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Slump! But England chief Fabio Capello backs out of form defender Rio Ferdinand

11 Oct 2009 16:27:20

Slump! But England chief Fabio Capello backs out of form defender Rio Ferdinand

Fabio Capello insists he is not concerned about Rio Ferdinand's slump in form. The Manchester United defender's misjudgment of a routine long-ball led to the sending off of keeper Robert Green. That, and his sloppy error in the pulsating Manchester derby that let in Craig Bellamy, has not made for a virtuoso start to the season for the defender. Such a key figure in the England set-up, Ferdinand ideally needs to be on top of his game. But when asked about his defender's slump, Capello replied: 'No,' when unequivocally asked whether he was concerned. 'He made one mistake during the game. It was a long ball that bounced and he didn't judge the direction well. 'But after that he played a good game. At this moment he is making some mistakes but you cannot question Rio's value.' No matter what trials and tribulations England have gone through over the years, Ferdinand has always been a reliable performer. Good enough to earn a place in FIFA's 2002 World Cup team, the stylish defender has rarely dipped below those standards in an exceptional 75-cap career. Even the infamous eight-month ban for a missed drugs test has largely been obliterated from the memory. Now though, with the Three Lions finally becoming the sum of their parts under Capello's expert tutelage, Ferdinand has hit trouble. If Japan was where the 30-year-old earned such high praise on the world stage, and even gained admiring glances from Pele, it is also the place his present problems began. Ferdinand may claim the back injury he sustained as Manchester United won the Club World Cup in Yokohama last December is no longer an issue. Yet his performances since that six-week lay-off have lacked consistency. He did not look fully fit for the Champions League final in Rome, where United suffered a collective collapse against Barcelona, while his error against City has done nothing for Ferdinand's confidence. With England he has managed just three out of a possible nine appearances sincereturning from the Far East. And in the latest two, against Holland in August and last night's 1-0 defeat to the Ukraine, he has made significant mistakes. Ferdinand's 15th-minute blunder in allowing Artem Milevskyi tocharge straight through the visitors' defence left Green with littlealternative other than to make the fateful challenge that resulted inhim becoming the first England goalkeeper to join the sent off hall ofshame. Capello has a valid argument in questioning how referee Damir Skomina could have been in a position to make such a crucial call given he initially flashed the red card in Ferdinand's face. But in a sense, it is just as much of a smokescreen Sir Alex Ferguson used when made his accusatory comments about Alan Wiley's fitness last weekend. If England are to enjoy the success they crave in South Africa next year, no member of their defence can afford such aberrations. But Capello has for now chosen to look on the bright side with regard to Ferdinand, while he was also bristling with positive vibes about the whole performance. The loss of England's 100 per cent qualification record, and his first defeat in a competitive game since succeeding the hapless Steve McClaren was not a reason for the Italian to despair. Neither was the needless mistake by Ashley Cole that eventually led to him deflecting Sergiy Nazarenko's shot past David James. Instead, Capello concentrated on the plus points, namely a battling display in which Wayne Rooney covered so much ground it was barely noticeable England were a man light for 75 minutes. The visitors could not really claim to be worthy of a draw given Ukraine struck a post during that tortuous first-half, while James was forced to make a magnificent save to keep the score down after the interval.But, if Frank Lampard had been able to take the chance Rooney presented him with, one of the Manchester United man's audacious efforts had come off, or Carlton Cole - another one to disappoint - had kept an injury-time header from inside the six-yard box down rather than steering it over the bar, England would have flown home with their unbeaten record preserved."I am really proud of what the players did in the second half," reflected Capello. "We had good chances to draw, especially in the second half and overall we played really well against a team who had 11 men."


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