Rio Ferdinand: England national team has an identity crisis
Last Updated: August 12, 2013 11:31pm
Rio Ferdinand believes England's national team has an identity crisis.
Ferdinand, a former England captain, retired from international duty in May after winning 81 caps, the first of which was back in 1997.
The Manchester United centre-back believes Roy Hodgson's England - who play Scotland in a friendly on Wednesday night - lack a coherent style, unlike nations such as Brazil, Italy and Spain.
But Ferdinand believes the problem began to take root long before Hodgson took over.
"What is our identity?" Ferdinand said. "I've said that on Twitter I don't know how many times and people come back and say, 'What are you talking about?' But what is our identity?
"We started to see something when Glenn Hoddle was in charge, (there was) a bit of an identity then, free-flowing football and you would say we were starting to get an idea of the pattern of what he wanted to implement in the team.
"Since then I don't think we've actually really seen an identity, where you could say, 'that's an England team,' where you look at the U21s and go, 'that's an England team'."
"If all the names were taken off the back of the shirts and the colours were changed, you couldn't go in there and say, 'that's an England team, that's our identity, that's the way we play.
"That's from the U16s right up to the senior team. Whereas you look at an Italian team, a Dutch team, a Spanish team, a German team or a Brazilian team, without seeing the names on the shirts, you would identify them because they're working from a script.
"You could put an U16 lad into the senior Spanish team or Italian team, he might not have the attributes in terms of physique and speed to be able to deal with it, but positionally I'm sure he'd know what to do because that's what they're taught, day in, day out.
"I just don't think you see that connection between our (senior) team and the U21s, or the U17s and the U20s team and the senior team, and I think that doesn't bode well for the England team."
Ferdinand believes the only solution is strong leadership and long-term planning - even if that means England failing to qualify for a major tournament in the short-term.
"It's going to take someone to come and grab it by the scruff of the neck and say: 'This is what we're going to do and we're going to take 10 years to do it,' he said.
"We might not qualify for a World Cup or a European Championship but I would rather not qualify for one or two tournaments knowing that in 10 years' time we will have an identity that everyone can identify with and say: 'yes, that's us', and be proud of."