Rio Ferdinand has claimed England must develop their own identity if they are to flourish at international level, even if it means missing out on major tournaments to achieve long-term success.
Speaking in The Guardian today, Ferdinand said: “What is our identity?
"We started to see something when (former manager) Glenn Hoddle was in charge, 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.'"
England suffered a dismal summer on the international stage, with the senior team’s draws against Brazil and the Republic of Ireland proving to be the highlights, as the Under-21s and Under-20s failed to win a single game at their respective competitions, while England’s women earned just one point at the European Championships.
Roy Hodgson’s senior side still need to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, sitting two points behind qualification group leaders Montenegro with a game in hand.
Ferdinand believes that the country needs a style of play that translates through the different age groups, with a clear way of playing being supported by the Football Association’s director of elite development Dan Ashworth.
The FA invested in the new St George’s Park in Burton to provide a centre for English football, as well as preparing the England side before international fixtures along with coaching and developmental work.
Ferdinand believes that England have fallen behind their international rivals in forging a national identity in the way they play, believing that a younger player could come straight into the senior side and already have the knowledge of how he is expected to play.
"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.' And that's from the under-16s right up to the senior team," added Ferdinand, who won 81 senior caps.
"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."
Hodgson will take the senior side’s training today before heading to Sheffield to take charge of the Under-21 side against their Scottish counterparts, as the search goes on for Stuart Pearce’s replacement after the FA chose not to extend his contract following the poor showing at the European Championship earlier this summer.
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