Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Redknapp Knees King in the Family Jewels

I love Ledley King (public drunkeness aside. Or especially).

I've always loved quiet playmaking defenders who hang back hardly seen, stoking coals for the engine boilers while the strikers and midfielders share champagne in First Class. But King is a special case; the man can't even train regularly with Tottenham because of his bum knee. While his teammates run about the training pitch, King goes on a rejuvantive swim with his physios. He's the quintessential loner in a game defined by comraderie and team play.

With all the special attention he receives, it says a lot he is still considered a key part of Tottenham's defence. And it said a hell of a lot more when Capello selected him for the England friendly against Slovakia this weekend, against Redknapp's manic protests that King needs his downtime to play. King, after having to miss regular training with the squad, eventually withdrew.

The Guardian takes the stance that, "questions are sure to be asked as to whether [Fabio Capello] knew the full extent of King's problems before announcing his squad on Sunday evening." Really?

I'm no expert on international call-ups, but surely King could have refused outright and had the ample backing of his trainers, physios and medical staff. But he showed up in England kit, wanting to train in his usual way: in the pool. It was only after his swim that the decision was made to withdraw. The Guardian, tellingly, puts it this way: "he was accompanied [to the pool] by medical staff from Spurs, and, hours later, his withdrawal from the squad was confirmed."

Did King make the decision to withdrawal all on his own? Would Spurs' trainers have been directed to push King one way or another? I don't know, but Harry Redknapp was quoted as saying the decision to select King was "ridiculous," "mad," and "pointless at best." To think Spurs' trainers wouldn't have had King's match fitness after the international break in mind seems naive to me, about as naive as assuming Capello didn't know about King's special considerations.

All I know for certain is that King's inability to play for the senior England squad is a minor tragedy for a player gifted with talent and cursed with shit joints.

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