Summer of Sport

The pundit's view: Rio Ferdinand talks pubs, England and Euro 2016

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

The pundit's view: Rio Ferdinand talks pubs, England and Euro 2016

Related tags Manchester united f.c. England national football team

Licensees will be hoping for strong performances from the home nations to boost sales during Euro 2016. Oli Gross caught up with footballing legend Rio Ferdinand to discuss England’s prospects for the tournament.

Q. How do you rate England’s chances at this summer’s Euros?

The optimism after the recent game against Germany was good, but then it’s the same old thing — two steps forward, one step back, with the result against Holland that followed. What I’m really excited about is the youth in the squad being able to grow and develop. We should almost be thinking about this as a preparation for the future. If they do win it great, but if they don’t win it, then use it as a learning curve for the next tournament, when expectations can be a bit greater.

Q. How deep into the tournament will England make it?

Ferdinand, Walcott, Rooney
Rio Ferdinand back in his England playing days

In the last tournament we were drab, very average, disappointing. So I’d like to think about that question in terms of some progression from then. I think that’s all we can ask and all we can aim for. You’d like to see us get out of the group and get deeper into the tournament, but realistically we just need to see some sort of improvement from last time.

Q. How will the other home nations get on?

Wales have got the ability to do well. If you look at their qualifying campaign they were very impressive, and got out of a tough group, so they’re going to be dangerous. The game against England is going to be fantastic and will really shape that group for both teams.

Q. Who are England’s key men?

We still don’t know our best team. We need to see a cohesive group of players, a team that works together, who have all been given a task, understand that and who are all pulling in the same direction. Once we get that we can look to see who will be the star men, but I think it’s more important to get a group of players who have bought into an idea and a way of playing. We’ve got Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney —great attacking players — but we need to find a way of making sure the ball gets to these guys.

Harry Kane: Key man for England this summer

Q. Who would you start up front?

If you’re going to go on form then Vardy and Kane start. If you’re going to go on what got you there, and experience, then Rooney has got to be considered. There are so many questions to be answered by [manager] Roy Hodgson, but that’s what he’s paid for, to have that headache.

Q. How do you rate England’s current defence?

It’s the weakest part of our team and the area I am most worried about. I don’t think the manager knows what his best pairing is. In the last tournament that was our undoing. I think our defending wasn’t good enough and that has got to change in the Euros. It’s just about who Hodgson picks now.

Q. Who’s your tip for the winner?

I would say France are going to be the team to beat — as the home nation, what it means and what it brings to you. There’s pressure, but with the nation whipped up, then that can be a huge advantage.

Q. How important are pubs to building an atmosphere during major tournaments?

Rio Ferdinand BT Sport

This is going to be my second tournament since retiring, and I know first-hand what it’s like when you walk past pubs. The atmosphere they generate for tournaments is great. I can’t wait to see it. Landlords are itching for it to happen, not just because it means more ‘ker-ching’ going through their tills, but also because of that great environment it brings to their venues, they love it.

I will be working in France, but will have an opportunity to come home to see the family, and I’m sure we’ll get a chance to see a few games at the pub. As long as there’s enough screens and the beer is cold!

Former England, Manchester United and West Ham United centre back Rio Ferdinand is now a BT Sport ambassador and football expert who can be seen airing his views regularly during BT Sport’s coverage of Champions League matches.

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