Bernstein hits back at Ferdinand coaching comment

England manager Roy Hodgson, players Joe Hart and Jermain Defoe play street music with children in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: PA
England manager Roy Hodgson, players Joe Hart and Jermain Defoe play street music with children in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: PA
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FOOTBALL Association chairman David Bernstein has hit back at Rio Ferdinand’s claim that a new coaching strategy is needed for English youngsters.

Just as members of the England squad arrived at a youth development project in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, Ferdinand rekindled the argument of English football being in the “dark ages” by claiming that changes need to be made to help the next generation of players become stars.

The discussion about the state of the English game has been rumbling on since former England striker Gary Lineker published a downbeat tweet on the matter following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley.

Manchester United defender Ferdinand, who quit international football earlier this month, was one of the so-called “golden generation” of English footballers who blossomed at the start of the last decade but failed to deliver on the big stage.

Ferdinand said on Twitter yesterday: “[In the] last ten years when have England played consistently well? A coaching strategy for our young teams/kids needs to be implemented to see change.

“In most PL teams retaining the ball is done best by foreign players in the team.... they are taught to pass to a man with a man on.

“[The] So-called ‘Golden Generation’ obviously wasn’t because we won nothing! Great players don’t always make great teams.”

Bernstein has made it one of his priorities during his three-year spell as chairman of the FA to improve youth football in England, implementing such schemes as the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and opening the new national football centre, St George’s Park in Burton.

He was therefore left unimpressed by Ferdinand’s tweets, saying: “Rio Ferdinand should know that we are putting a huge amount of work in to that (youth development).

“We are implementing a complete programme of youth development football within the leagues, with the EPPP system and with the opening of St George’s Park. All those things are in hand.

“They are not producing the results yet but they will do. These things take a while as we know, but these things are in place. There is a huge amount of work taking place and I think potentially we are in a very decent shape.

“I am sure when he reflects on it Rio and others will appreciate that this is happening, it’s not talk about what might happen. It is happening, a lot of work is going into it and a lot of people are working very hard.”

England’s current generation of stars will face a stern test of their ability tomorrow when they play Brazil in the Maracana Stadium.

There were fears that the clash would not go ahead after the match was officially suspended due to safety fears.

However, the game was later given the green light when a statement from the Rio state government confirmed the stadium complied with “all safety rules” and that a new safety certificate had been granted.

England striker Jermain Defoe is looking forward to the match. “It is an unbelievable fixture,” he said. “Brazil are a great football nation. If you look at their history, the players they have produced and World Cups they have won, it is a team you want to play against.”