The decision to take Martin Kelly instead of Ferdinand has bemused many. Kelly has barely any international experience, and not much more for his club, Liverpool, where he is second choice to a player, Glen Johnson, who whilst a good player, is hardly a world beater.
Whereas Ferdinand has been a consistent and vital member of the Manchester United team which has dominated in England in recent years, and is probably the team which has been the third best in Europe recently behind the Spanish giants of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
So why Ferdinand was omitted from the squad and ignored again at the hand of Kelly will bemuse, and has already.
One can understand Hodgson’s perspective this week. He was faced with a situation, that Gary Cahill was going to miss the Euros. With four players who can play at centre back, but just one specialist right back, it made some sense to go with a player on that side of the defence. Yet questions are validly being asked about why Kelly instead of Micah Richards then, given that the Man City man can play in the centre.
Yet for Hodgson he has now learned that his decision to omit Ferdinand in the first place was the one he should probably not have made. He put himself in the position of being vulnerable to criticism for this error, and is now paying the price. Ferdinand was the better choice out of him and John Terry. Ferdinand is better on the ball, plays for a better team who have a better defence, and had a good record of playing games this season.
He is also a player who would have been less divisive, both in an out of the squad. Ferdinand is an eminently likeable individual, who may have transgressed in the past, but is seen as a fundamentally decent individual. Terry on the other hand, is not. He is a man who hijacked Chelsea’s Champions League celebrations as though he had made a positive contribution the success. He had not. He is also the man who slept with the wife of a team mate.
Though he insists he did not racially abuse Rio’s brother Anton, it hardly makes him more endearing to be up on a charge of doing so. Allegations may prove untrue in this case, but people still will not like Terry, both in and out of the squad.
Many players have this week criticised Hodgson for this decision. It has sparked criticism that the move was not based on football logic. It seems strange by all accounts, given that objectively speaking Ferdinand is the better player, to take Terry in his place for footballing reasons. It seems even stranger considering the two do not get on anymore due to Terry’s alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand. Why punish Anton’s brother, rather than Terry himself? Of course innocent until proven guilty must stand, as Hodgson rightly says – and these are only allegations. But whether true or not, Rio is not talking to Terry as a result, and if you have to choose between the two resultantly, it seems a no brainer.
So why take the worse footballer, and by all accounts, worse person? Hodgson will face many questions for this and rightly so. It was not his decision this week which was an error – but the foolish one he made in May.