I’d originally meant to publish this article on Wednesday: although I began it I was unable to get it finished due to a family emergency.Â Interesting looking back on what I’d written though, so here it is:
‘Nothing more need be said about the Japan game at the weekend. So here’s some very quick thoughts about the final squad that I scribbled at my desk this afternoon:
Got relegated with Pompey, still a bit mistake prone. Last World Cup as a player, next one will be as a pundit.
Hammers got away with being poor last season, like David James he got a lot of practice last season.
The future. Also takes penalties.
Sort of our version of Roberto Carlos.
Stephen ‘not Neil’ Warnock
Wouldn’t expect him to feature much but provides strength in depth.
You know that Nike advert everyone loves that’s got a Simpson’s version of Ronaldo in it? Should have been Rio. Needs to remember he’s in a tournament, not just a few friendlies.
Shouty man. About time we had a defender sent off in the knock out round.
Unexpected selection but should do well.
Might make an appearance in the 3rd/4th place game. See Tony Dorigo in 1990.
Doesn’t seem that long ago that everyone was saying wouldn’t it be great if he was fit, he’d be a shoo in etc. Will be useful if Rio Ferdinand switches off at any point.
Defines ‘unsettled’; hope he doesn’t carry any baggage into the finals. Most likely to be the first to get picked on if everything starts going wrong.’
The midfielders and strikers will be posted soon, but yesterday’s news that Rio Ferdinand has been ruled out of the tournament after being injured during training may not be as worrying as it first appears. Steven Gerrard will take over as captain and Michael Dawson has replaced Ferdinand in the final 23.
On Wednesday I wrote thatÂ ‘we shouldn’t really doubt the fire in his (Gerrard’s) belly, but recently he seems to have mistaken effort for quality – and he can’t do that in the World Cup’. This refers primarily to a reasonable season for a mediocre Liverpool team and I’m sure that he’ll do a fine job replacing Rio. My thoughts on Michael Dawson are that I’m sure he’s got a really promising international career ahead of him, but that on reflection Capello was right to leave him out of the initial selection because Dawson needs another good season with Spurs (especially in the Champions League) before he can be considered a regular. I would expect Dawson to benefit enormously from the experience but would be surprised to see him play.
Before anyone starts panicking about Rio, it’s worth remembering that he played the second fewest league games of his career last season due to a groinÂ injury: I’ve got to be honest and say that I’d rather he was ruled out sooner rather than later as I wasn’t entirely convinced that his fitness was all that it should be. Not only that, we’re not in the same position as Germany are with Michael Ballack, Nigeria are with Jon Obi Mikel and Michael Essien and Ivory Coast may be with Didier Drogba (and yes, they are all Chelsea players); Rio is an important member of the squad, but his replacements are just as good and -Â unlike the other nations I’ve just mentioned -Â our chances will not be diminished due to his injury.