BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

Injury has become the metronome of the run up to the World Cup.

Famously it was David Beckham who had the nation praying for a small bone in his foot to heal but latterly every nation has a Beckham – England’s include the man himself ruled out and his partner in deadly play Michael Owen. Gareth Barry should be fit but the news is that Rio Ferdinand probably will not be.

Elsewhere Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba is struggling to be fit and fellow Chelsea pair Michael Ballack and Michael Essien have already been ruled out. Every nation comes into the tournament without someone who they would want.

This has always been the case and the internationalisation of news has brought it to our attention. The World Cup is won by those who turn up and often that is defined by those who have avoided the odd tackle in training or twist of the knee back in March.

In all likelihood England will play in South Africa without captain Ferdinand but realistically this will not be the difference between success and failure. Ferdinand’s international experience is counter balanced by his broken season of half come backs from a persistent problem. His replacement may not have the number of caps of Rio, but will probably be able to point to a more successful year personally. England can make the best of the injury to Ferdinand – nominally the mobility in the back four but with question marks about that mobility – and perhaps the speedy Michael Dawson may end up cancelling those holiday plans.

Sven Goran Eriksson’s Ivory Coast have a far bigger problem with Drogba often seen the be all and end off of a team which has talent but will lack the leadership of the totemic striker not to mention his ability to hold a ball up. The significance of Drogba to be people of the African nation cannot be understated and goes massively beyond football.

There is no replacement for Drogba in Ivory Coast or – one might add – the World and certainly Eriksson’s charges are so hampered by the idea of missing the Chelsea forward that the progress I would have predicted for them is seriously questioned. It is not that Drogba is Ivory Coast just that without him Eriksson – who famously drafted Heskey into the England side because of his Drogba-like skill of holding a ball – needs to find another way of playing and his ability to switch to “Plan B” for England was constantly questioned.

So while England slip the captains arm-band onto Steven Gerrard – inching closer to John Terry once more – Ivory Coast are left not only to find a new captain, but a new figurehead.


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