Ferdinand goes back to basics after Capello's sharp reminder

Defender makes amends for his error in Ukraine by responding well to manager's public broadside. Mark Fleming reports

When Fabio Capello took Rio Ferdinand aside this week to remind him of his responsibilities for England, this kind of performance was just what he wanted. No frills, and no thrills.

Ferdinand responded to the verbal "boot up the backside" from the England manager with a performance of composure against Belarus that will have pleased Capello. The visitors never put him under too much pressure, but in return the central defender did not make any of the mistakes that have littered his game of late.

From the moment Ferdinand broke into the first team at West Ham in 1996, he has been fighting the perception that he makes too many sloppy mistakes. His talent on the ball has never been in doubt, which is why Leeds spent £18m to recruit him in 2000 and Manchester United paid out £29.1m two years later.

But as Ferdinand approaches his 31st birthday, the same old qualms persist – that he simply makes too many errors for a player of his undoubted class. At his best, Ferdinand is the personification of measured assurance; at his worst he is guilty of slapdash overconfidence.

Capello knows Ferdinand is simply too good to discard with the World Cup finals just eight months away. When he is playing at his peak, he is the closest England have to the perfect modern defender; tall, athletic, and with the ability to turn defence into attack with a couple of touches of the ball.

The trouble is that he just has not been playing well. Ferdinand came into last night's game with his ears ringing after receiving a couple of verbal monsterings from Capello. What's more, the Italian decided to go public about his pep talks with Ferdinand, ensuring the Manchester United defender's ordeal would become one of the key issues ahead of last night's final qualifying match.

However, what he did not do was drop him. Capello made it clear he was unhappy, told everyone he was unhappy, but when the crunch came he gave Ferdinand another chance to redeem himself. Capello's loyalty contrasted with the way Ferdinand was treated under Sven Goran Eriksson, who dropped him for a World Cup qualifier against Austria in October 2005 only to recall him a month later.

A simple run-out against Belarus was the perfect opportunity he needed to show that Capello's words would be enough of a warning. The visitors did little to test the centre-half in the opening session, but when he was required he was there with the telling interception to nick possession. There were no spectacular blocks or last-gasp tackles, just little touches and headers to repel the visitors.

His distribution was also exemplary. Instead of trying something over-ambitious, Ferdinand chose to take the simple, no-risk route, passing along the back four instead of looking for something more eye-catching. Just what Capello would have wanted from a player who remains a key part of England's World Cup plans.

The England manager clearly wants Ferdinand and John Terry to spend more time together on the pitch, as they have both missed internationals through injury. Their understanding could be decisive in South Africa. This was only the third England game Ferdinand has started in the past 12 months, his appearances for the team having been limited by a long-standing back injury.

The other factor is a shortage of a serious alternative, as Matthew Upson's lack of experience at the highest level makes him something of a gamble.

With Ferdinand performing well, England looked a far more stable defence. Although there was a moment when Sergei Sosnovski broke free down the right and fired in a crisp half-volley that Ben Foster in the England goal did well to push around the post.

Glen Johnson was guilty on occasion of dwelling on the ball too long in defence, but the pace of his recovery ensured England were not embarrassed on this night when the national side celebrated its untroubled passage through the World Cup qualification process.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence