Rio Ferdinand wouldn’t have crossed Jock Stein

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THE fear factor is an important thing for a manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson has it, Jock Stein had it. Respectively, they are and were uncrossable.

Roy Hodgson, for all he’s a hugely respected figure in the game, doesn’t seem to have that ability to put the fear of God into players.

That, I’m sure, is part of the reason Rio Ferdinand felt able to pull out of the England squad the way he did last week.

Back when I was in the Scotland set-up, players wouldn’t have dared mess about the same way with Big Jock.

He was a disciplinarian with a short fuse and wouldn’t have stood for it.

You would have been hauled over the coals and that would have been your international chances done for.

Things are different these days, of course, but I think the way Rio has acted has been disappointing.

His decision to pull out of the England squad to face San Marino and Montenegro was nothing less than two fingers in the manager’s face and Roy Hodgson shouldn’t have to accept that. He’s a fair manager and a reasonable man and his conduct in the aftermath has spoken volumes.

Still, it’s too simple to say this is a case of one of England’s superstars taking advantage of Roy’s good nature. There’s far more to it than that.

Yes, Rio should have turned around when he was called up and said, “Thanks for inviting me back, but my body can’t take it.”

Then we wouldn’t have had any of this nonsense.

But his decision not to do that was personal and very deep-rooted.

What happened to Rio during the John Terry “racism” scandal was wrong. That he was dropped by England for so-called footballing reasons while Terry remained in the fold will probably hurt him forever. I’m sure it was in the back of his mind when he was recalled.

For all the talk of advice from medical specialists, I suspect that was the major factor behind his decision to pull out.


Because if Rio felt he was being welcomed back into the England set-up on merit, not just because injuries to other players meant he was no longer a dangerous option, I think he’d have ignored the docs and played anyway.

In a sense, I can sympathise, but I don’t think sticking two fingers up at the England manager in the way he has is a reasonable course of action.

And if Sir Alex Ferguson was in Hodgson’s place, I don’t think Rio would have dared go about things the way he did.