Rio Ferdinand slams England’s “small team mentality” and key Gareth Southgate selection decision

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England legend Rio Ferdinand has slammed Gareth Southgate for setting his side up like a small team in Euro 2020 so far.

The former Three Lions defender was also highly critical of Southgate’s surprise decision to overlook Jadon Sancho so far, with the Borussia Dortmund winger barely getting a look-in so far.

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Southgate’s side got off to a decent start when they beat Croatia 1-0 in their opening game, but they looked distinctly unimpressive in their next match, a 0-0 draw with Scotland.

It’s clear Ferdinand wants to see more from this England team, with Sancho looking like a player who could make a great impact, while fans will also likely be frustrated at the lack of action for Jack Grealish so far as well.

Southgate has generally done a good job with England, taking them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, but that over-achievement has raised expectations for this summer’s big tournament.

Discussing England’s approach so far, Ferdinand told his YouTube channel: “There’s inexperienced players that haven’t been to tournaments, they’re everywhere.

“You go on what they’ve done at their club and the last three years, in terms of output, has been the second best player in terms of goal involvement over the last three years – and he’s done it at Dortmund.

“So to think that you’re talking about experience… he’s played more games than [Phil] Foden at the top level as well as [Mason] Mount and [Jude] Bellingham.’

“I just feel that sometimes as a manager you’ve got to be brave.

“You’ve got to be brave and don’t err on the side of caution. In Southgate’s mind he’s going to have to be brave because I think naturally he’s a more conservative person.

“In his own mind he’ll think he’s being brave when we’re sitting here going: ‘Just play him!’

“We’ve seen him play at the top level but if you’re sitting there as Gareth Southgate, you’ve got to go against your natural instinct.

Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho hasn’t had many opportunities for England

“Do you know what it goes back to? It goes back to big team mentality.

“He’s coaching and setting us up like a small team mentality.

“A big team mentality manager would have gone into that game and said, ‘We’re going grab this bull by the horns, control the pace of the game, camp on the edge of their box and force them back into their half’, but we didn’t do that.”

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