Former Arsenal forward Ian Wright has blasted Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand in his 'Sun' column, with the headlines claiming Wright's view that Ferdinand travelling to Qatar to be a match pundit stinks when England really needed him for the World Cup qualifiers.
But, Ian, didn't England win 8-0 against San Marino ? And aren't we confident of a decent result against Montenegro ?
Listen, Ferdinand hasn't been treated particularly fairly by England manager Roy Hodgson since he became the boss (leaving him out over the John Terry 'incident', and telling fans on the Tube that the Manchester United defender's England career was over). So, what do you expect ? Why should Ferdinand put himself out ?
But it actually goes much deeper than that. Ferdinand has been playing much better for Manchester United this season (sure, he's lost some pace, but who doesn't at age 34 ?). But you have to wonder whether Ferdinand is playing better BECAUSE he hasn't been playing for England, and that his club career is back on track as his body is better able to cope with fewer matches and less distraction.
We know from the club that Ferdinand has to be treated with kid gloves to ensure his fitness and prolong his career, so is it really unreasonable for the player to put club before country as he attempts to bag a couple more trophies with Manchester United before retiring (he'll hardly be picking up medals with England, will he ?).
So, on this occasion, I make Wrighty wrong and Rio right. Sometimes you just have to put yourself (and the club who pays your wages) first.