London: Blaming the pressure of unrealistic expectations for the England football team’s poor performances in major tournaments over the years, former defender Rio Ferdinand has said that the lack of media hype has given the current squad a chance to perform without the burden of extra pressure at next month’s European Championships.
Despite the presence of a bunch of promising players like strikers Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, the England squad’s build up to the tournament has been marked by a lack of media hype — a situation quite unlike that faced by previous generations of England footballers.
“Our generation of top players were individuals but never became a collective. France (who won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 Euros) had great players but were also a collective which is why they won. It is about a team unit, core values of being together,” Ferdinand was quoted as saying by the Independent on Monday.
“(The expectations) hindered us at the time. We would say we were not feeling the pressure but looking back, there was definitely a huge pressure. When you play for your country at a major tournament it is a different type of pressure. It consumes you in a tournament, overpowers you almost because you know the country is behind you. They are expecting.”
Ferdinand, however, opined that current England manager Roy Hodgson has been unable to create a strong team spirit within the squad.
“He hasn’t (managed it) so far — but this is a great opportunity for him. He has a lot of great young players who are starting to show consistency and starting to show some good signs but again, doing it for your premier league team is different. Look at the Spurs boys. The pressure was not on them to win the premier league. The expectations came during the season,” the 37-year-old said.
“With England it is different and the young guys must deals with that. There is a lot to deal with but we have seen some promising signs,” he added.
The former Manchester United star admitted that England’s chances of emerging champions is France are quite remote although he was pleased at the amount of talent within the squad.
“We cannot sit here right now and say they are potential winners. If they win it like Leicester won the league, it will be a great achievement but I don’t think there is anything to suggest they are potential winners when you look at the other teams. This is an inexperienced England squad but that might work well for us,” Ferdinand said.
“I just want to see an improvement in the way the team plays, with young players coming into the team and looking comfortable on this stage. Something that gives you hope for the next tournament. This is a good introduction for the World Cup. When that comes they will be in their prime. I would like to see those players ready for the World Cup,” he added.
“I am not saying we will not have a successful tournament. The core of this team have had a good experience this season and played a lot of games — the Tottenham contingent particularly. That core of players may see the other England players feed off them and the positive experiences they have had.”