Rio, just say no (to England)
A week ago Rio Ferdinand walked on the Old Trafford turf, with his Treble dream still intact and very much alive. Fast forward seven days and it looks like he might have to settle for just one trophy.
March 13th, 2013
The title is far from sealed, particularly when one considers last season’s ordeal, and United still have a good chance of securing a spot in the FA Cup semi-final against their “noisy neighbours”, but regardless of the outcome of the remaining ten weeks of the season, this year has definitely been a positive one for Rio.
Ferdinand’s exclusion from the England squad that traveled to Ukraine and Poland in the summer seemed justified when the 34-year-old fell victim of recurrent injury problems at the beginning of the season, when many pondered if this would be Rio’s swansong in a United shirt.
With the fit-again Nemanja Vidic and the emerging Jonny Evans desperate to feature in Sir Alex’s starting XI, clouds were cast over Ferdinand’s future after a troublesome start to the campaign, but Rio has risen to the challenge and, should United lift some silverware this season, they’d owe a great deal to the former England captain.
Ferdinand’s performances this season have been of such a high standard that the media has recently started a campaign to get him reinstated in the England squad, despite Roy Hodgson claims that “England have moved on”.
Whether the England manager will offer Ferdinand the opportunity to add to his 81 caps is still unclear but, should Hodgson offer an olive branch, Ferdinand’s answer should be a simple “no”.
The United defender has played 26 games in all competitions this season, only six less than he did in the 2010-11 season when United lifted their 19th league title and reached the Champions League final, and being overlooked by Hodgson has definitely proved to be a blessing in disguise for him.
Players are notoriously unwilling to relinquish the chance to play for their national team but, in Ferdinand’s case, it should be seen as a straightforward decision, for it might well extend the London-born centre-back’s career for a couple of years.
Take Paul Scholes as example. The Ginger Prince waved goodbye to England after Euro 2004, when he was only 30, and virtually at his peak. Scholes cited family and United being more important than England as the only reasons behind his decision, which brought enormous benefits to his club career.
Ferdinand will be 35 in November, hardly a young lad, but his experience could be crucial to the club, on and off the pitch. So, while Rio might fancy himself in an England shirt, should Roy come calling, the answer should be a simple “thanks, but no thanks.”
By Dan Cancian – @Red_Rants