Rio Ferdinand reveals Sir Alex Ferguson's 'clever' trick that sabotaged England
Rio Ferdinand has revealed the subtle role Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson played in England’s lack of international success, also hitting out at past Three Lions managers for ‘not being strong enough’.
The former Red Devils centre-back was part of England’s golden generation of players – including the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard – who failed to deliver on their enormous potential at major tournaments.
Ferdinand says there was a lack of unity in the team, with so many playing for rival clubs, while United’s players in particular were always on edge because of a warning Sir Alex would give them before every international break.
Explaining why England underperformed so often, Ferdinand explained on an Instagram Live: ‘I think Fergie might have played a little part in it as well, because he was so clever.
‘You’d be going away, you’d finish a game on Saturday, you’d win a game on Saturday, and he’d go, “Right, I’ll see you after the international break boys”. And he’ll go like, “You, you and you, if you play more than 45 minutes I’m going to kill you when you get back”.
‘So it would be in the back of your mind, you’d be thinking, “Oh my god, I’m under pressure when I come back”.
‘I’d have played 90 minutes and you’re walking into training and he’s sitting looking at you like that [furious], “What did I tell you?” It was mad.’
There were plenty of factors that contributed to England’s lack of success on the international stage and Ferdinand also feels that past managers lacked the strength to drop big names, while their tactics were out-dated.
He continued: ‘On paper that was probably the best team England have had for years and years and years, probably since 1966 on paper.
‘But we played 4-4-2, a rigid 4-4-2, and in games against teams like Turkey or Tunisia – teams we should be smashing out of the park – they filled the midfield and ended up popping us all game, dictating the game against us, because we didn’t have enough bodies in there.
‘Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the players are, if you’re outnumbered, you’re outnumbered. That’s it.
‘We had great players, but I felt the managers that we had probably weren’t strong enough in saying, “Right, I’m going to leave a Beckham out, a Scholes out, a Gerrard or a Lampard – one of them has got to sit out”.’
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