. But Fabio Capello cannot afford to pay both Ferdinand and Johnston, you need at least one good defender on the right side of defence and if he continues to pick Johnston at right back he needs a stronger centre half along side him.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    Valuable lessons for Fabio;
    England get complacent very easily.
    England start to panic very easily.
    Green is not England's best goalie.
    Ferdinand is too old to be learning from his mistakes.
    Barry IS the man that makes the pieces fit.
    Johnson is not good enough defensively - his first responsibility.
    Heskey and Terry have played 57 times, Heskey has scored 1 more goal. Whilst his contribution to the team is excellent, can we afford a non scoring striker? Tonight showed his flicks to no-one are pointless.

    Being complacent was excusable, to a point, but why did it have to be compounded by silly mistakes? As Cloughie used to say 'football is all about good habits'.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    why are people slating Jt when its Rio who has made a fool of himself, i dont understand.

  • Comment number 28.

    Extremely repetitive and boring article. The point could have been made without the endless droning.

    Unfortunately Ferdinand is the best we have so far to partner Terry and unless something akin to a miracle happens before then, thats just not gonna change and we will do better to follow Lineker's, Keown's and Larenson's example on BBC today throwing our weight behind him and showing support than once again self destructing.

    Every team has a weakness and a chink in their armour. They choose not to go on about like the English who seem to enjoy this ludicrous washing of dirty linen in public.

    James is also clearly the best keeper we have now and we should stick to him. In other areas, I's swap Gerrard for Joe Cole, and Carlton Cole for Heskey and return Barry to midfield. I'm a United man but Carrick doesnt do it for me in that midfield like Barry. I would also prefer a fit again Hargreaves as back up in that position to Carrick

  • Comment number 29.

    Rio, please concentrate on your football and forget all that 5# magazine *@!!, plus other distracting occupations, there'll be bags of time for that in a few years. Mistakes, like your recent ones (tonight, City, , etc.), are in my opinion typical signs of lack of concentration. Enjoy your family, friends and football and give Man United, the fans, Old SAF, and England the focused, determined, class Rio of before.

  • Comment number 30.

    Ferdinand has always had lapses of concentration and his faults are highlighted in costing us goals in many games and I thought I was the only one seeing this until now.

    Whether its failure to close down or ball watching he gets noticed for it frequently from me, you cant say the same about terry, even though I dont think he is athletic he always keeps at the top of his game (which does have weaknesses) and he has hardly cost us any goals in games and his superior positional sense and awareness go un-noticed. Having said that, If I had a player like johnson on one of my defensive flanks I would be nervous and might be partial to make mistakes.

  • Comment number 31.

    England are finding their level.

  • Comment number 32.

    No.7 wrote: rather we get the mistakes out the way now than in a semi final or final of a World Cup.

    Ha ha ha ha. England will really struggle to get through the group stages!

  • Comment number 33.

    I personally think he is just not match fit. On his day, there is not a better defender in the country. This is a worrying relapse into lapses of concentration that blighted his earlier career, but he will recover I am sure.

    The problem for England is, there is literally no other defender that can realistically stake a claim for his spot.

  • Comment number 34.

    Can anyone confirm?

    Red card carries two match ban.

    FIFA have said that bans for accumulation of yellows will be waived for the World Cup, but bans for red cards will stand.

    Therefore Green will be banned for England's World Cup opener?

  • Comment number 35.

    "Valuable lessons for Fabio;
    England get complacent very easily.
    England start to panic very easily.
    Green is not England's best goalie.
    Ferdinand is too old to be learning from his mistakes.
    Barry IS the man that makes the pieces fit.
    Johnson is not good enough defensively - his first responsibility.
    Heskey and Terry have played 57 times, Heskey has scored 1 more goal. Whilst his contribution to the team is excellent, can we afford a non scoring striker? Tonight showed his flicks to no-one are pointless."

    Good concise post and all good points.

    Nevertheless, for me the most pressing is the one not on the list: we don't have a 'Shevchenko striker'.

    Let me clarify: forget his dreadful years at Chelsea, did you watch him play for Milan? As an Inter Milan fan I can say he epitomised every striker's dream: give him the ball, stick it in the net. 127 goals in 208 appearances for Milan, and 42 goals in 90 appearances for Ukraine.

    Not one of our players has mastered the basic art of striking: get in the right place, receive it, and guide it into the net by any means necessary. Rooney is a powerhouse extraordinaire but not Mr. Clinical. We don't have a 'goal converter'. Goal converters are what give you the constant flow of goals that consistently get you into the rounds that matter in trophies.

    We used to have them, one at a time. In recent times, first came Shearer. Then came Owen. Now we have no-one. We won't win the World Cup without one, and we need one fast!

  • Comment number 36.

    Everyone goes on about how there isn't anyone to replace Ferdinand (although i don't believe he should be dropped, but i didn't watch the game) but England do have an up and coming defensive star coming out of Bolton. Garry Cahill has been touted by Capello as the next best thing. Why does no-one ever remember him?! He deserves the chance. He's a top notch player and has lots to offer. I don't know how anyone can rate him over Ledley King who can play one game a week or Woodgate. Both are more likely to take over the world than finish a full game without injury!

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ferdinand's problem is fitness and the resulting lacking game time. He is irreplaceable and will keep his place, rightly, regardless of form. There is no other defender we could put in his place and realistically claim to be aiming to win a world cup. His form is a concern but as I said, it is down to a lack of match time. If he can stay fit he'll be back to his best.

    The most pressing concern at the back is Johnson, who while an effective attacking full back, simply can't defend. Green, regardless of whether he was at fault or not (I haven't seen it) is not good enough to play in goal for England.

  • Comment number 39.

    We lost only to hand ukraine a world cup place and knock Croatia out. Secondly we need to learn how to deal with bouncing back in case we get drawn against good opposition in the group stages. Bad loss but needed.

  • Comment number 40.

    Might i remind all you world cup dreamers that France and Italy both had ageing squads last WC and not a good form CF so winning world cups does not require the perfect squad.

  • Comment number 41.

    ferdinand had a poor game like ashley cole did (the guy who caused the goal) and alot of the england players, i think the only player that peformed was rooney. i think the game was a classic england performance that many of the players didnt look bothered. yeah ferdinard made a mistake but he and terry are the best english centre backs, and once he starts playing regularly he will cut out these mistakes.

    and people are saying players should be picked for their form for their clubs why is heskey in the starting 11 and even in the squad he doesnt even start for aston villa, hasnt even scored a goal this season.

    this game a perfect opportunity for other players to have a chance in a england shirt like carlton cole or crouch or even bent should have started upfront with rooney not heskey. and players like milner or ashley young should have started instead of gerrard or lampard. england have alreadly qualified and these games mean nothing and other players should be given a go but some of these players are not even in the squad like bent and young.

    i dont see why owen when fit shouldnt be the squad aleast he has scored goals unlike heskey.

    capello is really picking players on form isnt he!

  • Comment number 42.

    Ferdinand remains one of the two best centre-backs we have - the likes of Upson and Lescott are nowhere near him, even when he's in such poor form. He's had very little game time this season, so it's only natural he makes the odd error.

    The same, however, cannot be said of Glen Johnson, who yet again looked as solid as a rotting banana. Time and again he was nowhere to be seen when Ukraine were attacking down their left, and but for the indefatigable Rooney we'd have lost by more than one goal.

  • Comment number 43.

    Rio Ferdinand is NOT off-form or unfit. He has never been a reliable defender or one of the best in the world. He is simply a product of the domestic star system.

    He has and will keep his place beacuse the standard below him and Terry isn't high enough. He may be decent at physical play or heading the ball or hoofing, but his positioning is poor, his lack of pace is striking -more so as he gets older- and he is weak technically when the ball is played on the deck. And -as someone else pointed out- just like Terry he needs a sharp & classy partner to do all the dirty work for him, the pressing, upfield marking, most heading etc as he is sluggish and can't track back.

    The flaws aren't new as the press claim it to be (they always like a good scapegoat anyway); besides his 5 shockers this season, they were still there for everyone to see (and ignore) last season when he was fully fit and on top of his game.

    Against Hull when Mendy left him for dead not only in the incident he gave away the penalty but a couple more times.

    Against Everton when for some reason he started giving assists to the Everton midfielders and his blunders were to blame for 2 or 3 openings.

    Against Arsenal when Bendtner -who is by no means the best striker in the world- should have scored a hat-trick in the first half because of his positioning alone, enough said.

    Against West Ham and Blackburn when Carlton Cole & Santa Cruz (not the quickest forwards in the world) left him for dead a couple of times each.

    Against Boro (end of 2007-08 that) when an overweight Afonso Alves made him look like a fool time after time but United got away with it.

    Against Wigan (end 2007-08 also) when he handled the ball but got away with it due to a refereeing shocker (which was followed by 2 further shockers leading to his club winning the domestic title that day).

    Against Zenit when Danny with the ball on the floor had him going one way then the other and beat him single-handedly with remarkable ease (in this one it's like Rio is dancing the Zorba).

    Against Inter away when he totally lost Ibra and had to pull him down from behind but wasn't given and then was caught out of position playing him onside & through on goal but was spared by another refereeing shocker.

    Against Barcelona when Messi & Puyol as short as they come were evading him and getting free headers against him.

    But I suppose these are for people who understand football, not those who come on a site every other week read a piece full of irrelevant or tabloid nonsense most blatantly written to stroke ears and reply 'excellent blog Phil'.

  • Comment number 44.

    Rio Ferdidnands recent form, particularly his blunders against Ukraine earlier and the rather careless one against Bellamy a week or two ago is of pressing concern to all England fans. I rate Ferdinand as the best central defender of his generation (as good as Sol Campbell was when at his peak). John Terry is a no-nonesense defender who is always fully committed but no where near as good a footballer as Ferdinand can be. And that's the crucial bit. Can Ferdinand rediscover his form and hunger to prove his critics wrong?

    I genuinley hope so but every blunder and below-par performance from Ferdinand is only gradually confirming that he is beginning to be considered very average rather than as the 'world-class' tag he has often been labelled with. I've had this suspicion for over a year that Ferdinand's career is in decline despite nearly a decade of consistency and good fitness. If he is still failing for Man U by the new year, other alternatives must be considered by Capello with Gary Cahill an excellent candidate and Upson not bad either.

    Can England lift the world cup without Ferdinand? Of course! What about without Gerrard? Why not? And the over-hyped but admittedly talented beast himself? For sure we can. This garabge I've been hearing that England's chances of success lies firmly on Rooney's form and fitness has been really irritating me. Rooney is potentially a match winner but so are Defoe and Crouch if given the chance.

    Yes, it will be harder to break down tough opposotion without the tireless energy and the timely burst of skill, movement and flare Rooney is capable of, without Ferdinands pace, ball control, strength and calmness (he's obviously lacked these in recent games) and even without one the most respected match-winners playing professional football today; Gerrard.

    Lastly, to all those who have been berating England's performace, calm down and stop reading the red-tops. Read a broadsheet newspaper for a change and you might discover more balanced reports that don't preach hatred and disgust as an automatic reaction to an England loss. This game was effectively like a cup final for Ukraine whilst for England it was more of a friendly. I understand it's a unique feeling not needing to chop up thousands of trees (for papers etc) just to hype up the make-or-beak last qualifier as this has often been the norm for over a decade but just enjoy and be thankful we are not in Norway's position! ( see and scroll down to Group Nine Table)

    I for one don't see tonight as an outright failure but more like a wake up call and hopefully an important component of the learning curve England's squad have experienced under Capello. We can use the negatives positively to enhance rather than subside our hopes of success in South Africa.

  • Comment number 45.

    in my opinion Rio is a good organizer of his defense at club level, but this is a job JT does with England. He is 31 soon and it is time to look beyond Upson and Lescott. Micah Richards is the solution still I feel... Don't forget Johnson is known for his threat on the attack, he is an average right back... but what he is known for he does well, I support Liverpool and I feel he is a good asset to have, however do England need an attacking right back with players such as Lennon, Walcott and SWP... not forgetting Beckham who can give a perfect delivery which is something the other 3 lack, but make up for in pace. Liverpool have a striker pretending to be a winger each week. Glen makes the role his own.

    I bet Capello wishes former managers hadn't treated Carra the way they did, I'm sure he would be a very useful player...

  • Comment number 46.

    RIo will be in SA

  • Comment number 47.

    Just to add, Heskey who I've never rated highly gets a lot of stick for his not so profilic goal-scoring record but a lot of praise for being apparently 'indefatigable'. Can anyone see the similarities with Mr Rooney? Yet, Rooney is the golden boy who Pele himself rates highly so it doesn't matter that you keep failing to fire into the net Wayne, just keep firing wide and showing the doggedness of a butchers dog. England must start with a striker regardless of whether this pushes Rooney onto the bench or behind a striker. If Theo Walcott keeps fit and dazzles in the manner we know he is capable over the next few months, he's our man to fill the void of a match winning striker. The great thing about England's current squad I believe is its potential flexibilty with many players capable and comfortable in difeernt positions. This blessing should be utilised to enhance our play.

  • Comment number 48.

    Ferdinand is becoming a bit unreliable. This error following his howler in the Manchester derby casts some doubt over his previous automatic inclusion in the England team.

  • Comment number 49.

    although i like rio and think he is a great player and easily a first 11 player for england you have to wonder what kind of stick someone like upson would be in for had he made this and the dutch mistake just compare the criticism of johnson recently for england and actual mistakes made. no sympathy for Rio he needs a wake up call if lescott or upson are not to take his place

  • Comment number 50.

    The main reason of this loss is to remind one small Balkan country with red and white checkered shirts what pain of not reaching a major tournament is all about. England was entering the match, subconsciously keeping in mind the events of 2007. In football as in life everything always boomerangs on you. As for Rio, who's a better alternative at the moment? Experience is what matters at a World Cup, and Rio has it in abundance. Mistakes do happen sometimes, but who can guarantee that Upson or King or whoever he is won't make them?

  • Comment number 51.

    There is merit in the astute observation by #13 Professor that Rio and Terry are similar in type; both tend to be the last pillars of defence at their own individual clubs. And so, leaving the dirty work upfront to a Vidic or a Carvalho respectively has become a part of their psyche. The ingrained attitude gets translated into their performance when they play together for England, as both strive for the same end product.

    Even so, some of Rio's lapses in concentration leading to heavy toll on the team have occurred in this putative avatar of him, and with alarming frequency. #43 nibs has researched out and listed some hard facts that highlight Rio' remissness.

    Rewind to the recent Derby against City. The kind of pillion ride Bellamy gave him for a good 30 yards and also beat the goalkeeper in scoring that rare goal, left me in no doubt that defensive powers supposedly owned by Rio were on the wane or had already become a myth. If the Owen goal had not papered over the criticality of situation for ManU, Rio would have seen no end to the coals any defender would be hauled over for a crucial faux pas.

    I should be loathe to write Rio off, but there is no escaping the fact that his confidence as an immovable object in defence is too seriously undermined for England to gloss over any longer.

    There has to be a reappraisal. Rio may be the 'unlikliest' to be replaced but it is no more unthinkable that England are carrying some feet of clay in the squad.

  • Comment number 52.

    If we are going to lose your first competitive game, then lose it with lots of excuses: down to 10 men, hostile atmosphere, no real need to win.....
    But quality teams rise above this and eak out wins or snatch draws. We need Alex Ferguson on the sideline tapping the watch.

  • Comment number 53.

    Rio's been overrated for years!

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree with #52 saudiscouser, England have no scope to look for alibis for the disreputable loss. A serious analysis is order of the day.

  • Comment number 56.

    Its Time England finds a better defender, Rio has never been good, see the amount of England Losses and link that to defence errors , one will know he was a very bad defender altogether Playing for MAN U is different with a cover like VIDIC and of course JT is overrated.and for Rooney , he is alright not a real big threat to any team playing in the WC 2010,mind you CUPello is enjoying the limelight shed by the English Media on him, Come July 2010, he will be sacked and then complaint how bad the English Team is, HISTORY REPEATS , So will it in 2010.

  • Comment number 57.

    Ferdinand will be fine once he has got a run matches under his belt. He is one of the best defenders in the world when fit.
    As for post 56.You are joking right?

  • Comment number 58.

    …Hi Phil,

    I’m a South African and I always read your blogs…
    I don’t really agree with this one really. From a outsiders perspective, I must say that England fans (particularly the one’s living in England) tend to overreact big time!.
    I understand that there are high hope’s for England but please we need to stop being so over critical. Ferdinand needs to be supported, he needs the backing form the manager and us. I think it’s very unfair to all of a sudden put such big focus on Ferdinand as “playing horrible”. It’s shocking really. If you had said “injury problems a concern for Ferdinand” then granted, by all means he has been hampered by injury of late and him being such a key player for both united and England it’s obvious the lad is being rushed back way too soon. You always here of him being out for “many weeks” but he’s always being rushed back too soon. Besides lets be honest there is no real “2nd choice” defenders pushing hard to take his place. Ledley King is great when he is fit but let’s be for real, if he manages three games for England in a row I will be happy to give any of you my life savings!

    Let’s support Ferdinand lads, he needs our backing because we know, a fit confident Ferdinand is any strikers nightmare!

    Ask the big Drog, he’ll tell ya!...

  • Comment number 59.

    Good blog for once. Ferdinand has been struggling with fitness and form at United since the back end of last season. We have seen him go through these spells of poor concentration and slackness several times in his career.
    He obviously has the quality to go to the world cupk, but Capello will not tolerate any passengers, so beware the likes of Beckham, Ferdinand and Cole!

    It is worrying that the defence is still shaky, let's face it, England haven't exactly been tested by top-class attacking outfits. They were played off the park by Spain in February and Capello will be worried that nonchalence and lack of tactical awareness and discipline have cost England in the past. If England really are to win the World Cup, they must prepare meticulously, no WAGs, and punishment meted out to players who are not fully committed.

  • Comment number 60.

    As For post 56?..Absolute bonkers mate…Ferdinand & JT overrated? Never been good? Rooney is okay? What are you smoking my friend? I want some of that…Capello is one of the best managers in the world…Limelight?’s fans like you England DO NOT NEED!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Mr McNulty is not over reacting. He said Ferdinand needs to sharpen up, and that is true. He hasn't suddenly become a bad defender, but he needs to remember every game is crucial.
    I agree with post 58 - support Ferdinand and get his confidence back.
    It was his mistake that created the penalty situation, but (as someone said earlier) it was Greens mistake to 'take out the attacker'. He had to come out, but should stay tall, try and force the player wide. If he scored, no problem - we can come back. But only if we still have 11 on the pitch! Bad goalkeeping decision.
    Ferdinand can recover and play well again. But as for Carrick! The guy can't pass accurately enough at this level. Having lost one midfielder due to the red card and then Gerrard through injury, Carrick needed to put in a good performance. He failed badly.

  • Comment number 62.

    Debate about Rio Ferndinand notwithstanding, why, oh why, did Green rush out like that? I think in this instance he got an unlucky bounce causing him to completely miss the ball, but always in this one on one situation the keeper is in great danger of a red card, and although the penalty was missed last night, his side will more than likely be a goal down as well. Why not (especially in the 14th minute when your team has recently been on fire) just hang back from the striker and take your chances with his shot? OK, he is likely to score, but you won't be on the bench, and your "on fire" team has 75 minutes to get the game back.

    Heat of the moment, I know, but these guys are professionals and should be able to make that kind of decision.

  • Comment number 63.

    Apologies for being repetitive. I see that laughingdevil has already made my point.

  • Comment number 64.

    Rio needs to work on his concentration and this is his major weakness.

  • Comment number 65.

    I'm not surprised Rio is taking some stick over last night but this element of complacency has always been in his game. He is often seen standing ball watching expecting his partner to deal with situations instead of covering like top defenders do. I feel he is also beginning to lose some of his pace and with an already slow partner in John Terry it can leave England vunerable. This combination is bad in an 11 a side game but when you are down to 10 men there is no option of being able to play 3 at the back. Ferdinand is shaky, Terry lacks pace and niether fullback is solid enough. At least last night will have revealed this to Capello hopefully he will address it before the tournament.
    Couple of other points worth mentioning from last nights game With Johnson arguably our most potent threat perhaps we could switch to a 5 at the back injecting some solidity into the centre of defence allowing the width to come from Cole and Johnson. And Wayne Rooney an improving player without doubt, but, despite all his running around, for which he is much praised, he still makes fundamental errors, poor decisions, gets caught in possession and is largely ineffectual which can make those around him also look poor. Another situation for Capello to ponder upon.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think you would see a huge improvement from Rio and other defenders if England could put a world class keeper between the sticks. Currently, they don't have one.
    Ill timed challenges horrific ball handling and dithering over crosses when the pressure is on would not inspire me with much confidence.

  • Comment number 67.

    I think it is worth noting that Rio's brain tends to go walkabout in games of little importance (such as this one) or against supposedly inferior opposition for both club and country. I have never seen him put a foot wrong at a major championship for England and I really don't like the idea of Upson (functional at best) or Lescott (he let Darren Fletcher score twice!) filling his shoes.
    That said if King were fully fit I would put him in ahead of Rio and Terry as he truly is a superb centreback, it's just a shame he always ends up as leftback on the medical table. It's also suprising that no one's mentioned Jagielka who was in superb form last season until he was cut down by injury as well. As long as everyone is fit, I doubt we will be wanting in this department in 9 months time.
    Anyway, anyone expecting a clanger from Rio in South Africa next year will be severely disappointed, so lets move on from this and worry about more important things like who's going to partner Rooney and that we still don't have a left winger who's better than Stuart Downing...

  • Comment number 68.

    This is a shocking article and an over-reaction to a bad overall England performance. C'mon, singling-out Rio for what went on in this game is ridiculous.

    #20 Agree with you that Green should also not escape scott-free for his decision. It's incredible that this article puts all the blame on the shoulders of 1 defender. Get real.

  • Comment number 69.

    Ferdinand has lost whatever he had that fooled people into thinking he was any good. Theres no way Capello should take him to the world cup. The best choice to replace him, when fit again , will undoubtedly be Phil Jagielka. He was the one of the players of the year in the premiership last season but as usual was ignored by the media because he doesnt play for one of "elite" few clubs. He quick, strong and his tackling is perfectly timed every time! Lescott is too slow and panics too easily, Upson is hopeless and King cant be relied on to even be fit! On the same note, Ashley Cole is a ridiculous liability and Wayne Bridge just isnt good enough. Give Leighton Baines a chance to show what he can do! Superb deliverer of the ball, quick, error free and actually knows how to defend!

  • Comment number 70.

    Post #68...Thank You!!...blaming rio for 1 error is stupid coz then you might aswel blame rooney(who has been awsome) for not scoring!...some of you lads comments are a bunch of nonsense and it makes me wonder if you know anything about football...

  • Comment number 71.

    This is all a bit too depressing for a Sunday morning. Yesterday wasn't great, far from it but it is by no means time to start lapooning all and sundry. Ferdinand was poor but he hasn't got going this season. If he can string a few games together he'll be back to his best by Christmas. I really don't see this as a concern.

    People also seem to be worried about the midfield. We have 2 world class players about to make their returns in Joe Cole and Hargreaves. As long as fitness allows, they would be in my starting XI for the WC. England have quality cover in all positions so please let's stay positive!

  • Comment number 72.

    “and of course JT is overrated.”

    Despite a long catalogue of injuries and usually playing whilst carrying at least one injury JT has still managed to be named EUFA defender of the year 3 times in the past 5 seasons, including last season.

    That award is judged by people who know something about football.

  • Comment number 73.

    John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are the best England has got. If the next centre-back doesn't turn up, England is at risk. If R Ferdinand doesn't improve, be it his physical condition or his concentration, England is at risk.

    England is amongst the favs for the World Cup but there are too many factors involved from now till then and also during the tournament. In the last World Cup, the ultimately winner i.e. Italy had Cannovaro the Captain playing magnificently in the central defence. But Italy also brought along a "less-known" flank-back called Grosso who hit form at the right time.

    Whilst England needs her regulars, we wish England could also call up some other players who could surprise.

    Good luck!

  • Comment number 74.

    Who's TV market is larger? Croatia's or Ukraine's?

  • Comment number 75.

    We lost a game against opposition that was desperate for the result. Mistakes were made all over the park. Nobody has even mentioned Ashley Cole losing the ball and then heading the ball into his own net when james had the shot covered. Or lampard over running it when he had a chance to shoot. It is unfair to single out Rio for his mistake. That said, I do think that ferdinand suffers , as do many footballers, from over confidence. Capello I am sure will remind him of his responsibilities and give him chance to improve. We have not gone from world beaters to also rans because we lost a dead rubber in a hostile environment.
    Capello will get more from this defeat than if we had won. How a team reacts to going a goal down is what determines champions. We will meet better oppostion in SA and we will lose goals to mistakes.
    Personally I thought Capello got the sub wrong. Lennon should have stayed on and Heskey come off. lennon would have been a great out-ball and Heskey didn't hold it up well anyway. We could have stretched them much more and created the space for rooney etc to work in.

  • Comment number 76.

    #56 Tell me you're having a laugh? If you're not, I want a glass of whatever you drank last night...

    As someone pointed out earlier, never mind about JT and RF for next year, what we should be concerned with is the defending abilities of Cole and Johnson, along with our no.1 position.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm getting genuinelly concerned for Rio. On one hand I feel he still has a lot to give and I respect him for all he has done for Man United and England, on the other hand, I've noticed that everytime he has the ball (or is about to have it) I get very very nervous, meaning that I don't trust him as much as I used to. In the past 2 months he has made 3 big mistakes (against Holland, City and Ukraine). These mistakes, however, weren't crucial for England (1 friendly, 1 almost a friendly) nor for United (because of Owen's winner), YET!
    I really hope he pickes up his game and starts to learn from his mistakes.

  • Comment number 78.

    To summarise what others have said more eloquently than me.

    Name one defender better suited to the job than Rio himself.

    Now give me your personal guarantee that this person will make less mistakes per game than Ferdinand.

    No? Didn't think so.

    Mistakes. Things that human beings make. Deal with it.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm much more worried about Ashley Cole. The deflected header was just bad luck but losing the ball on the edge of the penalty area was not. In his last ten or so England games I can't count the number of suicidal passes he's put in - and not a few of them have led to goals conceded.

  • Comment number 80.

    Like most Blogs this is a tedious blurb that could have been condensed to about 2 paragraphs. Fact is that Ferdinand has always been overrated , probably past his best, not match fit and is off form. Simple as that.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    To poster 6 Red Knight and others. I have not said Rio Ferdinand is a bad player, in fact I state quite clearly: "If Ferdinand demonstrates his true quality and maintains fitness, then he will form the cornerstone of England's defensive plans alongside captain John Terry."

    But he has been making mistakes recently and I do wonder if his injuries have contributed to lack of mental and physical sharpness. That can come back in time but Ferdinand does, as I have said, need to sharpen up.

    I agree with the points about a lack of alternatives. Gary Cahill seems to be mentioned by several, and after speaking to him on Wednesday he is certainly a confident individual who would not feel over-awed. I am sure he will get his chance at some point, but I have to say he still has a long way to go to threaten Ferdinand.

    But we cannot simply ignore the mistakes that have crept back into Ferdinand's game. He has to address them - or Fabio Capello might be tempted to address them for him to give him a jolt before the World Cup.

  • Comment number 83.

    Looking for plusses.....bye bye Croatia! Every cloud etc

  • Comment number 84.

    Ferdinand never has nor ever will accept playing under John Terry as captain. Terry's at the top of his game and is not going to be dropped, so the only solution is to drop Ferdinand. He could single handedly wreck England's chances at the world cup. He is a sulky player, and a few minor errors from him in crucial games is all it will take to sink England's ship.

  • Comment number 85.

    re: 13. Hey Professor, 'soccer'? You must be an American. Let me say this - England stand a better chance of winning the cup than your country ever will. You better hope you don't come up against us because we'll send you home packing. I predict a three-and-out for the Americans next year (i.e. what they always do - overhype themselves, and then choke).

  • Comment number 86.

    Ferdinand has been out of sorts all season. I want to see Upson partner Terry on Wednesday. His continued presence in the starting line-up will cause problems especially in tight games with few goals. Ferdie can mark no one. It be a nightmare against the likes of Torres if he does Vidic's job at ManU. Errors against Holland, Man City and now Ukraine are unacceptable. Remember Malouda against him in the Community Shield some years back and it was terrible for an England No. 1

    Ash's national form ain't quite the same as club which gives some problems. Hope Wayne Bridge can give him a run for his money with more stellar performances.

    Heskey's continued presence and Bent's absence really beats me. How can Heskey and Terry be competing for goals. Capello's selections trouble me and at the world cup you wouldn't be playing the likes of Azerbaijan or Belarus but the Brazils and Spains.

  • Comment number 87.

    This world cup is going to be one of the most difficult tournaments to win because of the weather,and so when I hear fans and the media going on about how England are going to win the world cup or how we are one of the favourites I feel very wary.
    Anyone who has lived in Africa will tell you the heat is not no sportsmans best friend and as such the country that will win this world cup must have a team that is extremely fit,besides the pitches are going to be harder than anything England have ever come across.
    The whole defense line of England including the goalkeepers give a lot of concern to me,and though I am hoping and trying to be optimistic,I am really not confident with Rio's fitness,or Cole and Johnsons defending.As for the goalkeepers....what can one say?

  • Comment number 88.

    I am a Liverpool fan I think Ferdinand is our best Central defender. Like David James he is prone to lapses of concentration, but he and John Terry need to be fit and in place for South Africa, maybe there is a problem with injury that is having a knock on affect to ferdinands form.
    I am a little concerned capello played Heskey instead of cole. Herer was the perfect opportunity to see if Carlton is International class, and to get some experience under his belt.

  • Comment number 89.

    First of all, I admire both of them - they are both dogged and resilient defensively; but conversely, at Chelsea, it is Carvalho that does the marking and dirty jobs in the defense, JT is only the last man! The same thing happens at OT, where Nemanja Vidic is the ruthless dog that hackles down the opponents terrorizing United defense, only for Rio to be the stopper, the sweeper. Thus, Rio is, just like JT at Chelsea, the master or the boss at the defense who commandeers Vidic, Evra, Brown or whoever plays with him at the defense.

    Absolutely 100% correct. For a long time I thought that I was the only one in the country who saw it that way. If England want to cut it in the WC we have to replace one of these. They are both great organisers and motivators, but neither does the dirty job. JT in particular gives himself a free role which allows him to make last ditch spectacular clearances which makes him look way better than he actually is. 1-on-1 he is almost always lacking and I am surpries why the the pundits have not noticed this. Rio is the better of the two and for me, he should be in SA next year, but he should attack the ball and tackle instead of running around lazily like he so often does. He probably thinks of himself as a great reader of the game but I doubt it. Like mentioned, there is no Cavalho or Vidick to 'do the dirty job'.

  • Comment number 90.

    England have done fine without Rio in recent games.

    This game ultimately shows Englands weaknesses.

    The teams in this grouping are very weak, England will not have such an easy ride in S Africa.

    It amazes me that pundits & experts can talk up England so much when so little has actually been achieved.

    This World Cup grouping is like Man U playing teams from Division 2 or Vauxhall Conference, so anything but a win is embarassing.

    To measure Englands capabilitys based on results from this grouping is a ridiculous notion in itself

    I just do not understand the basis of picking the players, especially for this game.

    When you have winning capability, you dont keep changing it, you test the same against all comers & against better teams. If a top player wasnt included in a winning team, then tough, you make them wait until actually needed.

    Fabio Capello's constant tinkering has shown results, but then he tinkers again & ends up with misfiring results.

    The muppetish remarks from players about learning from mistakes is embarassing. These silly mistakes should NOT be made & especially no where near as regular as they are. They are supposed to be professionals, most professionals in many walks of life are just not allowed to make so many mistakes, which is why they are described as professional, because their standards are exemplory.

    To call these footballers professional, is an insult to every other known profession.

    I am dreading the World Cup, dreading enevitable embarassment.....again.

  • Comment number 91.

    Rio is a great player and is not exempt dips in form. There is plenty of time for him to regain his form before the world cup. To be honest its the least of Englands worries. Who's gonna be between the sticks? And Johnson cannot defend, lets be fair. Alongside that who is gonna play up front with Rooney?
    Phil, I'm sorry but you press guys can't tell everyone its a nothing game and then write columns damning the team after this defeat. Get a grip, because England are not destined to win the world cup not with this team.

  • Comment number 92.

    Re #87


    The World Cup matches will be played when it is winter in South Africa. The problem will be altitude not heat.

  • Comment number 93.

    This is laughable! After qualification and 8 straight wins it was "Capello says England can win World Cup" from Phil and the hype stsrted.

    Now, in a dead rubber for England where they played most of the game with 10 men it's let's look for the scapegoats time.

    Ferdinand has started 4 of United's 13 games this season and is not yet match fit or on the pace. I haven't heard too much criticism of United's defence over the past few seasons when they have been about as good as anything in Europe. Rio was a vital part of this.

    Over-rated? Finished? Complete nonsense and a total over-reaction.....but then with England fans we get used to it!

  • Comment number 94.

    It seems that Rios woes are turing full circle, with him now making glaring errors as often as he did at the start of his career, surely one more major mistake for club or country will see him dropped.
    Who to replace him?
    The choice isn't just Upson, England also have Lescott and even Bramble, who before everyone says he's rubbish, has been the rock of Wigans very good defence over the last few years and has hardly put a foot wrong since leaving Newcastle, something that can't be said of Rio over the last 2 seasons.

    As for the comment "Allowances must be made. England had swept through their previous eight qualifying games with a perfect return - their job is done and they were confronted by a team with much still to fight for."
    I thought these were highly paid professionals Mr. McNulty, players with dignity and respect for the paying fans, both of us can't be right on this point.
    So, do the players have any self respect and respect for the fans, or do they just not care as long as they get paid?

  • Comment number 95.

    well wonderfulreality thank you for the extended definition of 'professional'.. surely it is the other professional's profession to make the other professionals not to professional? haha

    am i making silly excuses for england or is it a bit ridiculous having to worry about getting a flare in the back of the head during a football game?

  • Comment number 96.

    I am surprised at how Green is being played as some innocent victim. If Milevskiy was through due to a brilliant ball then brought down, would we still be playing Green as innocent? Definitely not! He'd be in for a lot of criticism. 15 minutes into the game, the last thing you want in that scenario is a penalty and red card for your keeper.

    Green was no where near the ball and shouldn't have committed. If it was intentionally bringing down the player, well that's even worse. To me that shows that he just isn't up to this level.

    (And yes Ferdinand has been very worrying, but hopefully he'll get it together over the next 6-9 months)

  • Comment number 97.

    To write off Rio at the age of just 30 is daft. He hasn't played much this season because of injury - this has been the most sporadic season in his career so far, so, if anything he perhaps shouldn't have started the game last night as he arguably isn't 100% match-fit. But at his peak, Rio is a great defender, one of the best three in the Premiership along with Vidic and Terry and should still, form permitting, be first choice for England. In terms of who should fill his boots should he not be in form, there is only one player for me who can come into a side with little or no notice and perform to the highest level - Wes Brown. And by the way - Ashley Cole was equally poor last night and it was he the conceded the goal - something all the knee-jerkers seem to have forgotten.

  • Comment number 98.

    Ferdinand has hardly played in recent times and is a long way from match sharp, either mentally or physically.

    The error was Capello's in picking him, I guess he had his reasons but in the context of this game they were wrong. Exactly the same can be said of him picking Heskey, though the options here are not quite so obvious.

    Undoubtably part of the reason for playing Ferdinand is that, despite their many faults and limitations, examined in detail above, they remain far and away our best central defensive partnership and we will need then next summer!

  • Comment number 99.

    So many excuses but mistakes like that at the top level aren't acceptable, regardless of injury, form etc. Any central defender in the country knows to put their foot through that ball before it bounces. It's errors like that that have made Titus Bramble a laughing stock despite being a very solid defender: if you make these misjudgements regularly to give the oppostion a goal (or similar) then you cannot be afforded a place in the side.

  • Comment number 100.

    #78 Misses the point really its not so much about making mistakes as how you play generally and what results. As many have noticed there has been a decline in Rio's game generally over a period of time now and while he may recover and say like Sami Hyppia get stonger as he gets older the evidence should be compelling before he regains a regular place particularly in competitve 'must win' games.
    He is lucky as things stand because the competition for his place is pretty thin. Much like Gary Neville who was generally a poor defender - who probably would never have had an England career but for Rob Jones early retirement - and made lots of mistakes though England were rarely punished but at the time there was little alternative.
    As I said earlier maybe 5 at the back could shore things up for next year.


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