Thursday 19 July 2018

Graeme Souness gives blunt assessment of England and points out two players who are to blame for World Cup exit

England's midfielder Dele Alli (L) and England's midfielder Jesse Lingard (R) react after a missed chance during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
England's midfielder Dele Alli (L) and England's midfielder Jesse Lingard (R) react after a missed chance during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

Graeme Souness was highly critical of England's midfield and their coach Gareth Southgate after they were knocked out of the World Cup following a 2-1 defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals.

Appearing as a pundit on beIN Sport, Souness suggested England midfielders Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard were the weak links in a team that lost control of the game after a bright start in Moscow.

"I want to emphasise the midfield," began Souness.

"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.

"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. They want to be involved in scoring the goals and getting on the end of things."

Souness suggested England's World Cup ambitions were shown up against the first good team they came up against in the tournament, as he suggested Southgate didn't have the right players on the field to beat Croatia.

"The make up of the team was all wrong, all wrong," he added.

"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."

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport