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Rio Ferdinand launches attack on standards in bid to help English youngsters


The Football Association chairman, David Bernstein, has hit back at Rio Ferdinand’s claim that a new coaching strategy is needed to help English youngsters.

Just as members of the England squad arrived at a youth development project in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, Ferdinand rekindled the argument about English football being in the “dark ages” by claiming that changes need to be made to help the next generation of players become stars.

The discussion about the state of the English game has been rumbling on since the former England striker Gary Lineker published a downbeat tweet on the matter following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley.

Manchester United defender Ferdinand, who quit international football earlier this month, was one of the so-called “golden generation” of English footballers who blossomed at the start of the last decade but repeatedly failed to deliver on the world stage.

Ferdinand said on Twitter yesterday: “[In the] last 10 years when have England played consistently well? A coaching strategy for our young teams/kids needs to be implemented to see change.

“In most PL teams retaining the ball is done best by foreign players in the team.... they are taught to pass to a man with a man on.

“[The] So-called ‘Golden Generation’ obviously wasn’t  because we won nothing! Great players don’t always make  great teams.”

Bernstein has made it one of his priorities during his three-year spell as chairman of the FA to improve youth football in England, implementing such schemes as the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and opening the new national football centre St George’s Park in Burton.

He was therefore left unimpressed by Ferdinand’s tweets, and said: “Rio Ferdinand should know that we are putting a huge amount of work in to that [youth development]. We are implementing a complete programme of youth development football within the leagues, with the EPPP system and with the opening of St George’s Park. All those things are in hand.

“They are not producing the results yet but they will do. These things take a while.”