Sam Wallace: Roy Hodgson's about-turn gives the lie to wackier conspiracy theories

 

In the end, all that Roy Hodgson is guilty of having done is change his mind which, given that many managers do so repeatedly in the space of one game, is hardly the biggest crime.

Yes, there is no question that when asked about Ferdinand's future after a wobbly defensive showing against Brazil in February, the England manager did react like a man who would rather discuss just about anything else. He may well have told tube passengers in October that it was the "end of the line" for Ferdinand with England, although he has since denied that.

But today he gave the lie to the wackier conspiracy theories that Ferdinand's exclusion was part of a sinister plot, or an inexplicable act of favouritism towards John Terry. Plainly, it was not. Hodgson now sees a merit in picking Ferdinand that he previously did not: football is like that sometimes. With about as much humour as he could muster, Hodgson said that his admission after the Brazil game that he was "sick of talking" about Ferdinand still stood, if perhaps his view of the player had changed. "I stand by that," he said. "I'm still sick of talking about it."

As for the rest of it, he had maintained he had never – that disputed tube journey conversation aside – closed the door on Ferdinand's international career.

"You say one thing one day, one thing another day. At the moment I have selected him because I think he is the right man to do the job. That's the bottom line. I'm hoping he will be pleased. I am hoping he plays so well that he plays every single game England play from now to eternity but I don't have a crystal ball."

If the final part of the answer sounded sarcastic, it was only because Hodgson had run out of ways of saying he had changed his mind. As England managers go, he is far more candid than the likes of Sven Goran-Eriksson and Fabio Capello, and tries to explain as best he can what can be, let's face it, the occasionally nightmarish job of dealing with English football's biggest names.

The Ferdinand issue has its roots in the messy and complex fallout from John Terry's race charges against Ferdinand's brother, Anton. That is a delicate state of affairs with feelings running high, for understandable reasons, and the added complexity that Terry was cleared by a court but found guilty by the Football Association. The FA fined Ferdinand, too, for that racially crude remark about Cole he referred to on Twitter.

So when Hodgson refers to the "unfortunate incident" between Cole and Ferdinand, which is to do with the Terry court case, and the testimony Cole supplied to support his defence, you do wince at the simplification. But then you remember that this is an England manager trying his best to navigate a way through the racial politics and public feuds of modern football. It is by no means easy.

Hodgson's primary aim is to get England to the 2014 World Cup finals and he has decided that Ferdinand, who was last in a squad in August 2011, is his best option. It is not a climb-down, or a humiliation, it is simply a manager doing what he thinks is best.

"He [Ferdinand] has missed very few games this year and those he has missed are because Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to give someone else a run-out," Hodgson said. "He has mixed and matched quite a lot this year but Rio has played a lot more than any other centre-half."

No-one would, for a moment, expect Ferdinand or Cole to forget the grievances that they may hold about the Terry case and all its fallout. It is far too painful for that. But Hodgson's straight plea that the two co-exist peacefully in the squad next week is a reasonable request to two professionals.

As it stands, it does not appear that any issue between Cole and Ferdinand will preclude them from working together. The real issue remains between Ferdinand and Terry, who has retired from international football.

Having made his decision to recall Ferdinand, the sting has been taken out of the issue to a great extent. It also meant, as the England manager no doubt noticed, that he was barely asked about Wayne Rooney being dropped for the Champions League tie against Real Madrid or Ferguson's recent rant against the FA. They had to wait for another day.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
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.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits