RIO FERDINAND, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard all agree that club rivalries prevented them from hitting their peak at England level.
The BT Sport trio were part of a golden generation that promised so much at international level.
Frank Lampard, manager Sven Goran Eriksson, Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard before England’s friendly against Jamaica in 2006
Said Lampard: “You feel so passionately about the club you play with your teammates, your own performances, that to be a bit pally with someone you’re competitive with… it may have [held back England].
“We didn’t hate each other but by nature we would sit on different tables.”
That compares to countries where talent is spread across more than one domestic league.
Lampard contrasted the situation with England, where players all play in the Premier League, to countries where talent is spread across more than one domestic league.
“A lot of other nations have players playing all over the world and then they come back together and they don’t have that competition – every week we were at each other,” he added.
Gerrard was of the same opinion. He said: “I think it was more of a respectful relationship around England rather than a closeness where there was love there.
Gerrard and Ferdinand in action together with England
“[Philippe] Coutinho can’t wait to go away with Brazil, it’s the best 10 days of their season. But you didn’t get that feeling with England.
“We have to improve the bond, the togetherness and the closeness and I think Gareth [Southgate] is trying to do that and I think that will help results on the pitch.’
There was criticism, especially during Sven-Goran Eriksson’s reign as England boss, that Lampard and Gerrard were not the midfield force they should have been.
The furthest England reached at an international tournament during the 2000s was three successive quarter-finals at the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup under Eriksson.
Under his successors Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello, England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and were knocked out in the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
“I don’t think we had a manager that was brave enough to sort out our midfield,’ said Ferdinand.
“On paper we had the best midfielders in the world at the time: Lampard, Gerrard, [Paul] Scholes, [David] Beckham, [Owen] Hargreaves, [Michael] Carrick… and we played a rigid 4-4-2.
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“When you have the best players in the world you try and get them in a team – whether that’s a diamond… you play them.
“You see Spain and Germany – they [England’s midfielders] would have fitted into those teams because they would have made sure their best and most creative players were on the pitch.”
Added Gerrard: “I don’t think we had a manager with a philosophy that worked.
“We played very individual and I didn’t feel we were part of a team that played a certain way and that’s the way we stuck to under a certain manager.”