Rio Ferdinand was subjected to prolonged and vicious abuse from England's travelling support as the national side recorded their biggest victory in 26 years in the Manchester United defender's absence.
The veteran, who withdrew from Roy Hodgson's initial squad last weekend citing the complexities of his pre-planned training routine, was working as a television pundit covering the game for Al Jazeera sport in Doha last night. While England hardly missed his presence as they eased to an 8-0 success, their biggest since the dismissal of Turkey in 1987, the visiting support made their feelings on the 34-year-old's decision to withdraw very clear.
There were abusive chants from large sections of the support but Hodgson declined to comment other than to make it clear he was aware of it. "Of course I heard it," he said. "I'm not deaf. But I've absolutely no comment to make on it."
Ferdinand himself had publicly justified his decision to withdraw and travel to Doha as he previewed the game for Al Jazeera but also used his appearance to stress the need to revolutionise the coaching of the game in England if the national team is to prosper in the future.
"For some reason we haven't been able to get beyond the quarter-finals of major competitions," he said. "Whether it's down to mental or physical tiredness at times from the gruelling season that we have in the Premier League or that we're just not good enough … that's what we're still trying to search for.
"Maybe we need to go back to the drawing board and have a real good look at ourselves right from the bottom all the way to the top in terms of the coaching and the way we're bringing our players through, how we're getting ready to play and preparing for tournaments. Because up to now we've not been able to find the right remedy. But hopefully, with this manager we've got and the crop of players we've got now, we can make the right strides."
Hodgson was encouraged by his side's comfortable victory as he starts his plans for Tuesday's more daunting qualifier in Montenegro, the group leaders following their own narrow win in Moldova. Theo Walcott will miss that tie after sustaining a groin injury in training on the eve of this game – he underwent a scan in Italy and will return to Arsenal for treatment – but England will travel to Podgorica on Monday without further concerns.
"We're not jumping around with high fives in the dressing room," said the England manager. "We're pleased with a professional performance and the quality of the play: good movement, technique and passing against a team who were not really in our league. But, if we control the ball and move as well as we did, we'll give opponents problems.
"It would be a great lift to win in Montenegro on Tuesday, but, if we don't get it, I won't be getting the spade out to dig a grave for the team. There are 15 points to play for and the team is capable of getting a large number of those points to see us through. Last month's friendly win over Brazil gave us confidence and most people will look at the football we played tonight and revel in the fact there were exceptional moves and goals in there."
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