The top story from Fabio Capello's 24-man squad being announced was that Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand wasn't selected England's EURO 2012 decider against Montenegro - and it's unjustified.
Rio has always been a vocal leader
Clearly, this is the beginning of the end of his career with all the amazing youngsters coming through and kicking him out of the starting line-up - at both both Old Trafford and for the Three Lions.
In the next couple of days, be prepared to see comments and analysis including, "We don't need him anymore," "He's too old and slow now," or "I'd rather develop Player X instead" - and they are all misguided and deluded arguments.
Ferdinand, despite a few of his recent struggles, remains one of the most reliable and solid defenders in England, if not the world.
As many last ditch tackles Phil Jones makes, he has an equal number of slightly ill-advised charges forward for which the experience of Ferdinand is critical in order to assure the defense maintains its positioning and composure.
Now, that word, "experience," is one that is often tossed around to give an older player something over the younger ones who boast the athleticism and, the even more overused word, "potential." Here are but a few words written of United's No. 5 in recent match reports:
- "His cool and experience were vital in a reshuffled defense, and he looked unflappable for long periods."
- "[He] Justified the decision to bring him on to keep things tight in defense."
- "A serene return to action for the veteran defender, who came back from a two-match absence to lend invaluable experience to the Reds' backline."
- "[Ferdinand] read the game superbly."
What does Ferdinand's experience actually give United? Easy. Terry and Cahill, Ferdinand's most likely replacements for the match against Montenegro, are both experienced defenders as well. They represent this experience in a fundamentally different way. The easiest way to show this is through pictures. Any picture you see of John Terry, he is either arguing with the ref or performing some last-ditch sliding tackle. Both of these require experience, authority in the game and good reading of play that only comes with experience, respectively. Ferdinand is completely different, and in my opinion, superior. Every picture of the United stalwart shows him yelling to and coordinating his fellow defenders. The control he has over the game is immense, and it has only improved over the 15 years he's played. He's seen every situation there is to see, so keeping him in the back next to 3 of the most promising defenders in England in Jones, Smalling, and Evans to share his knowledge with them is undoubtedly the best thing for this club.
And none of this is to say that he's past it. His block against Morison is clear evidence of that. The best evidence, however, is not a singular act. It's his record, according to ESPN, of not committing a foul in a competitive fixture since the 1-0 win over Everton last April. That's over 5 months of flawless tackles.
Ferdinand is not done, yet. He will be absolutely pivotal in the raising of the next young wave of Reds and without him and his vital experience, our hopes for continued world domination would be absolutely absurd.
Article contributed by @Ivy_United