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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Was Rio Ferdinand right to withdraw from the England squad?

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Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand enraged England fans by pulling out of Roy Hodgson's squad last week to face the double header of San Marino and Moldova, but was Rio right to pull out?

Rio was fuming when Hodgson left him out of the international fold for 'footballing reasons' ahead of Euro 2012 and it looked as though Rio had picked up his last cap for England. Some claimed that Ferdinand was simply not playing well enough to deserve a call-up, while many thought the decision had a lot to do with John Terry's alleged racist slur on Rio's cousin Anton.

Whatever the reason it looked as though Rio's England career was over. However, Rio has been in sparkling form this season and fully deserved his recall. He has played in the majority of games for United this season and been a rock for the league leaders. But he stunned the England camp by withdrawing last Monday, stating that he couldn't feature in order to complete a pre-planned fitness programme.

Some saw this as Rio's revenge. A huge public slap in the face for Roy Hodgson for turning his back on him. But others were dumbfounded. How could anyone turn down the chance to play for their country? Rio enraged the nation even further by travelling to Qatar to commentate on Friday's game against San Marino.

Now obviously Rio is a proud Englishman. He has won 81 caps and would love to win a major honour with his country. But his health must come first. At his age he must look after number one. Manchester United have stood by him through thick and thin and the pair have finally found a way of keeping him fit and able to play at the highest level, week in, week out. If Rio wants to prolong his career he must do what Sir Alex tells him.

But this was a chance to re-establish his international career. So do you think Rio was right to withdraw from the England squad? Here is what our Squarefootball writers and loyal readers think.

YESSquarefootball writer and Liverpool fan Dave Disciascio

"As a bit of a surprise, I am defending the United player. Rio was harshly excluded from previous squads for non-existent footballing reasons, as Hodgson backed Terry after the racism scandal. It is now only understandable to refuse the call-up after previously insulting selections by Hodgson.

"Furthermore, we are not privilege to Rio’s ‘strict training regime’, so it is possible there is truth in the matter. However the flight to Dubai makes it a dubious claim. And I would have rather Rio announced his international retirement than take this course of action.

"But perhaps as a Liverpool fan, I still do not approve of Hodgson…or more accurately think he is a bumbling fool."

NOWest Brom fan Andy Wakeman 

"I can’t believe that Rio made all this fuss about wanting a recall and then withdrawing. My view is that he was being vindictive towards Roy Hodgson and it has backfired big time.

"Not fit to play but can sit on a flight to Doha as a match summariser. I don’t buy it. I also think that the Harry mafia in the oppress have blown it all up as they still don’t seem to have forgiven Roy for getting the job ahead of their mate Harry. I have never particularly rated Rio and I hope now he is never called up again and that is the end of it."

NOSquarefootball writer and West Ham fan Mitch Waddon

"I feel that Roy Hodgson called Rio Ferdinand’s bluff with the England call-up. Rio should have retired from England duty if he didn’t want to represent his country any longer. I wasn’t surprised by his call up but the withdrawal and subsequent appearance on Al Jazeera television was poor judgment by the experienced defender. I doubt he will be given another chance."

NOEverton and England fan Chris Goodwin

"If Hodgson was not attempting sentiment the farce would not have occurred. Roy has up until now, made contact with the majority of his squad, informing them of his intentions. He left this decision to be a surprise to Ferdinand. And indeed it was . . . if Hodgson phoned United, or Rio, then he would know Rio would not have been available. And this farce would not have been known . . . at least not until Rio tweeted it. Unfortunately, Roy is the guilty party on this occasion. But Rio going to Qatar instead of training with his England team-mates . . . that is straight-forward disrespect. He should not have withdrawn!"

NOSquarefootball writer and Sunderland fan Sarshar Hossiennia

"We've all been shunned before (not just in football, but many aspects of life), and there've been times where we long for that one opportunity of retribution. Perhaps this was Rio's retribution, his chance to stick it to the powers that be. However, he is a superstar admired globally and therefore has to possess professional qualities like leadership, maturity, modesty and allegiance. He lost a large portion of his fan base that look up to him for those same qualities. 
"In my opinion, he won't be missed as he's in his mid-30s and is notably slower these days. I'd like to see Roy stick with a youthful lineup; much more raw power and the "surprise" factor for our opponents."

Sunderland fan Tony Ratton

"I don't know what the big fuss was about. It's not as if England needed him."

NOSquarefootball writer and Aston Villa fan James Fisher

"It was all very bizarre. Why did he kick up such a fuss when he was originally axed by Hodgson? It seems like it's mind games to me, plus Fergie has made it very clear he's not happy with Rio playing for England when Man United has to work so hard to keep him fit. An honest decision from Rio, one way or the other, would be the best way to sort the situation out."

YESBolton Wanderers fan Dave Blackburn

"Yes I think he was if he didn't want to play, but he has shot himself in the foot as I don't think he has done himself any favours and I personally wouldn't have picked him anyway. He was never going to play on Friday, only the one game. Although I think Roy Hodgson should have rung Rio first to let him know he was being selected (given the past history that has gone on with him) and then the conversation regarding fitness, etc would have been kept behind closed doors and not in the papers. Also we have adequate players for that position anyway."

Squarefootball writer Hugh Larkin 

"Not sure we know enough about the Rio affair. Not sure if United pressured him to stay away but it seems strange to agree to join up then pull out so quickly. Rio was badly treated last summer but he hasn't done himself any favours with his Doha trip. Upshot is he won't play for England again - whether that is his intention or not is hard to say."

Well that's our view, what do you make of the situation? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow me on Twitter at @sqf_illingworth


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Colin Illingworth



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