Football: Ferdinand wants balance between youth, experience

09:53 | 18/11/2010
England captain Rio Ferdinand admits Fabio Capello needs to strike the right balance between youth and experience after his experimental side were out-classed by France in a 2-1 friendly defeat at Wembley.

Ferdinand led out a youthful line-up featuring three players, Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Kieran Gibbs, with just one cap between them and France took full advantage of their opponents' lack of experience as they passed England into submission on Wednesday.

Capello's decision to try out his trio of rookies backfired as Newcastle striker Carroll, 21, and Sunderland midfielder Henderson, 20, made underwhelming debuts, while Arsenal's Gibbs, 21, endured a miserable time as he deputised for Ashley Cole at left-back.

It was a chastening end to a miserable year for Capello, who had hoped the youngsters would revitalise a squad looking increasingly disillusioned by their woeful failure at the World Cup in South Africa.

Instead of highlighting a brighter future, the Italian will be keeping his fingers firmly crossed that the likes of Cole, Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe are all fit when the Euro 2012 qualifiers resume against Wales in Cardiff in March next year.

Ferdinand conceded England's more senior players like himself, Gerrard and Gareth Barry had struggled to help the new recruits, but he insisted it is vital to establish a better balance between their youthful energy and the battle-hardened knowledge of the older stars.

"Everyone is saying put in the young players instead of senior players and revamp the whole squad. But if you want to get results you have to blend the two," Ferdinand said.

"You are not going to do it with just a revamp of all young players. It has never been done. It doesn't happen. Everyone knows that.

"You have to blood them in the right way and that is down to the manager to get the right balance.

"We've got some young players that are in and around the squad and on the fringes.

"It's down to the manager how he integrates them into the team and hopefully we can get rid of all the injuries we've had over the last couple of months, get them fit and integrate the young lads with some experience in that side."

France's smooth passing and intelligent movement caused problems for England from start to finish and the one-goal margin of defeat was flattering to Capello's side.

Ferdinand readily admitted England had been well below their best, but the Manchester United defender refused to point the finger of blame at the youngsters.

Carroll was starved of the service from wide areas that is essential to his game, Henderson found it impossible to get to grips with the skilful French midfielders, while Gibbs was completely out of his depth.

"We didn't really play well. We've got three young lads coming in without many caps and we didn't really put on a performance," Ferdinand said.

"That's what is most disappointing. From all areas of the pitch, we didn't really get the ball into Andy Carroll with as much quality as we would have liked.

"I just think as a team we didn't perform well. But we have to understand that France team has played together a fair bit and has more experience than we did.

"It's not an excuse. It's just an assessment of the game really. We didn't really get going until the last 15 minutes of the game when that youthful exuberance came in. That is the one positive from the game really."

A capacity 85,000 crowd at Wembley showed their displeasure at the first home defeat of Capello's two-and-a-half-year reign by jeering the team at full-time and Ferdinand insisted he shared their frustration.

"The crowd are just disappointed. They want to see us play well and are probably frustrated, just like us," Ferdinand added.

"We are frustrated when we don't play well. We want to play well and please everyone but it didn't happen. As a team we take it on the chin.

AFP

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