England Captaincy: Rio Ferdinand v John Terry

With England boss Fabio Capello preparing to announce the England captain ahead of the friendly against the Czech Republic, new Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has urged the Italian to re-appoint John Terry. Scolari suggests “It would be a fantastic choice if he made John Terry captain. He is captain of Chelsea and I think he must again captain England. He helps the manager and the players by saying the right things on and off the field.”

However, although the preferred choice of former England manager Steve McClaren, JT was to find out during a team dinner before England’s friendly against France in March that the new boss was handing the armband to Rio Ferdinand on that occasion, before briefly handing it back to the Chelsea skipper for a friendly against the United States in May.

Of his short time as England captain Terry says “I’ve been awfully lucky to get the armband in the past and that’s something that will never leave me. I’m sure whoever Mr Capello announces as the captain will have the best day of his life next week, whether it be myself, Rio, Stevie G or Lamps. The main thing is that England as a team move forward and the captain helps drag them together. To have the captaincy for a short period of time meant an awful lot. I want those memories back and want to lead the team out. Of course I want the England captaincy. Maybe I do deserve another chance.”

But does he?

The job of England captain requires a role model both on and off the pitch, a model youngsters across the country can aspire to follow. They must be honourable and their motivational skills of the highest quality. When it comes to playing the game itself, there might well be better centre-backs out there but if there’s one master of the last-ditch tackle or the goal-line clearance, John Terry springs to mind. He thrives on challenge, gives his all as a captain and has an in-built ability to rally and inspire his players.

However, a captain’s leadership quality is expected on an off the pitch, taking charge of the team, calming tempers and correcting errant players. And whilst John Terry might be a popular choice in the dressing room, his off-field antics and lack of discipline have let him down a little too frequently. Be it rumours of a questionable social life, his choice of parking spot or his un-captain like reaction following Ashley Cole’s petulance at White Hart Lane last season, it’s probably not the stuff England captains are made of.

That’s not to say his competitor for the England captaincy, Rio Ferdinand, is above reproach either. Whilst both passionate, committed players, Ferdinand and Terry take losing badly, and allowing these feelings to spill over at times is something they’ve both been guilty of.  Even during a campaign where he excelled in Gary Neville’s absence, Ferdinand’s reaction to defeat at Stamford Bridge last season saw him lash out at a wall which he duly missed, kicking a female steward in the process.

Ferdinand’s also been guilty of his fair share of wayward behaviour scandals in the past, a fact that no doubt helped to cloud the FA’s opinion when he was given an eight month ban for a missed drugs test in December 2003. And his hesitation in signing a new contract with Manchester United in the wake of his ban didn’t exactly endear him to his own supporters either.

But, fair play to the man, he turned it around and certainly showed himself to be a worthy captain for his club when sharing the duties with Ryan Giggs last season. No longer the wide-boy, Rio Ferdinand has grown in both stature and popularity and even the opposition have to acknowledge the effect that’s had on his game.

And having given the England captain’s role a road test in the friendly against France in March, Ferdinand feels he is now ready to take up the position on a permanent basis. The 29 year old centre-back says “I’d love to have the job on a permanent basis, definitely. It’s a fantastic honour to be named the captain of your country. If there’s a God up there I hope he can make me last another two World Cups, if not three – but maybe that’s being greedy.”

If we’re looking at attitude then, Ferdinand’s transformation would probably see him come out as a firm favourite with Capello. And whilst he doesn’t come across quite as loud or commanding as JT on the pitch, his composed attention to his own duties and sometimes quieter, although just as controlled style of leadership might also please the Italian. Not that Ferdinand can’t find his voice when he needs it of course, although unlike the increasingly talkative John Terry, the Manchester United captain does seem to save his words for the pitch.

So, with just days to go before Fabio Capello announces the new, permanent England captain, will the differences between the two players last season sway his decision?


10 Responses

  1. Thank you for a fantastic article written by a real football fan and clearly an intelligent person.

    It is evenly balanced and without the spiteful ungrounded prejudice which into which it is so easy to lapse as a fan.

    As a United fan I would like to applaud you and wish you the best of luck next season.

    Hopefully we’l see you in Rome

  2. What part of ‘shut up’ don’t you understand? Anyone who saw how Rio lost his head in the game at Chelsea last season, with JT having to restrain him (again in front of Capello) after having the gall to wag his finger reproachingly at Drogba a little earlier would laugh as hard as I am. Not to mention the way he nearly took Joe’s head off with a stray boot in Moscow. When the going gets tough, Rio mentally collapses. It always was the way and it still is.

    If he gets the England captaincy we’ll all have been merc’d.

  3. Squiddy, are you always this bloody rude or do you reserve it for people with opinions that differ from yours? I acknowledged they’ve both lost their heads and yet you still want to point out all Rio’s misdemeanours as if JT’s a saint. He’s not – get over it. In fact, the sooner you learn to accept our players have bad points as well as good, the sooner you’ll learn to chill. Actually, what do I care? go give yourself an ulcer.

  4. I’m not rude. I’m direct when it comes to idiots. A person’s choice of parking space disqualifies someone as England captain, but someone who starts a fight with Mikel because he lost a fair challenge then kicks a steward shows he’s no longer a hot-headed wide boy?
    Really, just shut up. It’s embarrassing even more than it’s idiotic.

  5. Squiddy, can you not read? “That’s not to say his competitor for the England captaincy, Rio Ferdinand, is above reproach either.” etc….. I mean is it me who can’t read an objective article without throwing insults around here? Didn’t think so.

  6. Your case against JT is 1) a questionable social life 2) his choice of parking spot and 3) his uncaptain-like reaction to the Cole incident. In reverse order, his behaviour in the Cole incident was exemplary. No criticism has ever been directed at him on that occasion. Not by anyone. Regarding his questionable social life, I have no idea what you’re talking about at all. I saw he went out to a club with Frank once, in which they took their own wives and returned late. But both were injured and hadn’t played for weeks and didn’t return for weeks either. On the occasion he supposedly parked in a disabled bay, he was again taking his own wife and kids out to lunch. No-one ever indicated whether all disabled spaces were full or if anyone was waiting to use that spot. Was there? Maybe it matters, maybe not, but it appears to be an entirely victimless faux pas, for which he apologised anyway. No-one ever asked whether the car park had places for families with young kids like most supermarkets have.
    On the other hand, your claim that Plug is no longer a wide-boy whose reputation has increased is directly contradicted by several incidents in the last month of the season, let alone his test related ban which few players in the world have managed to get on their record.
    Your article isn’t objective. It’s windbag waffle based on and arguing a totally ridiculous premise. More fool me for lowering myself to point it out.

  7. So Rio showed he’s a bad loser a couple of times last season? Bloody good job JT was such an angel eh? otherwise he mightve been accused of spitting at players. Thats not to say he actually did it – just that mud sticks. Rio’s missed test was 5 years ago, obviously you got over JT’s behaviour prior to his international ban slightly quicker.
    The England captaincy has to be judged on the here and now, not what a player did 5 bloody years ago.
    The point is, its easier to get a bad reputation than it is to lose it, I just happen to think Rio has done a little better in that respect than our own Captain at this point in time. Its really not that big a deal.

  8. What did JT ever do that was so bad? Argued that a 50-50 challenge by Cole that missed by an inch was no more than that – sticking up for his own players. Rio tried to attack a player on the pitch who won the ball cleanly from him. That was April 2008 when he also kicked a steward. But you think that’s proof he’s getting better not worse? Rio captained England in games that we lost. JT wasn’t in the games that England lost – that’s why we lost them and went out of the Euros. There’s hasn’t been a single game in which Rio’s captaincy has been a positive. Those of JT are too numerous to mention. You’ve raised precisely zero coherent points about JT’s bad points on the pitch and only that he parked his car inappropriately once as a reason why he shouldn’t be captain of the NT ffs!

    Bad parking? Is that seriously it? Mud sticks, yes. Easier to get a bad reputation than to lose it, yes. Looks like you got suckered every single time. What a mug you are.

  9. You totally missed the point of the article because you were too busy being defensive. It wasn’t about a ‘case against Terry’ it was just acknowledging both Rio and JT have their attributes but at the same time have their faults. Rio kicking the steward was claimed to be an accident and lets face it, what pro-player would do that on purpose? Just like JT’s spitting at Tevez was claimed to have been ‘words’. I gave JT the benefit of the doubt on that occasion and Im objective enough to do the same in Rio’s case.
    In terms of their discipline, theyre both bad losers, one of them acknowledges that, the other doesnt. But the fact is, JT constantly remonstrates with officials and at times his enthusiasm in doing so has been questionable. If you choose not to question it, then fair play.
    I may well look at JT a little closer than Rio (both on the pitch and on the front and back pages unfortunately) but thats because he represents both my club and country.
    When it comes to Chelsea, JT is absolutely the right man for the job – no question. When it comes to England, he won’t command the same amount of respect from either his team-mates or supporters so he’ll have to work a lot harder to earn it.
    Oh and btw – as far as Im concerned Cole’s arrogant behaviour was a disgrace and instead of storming the ref mafia-style, JT shouldve been dealing with that dickhead instead.

  10. 1) Rio has never done anything on the pitch that indicates he’s captain material. Nothing. When he turned up in a suit before he got his one game as England captain (which we lost) he looked more like he was up in court than a captain of England. Plug from the Bash Street kids is not a credible candidate for anything. 2) The FA’s Respect campaign directs that the only player allowed to approach the ref is the captain. At Chelsea, that’s what JT is. He conforms perfectly to the standard, yet you see it as the reason he shouldn’t get the job with England? And you’ve still failed absolutely and completely to say what JT did wrong in the Cole incident. The truth is he was perfectly respectful on that occasion and no-one anywhere has ever said any different. It’s also true that Cole spent a full 30 seconds talking to the ref before he turned his back, but the replays always cut that out in order to pretend he did so straight away. It’s another lie that you swallowed hook line and sinker like the mug you clearly are.

    I didn’t miss the point of the article. Trouble is you didn’t show any reason whatsoever that Rio should even be considered for the job. You claim that he’s calm, but the most recent events we’ve seen have shown him to be the absolute opposite. How many times should he boot the ball directly into the crowd, have to be restrained from attacking a player when no offence has occurred, he even kicked Owen Hargreaves to get up in the CL final when he was rolling round on the ground. Is that calm and diligent?

    Face it – you’ve been well and truly merc’d (whatever that means).

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