Rio Ferdinand - an alternative view
The hype surrounding Rio Ferdinand's decision to reject the opportunity to join up with the England squad for their recent World Cup qualifiers suggested that the Manchester United defender was out of order.
But Total Football's Zaf Naqvi disagrees. He argues that Ferdinand is not the bad egg he has been perceived to be - and that England boss Roy Hodgson has been let off the hook.
No bad guy to be found here
So, Rio Ferdinand opted out of representing his country in the recent World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
A lot has been made of Ferdinand’s refusal to play. His last England appearance was in the 2-2 draw against Switzerland in June 2011, but he won a recall - because of his outstanding form for Manchester United - this season.
The centre back's England career appeared to be over after he was left out of the squad for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
After a few days of deliberation, Ferdinand turned down the opportunity of making a comeback to the international scene, on the grounds of physical necessity.
Ever since pulling out, Ferdinand has been heavily criticised by both fans and the media and made to look like the bad guy. But is this fair?
It seems this man can’t do anything right when it comes to representing England (or not, as the case may be).
'Let's have a go at Rio'
Critics of the Manchester United player have come out in force and have been quick off the mark to have a go at his decision, jumping on the “let’s have a dig at Rio” bandwaggon.
The same people have forgotten how this man was treated with what in my opinon was complete and utter disrespect by the England manager, Roy Hodgson, along with the FA, when he was ready and willing to play for his country.
Players who were either underperforming for their clubs or lacking international experience were selected by Hodgson over Ferdinand. If that was not enough embarrassment (as far as I am concerned anyway), Chelsea’s John Terry was ahead of Ferdinand for selection.
That left many to assume the decision was based on the breakdown in Ferdinand's relationship with Terry.
Let’s not forget that Terry, at the time, was under investigation and facing disciplinary from the FA following allegations of racial abuse against Ferdinand’s brother Anton.
The knock on effect was that Rio was left aggrieved at being left at home for Euro 2012, largely so that Terry could go.
Ferdinand was overlooked by Hodgson at every given opportunity and was offered what many would agree was the feeblest excuse for his omission from the squad - and leaving many in and outside of the game scratching their heads.
When asked why Ferdinand was left out, Hodgson stated it was purely for “footballing reasons” (yeah, right).
There is a theory that someone told a little white lie and had the conspiracy theorists rubbing their hands in glee.
The England manager’s subsequent refusal to call Ferdinand up when faced with a defensive crisis added fuel to the fire. Was it a football decision, or a 'political' decision?
The papers have had a field day with Ferdinand’s withdrawal. Headlines such as “Ferdinand has humiliated Hodgson” said one paper. How about a headline backing his decision: “What goes around comes around” as it has done so in this case?
We are brought up and taught that, to be respected, you must show respect first. This wasn’t the case in Ferdinand’s exclusion from the England squad last year.
Let’s not forget, there was further humiliation for Ferdinand at the hands of Hodgson, who was reported to have told London Underground travellers that Ferdinand's England career was over, in October 2012, a comment he later denied.
Despite creating an ill-feeling between himself and Ferdinand in the aftermath of the Euro 2012 squad selection, Hogdson, with his tail between his legs, asked Ferdinand to answer the SOS put out by England for the recent games.
Hodgson called the Manchester United defender to explain his reasons for leaving him out of the Euro 2012 squad, but the 34-year-old had the decency to explain his decision to withdraw in a face-to-face meeting with Hodgson.
Throughout this farcical saga, Ferdinand remained upbeat and respectful towards all parties concerned. It’s a shame the England manager and the FA could not have done the same towards a man who has been a loyal servant to England.
Rio has defended his decision not to play, as did Hogdson when he left Ferdinand out. Many believed the England manager then, and took it at face value, so why can’t we do the same with Rio’s decision?
The centre back is not the bad guy here and it is extremely unfair to make him out to be just that. He had his own good reasons for not wanting to be involved, so why is it so hard for England fans to respect that decision?
All of those who have criticised him have done so, in my opinion, with clouded vision and without good reason. And playing for a club that is hated by many is not a good reason.
Only Rio and those who are closest to him know if he said no to Roy Hodgson and England as a result of his treatment at the hands of those in charge.
But in all honesty, who would blame him if that was the sole reason?