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The Toe Poke

Ferdinand: England lacks identity

Rio Ferdinand believes English football is lacking a recognisable DNA, as he has cast doubts over the future of a national team that has failed to win a major trophy in 47 years.

Debate rages on England's international future after the under-21's poor showing in this summer's European Championship finals in Israel, where Stuart Pearce's young side failed to collect a point in their three group games.

Now Manchester United defender Ferdinand has suggested the mindset of English football needs to be altered before the national team can challenge for major trophies once more.

"If you watch Italy, Holland, Spain or Germany playing at youth level, you would know who they are without looking at their shirts," Ferdinand told Sky Sports. "There is an identity with those teams. They have a DNA of the way to play.

"We don't have that. When we won the World Cup in 1966, we didn't copy anyone else. We played the way England play. It was our style and our identity. Have we kept it? I don't think so.

"It is all right saying you have some of the best players in the world but you have to put them together and play within a system that works."

Ferdinand has backed the Football Association's ambitious new training centre at St Georges' Park as a step in the right direction for the future, but he suggests the methods used to coach young players needs to be modified if a corner is to be turned.

"The question I would ask is; are these coaches telling young kids to pass it to someone who already has a man marking them," asked the centre-back who played 81 times for his country before his controversial retirement from international duty earlier this year .

"Are they saying 'he has to learn how to deal with it?' I don't know if we are. You give it to a young Spanish, Dutch, Italian, German kid, he will keep that ball until there is someone to pass it to.

"He won't just kick it away and say 'you shouldn't have passed it to me'. That is the way they are brought up."


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