Club rivalries damaged England, admit three legends

THEY were dubbed England's 'Golden Generation', yet didn't manage to get past the quarter-finals of a major tournament. Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard told BT Sport that club rivalries played a major part in the team failing to realise its potential:

Ferdinand: Our communication just disintegrated. It was down to the obsession with winning. I didn’t want to see Frank have an edge on me. I didn’t want to speak about anything he might take away and use to facilitate his team winning. It became unwritten conduct.

It was the same with Stevie. When I was with England, I didn’t want to be around him because I didn’t want to hear about what Liverpool were doing. It’s a fact and I knew he felt the same about me. I think that’s what held us back. It was subconscious. Looking back, this was how I see it was.

Lampard: You feel so passionately about the club you play with. To be a bit pally with someone down the road who you’re competitive with? We didn’t hate each other but by nature we would sit on tables and stick together. A lot of other nations have players all over the world, so then they come back together and don’t have that competitiveness. Every week we were at each other.

Gerrard: I think it was respect rather than a bond, a closeness, where there’s love there. When I talk to Coutinho, he can’t wait to go away with Brazil, it’s the best 10 days of his season. You didn’t really get that feeling with England.

You were looking forward to the games but everything around the games was a bit… We have to improve it. The bond and the spirt and the togetherness has to improve. Gareth [Southgate] is trying to do that and it will definitely help results on the pitch.

Ferdinand: What’s the difference with this generation is that they’re winning trophies together from 17 years old. They’ve created that bond. That will carry on throughout their senior years as well. Hopefully they can come through together. I look at Spain, with David de Gea and before that Andreas Iniesta, they were doing well with their youth teams. They carried that through, same with Germany.

Gerrard: I’m not sure the managers would have picked up on it. They would just see it at meal times. It could definitely have been better.

Ferdinand: The only thing they [England managers] did try and do was with the tables. We used to have four or five tables and you’d have a Man United table, a Liverpool table, Shearer and his table. It was weird. So what they did was make it one table for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lampard: Hopefully this new generation coming through as a block will have a stronger bond than we did.

Gerrard: Just get them together, mixing more, spending more time together. Don’t let them bring the Premier League situation into the international set-up.

Ferdinand: We’d all have loved to win with England, but to the detriment of winning with your club as well? It’s a hard one.

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