When Roy Hodgson was made England manager, one of the first jobs he had was to decide what to do about the John Terry affair. Terry had racially abused Rio Ferdinand`s brother, Anton, in a match between QPR and Chelsea. He was subsequently charged by the Crown Prosecution Service, but found not guilty by a magistrate’s court. One of the reasons for this verdict was the narrow nature of the charges brought against Terry. All that left Hodgson with a dilemma. Should he pick both Rio Ferdinand and terry, in the knowledge that there was real friction between them? In the end, and as it turned out incorrectly, he chose Terry.
That was a decision that led to a massive media scrum. With journalists and television pundits alike adding their own two penn`orth to the argument. Hodgson did not make his situation any easier by stating that he had left out Ferdinand for "football reasons" but was then unable to cite any when questioned by the press! Every subsequent press conference would start the same way, with questions about why he had not picked Ferdinand. This became even more pointed when Terry retired from international football, when the FA, quite correctly, found him guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
This season, Rio Ferdinand has had one of his best. He has played in most games and he has been instrumental in helping his team to almost certainly be champions this season. It was therefore inevitable that Hodgson, having run out of excuses, would be forced to recall Ferdinand. I have it on good authority that he was prompted somewhat by the FA! So, last week, Hodgson duly announced that Ferdinand would indeed be recalled to the England squad for the two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and San Marino.
All seemed well until Sir Alex Ferguson`s pre-match press conference on Saturday, when he question why Ferdinand had been recalled when he had to have a special fitness regime to ensure that he could keep playing. The saying "the cat is out of the bag" could not be more appropriate as it became obvious that Ferguson was livid that he had been recalled. In Fergusons eyes, this would jeopardise Manchester United`s Premier League title run-in, with them being on the brink of winning another title.
It was therefore little surprise to me 48 hours later, Ferdinand decided to pull out of the England squad, citing the lateness of his call-up and his medical/training regime. I doubt that I am the only one who does not buy that. I decided to call in a favour and ask my trusty Manchester United source for the truth. It seems that Sir Alex basically made it clear that he could not sanction a new contract for Ferdinand unless he retired from internationals to preserve his career.