What do you make of the appointment of Rio Ferdinand as England’s captain for tonight’s match against France? For one thing it shows yet again that Capello is his own boss. I admire the fact he’s dropped Terry from the role because he didn’t think his recent haranguing of the referee was appropriate behaviour for an England captain. It doesn’t necessarily mean Terry’s forever out of favour; as with Beckham’s re-selection for this squad (and after being dropped at Real) he’s prepared to be forgiving and pragmatic once the players have learned their lesson. It’s a bit schoolmasterish but hey, after the indulgence by Sven GE and the faux mateyness of Quiff McClaren, it’s exactly what these over-paid, self-absorbed and irresponsible footballers need. I don’t think anyone’s going to cross this guy lightly.
I realise the role of captain is largely symbolic in football but if, like me, you think the England captaincy has significance not just as a role model but also because the position has been held with distinction by many great former players, then the post-holder should be someone who can respect the role and command respect in it. To me Terry is a whole-hearted kind of player and probably a very good club captain, but he makes for a lousy England captain. Outside of the game his behaviour is boorish and I suspect if it wasn’t for football he’d probably be a thug. As for Ferdinand I’m not sure he has the capacity to comprehend the significance of his own actions sometimes. The missed drug testing and the Xmas party incident show him to be not necessarily a bad lad, just unthinking and irresponsible at times. I have to say though that his personal efforts to back anti-racism in sport, the anti-knife culture campaign and his work supporting disadvantaged kids in our inner cities and in Africa suggest that he is starting to take his responsibilities as a role model more seriously (or that he is being guided by some astute people). But let’s not be cynical, either way he is clearly growing as a person and the award of the England captaincy may be Capello’s most inspired move. It surely cannot be long before Sir Alex follows suit and makes him club captain at Old Trafford as Gary Neville’s career seems destined to be curtailed by injury and with Ryan Giggs no longer able to command a place in every game.
There may be other suitors for the England role of course; Stephen Gerrard is many people’s favourite for the role but whilst a tour-de-force on the field, he strikes me as lacking personality and confidence off the pitch, especially in the media spotlight. Lampard surely couldn’t command the role if he was uncertain to be selected. Owen is only 28 but surely gone as a force now. A and J Coles – I think not. Owen Hargreaves could handle the role extremely well I reckon but his place in the side is not guaranteed as at Man U. Woodgate – too dim and easily led, Richards – too inexperienced for now, James – a goalie is rarely the right man, Rooney – longer term I could see it happening but he remains too impetuous and hot-headed and needs to mature a bit. Beckham has had his day.
So I can see Ferdinand becoming the man in the forseeable future and just maybe becoming one of the very best at the job. Aye aye cap’n. What do you think?