England's early World Cup exit a 'wake-up call', says Ferdinand

The former England captain, who criticised selection choices from Roy Hodgson and a lack of coaching at youth level, has called for fundamental changes in the country
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes England’s early elimination from the World Cup needs to be a "wake-up call" for the country to make radical changes.

England crashed out of the competition following narrow defeats to Italy and Uruguay but the 35-year-old hopes the country's exit can act as an incentive to improve football in the country at youth level.

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"We lack facilities and coaches at all levels, and opportunities for top-level playing experience for the best young players," he wrote in his column for the Mail on Sunday.  

"In the whole of England there are 639 3G all-weather pitches. Germany have more than 5,000. An FA survey of clubs at all levels found 84 per cent of respondents saying facilities are poor.

"It hasn’t changed. This directly impacts on how many teams and at what age-groups kids can play.
We have too few coaches, and those we have are not as well qualified as they should be.

"England’s embarrassing early exit from the World Cup needs to be a wake-up call that something is fundamentally wrong in our national game and it needs fixing or we’ll be also-rans for ever."

Much was made of England’s choice of youthful players but Ferdinand believes more players should be available and also claimed Roy Hodgson failed to pick the right blend of players.

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"Roy Hodgson fell between two stools in his approach to mixing youth and experience," he continued.

"He left behind the nous-heavy, tournament-hardened Michael Carrick and Ashley Cole, played his captain Steven Gerrard in a tough role, and gave youth its head only to an extent.

"There was a case for saying up front that this was going to be an event to gain experience, for the youngsters. They’d learn how to prepare, play, rest, gain that high-intensity experience.  

"With respect to the 23 in the squad, including some seasoned veterans who have done it all at club level and some extremely talented youngsters, our talent pool is puddle deep.

"We shouldn’t be talking in single digits, we should expect many dozens. Is it not now blindingly obvious that something is very wrong when England, the home of football, the country that codified the game and took it to the world, a country with 53 million people, cannot field a decent team?"