Eriksson shows who is boss by dropping 'untouchable' Ferdinand

In a move that caused shock and surprise among the England players, the 26-year-old Ferdinand was summoned by coach Steve McClaren at the end of training and told to speak to Eriksson away from the main group. It became clear immediately to those present that the conversation was not just a simple tactics talk. The two defenders who will play in the centre of Eriksson's defence tomorrow will be John Terry and the in-form Sol Campbell.

It is not clear what has forced Eriksson's change of mind and he is unlikely to even confirm the decision at today's press conference, but Ferdinand's form for United in recent weeks, as well as a below average set of performances in England training session, are understood to have made up Eriksson's mind.

Up until Wednesday, England were still training with Terry and Ferdinand as the two centre-backs, but Eriksson has spotted something in Ferdinand's performance this week to change his mind.

The effect on the England hierarchy will be profound. Eriksson has never before dropped such a well-established player of the younger generation on form alone and the decision to exclude Ferdinand will do nothing to remove the feelings of insecurity that Steven Gerrard described among the players following the defeat to Northern Ireland on 7 September.

Ferdinand has won 29 of his 41 caps under Eriksson and the England coach has never failed to pick the Manchester United player when he has been fit or available. He started for England in Eriksson's very first game in charge against Spain in February 2001 and has played in all but the first two of England's World Cup qualifiers since he came back from his nine-month suspension for missing a drugs test on 23 September 2003.

It was that missed drugs test, and the ban impose by the Football Association that seemed to define the relationship between Eriksson and Ferdinand with the England coach even offering tacit support to the player in spite of his employer's actions. When Ferdinand returned to football in September last year he was called straight into the England team to face Wales at Old Trafford on 9 October at the expense of Terry who had played in his absence throughout Euro 2004.

Eriksson's latest decision seems to be grounded in the belief that Ferdinand is not improving enough as a player - a theory that is shared by many who have watched his performances for United this season. He was among those culpable for both Fulham's goals in United's 3-2 victory at Craven Cottage on Saturday and, in the last two years, has simply not made the giant bounds forward that Terry has managed.

The Chelsea captain is now arguably the first choice among the four top centre-halves at Eriksson's disposal - including Jamie Carragher. The implications for England's team selection suggest that Eriksson, suddenly possessed by a new bullishness, may have one more trick in store before tomorrow afternoon but, excluding any further changes of heart, he will pick a defence with Luke Young at right-back, Carragher on the opposite side and Terry and Campbell in the centre.

With Eriksson's stock so low it is difficult to judge whether the exclusion of Ferdinand is an unprecedented reaction to calls for him to show his teeth in dealing with England's under-performing young stars, or simply a panicky act of tinkering too close to a crucial match. The third possibility is that Eriksson is at last making the decision to pick players on form, with Ferdinand having played himself out of contention.

It emerged also last night that Eriksson is grooming his England coaching assistants ­ Steve McClaren, Peter Taylor and Sammy Lee ­ with the view to one of them succeeding the Swede as manager.

"When I took the job four-and-a-half years ago I was asked by the FA to work with two or three English coaches who, in the future, could take over my job," Eriksson said. McClaren, Taylor and Lee were "definitely in the window", he added.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment