Wayne Bridge has not let his country down
The front pages of the tabloid newspapers have been filled with speculation over the marital status of Ashley Cole after recent allegations over his infidelity led to his pop-star wife Cheryl Cole leaving the left back.
However on Thursday the spotlight shifted - if only temporarily - to another English left-back: Wayne Bridge.
The Manchester City player announced that he would not be available for selection in the forthcoming England friendly against Egypt at Wembley. Furthermore in a statement he intimated that he did not wish to be considered for this summer’s World Cup.
He has then effectively announced his retirement from the international frame, citing his possible presence in the national squad as “untenable and potentially divisive”. The move comes after it was recently revealed that John Terry had an affair with Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, and mother of his child, some months ago.
Terry was subsequently stripped of his captaincy by Fabio Capello.
The Italian manager dealt with the issue swiftly and had hoped the players could reconcile their differences for the sake of the national team. In Capello’s mind the matter was closed.
However this announcement has thrown the controversial subject back into the media glare, which will irk the proficient England boss. Further jabs have been fired at the out-of-form John Terry while some quarters have derided the decision of Bridge.
The accusations that Bridge has let his country down don’t ring true; such a claim is simply absurd. The suggestion that the 29-year-old needs ‘to man up’ and act like a professional, meriting a multi-million pound contract is unfair.
Lest we forget that Bridge is the innocent party in this sordid affair. In whatever walk of life, a person plunged into a similar situation that the former Chelsea star is in, would struggle in dealing with such a personal matter.
Whether it be workmates at a local supermarket, friends in the office or team-mates in the national football team there are certain boundaries which you don’t cross. John Terry violated the trust of his colleague but more importantly his friend, a best mate.
It is understandable that Bridge feels unable to assume his place in a back four which is comprised of Terry, a former friend who betrayed his trust in such an unsavory fashion.
Surrendering the chance to play in a World Cup is a decision that Bridge won’t have taken lightly. Especially with the injury-hit Cole sidelined for the next few months, the Manchester City left back had a real opportunity to establish himself as a contender for a starting spot come June 12.
It is clear after much consideration he felt unable to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with Terry while playing under the veil of the national team. The harmony of the squad was another factor to consider, with Bridge benefiting from the support from certain quarters of the dressing room, who have held the actions of their former skipper in contempt.
Bridge deserves credit for his sacrifice which will ultimately benefit England’s cause as this “potentially divisive” situation has now been avoided. The forfeiture of his place is a sad outcome to a sorry situation and it will be seen as collateral damage in the eyes of Capello who will now look to refocus his squad.
Indeed it unlikely the England head coach will spend long dwelling on the loss of defender and instead will look to realign the tracks to South Africa after a turbulent month off the pitch. Fortunately, despite the absence of Bridge and the doubts over the fitness of Cole, the Italian boasts an array of talent at his disposal to fill the gaping void.
Leighton Baines is a strong candidate as one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League. Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock is also highly rated. Both are inexperienced at international level but under the guidance of Terry and Ferdinand can blossom in the role and prove more then competent.
Admittedly neither possess the same star quality which Cole is blessed with, but there is little difference between the pair and Bridge. Both have enjoyed fruitful seasons while the former Southampton full back has struggled to find form.
Shuffling Joleon Lescott or Gareth Barry to the left of defence could be a viable option, though understandably Capello will want to maintain the balance in his team. An outside shout would be James Milner who is more accustomed to a central midfield at Villa Park but has impressed in an England shirt in left midfield.