When Rio Ferdinand completes his coaching badges, the former England defender has it all mapped out. He wants the biggest job of the lot.
This is his England dream; a vision and a philosophy that he believes will get the best out of the country’s players under his guidance. It feels good to hear someone care so much. ‘Everyone has dreams of playing for England and my dream after football is to manage England,’ he revealed.
‘I don’t expect the chance now, but once I get the badges I am there. If I don’t get a job in management I will wonder why.’
Ferdinand started out on the coaching pathway when his career at Manchester United came to a close. It fills him with enthusiasm and now he wants more.
To listen to him talk about the national team, to hear the passion in his voice, leaves you wanting to know more. ‘I will give myself the best opportunity of getting the job by getting all the badges,’ he added.
‘I don’t think people should start shouting the odds about the opportunity to manage clubs until they have their badges. I am not sitting here saying “give me a job” because I don’t have them yet.’
He is on the Uefa B licence course and the next step is the A Licence and then the ProLicence. After that, he cannot be ignored. Ferdinand, who turns 36 in November, has too much to offer after a lifetime in the game. He has experienced almost everything.
He admires the young coaches; the guys who were given a chance in their thirties. Ferdinand believes they have a better connection with the dressing room. ‘Low, Klinsmann were young geezers when they started out with Germany,’ he added. ‘Look at Van Basten, Mourinho, Guardiola and Luis Enrique — they are not old fellas but they were given a chance. It is different in this country. We are 10 years behind in certain situations. We have to do what’s best for English football.’
Ferdinand has the bug for it. He would be a tracksuit manager, taking England’s players through sessions as they prepare under a player who won 81 caps for his country during a distinguished international career.
He speaks of radical changes needed with the national set-up, adapting the structure to suit an England team that would be encouraged to play Ferdinand’s way. After 50 years of failure, it has to be worth a shot.
‘Maybe I’m not their (the FA’s) type, but I don’t know what their type is,’ added Ferdinand. ‘Maybe it’s an unblemished track record, but everybody deserves a second chance. Glenn Hoddle is a prime example. He’s the best one you had and he is gone, never to be seen again with England. We are on our knees.’
Ferdinand is talking about his eight-month ban from football after he missed a drugs test in 2003. It was an error, a bad one, but he has been the model professional ever since. ‘Everybody deserves a second chance,’ he says. Ferdinand is right. This is a man who wants to take care of his country, to improve the players and make sure the future of the national team is secure. It has been a long time since anyone could say that.
‘It will take radical changes for things to happen with England and people’s noses might be put out of joint but in the long run it will work,’ he added.
‘I am speaking from a position of wanting to help. When you are a young player, making your way, you don’t want to speak out because you are worried you might not get picked. But when you come out of the firing line, you can speak with experience.’
Ferdinand sat on FA chairman Greg Dyke’s commission, providing some compelling arguments about the state of English football when he sat down to discuss the future of the national team. ‘Bit left-field that one,’ is his reaction to a question about Roy Hodgson’s claim last week that there isn’t much difference in the way England and Germany try to play.
He is reluctant to answer at first, unaware of the comments after he had only just come off QPR’s training pitch in west London as he prepared for the start of the Barclays Premier League season. ‘I watched the games at the World Cup and I didn’t see any likeness to Germany at all,’ he added. ‘We see sparks from Sturridge, sparks from Welbeck and from Rooney, but we play as individuals. They will not be able to fulfil their potential unless there is a structure and philosophy to aspire to.’
One day Ferdinand hopes to be able to put it all in place.
He has the ideas, as well as the experience after playing career that took him to the very top. With his profile, along with his England career, the six Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008, he will command instant respect in the dressing room.
He fears that young players in the Premier League are earning too much, something Brendan Rodgers highlighted last week.
‘The incentive has gone,’ claimed Ferdinand. ‘Are you gong to do that extra set of doggies, or sprints? You can be in the reserves and if you have £5,000 a week coming in you’re thinking about what colour car you’re going to get.
‘Or you might be thinking what holiday you’re going to send your mum and dad on or what shoes you’re going to get. It is a different environment and I don’t think it is the right environment. It is football and if you are given a lot of scope then you will do it. That is the way it is. Maybe clubs or the FA have to revert back a little bit to give them a bit more of a grounding.’
Ferdinand is a traditionalist, one of the old school as he reflects on the days when he would sit on the bench alongside Frank Lampard as a teenager at West Ham. Back then they still cleaned the first-team players’ boots, keeping their head down and driving to training in beaten-up old Ford Fiestas at the start of their careers.
‘When I got on the bench at West Ham I thought it was an unbelievable achievement,’ he added. Me and Frank Lampard would sit there thinking, “Jesus”.
‘We would go out there to do the warm up and people think that’s nothing, but it is part of the experience and gets you accustomed to the surroundings.
Now those players don’t get the chance. Managers won’t play a 17-year-old when they can play “Davide” or whoever, from wherever, because he has played 300 games and is 28 years old. That’s just my view, but who is right and who is wrong?’
Judging by this, Ferdinand has already got it all figured out. – Daily Mail