But for Chelsea’s late late Europa League final win over Benfica, the football world’s big talking-point today would be Rio Ferdinand’s decision to retire from England duty.
At 34, Rio’s decision is a brave and sensible decision to make. Brave because he will no doubt get caned by some corners of the media, who still resent him for past selection-problems with the national side, who accuse England of messing Rio about.
It could also be seen as a brave decision because after a stellar year for Manchester United – a year that saw him voted into the PFA team of the year – few high-calibre players would have thrown away the chance of a place in next summer’s World Cup squad in Brazil.
Of course anything can happen in a year, football always throws up surprises but after the year Rio had had, who’s to say that if he hadn’t made this decision that he wouldn’t have got into Roy Hodgson’s starting line-up and kept his place there for the finals.
Rio’s decision is also a sensible one because England have plenty of centre-backs that they can call upon. Whether they are as good as the veteran defender isn’t up for debate here but Hodgson has options and the defenders who have played well in Rio’s absence who are available deserve the chance to play at a tournament, which they currently stand a more than good-chance of qualifying for.
Of course United benefit from Rio no longer playing for England and this does show the commitment and desire that the defender still has to play at the highest level. In fact it would be shell-shocking too see him not handed a new-contract at the end of the season, despite the improved development of the likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
The England mafia will no doubt point out that Rio’s choosing his club career over his country. They well have a point but Rio has given his all for England in the past. Some may well point out that this decision could and should have come a lot sooner, but Rio perhaps knows that the end is nigh and perhaps he’s doing this to ensure he starts next season, which could well turn out to be his last at his maximum.
One thing is for sure Hodgson will be pleased Rio’s gone, after all at least now he won’t have to avoid speaking about him at press-conferences. He’ll now have to deal with rumours regarding John Terry wanting to come out of international-retirement instead.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87