“I think he probably let himself down in that sense.”
Rio Ferdinand has suggested that Gareth Southgate froze in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.
Reflecting on England’s penalty shootout heartbreak, Ferdinand discussed Southgate’s hesitation when it came to introducing a number of the national team’s more creative players.
Bukayo Saka replaced Kieran Trippier with 20 minutes remaining and Jordan Henderson came on for Declan Rice five minutes later.
But it wasn’t until extra-time when Jack Grealish took the place of Mason Mount and soon-to-be Manchester United teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho didn’t enter the fray until just before the penalty shootout.
Ferdinand believes Italy manager Roberto Mancini was more proactive with his tactical switches than Southgate who, according to Ferdinand, was punished for not being brave enough with his substitutions.
“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 to link up with [Lorenzo] Insigne, brought off [Ciro] Immobile and that’s when you then need a reaction from our manager,” Ferdinand said on his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel.
Rio Ferdinand claims Gareth Southgate “froze”
“That’s the moment in the game when 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 but it 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 and were so deep.
“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 I think he probably let 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 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 would 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’.”