Ferdinand and Terry is today's hot topic but time moves on - International - Football - The Independent

Ferdinand and Terry is today's hot topic but time moves on

Out of form or in the stand, England's ageing centre-backs are a far cry from former glories

Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, on opposite sides of a public conflict, were again on different sides of the argument yesterday. While Ferdinand was wearing the shirt of Manchester United, part of a defence that was exposed as Chelsea surged ahead, Terry was wearing the tracksuit of Chelsea, only able to watch as his team-mates responded with soft generosity of their own.

The rift which exists between England's two leading centre-backs of the last decade framed yesterday's match. Ferdinand was the subject of boos and jeers from the Chelsea fans, as well as taunts about Anton. It was disgusting and disgraceful, but given modern standards of behaviour at football, not desperately surprising.

Ferdinand responded with a calm start; he did most of what was asked of him, and could have done little to stop either Jonny Evans' own-goal or Juan Mata's magical volley.

While he was powerless to prevent Chelsea's first two goals, Ferdinand was liable for the third. It was just five minutes after Mata's goal, when United most needed to secure their position in the game. But Mata swung in a free-kick for the right, and David Luiz darted to the near post to meet it. Ferdinand was caught two feet behind him. Luiz was free to head it, and the ball deflected off the trailing Ferdinand and into the net.

It is unlikely that the assured, commanding Rio Ferdinand of years gone could have been so negligent or so slow. The dominant Ferdinand would surely have not allowed such an affront to his defensive authority; he would have been quick, strong and ready, and repelled the danger.

But that was as bad as it got for Ferdinand, and for United. For the last 40 minutes they improved. As United had most of the ball, Ferdinand was rarely tested. When he was, he did well, holding up Daniel Sturridge, forcing him to shoot wide, and beating Fernando Torres to a near-post header.

It was Chelsea's defence which was examined from then on – like United's, it did not take too much pressure for them to concede three. This was Gary Cahill's debut, although in truth it could have been finished within 10 minutes but his trip on Danny Welbeck went unpunished. Cahill was playing instead of the man he is likely to replace long-term in Terry, who was out with a knee injury. While this removed what would have been a fascinating if potentially toxic sub-plot, it did mean a Chelsea defence less prepared for the test which it eventually failed.

Of course, it is unknowable whether Terry would have helped to preserve Chelsea's lead. But the belief and the rigour which he instils in his team-mates might just have made the costly errors less likely.

While the penalty that Sturridge conceded could be put down to the clumsy enthusiasm of a forward, the second was more obviously sloppy: Branislav Ivanovic was in the wrong position and, invited Danny Welbeck to win a penalty from him, an offer which was taken up.

And although any influence that Terry might have had on those goals is conjectural, he may well have had more of an influence on the equaliser. Ryan Giggs' left wing cross sailed over Cahill's head to Javier Hernandez, who had stolen space from David Luiz.

The Brazilian was playing left-sided centre-back, Terry's preferred role, and had the Chelsea captain been in the side he would, one imagines, have stuck tighter to Hernandez, and hurled himself in front of the striker to head the ball away. If there is one act that Terry defines himself around it is the desperate, diving near-post header, particularly when necessary, particularly when late in a game.

But this is all just guesswork. Terry's powers are fading just as much as Ferdinand's. The difference, yesterday, is that Ferdinand was on the pitch, part of a fragile defence, revealed as the defender he now is and not what he once was. Terry was sat in the stands, unable to keep goals out but also unable to let them in. Any influence he had was imagined, not real. Again, on the opposite side of the divide from Ferdinand.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week