John Terry and Rio Ferdinand: Are They England's Best Bet?

Simon WilliamsSenior Analyst IAugust 19, 2008

Fabio Capello got one over on the mainstream media on Tuesday, when he named Chelsea's John Terry as his permanent England captain.

Most media sources had reported that Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand would get the nod, ahead of Terry and Steven Gerrard—but the FA had obviously pulled the wool over their eyes.

Rio Ferdinand was named as vice-captain, suggesting that Fab's first choice defensive partnership is pretty much set in stone. So Bleacher members, do we agree that Rio and Terry should be the first choice centre back partnership?

There is little doubting the quality of either player. Ferdinand in particular was outstanding last season, and seems to be getting better with age, showing more maturity on and off the pitch.

Terry's place in the team was perhaps considered more under threat, given that he was the captain previously but had it removed at the beginning of Capello's reign.

However, Phil Scolari has kept Terry as Chelsea's main man, suggesting that his stock is very high throughout world football. After all, Scolari is a World Cup winner with an almost bottomless pit of money available to buy a new centre half, should he have felt the need.

What message does Capello's choice send out to England's other centre halves?

The likes of Upson, King, Woodgate, Richards and Wheater now know that no matter how well they play, week in and week out, they are highly unlikely to dislodge Terry and Ferdinand in the England team—at least while Fab is in charge and the latter are fit and available.

As well as demoralising the ambitions of England's other defenders, the choices send very mixed messages out concerning the FA's 'Respect' initiative.

Neither Terry nor Ferdinand are respectful to referees. Terry has been the Chelsea ring-leader in surrounding referees when they make decisions against the Blues, with Ferdinand performing a similar role for Manchester United.

They snarl, they swear, they throw their toys out of the pram and perform their best 'hard-done-by' expressions. It remains to be seen whether either player will change this, or whether they will make a complete mockery of the FA's aims in continuing with their gutter tactics.

It must be said that in terms of being respectful to referees, not many of the other candidates for the captaincy are paragons of virtue either. 

Wayne Rooney is to a referee what Kryptonite is to Superman, draining them of energy with his constant and embarrasing vitriol and anger. The latest desperate hope is that marriage will calm Wayne down. It won't. 

Steven Gerrard does his best to referee games on his own, by diving and appealing with equal disregard for 'Respect', though he does at least like to keep ref's on his side—a more friendly dirty tricks campaign, if you like. 

Gareth Barry is probably the only contender who can hold his head high in the respect regard, but it's unlikely that he was ever at the forefront of Capello's mind.

So John Terry will keep the England captaincy for the foreseeable future. Is he a good captain? Well, if such luminaries as Jose Mourinho, Phil Scolari and Fabio Capello think so, then who am I to disagree?

However, perhaps a more pertinent question is, should Terry and Ferdinand automatically be the first choice defensive pairing?

I remain unconvinced on this matter, and if I was an English centre half on the fringes of the team or squad, I wouldn't be feeling very confident about playing much international football in the next few years.


Fab has made his choices, now they must (at last) deliver a string of solid performances, starting at Wembley tomorrow against the Czech Republic.