Fabio Capello made the wrong decision in awarding John Terry the captaincy, not that it is much of my concern. Seems like I’m not the only one though, with the chief football writer for The Times holding a new soft spot for Rio.
If someone had proposed Rio Ferdinand as England captain three or even two years ago, I would have sneered. The missed drugs test, the silly scrapes outside nightclubs, the slightly cringeworthy (if at times amusing) World Cup Wind-ups television programme – all of them served to build an image of a man who, whatever his immense talent, was not captaincy material.
But, as Fabio Capello prepared to end the suspense over his new captain today, I found myself rooting for Rio ahead of John Terry, the man who wore the armband under Steve McClaren and who captained Chelsea to two Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho. Why? Because Ferdinand has matured to the point where he seems like the obvious candidate for the job, whereas Terry, once his more dominant partner, has slipped into bad habits both on and off the pitch.
I am an unashamed Rio revisionist, but I was a relatively late arrival on this particular bandwagon. His form for Manchester United over the past two seasons, frequently as captain, has been that of a man for whom the penny has finally dropped. Having struggled to live up to his world-class billing through his mid 20s, he has learned from his numerous mistakes, raised his game and become a far more responsible figure – a role model both on and off the pitch.
At the time of Capello’s appointment, I did not really consider Ferdinand a prospective England captain — regarding it as a straight fight between Terry and Steven Gerrard – but when, over lunch with few fellow journalists in Paris in March, we learned that the United defender was to lead the team in the friendly against France the following evening, it made perfect sense to me. There is no outstanding, irresistible candidate, but if, as Capello believes, Gerrard is a little too introverted for the job, Ferdinand, rather than Terry, seems like the perfect choice. After a six-month audition, it is Capello’s first really big choice as England manager. Surely if Terry were the ideal man, that audition would have not been necessary.
What do you think?