Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Ferdinand Flutters The Fan

The usually laconic Anton Ferdinand has become a paragon of verbosity these last few days, culminating with a spread in this morning's Sun newspaper. It would be churlish to suggest a hidden motive behind this new found love of the spoken word, but the fact the defender is only too happy to talk about the mooted transfer he emphatically, categorically, unequivocally knows nothing about and not the contract extension he has thus far emphatically, categorically, unequivocally refused to countenance suggests something is afoot. I guess it's never hurts either to publicise your charity work and espouse your family values when you have accrued an unfortunate 'reputation' that might deter potential suitors.

So younger Ferdinand believes Fabio Capello would be crazy to look away from his big brother next month when he names his captain for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The Manchester United skipper, vying for the honour with Chelsea counterpart John Terry and Liverpool leader Steven Gerrard, has been keen to play down his chances of landing the armband. But Anton said: “There are so many reasons why Rio should be England captain. For starters, the consistency in his play last season was unbelievable. He captained United to the Champions League and Premier League titles. I don’t think there is anybody better than him in the world right now. His professionalism is top dollar — just ask anybody at Manchester United and England. He has all the attributes to be England captain. It would be a proud moment for the Ferdinand family and it would be something he would handle well. It would be good for the team as well. If he gets the armband, the country will see the best of him.”

While Ferdinand Jnr is clear about the path ahead for his brother, he admits his own immediate future seems a little more clouded. There is media speculation that both Tottenham and Everton are willing to pay £8million to prise him from the club he joined as a schoolboy, while Newcastle United and Aston Villa have also been mentioned in certain quarters. At the weekend Ferdinand was himself reported to be 'furious' with
Alan Curbishley concerning the price tag placed on his head. Treading a fine line between placating his pay masters and inviting the solicitations of others calls for the subtlety of a particularly circumspect Victorian fan flirt.

“I’m happy at West Ham and until I’m told otherwise I will remain a West Ham player," said Ferdinand. "To be honest, I can’t wait to put the West Ham shirt on again and I hope that happens. If the day comes when I do leave West Ham, then I want to do it with my head held high. There has been a lot of speculation but I’m in pre-season with my head and heart set on playing for West Ham."

With or without Ferdinand, the Hammers will be hoping for a better campaign this time around. Despite leading his injury-jinxed squad to a respectable 10th spot, boss Alan Curbishley’s style of play came under fire. Ferdinand said: "The aim is to finish higher than last season. If we do we’ll have a great year. The next step has to be Europe. I can understand why the fans were frustrated. They pay a lot of money and don’t want to see players injured and the team not playing well. But they still kept behind the team. They know a fully-fit squad will be a very exciting prospect. We’ve got
Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer, Scotty Parker and Julien Faubert back again, as well as good youngsters coming through."

England Under-19 stars Freddie Sears and James Tomkins, as well as Jack Collinson burst on to the scene last season. Ferdinand added: “They are great examples of the quality youngsters we have at West Ham. But there are a few others in the shadows waiting to be unleashed. We’ve got some of the best young talent around and that’s all to do with the way West Ham groom young talent for the first team.”

Yet Ferdinand is not only keeping an eye on new talent in the East End, he is also helping to develop young players at an academy in East Africa. He said: “I spent a week there and trained boys every day. We saw a few who could make the Premier League one day. Our aim is to produce players good enough to get Uganda into the World Cup or the African Cup of Nations. There’s a lot of hardship over there. If we can help just one lad gain the life of a footballer we’ll have achieved something.”

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