Make Or Break For Rio As Sir Alex Urges Him To Retire From International Football.
There were a lot of question marks raised over Manchester United’s defence in their shock home defeat to Spurs at the weekend. Marshalled by Rio Ferdinand, the United defence struggled to cope with the movement of Jermaine Defoe and the pace of Gareth Bale in the 3-2 defeat, and it was interesting to here Sir Alex Ferguson urge Ferdinand to forget about his England career and concentrate solely on Manchester United.
Ferdinand has been struggling with injury over the last couple of years and when Sir Alex makes such a statement you know that he really does mean it. Despite the United manager maintaining that Rio could still do a job for England and that he is still in his plans next season, I see this as a subtle, indirect warning to Ferdinand that he needs to up his game at Old Trafford.
Of course Ferdinand was left out of this summers England squad for the European Championship and with John Terry making the latest football news for retiring from international football, a number of football blogs have raised the prospect of a recall to Roy Hodgsons squad for the 33 year old. Judging by Ferdinands recent performances however I’m not sure if Hodgson would see him worthy of a return to the England set up. Hodgson left out Ferdinand due to ‘footballing reasons’, and it would be fair to say that Rio hasn’t done much this season to turn around his fortunes.
I would also question whether Ferdinand would even be interested in a playing for England again but Sir Alex has certainly made it clear that he would prefer his centre back to call it a day on his international career if the situation arose, which would be for the good of player and the club.
When you look at how Giggs and Scholes have prolonged their United careers since retiring from international football it would seem like a no brainer for Rio to do the same. He is at the stage of his career where he needs to rely on his experience to compensate for his pace which got him out of trouble six or seven years ago. It might be that his recent poor form is down to the transition that Rio is making from being an athletic defender reliant on his pace, to a less agile player who needs to base his game around his experience. If he is to prolong his career at United he needs to manage his fitness which would be much more difficult if he had the added demands of international football.
It is a difficult period for Ferdinand and this could be a key season in his career. I’m sure that there are mixed opinions on this one but il leave you with this one… Surely it is a managers duty to pick the best players? Which Hodgson himself has previously stated that he judges this on whether a player is playing regularly for his club, it doesn’t matter how old they are and that his defenders must be comfortable in possession. Ferdinand ticks every box! He might not be the player he once was, and he had a stinker against Spurs at the weekend, but he was arguably the best player on the pitch at Anfield the week before, he played more games than every United player apart from Wayne Rooney last season which puts his fitness doubts to one side, and to add to that he has 81 England caps.
So can Rio prolong his career at United and could he play for England again, or are his playing days numbered? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts!