England teams 'lack identity', says Ferdinand

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand believes Roy Hodgson's current crop of players are suffering from an identity crisis.

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The 34-year-old Manchester United defender retired from England duty in May after winning 81 caps in a senior international career which began in 1997.

England's lack of success in international tournaments is well documented, and Ferdinand reckons it is a lack of a coherent style that leaves England lagging behind the likes of Spain and Italy.

"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 under-21s and go, 'that's an England team'."

Hodgson's side face Scotland on Wednesday night as part of the Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations with Ferdinand of the opinion that a stable identity throughout the whole set-up of a national team is essential for success.

"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," he said.

"That's from the under-16s 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 under-16 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 under-21s, or the under-17s and the under-20s team and the senior team, and I think that doesn't bode well for the England team."

Ferdinand believes the FA needs someone in authority to stand up and suggest that a few years of long-term planning, rather than focusing on short to medium term tournament success, could benefit the senior national side in the future.

"I hear that there is a new system being put in place and that St George's Park is part of that, time will tell us what is going on," he added.

"I don't think there is any real right answer for any of this - it's going to take someone with big balls 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.'

"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."



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