Football: Rio grand, but can the Hammers hold him?

COOL, STRONG, good in the air, comfortable on the ball, just 20 years old; no wonder Rio Ferdinand is spoken of as a fixture in England's defence for the next decade, the natural successor to West Ham's supreme hero, Bobby Moore.

Moore spent most of his career at Upton Park, international achievement bolstering his preference for familiar surroundings at a time when there was no great profit in switching allegiance.

Times change. "Who knows," Harry Redknapp replied reflectively when recent speculation about Ferdinand's future was put to him. "What we're trying to do is make the progress that will keep Rio and other young players who are coming through happy."

Ferdinand's performances may be doing wonders for Redknapp's peace of mind - "I sleep easier just knowing he's in the team," - but West Ham's manager must live with the possibility of losing him. "The way things are in football now it is difficult to keep a player when he can double, even treble his wages by going to a club that has a good chance of winning the championship."

If common sense prevails, Redknapp lives in hope that an extension of the improvement sustained since the relegation worries of two seasons ago will endear Ferdinand to the club he has grown up with. Now sixth in the Premiership after a seventh place finish last term, their realistic target is a crack at European competition.

At the risk of going overboard about a player who still has things to learn - a mistake that could hinder Michael Owen's progress - Ferdinand looks made for it.

The most glowing tribute comes from his French teammate Marc Keller who was brought up with Marcel Desailly and Lilian Thurman of his country's World Cup winning team. "Marc says that Rio will be in a different class to both of them," Redknapp added.

More than any other factor, Ferdinand's assurance under pressure enables Redknapp to risk the perils of momentum that allows the opposition room for retaliatory manoeuvre.

Saturday's 2-1 defeat of Everton clearly emphasised West Ham's ability to break. Everton were not so much transformed in the second half as realising the possibilities arising from the Hammer's eagerness to get forward.

"It became end to end stuff. We were running past each other in midfield," Redknapp added.

Behind in the 19th minute when Keller's attempted centre found their net after looping over Thomas Myrhe and striking the far post, Everton drew level when Danny Cadamarteri forced home a low centre from the substitute Nick Barmby.

Everton, however, were unable to consolidate, their goal falling again almost immediately when Trevor Sinclair launched himself at Keller's cross to head the winner.

Not that the game's fluctuations were over. Chances came at both ends and on another day Ian Wright, who foolishly got himself a mention in the referee's report for booting the ball out of play, might have been on a hat trick.

A battle of wills in midfield between Eyal Berkovic and his shadow, Olivier Dacourt, briefly went the Everton man's way when he began to spring forward, but it swung again in an exciting finale.

Not in the least troubled when he is left without frontal protection - shades of the best defender ever to wear England's colours - Ferdinand dealt calmly with crises that arose from Cadamarteri's eager surges.

Even so, West Ham almost paid for their profligate finishing when conceding a free-kick from 20 yards in the last minute.

Dacourt struck it well but Shaka Hislop, adding to the good impression he has made since arriving on a free transfer from Newcastle, turned the ball for a corner.

Walter Smith offered no excuses for a defeat that ended Everton's mini revival. "We didn't perform in the first half and after getting back into the game we threw it away with bad defending," he said.

Honours in that department went to the player whose ability causes Redknapp to drool.

"Frightening," he said.

Goals: Keller (19) 1-0; Cadamarteri (71) 1-1; Sinclair (75) 2-1.

West Ham (3-5-2): Hislop; Pearce, Ferdinand, Dicks; Sinclair, Lomas, Berkovic, Lampard, Keller; Hartson, Wright. Substitutes not used: Forrest (gk), Breacker, Potts, Omoyinmi, Lazaridis.

Everton (3-5-2): Myrhe; Bilic, Materazzi, Unsworth; Ward (Collins, 75), Grant (Barmby, 64), Dacourt, Hutchison, Cleland; Cadamateri, Madar (Branch, 64). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Farley.

Bookings: West Ham: Lomas, Wright. Everton: Dacourt, Hutchison, Bilic, Cadamarteri.

Referee: R Harris (Oxford).

Man of the match: Ferdinand.

Attendance: 25,998.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: New Business Development Manager / Sales - UK New Business

£24000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

MBDA UK Ltd: Mission Planning and Control Solutions Systems Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? A pro-act...

MBDA UK Ltd: System Design Capability

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? The small...

Recruitment Genius: Time Served Fabricator / Welders - Immediate Start

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fabricator welder required for ...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific