Rio Ferdinand believes England manager Gareth Southgate “came up short” with his substitutions in the 2-1 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.
Harry Kane missed a late penalty as England tumbled out of the tournament in Qatar, with goals from Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud sending France through to a semi-final against Morocco on Wednesday.
With England chasing Saturday’s game late on, Southgate decided to bring on Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling for Jordan Henderson and Bukayo Saka with just over 10 minutes to play.
He then took off Phil Foden for Marcus Rashford in the 85th minute, while Jack Grealish came on deep into stoppage time as England desperately tried to get back in the contest.
Those attempts ultimately ended up fruitless as England suffered fresh tournament heartbreak, having lost the Euro 2020 final on penalties to Italy last year.
Keep your head held high, skipper.
We’re proud of you
— England (@England)
Former defender Ferdinand, who won 81 caps for England between 1997 and 2011, feels Southgate’s reluctance to make alterations cost England a semi-final spot.
“Our [England’s] substitutions is where I think Gareth Southgate let us down,” Ferdinand said on his YouTube show Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE.
“I think he’s been pitch-perfect, touch-perfect in almost every decision he’s made up to this point, but you get into a game like yesterday where this is really where it matters now, and I think Gareth Southgate came up short in the tactical element in terms of substitutions.
“Gareth, in the moment, wasn’t proactive with his substitutions, he was reactive.
“It hit 1-1 and we’re sitting there going, ‘Take the bull by the horns, make a substitution, get us on the front foot’. You’ve got Rashford, you’ve got Grealish who can go on, get us on the front foot and change this game.
“You’re sitting there going, ‘It’s too late, man’. You’ve got to do this when we’ve got the chance of still winning this game and taking the game from them.”
After another tough tournament exit, there are many questions over whether Southgate will continue in his role, with the manager himself unsure for now.
But Ferdinand expects Southgate will stay on, saying: “I think, if I am Gareth Southgate, I cannot leave this story.
“This story hasn’t had an ending yet that works for me, if I’m Gareth Southgate.”