Daily Mail

England can win Euros – if only Gareth’s bold enough to take off handbrake


ThIS is england’s time. If Gareth Southgate and his players — a very, very strong group — want to be remembered as more than the bridesmaid­s they have become, they have to win next summer’s european Championsh­ip.

Can they do that with Southgate as manager? Yes, if he takes the handbrake off and allows a team who are good enough to beat anyone to go and do so.

Southgate has done a good job in seven years, but he could have done better. england could have been the bride at both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and euro 2020. My criticism would be that he is too much like a counterpun­cher in boxing. his teams come out and feel their way into a game. It is rarely with the attitude of, ‘ We’re just going to out-score you’.

As a player, you want to be on the front foot. I go back to when I was at Liverpool. We were made to feel we were the best. It was as simple as, ‘ You match them across the corridor for effort and you win the game, because you’re better than them’. That made you feel 10 feet tall.

england should have no one to fear. France apart, all the major european teams are weak. I’ve never known a weaker Spain, Germany or Italy. Spain have Alvaro Morata up front, and he has been a nearly man at all the big clubs in europe.

even against France, in the World Cup quarter-final, england started in the usual conservati­ve way but, when they went behind, they went after France and were the better side. You look back and think, ‘Why did you not start in a more positive frame of mind?’

This comes back to Southgate not needing to play two holding midfielder­s. Declan Rice is most definitely good enough to do that job on his own. he has the athleticis­m and the brain to sense and eliminate threats. Get another attacking player in there. They have been lacking creativity at times and the best creative player in english football has been, for a number of years, James Maddison.

OK, Maddison is injured, but there has been a reluctance to throw him in. I would play him just off harry Kane, and Kane would love playing with him. Southgate has the players to win tournament­s and this, for him, is a wonderful opportunit­y.

If you look at his managerial career — relegated from the top flight with Middlesbro­ugh, going to england Under 21s and then ending up with the big job — it was a case of right place, right time, and he has been lucky with the pool of talent he has got.

But that is management, and the best example is internatio­nal football. Your job depends on what the country has produced. You have next to no time with the players. You are not going to make them better. It is about getting them organised and creating a feelgood factor around the place.

Southgate has achieved that, but I want him to be more adventurou­s and back his team to be the best. If not, he and supporters of england could be left wondering about what might have been.

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