Roy's friendly chats likely to go down the tube
SIDELINE CUT:The England manager has indicated he will have to call a halt to his friendly chats on the underground after revealing Rio Ferdinand’s international career was over
JUST LIKE that, Roy Hodgson becomes one of the last originals in sport.
Who could not be charmed by the news that the England football manager not only travels about on the London Underground but is happy to talk football with his fellow passengers? Has there been a more hopeful gesture for sport in recent years?
If you haven’t heard, the England football boss has landed himself in hot water for disclosing his plans regarding Rio Ferdinand for England’s forthcoming international fixture against San Marino. Hodgson was taking a train to the Emirates Stadium to catch an Arsenal match and because he holds what is one of the most heavily scrutinised jobs in world sport, most people in the carriage knew who he was. So when one of his fellow travellers asked him if Rio would feature in his squad list. Roy had several options. He could have pretended not to hear and bury his head into one of the Roth or Kundera novels into which he dives when not worrying about the perpetual ennui of Michael Carrick or the wayward form of Theo Walcott.
He could have given a stingingly sharp and mostly incomprehensible reply a la Kenny Dalglish, his successor at Anfield. The man speaks six languages: he could have employed any of them to fool his neighbour into believing he had just mistaken some Scandinavian geezer who was a dead ringer for the England boss. He could have simply shrugged.
Instead, Hodgson decided to treat the man with respect and engaged in a civilised conversation with him. So it came to pass that on a Jubilee Line carriage some time during rush hour, the England manager told this man or woman and the other “strangers on the train” who were undoubtedly riveted to the conversation while leafing through their Fifty Shades and Evening Standards that the chances of big Rio playing for his country again were slim. “He is pushing 34 and hasn’t played for England for a long, long time.”
It was a fair, rational and even an elegiac response. And it was also just plain honest. Football is England’s national game. Tens of thousands of people spend entire years of their lives watching football, talking about football and thinking about football. Three million of ’em care so much about Rio Ferdinand that they follow his every utterance on Twitter. Hundreds of thousands spend hard-earned money on season tickets and on the latest club shirt. They subscribe to Sky and therefore help to pay the staggering wages which footballers now enjoy.