Ferdinand questions Maguire selection and says Rashford 'does not deserve to start' for England

By Sports Desk June 04, 2021

Rio Ferdinand has questioned Gareth Southgate's decision to include Harry Maguire in England's Euro 2020 squad and says Marcus Rashford should not be considered for a starting spot.

Maguire was this week named as part of England's final 26-man squad for the tournament, despite missing Manchester United's final five games of the season – including the Europa League final loss to Villarreal – with ankle ligament damage.

He has yet to take part in training since linking up with his Three Lions team-mates, with Southgate admitting on Tuesday he is unsure if the defender will be ready for the Group D opener against Croatia on June 13.

With fears Maguire may not be fit enough to play any part in the group phase, former United centre-back Ferdinand does not believe Maguire should have been selected at the expense of another defender.

"Harry is important from set-pieces, as he showed at the World Cup. But I have to be honest, I wouldn't take players that are 50 per cent fit," said Ferdinand, who was speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of Heineken, an official UEFA Euro 2020 partner. 

"If I'm worried about a player being able to make 90 minutes, I wouldn't take them. Too much energy goes into talking about it and worrying about it, that it takes the focus off what you are there for as a team."

Who to play alongside John Stones in the heart of defence should Maguire fail to win his fitness battle is not the only big selection call Southgate has to make ahead of Euro 2020 getting under way next week.

The England boss is spoiled for choice in the final third, with Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all battling for starting spots alongside captain Harry Kane.

Rashford has scored four goals in his last five appearances for England, but he struggled with a niggling injury issue towards the end of last season and Ferdinand would hold off from using the versatile forward until later in the tournament.

"If you're looking at form, I think Marcus probably doesn't deserve to start," Ferdinand said. "I think of the players around him in that position, Sancho and Foden should be picked in terms of form.

"I don't know much about Gareth's relationship with them players and what they've done in the past for him, and his confidence in certain players. Also, tactically how the game looks, who he is going to play. 

"In terms of form, I think he's scored one in nine or 10 games at the end of the season [for United]. I think he's a bit fatigued and I think he's been carrying a few injuries. I'd like to see him recuperating in this little period of time off, and then come into it fresh."

Of those eight players vying for a starting role in the final third, Aston Villa playmaker Grealish and Borussia Dortmund's Sancho lead the way in terms of big chances created in the league during the 2020-21 campaign with 14 each.

Despite missing 12 matches, Grealish was by far and away the most fouled player in the Premier League last season (110 fouls won), while his 2.68 dribbles completed per 90 minutes was bettered by just six players to have played at least 20 times.

Only Belgium (40) scored more goals than England's 37 in qualifying for Euro 2020 and Ferdinand is particularly excited by the attacking options available to choose from.

"In terms of wide players, we must have some of the biggest talent," he said. "We've got Foden, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, Sancho, and Mount can play there as well – so six of the most talented, impactful players that are playing at the moment. 

"You look at Sancho, over the last three years has got 30 goal involvements every year, which is astounding for a kid who had been 21 and under. 

"Jack Grealish has been one of the hardest to combat players in the Premier League when he's fit. Phil Foden is deciding games in Champions League knockout stages, for one so young, and Man City are dominating in midfield. 

"It's crazy. You've also got Sterling, with what he's done over the last three years, his trophy haul that he's building at the moment is up there with the best. Those young players, it's mouthwatering."

While a number of positions are up for debate, it is certain that captain Kane – who topped the scoring charts in qualifying – will lead the line for the Three Lions.

Kane won his third Golden Boot after scoring 23 times in 2020-21, becoming the third player after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer to achieve such a feat.

He also set up 14 goals to become just the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists (also Andy Cole in 1993-94).

The Tottenham striker's future is a hot topic of debate heading into the tournament after recently admitting he is at a "crossroads" in his career, but Ferdinand does not expect that to have any sort of impact on his performances.

"It happens to the best players," he said. "These players we're talking about with speculation, like Sancho and Kane, they have this every day of the week. This is normal for them, they are just in a tournament, that's the only difference.

"I think Harry has shown he enjoys wearing the armband. He enjoys the responsibility, some players grow with it. This tournament, I'd like to see that."

 

Ferdinand was speaking as part of Heineken's 'Enjoy the Rivalry' campaign, which encourages fans to watch Euro 2020 matches alongside their rivals.

The United legend was pranked by fellow former pro Robbie Savage as part of the initiative, culminating in the ex-England international having his portrait draped in a flag of rivals Wales.

"I was a bit surprised, I've got to be honest," he said. "I was probably being a bit too polite because there were two young ladies in front of me and I didn't want to be... well I saw the Welsh flag and I thought what are these people playing at?

"They don't understand the rivalry that we have with Wales and all of a sudden they drape me in a Welsh flag. It was weird.

"I think 'finally together again to be rivals', is a perfect strapline. I think everyone's waited for this opportunity, to have some sort of rivalry with teams, with people, with individuals."

Related items

  • Brady becomes first quarterback to throw 600 TD passes Brady becomes first quarterback to throw 600 TD passes

    Another week, another piece of history for Tom Brady, who became the first player in NFL history to throw 600 touchdown passes in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' clash with the Chicago Bears.

    Brady went into the Week 7 contest needing two touchdown throws to reach this latest milestone in his remarkable career.

    Just before the end of the first quarter, the seven-time Super Bowl champion had the record on Sunday.

    Having moved to 599 on a four-yard toss to Bucs team-mate Chris Godwin, Brady connected with Mike Evans for a nine-yard score, although the latter was clearly unaware of the historical significance of the play.

    Evans gave the ball to a fan in the crowd, leading to a member of Tampa's equipment staff negotiating with the spectator to ensure its return, with the ball likely headed to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

    Brady will also one day have a place in Canton but, for now, the 44-year-old superstar is engaged in the process of yet more legacy padding.

    He found Evans for two more touchdown throws before half-time to give Tampa Bay a 35-3 lead at the break, defending Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers looking near-certainties to move to 6-1 as Brady seeks his eighth Lombardi Trophy.

  • I am getting close to what we want at Man Utd – Solskjaer 'believes in himself' despite Liverpool drubbing I am getting close to what we want at Man Utd – Solskjaer 'believes in himself' despite Liverpool drubbing

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he retains the backing of the board and believes he is "close" to getting the club where they want to be despite a demoralising 5-0 defeat to rivals Liverpool.

    Mohamed Salah became the first Premier League player to score an away hat-trick at Old Trafford after setting Naby Keita up for the opener, with Diogo Jota making it 2-0 inside 13 minutes as United slumped to their heaviest-ever home defeat in this fixture.

    United have lost three and drawn one of their last four Premier League fixtures, slipping to seventh in the table – eight points behind league leaders Chelsea after nine games.

    However, Solskjaer remains confident in his position and in his ability to bring glory back to United, but accepted responsibility for the result.

    "I have heard nothing else [other than having the backing of the board]," Solskjaer said in a news conference. "I am still thinking about tomorrow’s work. Of course, they are all low.

    "I have never felt any worse than this. This is the lowest I have been. I accept the responsibility. That is mine today and it is mine going forward.

    "It is the worst feeling. The feeling that we are getting to where we want to be has been there. Last few weeks we have hit a brick wall. We have conceded too many easy goals. That is a concern. This is the lowest I have been. I accept the responsibility. That is mine today.

    "I do believe in myself and I am getting close to what we want at the club. The results lately haven't been good enough. Hands up. Next week is Tottenham away. Then Atalanta. Then Man City. We have to go into this with the right frame of mind.

    "The time is now. United have had difficult times before and we have always bounced back. We have started this season badly. We have hit a brick wall. We need to start building results – and get clean sheets.

    "I am sad, disappointed, angry of course. My emotion doesn't matter apart from what do we do to improve and make sure it doesn't happen [again]. This could go either way, we could sulk or we could come together."

    Leaky defence Solskjaer's downfall?

    Solskjaer has the second-worst goals against per game ratio of any head coach to have taken charge of United in the Premier League.

    In 106 league games under the Norwegian, the Red Devils have shipped 120 goals – an average of 1.13 per match.

    Only under David Moyes (1.18 per game) was United's defence more porous, with no other manager averaging a goal conceded per game or more.

    Solskjaer's points per game stands at 1.83, with his United recording 55 wins, 29 draws and 22 defeats. 

    United's goal difference in the league under Solskjaer does stand at 71, which ranks third in the division since he took over in December 2018. However, that is some way behind the totals of Liverpool (134) and City (168).

    Solskjaer has also overseen two of United's five heaviest defeats in the Premier League, Sunday's game (which was United's joint-worst home loss in terms of the margin of defeat) and last season's 6-1 loss to Tottenham.

  • 'The last few laps were fun', says Verstappen after edging out Hamilton in Austin 'The last few laps were fun', says Verstappen after edging out Hamilton in Austin

    Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen enjoyed his head-to-head battle with Lewis Hamilton at the United States Grand Prix.

    Verstappen came out on top in an enthralling race, pipping his title rival by 1.333 seconds in Austin.

    It marked Verstappen's first race win in the United States, with Red Bull's decision to pit early in Sunday's race paying off.

    Mercedes told Hamilton it was "all about the final three laps" and, though the reigning world champion came close, he just did not have enough to overcome Verstappen, who takes a 12-point lead into the final five races.

    Verstappen has now won eight races in 2021. Only in 2016, when Hamilton lost out to Nico Rosberg despite winning 10 grands prix, has a driver who has collected at least eight victories failed to win the championship.

    Red Bull did not have it all their own way, with Hamilton coming from second on the grid to nip ahead of Verstappen with a brilliant start, but the Dutchman regained the lead and held his nerve.

    "We lost some time at the start, so we had to try and do something else," Verstappen said. "The tyre wear is quite high around this track, so we had to go aggressive but I wasn't sure if it was going to work.

    "The last few laps were fun. A bit sideways through the high-speed corners, but super happy to hang on."

    Hamilton was left frustrated by Mercedes' decision to pit late during the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago, but on this occasion, the Briton – who has won a record six times in the United States – had no such complaints.

    "Congratulations to Max, he did such a good job today," Hamilton said. "It was such a tough race, had a good start, gave it absolutely everything but at the end of the day [Red Bull] just had the upper hand this weekend.

    "I couldn't have asked for more, a big thank you to my team for great pit stops, great work throughout the weekend."

    Both Verstappen and Hamilton also hailed the 140,000-strong crowd at the Circuit of the Americas, with F1 returning to Austin for the first time since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    "What an amazing crowd, to perform in front of you guys is such an honour," Hamilton added. "I think this is definitely our acceptance into the US.

    "What a place to be, I hope we have more races out here, hope the sport continues to grow because you can see how great the fans are."

    Verstappen echoed the sentiment, saying: "[The fans] have been incredible. It's amazing to be here and to see so many of you around the track."

    Red Bull had a great day all-round, with Sergio Perez coming in third to seal the team's 200th F1 podium.

    Perez's efforts were made even more outstanding by the fact the water system in the Mexican's car had a malfunction, leaving him unable to take on any fluid in scorching track conditions in Texas.

    "Struggled massively. You know, since lap one, I ran out of water. I couldn't drink at all," he said.

    "I think by the middle of my second stint it was starting to get pretty difficult, you know, losing strength. I think my toughest race ever, physically."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.