Ferdinand Exclusive: FA geezers need to get Harry NOW
Published 22:28 02/03/12 By David McDonnell
Rio Ferdinand has backed Harry Redknapp to lead England to glory at Euro 2012.
Ferdinand, who began his career at West Ham under Redknapp, believes the Tottenham boss is the one man who can end the country’s 46-year wait to win a major trophy.
Redknapp is the overwhelming favourite to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss and lead the team into this summer’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Asked if England had a realistic chance of winning, Ferdinand said: “It depends who the manager is and who he takes. If we get Harry, we’ll have a good shot at it.
“Of the potential England managers out there, I don’t see anyone beating the door down as hard as him. If I was the geezer in the suit upstairs making the decision, I would go and get him.
“It’s down to Spurs though. They’re going to be the ones who say yes or no.”
Ferdinand claimed Redknapp represented the best long-term appointment for England because of his track record in bringing through young players.
At Upton Park, he gave the likes of Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, and Jermain Defoe their first-team debuts.
And that, Ferdinand believes, should be the blueprint for England post-Capello and the key to sustained success on the international stage.
The Manchester United defender revealed how Redknapp got the best out of raw talent and ensured they felt no pressure when they went out to play.
“Harry loves seeing a good young player,” said Rio, who is involved in helping youngsters find their way in the game through Nike’s The Chance project.
“He made you feel a million dollars as a kid. You didn’t go into the first-team thinking the pressure on your shoulders was crazy and you were scared to make a mistake.
“One of the best things about him was he always said to me making a mistake wasn’t a problem, he didn’t mind, but if you continued to make the same mistake then it was a problem.
“That’s how he separated the good kids from the bad. If a player was making the same mistake at 22 that he did at 18 then he’s not learning.
“Harry made me feel at ease when I played football and I think that’s the best way to be.
“I played at West Ham like I was playing with my mates in the playground or on my estate. I was free to go and do things and try things on the pitch.
“Other players or your mates would be talking about the pressure and asking how I didn’t feel under pressure or get nervous, but that’s the atmosphere Harry Redknapp created.
“As a man-manager he’s brilliant. He was brilliant for me, I couldn’t fault him. Him and my gaffer now are the best two I’ve had.
“Harry is more a cajoler of players to get stuff out of them. He puts an arm round your shoulder and tells you you’re brilliant. He works out what makes you tick.”
Ferdinand believes the Champions League and Premier League have eclipsed the international scene because of the national team’s barren spell.
“I think kids dream about playing for United and other top clubs more now because the England team hasn’t been successful since 1966,” said Rio.
“Success breeds a desire to want to go out and replicate that. Kids want to be the players who are performing well in the Champions League and the Premier League.
“When did we last see an England team go out and do really well in a tournament? The 1990 World Cup and Euro 96.
“What kid wouldn’t have been inspired by beating Holland 4-1 and beating Scotland with Gazza scoring the goal he did? Moments like that can affect a whole generation.
“John Barnes setting up a goal for Gary Lineker at the 1986 World Cup was an inspiring moment for me. We haven’t been able to recreate that in the last few years, we have to be brutally honest about that. It would be nice if we could recreate it this time round".
Rio on...Euro 2012 Finals
Ferdinand is desperate to be a part of the England set-up this summer.
The 33-year-old defender has never played in a European Championship finals but is determined to be in Poland and Ukraine.
“If I’m given the chance to play, I’ll be there,” he said. “I’ve got no thought of retiring. I always say if I
get a run of games under my belt I’ll be alright, but that hadn’t happened in a while.
“With my type of physique I need to play games continuously. That’s what I’ve been striving for and now I’m playing games I feel comfortable.”
Ferdinand said he was disappointed to be left out of the England squad that lost to Holland this week.
“It was disappointing, but Stuart Pearce told me he was going to take some younger players,” he added. “He said he wouldn’t have learned anything from me playing. So fair enough.”
Rio on...United kids
The Old Trafford legend reckons the next generation of stars have what it takes to maintain the club’s success.
According to Ferdinand, the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck will form the spine of United’s team for years to come.
“Danny is going to be a massive player for United and England in the coming years,” he said.
“Physically, he’s growing into more of a man and the good thing about him, and all the young players at United, is that they want to learn.
“Eventually Jones will be a centre-half, but I don’t think it’s hurting him playing in different positions.
“The common factor with all the youngsters – Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley, too – is that they want to be top players and are working hard to get there.”