Chelsea

Who The Hell Needs Rio?

Fabio ‘Grooverider’ Capello this morning bemoans England’s ‘curse’. Whatever. It is without doubt a terrible shame Rio ‘de Janeiro’ Ferdinand will miss out on the opportunity to lead England into a World Cup where – despite it being the same old song and dance every flipping tournament – we do have a real chance of going all the way.

I join each England fan in offering commiserations for what must seem like a cruel sucker punch in the testi-pouch. If there is any justice or balance in a top footballer’s career, this won’t be Rio’s only shot. However… I have to say I was a little bit ‘eh?’, ‘run that by me again?’ when Rio was offered the captaincy after Terry’s unveiling as the super-berk he is behind the incredible ability – and the punishment thereafter.

I just didn’t understand why Gerrard wasn’t the immediate and clear choice to take the wheel of the big red-and-white underachievement bus. Sorry, Rio, but weren’t you a bit taken aback yourself? Maybe Stevie didn’t want the responsibility, or someone actually looked into the future and saw him mumbling and wincing – as he does – in a very broad scouse twang in front of the world’s media. But is Pug from the Bash Street Kids any better? Neither is exactly eloquent or reassuring when they open their mouths.

It’s all relative, I know. It has to be if anyone describes Rooney as an ‘ambassadorial, media-trained icon of a man.’ Not exactly spoilt for choice, are we? But then who is? Exceptional talents aside, I suppose we can’t expect there to be natural talismanic charm and inspiration in abundance among the ranks. Yet in terms of leadership, persistent work-rate and, dare I say it, belief and contagious determination, Gerrard trumps Ferdinand every time – and earned his stripes well before him.

Sorry, folks, I just don’t think Ferdinand should lead anything right now. Amazing player though he is, to my mind he remains inconsistent, petulant in adversity and just not yet worthy of the role. Admittedly, he’s hardly shy of the world stage, thanks to his outstanding contribution to United’s success, but England is different. Maybe if he’d had a longer run of games in charge, against a wider range of opposition on smaller stages, he’d be the man. And this doesn’t detract from the effect his exclusion through injury will, might, SHOULDN’T have on the squad. Maybe. This national team’s major weakness is the goddamn media. It drives me potty.

England over-expects Fact is, we’ll never know, so let’s not waste column inches and goggle-box minutes on it. For sure, if we fail we can say, ‘‘well, Jim, you have to ask yourself what could have been had Rio not been injured and standing about three feet to the left of where Dawson was.” And bore each other to tears for eternity post-mortem while missing the point by a country mile. But while it’s a proper stabbing pain in the rectum, I don’t think that would be fair on Rio, Dawson, the rest of the squad, or the fans. And I honestly think Stevie G will step up and do a great job.

The media’s already priming us for a fall, but I haven’t given up on us yet, and neither should anyone else. You can bet our opponents will still be crapping themselves. This is a remarkable squad, stronger, more fluid and adaptable than we’ve had in a long time. So let’s shut up and get on with making our strength known, maybe even winning the sodding World Cup. Instead of bemoaning this, that and the other, and making ourselves look spoilt and hard-done-by when a lesser team steamrolls us for dwelling on things we can do bugger-all about. Massive commiserations, Rio. Your time will come, and you’ve been instrumental in getting us this far. As for the rest of us, and that includes you, doom-peddling media scumbags, let’s dust ourselves off and prove to the world that this is a team effort.

Let’s deal with facts and live in the moment, and we’ll have a better chance of success.

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