• World Cup qualifiers

Gerrard: Fans entitled to criticise Ferdinand

ESPN staff
March 24, 2013

England captain Steven Gerrard has refused to criticise the national team's travelling supporters who were heard abusing Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand in the 8-0 thrashing of San Marino.

The anti-Ferdinand sentiment could be heard throughout the Olimpico di Serravalle, even reaching the ears of the English coaching staff, as the fall-out from his decision to pull out of the squad due to a "pre-planned training and medical programme" continues to overshadow the Three Lions' attempt to reach Brazil 2014.

And Ferdinand's trip to Doha to commentate on the game would not have eased the tension, with the 34-year-old criticising both the squad and its manager, Roy Hodgson.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's top-of-the-table World Cup qualifier clash against Montenegro, Gerrard said the English fans had every right to show their displeasure at the former England hero.

"I think the fans have shown their frustration about Rio not being here," Gerrard was quoted as saying in the Sun. "They're entitled to their opinion, they pay good money to come over here.

"We all wanted Rio here because he's a good player and he would have helped us over these two games. But he's made his decision and we have to respect that."

And the Liverpool midfielder is hoping the travelling supporters can once again be a factor in the match against Montenegro, this time being the deciding factor in what is expected to be a closer scoreline than the drubbing against San Marino.

"They're unbelievable and most of them are going to Montenegro now," Gerrard said. "They got behind the team from start to finish in San Marino and that's why all the players went over and thanked them.

"Hopefully, we can get the same support again in Montenegro because they will be a big help to us."

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