Rio shows Roy his class
England must have some pretty amazing centre backs if there’s no room for Rio Ferdinand in the squad.
What a defensive masterclass he put on at (if we really must call it) the Sports Direct Arena yesterday. He strolled though the game. His positional play was top drawer. He dealt admirably with the physical bombardment you get at Newcastle. Indeed, I think Papiss Cisse may still be in his pocket somewhere. His centre back partner Jonny Evans told me after the game that Rio had got through the match without breaking sweat. He was an oasis of calm amidst the maelstrom of noise that you get when Manchester United are in toon.
The Reds’ defending has been under the microscope of late, particularly after the home defeat against Spurs. Rio in particular was shamefully written off in some quarters, mainly because he was outpaced by the flying machine that is Gareth Bale. It was harsh in the extreme. United’s number five is still a class act and exuded a calm authority yesterday. It would be interesting to watch a video of the game with Roy Hodgson and then maybe he could point out the “football reasons” that have led to Rio’s exclusion from the national setup. I must ask him about that when I next see him on the London Underground!
The clean sheet was important at Newcastle and will hopefully silence a few doubters. And with Chris Smalling on the verge of being fit, suddenly our defensive resources look stronger.
It’s never nice to go into an international break when you’re stewing on a bad result but enormous character has been shown in the last seven days with a hard-fought win in Romania followed by three points at Newcastle. We can now relish the resumption of the season with big games galore domestically and in Europe. United are firmly back on track.