Rio Ferdinand has opened up on England’s Euro 2020 final disappointment and believes Gareth Southgate ‘froze’ in the defeat to Italy.
England’s hopes of winning a first major trophy in 55 years were ended following a penalty shoot-out defeat to the Italians at Wembley, with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missing from the spot.
Ferdinand has now discussed the disappointment of the Three Lions’ final defeat and has questioned the decisions of manager Southgate during the clash, with the former England international believing the 50-year-old failed to correctly utilise the attacking options available to him from the bench.
Ferdinand compared Southgate’s decision to those of Italy counterpart Roberto Mancini, insisting the latter reacted to the events of the game with tactical tweaks that ultimately proved decisive.
“Mancini went into half-time and he used that 15 minutes better than Gareth Southgate did. He changed the personnel, he allowed his wide player, [Federico] Chiesa, to come more central in order to link up with [Lorenzo] Insigne, brought off [Ciro] Immobile and that’s when you need a reaction from our manager,” Ferdinand said on his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel.
“That’s the moment in the game where you need the manager to go, ‘You know what? I’ve seen this now, let me change things.’ For me personally, he changed the formation, still didn’t change things, didn’t alter the running of the game, especially in the second half.
“They got a stranglehold on the game, we were camped in our own half. [Harry] Kane, who was immense in the first half, it was like night and day in the second half because the team were forced back so deep.
In November 2017, Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
In May 2018, they appointed Roberto Mancini.
In July 2021, Italy go a national record 34 games unbeaten and win the European Championship.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 11, 2021
“We’ve absolutely gone over the hills and up mountains congratulating and applauding the manager for making decisions at this tournament, whether it be formation changes or personnel changes and this was a game where he was probably letting himself down in that sense.
“When they score, they have momentum. I just feel – and again, hindsight is a great thing – but that was the moment to introduce a [Jack] Grealish or a Sancho or a Rashford. Bring these guys on.
“We saw when Grealish came on and it’s just frustrating because you know the talent we’ve got on the bench. All we’ve been talking about is that our biggest strength is our bench, the depth of our squad that they can come on and maintain the level of performance that we need and can bring different things to the table and they weren’t allowed to do that in the biggest game.
“They did it in all the other games. In the biggest game, Gareth Southgate seemed like he froze and just thought: ‘Let me just get to penalties and hope for the best.’
“I’d like to have seen him go out on his sword and say, ‘Do you know what? I’m gonna throw these boys in. They’ve done me good and done me proud leading up to this point.'”