In 2002 and 2006, England’s World Cup defences consisting of Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand, and Ferdinand and John Terry respectively, were sought out for honourable mentions as some of the most robust rear-guards of the tournaments. With Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher and Spurs’ Ledley King in back-up, the position of centre-back exuded a strength in-depth which was the envy of many fellow nations. Following the retirement (then un-retirement, then re-retirement) of Carragher, the perpetual injuries of King and (less so but more worryingly) Ferdinand and the, err, vacation of moral sensibilities suffered by the new/old England Captain John Terry, suddenly central reinforcements are desperately needed, in order to piece together what was once the foundation upon which England’s tournament failures were so readily built.
How can Ashley Cole shoot someone with an air rifle on Chelsea property and get away with it? How did Wayne Rooney elbow Wigan’s James McCarthy in the side of the head and never come close to official admonishment? Press and fans alike called for Cole to be sacked, for Rooney to be banned. Nothing materialised. Chelsea informed us that that matter had been dealt with internally. Manchester United denied Rooney had done anything wrong. Is there a systemic problem which allows the top players from the best teams, to commit the crime, then shirk the time?