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Rio Is Better Than Them… But We Should Welcome Snub

In the summer, Michael Carrick wasn’t called up to the Euro 2012 squad because he had told the FA if he wasn’t going to play, there was no point in him going. Even with Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry ruled out through injury, Roy Hodgson opted against asking Carrick to play, and instead went to the tournament with Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker and Jordan Henderson as his midfield options.

Hodgson also later revealed that unlike all the previous England managers, he hadn’t asked Paul Scholes to come out of retirement.

It was a strange decision on Hodgson’s part when you consider just how important Carrick and Scholes had been for United last season. For example, in 19 of the 24 league games Carrick played in midfield last season, he completed more passes than any player on the pitch. His passing completion over the course of the season was over 90%, which was higher than Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Henderson, (Modric, Mata, Silva, Meireles), and this applied to final 1/3 passes too. When you compare all the English midfielders in Hodgson’s squad, in terms of their passing, interceptions, tackles, key passes and touches, Carrick came out on top. Read Carrick’s 2011/2012 stats in full.

Then when you look at Scholes’ contribution in the half season he played, even Carrick is blown out of the water. Read Scholes’ 2011/2012 stats in full.

Of course stats aren’t the be all and end all when deciding who the best players are and I’m not suggesting that a manager should pick a squad entirely on the basis of their stats, (particularly not a manager like Hodgson, who bizarrely claimed: “I don’t regard statistics, especially possession statistics, as being particularly important.”) but Manchester United finished on the same points as the champions last season and Carrick and Scholes had a big say in that. In contrast, Parker (4th, 20 points behind City/United), Lampard (6th, 25 points behind City/United), Gerrard/Henderson (8th, 37 points behind City/United) hardly set the world alight with their club form. Stats can’t be used as conclusive proof as to which player is better but they certainly help give some indication, particularly when a player is superior statistically across the board, in terms of the attributes available.

Regardless, it’s done and dusted now and from our perspective, it’s far better that our players have a summer off. However, you can’t help but feel aggrieved on their behalf, knowing that they were deserving of the chance to represent their country in a major tournament.

The big news for England this week though was Hodgson’s continued stupidity in mouthing off to random people on the tube about Rio Ferdinand’s England career.

A shame-faced Hodgson apologised for his embarrassingly unprofessional behaviour, and said: “This is one of the hazards I suppose of travelling on Tube trains and then speaking to people who ask me questions rather than sitting there tight-lipped refusing to ever open my mouth. It’s so difficult now, everybody’s waiting to catch you out and send pictures off to newspapers to cause problems for people. I’ve paid for it. I shall learn in future, and maybe this will be a lesson for all those people who see me on the Tube. Please don’t be too offended if I refuse to answer any questions you ask me.”

There is no hazard in travelling on the Tube if you simply refuse to answer inappropriate questions. It’s not rocket science. It’s refreshing for managers and players and engage in conversations with the fans, but I wouldn’t expect Rooney to hop on the met and talk about any issues he has behind the scenes with Ferguson. It’s not difficult to work out what should and shouldn’t be discussed.

Still, whilst Hodgson initially claimed that Rio was left out of the squad for “football reasons”, despite the fact he played 38 games last season for a team with the 2nd best defence in the country, he is now arguing that Rio is “too old” to be selected. Honesty is obviously a difficult concept for Hodgson, but after his dreadful handling of the John Terry situation, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what his problem with Rio is. Maybe Rio’s age would be relevant if Hodgson hadn’t picked a player who’s just one year younger than Rio to be his captain, and a player who is older to be his vice captain.

So Rio misses out on another squad and if what Hodgson blabbed to fans on the Tube is anything to go by, he won’t be getting another opportunity. Following his poor performance against Spurs, some people have backed Hodgson’s decision. After all, most defenders can keep up with Bale, right? Hmmm. Regardless, Rio has been great for United this season, the Spurs game aside, and has done a great job for our defence when you consider Vidic had been playing whilst needing surgery, Evra has been awful and Ferguson changes the goalie every week.

Don’t just take my word for it though.

When it comes to 50-50s on the ground, 50-50s in the air, tackling success and interceptions, Ferdinand is superior to all the players who have been picked ahead of him. That’s not bad for someone who is “too old”.

It’s not just his defensive work though, but his contribution to the game as a whole, with him keeping possession for his team better than any of the other defenders. But as Hodgson said after England’s defeat after Italy, who cares about possession statistics? Why would a manager concern themselves with picking players who keep the ball for their team instead of giving it away, eh?

Still, whilst from an England perspective we can see that Hodgson is wrongly keeping Rio out of his squad, just as he did Carrick (and Scholes), from our perspective, the one that really matters, it is great. Not only do we have players in great form, we have players who are better rested thanks to the International absence. It is obvious that Rio doesn’t really want to give up on his England career and it’s a shame for him that it’s being cut short, but for us, it’s definitely a positive thing. Last season he was one of the few United players who didn’t suffer with injuries, but he’s got a dodgy back and it won’t do him any harm having the International break to put his feet up.

“Rio could do the job for England, there’s no doubt about that, but I don’t see why he should,” Ferguson said this week. “He should concentrate on his career here, that’s what I’d prefer.”

Harry Redknapp has also lept the defence of Rio, but agrees with the manager when it comes to Rio’s International career.

“He has been called slow. Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Rio could still take most players over 20 yards but in Gareth Bale he was up against the Usain Bolt of English football. But at this time of his life, does Rio really need trips with England? I don’t think he needs all that aggro any more. He still has a couple of years left in him at the very top level — maybe more if he is not playing for England. And if he’s not wanted then he shouldn’t waste his time even thinking about England. Concentrate on playing for your club. Focus on that and he probably won’t miss England.”

The FA have messed Rio about too many times but for some reason he just seems to take it. They gave him the captaincy then took it away without any explanation, they banned him for 8 months even though they conceded he hadn’t used any illegal substances, he lost out on a Euro 2012 place because Terry racially abused his brother, and now the England manager is casually writing off his International future to randoms on the Tube. Fuck that Rio, you’re better off out of it, but now is the time to retire gracefully and let inferior players fight it out for an England spot.

Takes taken from English Premier League Index

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Good read Scott, always like to see numbers that support the fact that we have the best english CB playing for us.

    But Honestly, Roy Hodgson really does himself, Rio and the country a diservice by not just coming out and saying he wants to retool england. Put that vision out there. Not a vision of the best team to play this week, but a vision of a retooled england that will compete for years. Don’t actually think he is the guy to do it, but that is another topic altogether.

    As United fans we need to stop fooling ourselves that we are offended by all this. Rio is the best CB in the country, but at 34 we need to keep him close and keep him healthy.

    It will have been a major compliment for Rio and United to get 100 caps, but it isn’t going to happen under Hodgson. And 81 Caps is still better than Terry managed. Make our peace with this and move on. So be it. We can laugh, or cry, when england miss out on yet another final. We can say what if. But lets not kid ourselves that Rio needs to keep United close to his heart and him to ours.

    Rio for United should be our mantra. Let the FA and england toddle off down the road.

  2. Zibbie says:

    Welcome to Club ball.

  3. Sushi says:

    Top quality assessment! You did a thorough Job on this. This latest embarrassment from FA and Hodgson is simply mind buggling. He doesnt even admit he did wrong all he says is I should never open my mouth while on a train….completely misses the point the people on that train aren’t your boss you don’t owe them any explanation. how hard is it to say I can’t talk about any one specific player and instead talk about any other topic……
    Fucking piss off if you ask me! I’m not English but it really is no wonder there has been so little international success judging by how woefully inept and embarassing you managers have been.

  4. Sushi says:

    I think Rooney jones snaking and the rest of
    The lads should call it time on england as well. This is a joke as long as England carry dead weight around that’s what’s gonna happen

  5. AntiScouser says:

    The last paragraph was priceless.

  6. Sushi says:

    Apologies my piece of shit iPhone decided it will change words I meant smalling not “snaking” lol

  7. RedAdair says:

    No one can argue with Rio’s stats, they are clear and plain as day. What the stats dont show though, and what worries me, is the number of times he’s either caught off-guard, or out of position; or makes the wrong decision. Three years ago it was maybe one game in twenty he’d expose himself (sorry about the terminology, but its the only way I can describe what he does); last season it was one in every two games he played where there’d be a preventable situation occuring. This season he has (Spurs game excepted) improved a little, but I worry every time I see his name on the sheet.
    And if I’m worrying, what about his colleagues? He makes for a jittery defence and, though he isnt the only cause, that’s exactly what we’ve had for the last six months or so. I hope he proves me wrong, but I doubt it.
    With the greatest respect to him, his time is nearing the end, and we should move on with phasing him out.

  8. Ugandan Red says:

    Well its sad that a great proffesional like Rio is being treated this way. This would be painful for anyone to take seeing that someone doesn’t care how well you play he just won’t allow you into his team. Rio, please retire from England.

  9. Artemis says:

    Rio is far past it,Hodgson was right but unprofessional to say his England career was over,dont lie just coz u are Man U fans.

  10. Gentle says:

    I love this article so much. Hodgson is a fucking cunt

  11. iamnotbatman says:

    Gentle by name but not so much by nature.

  12. Diego says:

    If anything, SAF probably likes the fact that Rio isn’t wasting what he has left in the tank for england games. Wouldn’t be surprised if SAF has had a word with ol’uncle Roy.

  13. jamie says:

    i know one english defender ferdinand is not better than john terry the best centre back england has. ferdinand only in united team due to injuries even jonny evans better than rio agree carrick should have gone to the euros but he chose not to go because he didn’t believe he was good enough to replace gerrard lampard or parker which is true but he would have been a more useful sub than henderson.

  14. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Oh my. JTgate just keeps getting better.

    47min ago:
    Ashley Cole ‏@TheRealAC3
    Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTWATS

    How to leave your England career in tatters.

  15. Marq says:

    Let’s see if the FA has the balls to ban Cole now

  16. markynorbs says:

    Manchester United > Ingerland

  17. Clive says:

    If a player decided not to make himself available for his country he should never be picked for them again. Carrick should never be in another squad, not should Micah Richards who refused to be on standby for the Euro’s. It’s an utter disgrace that players do not do whatever their country asks, it just shows the country means nothing to them and that’s not the sort of player we want representing us.

    Ferdinand was a good player, but Spurs showed he can’t handle pace anymore. In 2 years time he will be to old for the heat of Brazil, it’s time to look forward and play players now who will be playing then.

  18. Sushi says:

    Oh my I see that Ashley continues making friends and elevating his status!!

  19. everydayislikesunday says:

    Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTWATS

    That’s an admission of guilt, right?

    If he tweeted ‘I lied, did I?’ with a question mark then he’d be asking the FA a question regarding their findings.

    But he tweeted ‘I lied did I’ which is a statement, and therefore he is now open to a charge of perjury.

    Excellent! What a good day.

  20. Costas says:

    Ashley deleted his tweet. I bet that’s how he will escape punishment.

    Good read. It’s a real shame Rio never quit this mob first.

  21. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Already immortalized in press. BBC, sky, already have it well captured.

    Cole is done like a kipper! No accounting for the brain of a footballer, but AshCole must have been completely daft to post that.

    Anyway, JTGate and this will suck all the air out of England press media this weekend. No one will be asking Rio what he feels about anything :lol:

    Hope we can let the press feed on Chavs for awhile and slip through with a confortable win on Sunday.

  22. FletchTHEMAN says:

    This is the same ACole that brought a loaded riffle into chelsea training and discharged it, injuring a ball boy. Such a role model. The idea from the FA that the court would have put any weight in statements from this bloke are just laughable.

  23. nesh says:

    to hell with 3 lions…Rio you have already given them 81 caps, time to concentrate on club where we love you unconditionally

  24. Costas says:


    Amen to that mate. Among all this crap, we have a tough game to play on Sunday. The only good thing to come out of this is that JT and Ashley were revealed as the twats we all knew they were. :)

    Who goes and deletes a tweet in today’s day and age anyway? There must millions of screencap of that tweet by now. Idiot. I’d love to see what the FA does here. Fergie once got banned for calling Wiley unfit. Cole’s offence is far worse.

  25. rijah says:

    Will Rio be playing this week for us against Newcastle? I am really worried about hearing the news that united didn’t win the last 3 PL away games in Newcastle? Is that true?

  26. FletchTHEMAN says:

    :lol: Spot on son

    Fergie got banned for 5 matches for claiming one ref was perhaps a tad unfit. After Wiley clearly struggled in that game.

    How many will AshCole get for claiming entire FA unfit?

    If you lads want a recap:

  27. grammy says:

    so some deluded liverpool fan just left this comment on in response to stevie me claiming that loserpool should finïsh in the top 4 and win a trophy this season…

    “I dont know about top 4 but we should definitely end our season above man utd.. that team just got nothing.. we have a better team then them and better playing style as wel…”

    it’s like being deluded is a requirement when associated with liverpool in anyway!!!

  28. Adam says:

    This is a nice story, but sorry, we came even on points with City, not because of Scholes and Carrick but because of a lot of luck and we won’t be so lucky this season.
    Also, if you compare the TYPE of passes Modric, Mata, and Silva attempted vs what Carrick does regularly, you’ll understand why Carrick has a higher ration of successful passes.

  29. DreadedRed says:


    Decimated by injuries is not the kind of luck we need again this year.

  30. Ash says:

    England cannot win anything with Gerrard and lampard. I am still surprised that these two oldies are selected regularly. 2014 WC also goes to toilet now for england. :D

  31. King Eric says:

    Adam – Yeah we had loads of luck didn’t we. Yeah. Crippled with injuries and dogshit decisions against Newcastle. Read the article and it tells you where Carrick made the passes. Oh but no he only goes sideways doesn’t he!

  32. Redneck says:

    Testing testing 123, is there any fucker out there?

  33. Redneck says:

    Guess not, lights out then is it?

  34. Redneck says:


  35. RedBorneo says:

    I like to read your comments, i like to see United fans like you..
    Regards from Borneo mate..


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