Rio will never be the player he once was, claims ex-England boss Taylor

01 November 2009 04:17
Rio Ferdinand's ability to continue playing at the highest level was thrown into doubt by former England manager Graham Taylor.

The central defender - a key man in Fabio Capello's plans for nextsummer's World Cup finals in South Africa - was left out of theManchester United side that beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Off the pace: Liverpool's Fernando Torres holds off Rio Ferdinand to score against United

His omission came just hours after Taylor had claimed that Ferdinand has 'lost his legs' and would never play to his previous standard again.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Taylor said: 'What I am going to say will probably surprise a lot of people, but I think Rio Ferdinand has lost his legs. He struggled to keep up with Fernando Torres in Manchester United's game against Liverpool last week and I just don't think he is - or will be - the wonderful player he once was.'

The England defender, who turns 31 on Saturday, has endured a nightmare October, being beaten for pace in embarrassing circumstances against Ukraine and seeing his reputation as a highly mobile defender plummet.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be furious over Taylor's remarks, having already hit back at the barrage of recent criticism aimed at Ferdinand.

The United boss had said: 'I don't know where it is coming from. I just have to put it down to the modern culture of humiliating people.'

Off the mark: Craig Bellamy celebrates after taking advantage of Ferdinand's howler to score in the Manchester derby

Even Ferdinand's exclusion against Rovers became a talking point yesterday. The United manager claimed on Friday that the defender had a calf niggle, but there was widespread speculation earlier in the week that Ferguson planned to leave him out anyway after his run of poor form.

Ferdinand also cancelled attending a film premiere on Thursday because it was 48 hours before a match - not the actions of a man who was injured.

On Friday, Ferguson said: 'I keep reading that I am going to drop Rio but the media don't know my mind and won't pick my teams.'

However, Ferdinand can take comfort from the fact that current England boss, Fabio Capello, does not agree with Taylor's withering assessment.

Sources close to Capello explained last night that the England management still have faith in Ferdinand.

They believe his problems stem from the fact that he was unable to do full pre-season training because of injury problems. Capello is confident that Ferdinand can return to his best in time for World Cup action in South Africa.

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Source: Daily_Mail