John Terry or Rio Ferdinand for England? Neither

The Premier League Owl

The issues that exist between John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are obviously well-publicised, and supposedly Roy Hodgson will be meeting with both of them prior to announcing his final 23 for Euro 2012.

Here’s a solution for you Roy: don’t pick either of them.

The off-the-field issue first. If one is picked and not the other, the conspiracy theorists will start whispering – as presumably will the press. If Terry is on the plane and Ferdinand isn’t, the suggestion will be heard from some quarters that the latter is paying the price for the former’s alleged transgressions. The FA and Hodgson will also predictably be accused of being ‘soft’ on racism.

Flip the situation around, with Ferdinand heading to Polkraine without Terry, and the howls of disapproval will be heard over ‘due process’ and being ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

What a nightmare – either they both have to go, or neither of them should.

On their current form, and despite their sacred cow status, neither of them deserve to be included in the twenty-three. On the basis of form in the Premier League, Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott should be the starting centre-back pairing for England, and Chris Smalling and Phil Jagielka should be their deputies.

We have a problem in this country with letting go. We – mistakenly – believe that once you’re in the England team, you’re entitled to your place forever. No, that’s one of the many areas where our national team falls down – the managers in charge haven’t had the strength of character to tell under-performing mainstays to sling their hook.

Rio Ferdinand was once a great player, he’s not now. Take the sentiment out of that, and the cruelty of passing time, and it’s just a reality – he’s no longer good enough for England. He’s slow, his composure has evaporated, and he can’t be relied upon to stay fit through the congested schedule of an international tournament. John Terry? Has anyone been watching him recently? His recklessness in the Nou Camp, his humiliation two nights ago at the hands of Luis Suarez; he can’t be trusted against Europe’s elite. If John Terry wasn’t ‘John Terry’, and he was just another Premier League player vying for international selection, he would barely feature in the debate. That he does is just proof of our continually accommodating English nature.

“Well, he’s played a lot before, so he might as well be picked. It’s John Terry, after all.”

Yeah, that’s bollocks though, isn’t it? That’s not a philosophy that ever won anybody anything.

Roy Hodgson would do well to leave both players, and the heavy baggage that accompanies them, back on the tarmac this Summer. Brave new world.

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