Monday 16 September 2019

'The attitude from some of the players is shocking' - Roy Keane rips into England before they hammer Bulgaria

Roy Keane
Roy Keane
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Roy Keane offered up one of his typically withering assessments of England after a disappointing first half from Gareth Southgate's side against Bulgaria, before they found their form to record a comfortable 4-0 win at Wembley.

Harry Kane was named man of the match after assisting Raheem Sterling and scoring the three others, with his first-half strike followed by a pair of penalties as he took his England tally to 25 goals in 40 appearances.

Yet while the final result highlighted the chasm in class between England and a Bulgaria side that will now travel to Dublin for an international against Ireland on Tuesday, former Manchester United skipper Keane suggested there was room for improvement from the World Cup semi-finalists of 2018.

"Where do I start?’ Keane said at half-time, as he resumed his role as an ITV pundit.

"Too slow, players taking too many touches, not good enough movement. Not great body language, feels like an end-of-season game.

"If you start the game like England did – lacklustre – it's a long old day for them, so I've been really disappointed.

"We spoke before the game about England's pace, movement, but we've not seen any of it – bar Sterling, who is the only one playing with any sort of tempo.

"I know Gareth's a placid guy but I think he’ll be fuming watching that. The attitude from some of the players is shocking."

Keane went on to suggest England needed improve their form when they take on Kosovo after a night that saw Kane make a leap up the England all-time scoring charts after his treble took him ahead of Stan Mortensen and World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst in the list, with Wayne Rooney's record of 53 goals in his sights.

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Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring England’s third goal with hat-trick hero Harry Kane in the win over Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium last night. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

"I can only talk glowingly about that mentality to want to be a top player," Southgate said. "Selfish isn't the right word because he's actually a very unselfish player.

"He works so hard for the team and he's more than happy to drop into areas to leave space for others and play passes into others.

"But, when he gets his moment, then he just has an outstanding mindset and, technically, he's a top, top finisher.

"But I go back to the fact that's hours and hours of practice and if you talk to some of the other forwards in the squad, they would talk to you about how big an impression that has had on them and the way they practice when they go back to their clubs.

"I thought that Harry was outstanding, in the first half in particular where it was difficult to find space. We were a little slow moving the ball.

"I didn't think we had enough runs in behind but he was a constant threat throughout that period and his willingness to work without the ball to go and press and win the ball back for the first goal set absolutely the right tone for the team.

"So he'll probably have the hump that he's only got one today because his mindset has shifted so much towards that desire to score goals.

"Two years ago when we were working with him he was still a dangerous player but he just didn't have that same desire to get into those areas and that ruthlessness in front of goal or that mindset of disappointment when he doesn't score.

"And I am delighted for him because he has for such a long time been such an important part of our team and what we do.

"Now he's reaping the personal gain of the goals and also the acknowledgement publicly that he should get."

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