Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ferdinand Is Flawless as He Settles Back to His Rightful Spot

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ferdinand Is Flawless as He Settles Back to His Rightful Spot

Article excerpt

Byline: By Martyn Ziegler

Away from the frenzied hubbub of victorious excitement and shielded from the glow that emanated from reputations restored and enhanced, there must have been a sense of deep satisfaction from one player whose return to the fray had once more been overshadowed.

Rio Ferdinand had been more than pleased to accept second billing on his return for Manchester United ( a certain team-mate's hat-trick on his debut ensured that ( and no doubt the same scenario suited him again after a performance of flawless and apparently effortless quality against Wales.

If anyone thought beforehand that Sven-Goran Eriksson should have stuck with John Terry and Ledley King rather than restore Ferdinand and Sol Campbell, there will be no such sentiments now.

Only once did John Hartson win a decent ball, a header against Campbell but even as he looked to force his way past, Ferdinand appeared, sweeping the ball away from the striker with the assurance of a man who is convinced of his innate superiority on the pitch.

As well as the Ferdinand-Campbell pairing linking so effectively ( Campbell is the better ball-winner, Ferdinand is quicker and perhaps a better reader of the game ( Ferdinand's passing gives England more options.

Afterwards however, Ferdinand was sticking with the new, focused professional image he is trying to sustain.

"It was just another game to me," he said. "If you start thinking too deep about all the issues, it just causes a distraction.

"Maybe when I look back in the next day or two I might think about it like that but it doesn't cross your mind when you have a big important game to play."

It is remarkable that this was only Ferdinand and Campbell's third game together since the World Cup two years ago. The only other competitive fixture, against Turkey 18 months ago, also resulted in a 2-0 victory. …

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