England’s hopes of reaching just the second World Cup final in their history were dashed last night as they fell to a 2-1 extra time defeat, and in the aftermath former Scotland international Graeme Souness slammed Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate’s tactics and some of his players.
England had won plenty of praise for their style of play earlier in the tournament, but Souness reckons that they only looked good because they came up against poor opposition and were soon found out as soon as their faced a decent team:
“I want to emphasise the midfield. You can’t win the big trophies, you can’t dominate football matches, you can’t put yourself in a position where you are not giving the ball away unless you’ve got good players in midfield who can keep the ball,” Sounds told BeIN Sports.
“I come back to Lingard and Dele Alli – two players who want to get on the end of things after there has been clever play by somebody else.
“They don’t want to get involved in keeping the ball and dominating possession.
“And the make up of the team was all wrong tonight. All wrong tonight. When they come up against a decent team, I think it’s inevitable that they were going to struggle tonight.
“Let me explain. They played the worst team in the tournament in Panama. They played, along with Saudi Arabia, probably the second worst team in the tournament, Tunisia.
“Put a line through the Belgium game, that doesn’t count.
“Then they play Colombia and in the second half, Colombia were much better than them. England came back in extra-time but only after a Colombia player hit the crossbar.
“They get through on penalties.
“Then they play a team in Sweden who were in awe of England. Both played a similar sort of game; long ball and feed off the bits.
“Tonight is the first time, other than the Belgium game, that they have come up against a team who wants to pop it around and keep possession – and they really, really were shown up for being a back-to-front team playing very basic football.”