Rio Ferdinand believes Sir Alex Ferguson played his part in England underperforming during the 2000s with his threats to Manchester United stars.
The Scot would regularly warn players how he did not want to see them getting much game time at international level.
Ferguson saw the breaks as a hinderance for his team, as he preferred to see United’s players rest.
United stars could come back injured or fatigued following time away with their respective nations.
And as that would be detrimental for the Red Devils, it wound up Ferguson, and he let his players know.
Explaining why England underperformed so often, Ferdinand explained on an Instagram Live: “I think Fergie might have played a little part in it as well, because he was so clever.
“You’d be going away, you’d finish a game on Saturday, you’d win a game on Saturday, and he’d go, ‘Right, I’ll see you after the international break boys’.
“And he’ll go like, ‘You, you and you, if you play more than 45 minutes I’m going to kill you when you get back’.
“So it would be in the back of your mind, you’d be thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m under pressure when I come back’.
“I’d have played 90 minutes and you’re walking into training and he’s sitting looking at you like that [furious], ‘What did I tell you?’ It was mad.”
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England failed to make it out of the group stage at Euro 2000, while arguably their best squad in recent times crashed out of the World Cup quarter-finals to Brazil in 2002.
In 2004 as well, the Three Lions had a top side under Sven-Goran Eriksson but were beaten by Portugal in the quarter-finals.
Another World Cup quarter-final exit followed in 2006, while they failed to even qualify for Euro 2008 during a bleak era for English football.
Discussing the England lineup at the time, during the early and mid-2000s, Ferdinand continued: “On paper that was probably the best team England have had for years and years and years, probably since 1966 on paper.
“But we played 4-4-2, a rigid 4-4-2, and in games against teams like Turkey or Tunisia – teams we should be smashing out of the park – they filled the midfield and ended up popping us all game, dictating the game against us, because we didn’t have enough bodies in there.
“Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the players are, if you’re outnumbered, you’re outnumbered. That’s it.
“We had great players, but I felt the managers that we had probably weren’t strong enough in saying, ‘Right, I’m going to leave a Beckham out, a Scholes out, a Gerrard or a Lampard – one of them has got to sit out’.”
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