After England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy, Rio Ferdinand gave an honest verdict on Gareth Southgate’s decisions.
Rio Ferdinand feels Gareth Southgate should’ve responded better to Italy counterpart Roberto Mancini’s half-time changes in the Euro 2020 final.
Things had got off to a promising start on Sunday. Luke Shaw gave England a second-minute lead to leave Italy on the back foot. Southgate’s bold decision to utilize wing-backs looked to have paid off. But the momentum gained from that early goal soon went. The Three Lions became conservative, struggled to win possession, and eventually paid the price.
Italy overcame their early setback, held 65% of possession, and looked the more threatening side. In fact, Mancini claimed his side ‘dominated’ England after the match. Leonardo Bonucci’s second-half equalizer put the game back on level terms before the Azzurri won 3-2 in the penalty shootout.
But it was at half-time, when Italy had just begun to find their feet in the game, that Ferdinand feels Southgate should have acted to keep England ahead.
“Mancini went into half-time and he used that 15 minutes better than Gareth Southgate did,” Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel.
“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.
“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.”
Southgate eventually switched to a 4-3-3 upon replacing Kieran Trippier with Bukayo Saka. He also swapped Declan Rice for Jordan Henderson, only to bring off the latter in extra time for Marcus Rashford.
Ferdinand added: “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.
“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’.”
Southgate, meanwhile, spoke to reporters in the morning after the final on Monday. The England coach refused to make any promises on his long-term future with the national team, but he remains keen to stay in charge for the 2022 World Cup as of now.