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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
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

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf