Was Roy’s Apology a Little Rash?Roy Hodgson apologizes for Rio Ferdinand comments, but still doesn't select him
by Scott Nicholls | Tuesday, October 09, 2012
The Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Roy Hodgson carousel continues to spin around, around and around.
The latest? Roy Hodgson rode on London’s subway system (we call it “the tube”) and when quizzed by fans about whether or not Ferdinand would be in the England squad, The Mirror, a UK-based newspaper, reported that he replied:
“I very much doubt it. He hasn’t played for England for quite a while. I have to say it is over for him and England. It has got to be the end of the road. He’s pushing 34 and hasn’t played for England for a long, long time.”
Hodgson thought that he was just talking to a group of fans on the tube and answered a few casual questions. He even took a few photos. What he did not know, however, is that one of these passengers was a former News of the World journalist who promptly sold the story.
We know that as a soccer player, coach or manager, you have to have certain expectations that whatever you comment on is likely going to end up finding its way out to the newspapers in some way, shape or form. It doesn’t matter where you are, or what you’re commenting on.
But boy, oh boy, has Hodgson had to make some apologies so far – and ultimately… what for?
Hodgson must be the most scrutinized England manager in recent memory, and the most negatively written about by the press. Hodgson took over the England side a few months before Euro 2012 and led the team to a battling quarterfinal penalty loss (that really, they should have won) against Italy.
He is, though, unbeaten as England’s manager (penalties aside). So, why the criticism?
Here are a few headlines from around the UK that emerged from Hodgson telling a few fans on the subway that Ferdinand would not be in the next squad.
The Sun – “Blunderground”
The Sun said that Hodgson sunk the England management’s reputation to new lows with his “tubegate” blunder. Steven Howard, an editorial writer for The Sun, titled his editorial in this issue “Despicable.” You can imagine the tone.
The Daily Mirror – “Rio Rage at Roy”
This was a particularly good story as it reported that Ferdinand thought the decision to not select him has become personal – even though there are few to no direct quotes to suggest this from Ferdinand himself in the article.
The press seemed to be very angry that Hodgson – despite being unbeaten – hasn’t picked good teams (because he didn’t pick Ferdinand), and also angry that Ferdinand isn’t picked in the first place.
Terry hasn’t made this situation any easier by retiring from international football. What people forget is that Terry was by far England’s strongest player at Euro 2012 in a team that was extremely dependent on strong rearguard action.
Gary Neville has also been vocal on the matter. Neville has been acting as the voice of reason throughout this circus and has helped people understand the “footballing reasons” that Hodgson left Ferdinand out of the squad for.
Neville does not believe that it is a personal thing or, for that matter, a Roy Hodgson-thing. Speaking on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports, Neville said:
“I don't understand the big issue about this … this is not a Roy Hodgson thing, it's not like Rio has been playing consistently for England over the past two years. He only played in three of Fabio Capello's last 18 games.”
Not only that, but Neville highlighted a good point: By the World Cup in 2014, Rio Ferdinand will be 35 years old.
Hodgson was right to state that Ferdinand was left out for footballing reasons, simply because he hasn’t played regularly for club and or country for the past 20 months. He is also not the first person to leave out Ferdinand in an England squad. He is not going to select a player who is in his mid-30s unless he is going to definitely use him.
What people forget is that Hodgson said that he would not take experienced internationals with 70 or 80 caps to the World Cup and have them sit on the bench or in the stands. Neville agrees, stating:
“I've been in squads where that has happened and it's been divisive. It would be divisive in this squad but it's not going to happen and that's the correct decision.”
So why exactly should Hodgson have to apologize, and more importantly, why should he have to apologize to Ferdinand? He’s given many reasons on why he will not select Ferdinand, all of them valid. He has also had the backing of his coach and former teammate of Ferdinand, Neville, back him up. Not only this, but he has far exceeded any expectation that any England fans will have had of him thus far, yet the press continue to deplore his decisions.
The media should start focusing on the good things Hodgson is doing for England: out with the old, in with the new. We saw that England has a bright future with Team Great Britain's performance at the Olympic games this summer, and Hodgson is working to bring them through.
Hodgson is building a team for the World Cup in 2014 that will have a blend of youth, players in their prime and those of experience.
And, they will all have sufficient international experience.
The only “Rio” that should be associated with England by 2014 is Rio de Janeiro, where England will play in the World Cup Finals.
There are a wealth of players who can fill in for the retired Terry and the fading Ferdinand. Ryan Shawcross has finally been called up for the England squad and should probably play some sort of role if Gary Cahill or Joleon Lescott underperforms.
When asked what he’d learned from his experience on the tube at a press conference, Hodgson said, “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."
A shame, but who can blame him for not wanting to talk to fans after this. My only criticism of Hodgson is that he’s being too nice for his own good after being bullied by the press, Rio Ferdinand and the Football Association.
Not only was Hodgson’s apology rash in my opinion, it wasn’t needed. Hodgson is the England manager, he picks the team, he decides the line up and he takes responsibility if it doesn’t work.
So far, without Ferdinand, it works. Don’t fix it.