Rio Ferdinand questions Gareth Southgate's 'small team mentality'

Rio Ferdinand questions Gareth Southgate’s ‘small team mentality’ after snubbing Jadon Sancho for England’s first two games of Euro 2020… as he urges Three Lions boss to ‘be brave’ and go AGAINST his natural instinct to start Dortmund star

  • Jadon Sancho was left out of England’s matchday squad in win against Croatia 
  • He was left on the bench against Scotland despite his Borussia Dortmund form 
  • Gareth Southgate defended his decision not to include the 21-year-old so far 
  • But Rio Ferdinand insists Southgate must now be bold against Czech Republic 
  • Czech Republic vs England LIVE: Follow all the action in Sportsmail’s live blog
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

Rio Ferdinand believes Gareth Southgate is demonstrating ‘small club mentality’ in his decision not to play Jadon Sancho in England’s first two games at Euro 2020.

The 21-year-old was left out of the 23-man matchday squad for their Group D opener against Croatia at Wembley, and was not called upon by Southgate from the bench in the goalless stalemate against Scotland five days later.

The 50-year-old defended his decision to not include the Borussia Dortmund star in the tournament so far, pointing to his lack of experience at major tournaments despite recording 16 goals and 20 assists in the Bundesliga in 2020-21.

Rio Ferdinand believes Gareth Southgate (left) is demonstrating ‘small club mentality’ in his decision not to play Jadon Sancho (right)

Sancho was not involved against Croatia and left on the bench for England against Scotland

Sancho has made just 10 starts for England but former Three Lions centre back Ferdinand insists that should count for little given that he has played more games at the top level than regulars Phil Foden and Mason Mount.  

‘There’s inexperienced players that haven’t been to tournaments, they’re everywhere,’ Ferdinand told his FIVE YouTube channel.

‘You go on what they’ve done at their club and the last three years, in terms of output, Sancho has been the second best player in terms of goal involvement over the last three years – and he’s done it at Dortmund.

‘So to think that you’re talking about experience… he’s played more games than [Phil] Foden at the top level as well as [Mason] Mount and [Jude] Bellingham.’

But Ferdinand believes managers should not refuse to play players based on experience alone

The former Manchester United star believes that has led Southgate to adopt a ‘small club mentality’ which he must do away with in England’s final Group D game against Czech Republic on Tuesday night.

‘I just feel that sometimes as a manager you’ve got to be brave. You’ve got to be brave and don’t err on the side of caution,’ Ferdinand added.

‘In Southgate’s own mind he’s going to have to be brave because I think naturally he’s a more conservative person. In his own mind he’ll think he’s being brave when we’re sitting here going, “Just play him!”, because we’ve seen him play at the top level.

‘But if you’re sitting there as Gareth Southgate, you’ve got to go against your natural instinct. Do you know what it goes back to? It goes back to big team mentality. He’s coaching and setting us up like a small team mentality.

Ferdinand said Sancho had had more top level experience than Phil Foden (right) and Mason Mount (left)

‘A big team mentality manager would have gone into that game and said, “We’re going grab this bull by the horns, control the pace of the game, camp on the edge of their box and force them back into their half”, but we didn’t do that.’

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Southgate said: ‘We’ve got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time. 

‘So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals. Jadon is in that mix. He’s trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make.’

Jack Grealish meanwhile is finally set to start for the Three Lions against Czech Republic

Jack Grealish, meanwhile, is finally set to start for the Three Lions, but Sancho and Bukayo Saka could be in contention to replace Foden. 

Southgate has been forced to rip up his plans for the game after Mount and Ben Chilwell were told to self-isolate for 10 days after being confirmed as close contacts to Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for Covid.

The main beneficiary of that news is Grealish, while Harry Maguire is also pushing to make his first appearance since May 9 after recovering from an ankle ligament injury.

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