Date: 14th October 2009 at 7:20pm
Written by:

Rio Ferdinand’s career is over. He’s not good enough, he’s past his best, he’s lost it, he’s a liability, he’s nowhere near John Terry, Jamie Carragher, Matthew Upson or Titus Bramble. That’s the gist of the comments of the last few days.

Indeed, some people suggested – and they were totally serious – that Rio Ferdinand should be replaced by Matthew Upson. Yes, that Upson. And all this because he committed a few mistakes this season, most recently against Ukraine when he allowed the ball to bounce over his head, letting in Milevsky who was fouled by goalkeeper Robert Green, winning a penalty and getting Green sent off.

I did not find this lapse in concentration surprising at all. Everyone who’s watched football in the last few years will know that Rio is prone to these, especially in meaningless games like the one in Kyiv certainly was. Of course I’m aware of the fact that this indicates a slightly less than exemplary level of professionalism. But does it show insufficient ability? No way.

Yes, Rio gave the ball away carelessly in the Manchester derby which was unforgiveable but that was his only significant mistake in a competitive game since Rome. He hasn’t been in great form overall, that’s also true. But now we have to put up with comments like this one I read on a website: that when it comes to defending Rio is actually on the level of a pub team. Which is not only rubbish but insulting rubbish.

Then there’s this ridiculous notion, perpetuated by the media, that he needs to ‘prove’ himself tonight against Belarus if he wants to go to the World Cup. Oh dear, a meaningless home game against minnows of the European game to decide whether the best English defender could participate in the most important international tournament? You couldn’t make it up.

The World Cup is long months away; Rio will pull himself together as he always plays better at the business end of the season. Just like all the best players do. Yes, he’s had a dip in form. Get over it: it happens. Franz Beckenbauer and Franco Baresi had bad games in their careers. It’s their luck they weren’t born English; here a footballer’s not allowed them.