I don’t subscribe to this feeling that England had a really good World Cup. Getting to the quarter-finals wasn’t a big achievement and I don’t think we should be celebrating it.
We could have done a lot more with the squad and the depth that we have. The substitutions we made weren’t quick enough and we took off the wrong players.
When I look at France and Argentina in the World Cup final, you think it could have been us. Argentina is a very good side but not out of this world. Lionel Messi gave them a point of difference and was the reason they won.
If you looked at the French team, it was one of the weakest France sides we’ve seen. When I played them in 1998, they had Zinedine Zidane, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps as their captain – these were players who could turn the game around.
Compare it to this team: no disrespect to Olivier Giroud, who had a great tournament, but if he’s one of their top scorers…
France didn’t have Karim Benzema, they didn’t have N’Golo Kante. They had Kylian Mbappe who gave them the X factor.
We will never get a chance to beat them than when we played them in the quarter-finals bigger, but the big moments went their way.
We haven’t got that killer instinct in our team, we’re a nice football team. We have tremendous young players and we have come close, but that’s where the frustration is. I look at the two teams who got to the final, we’re every bit as good as them.
Defensively, we’re slightly weaker too. We did a great job defensively given how the players were before the World Cup with injuries. Harry Maguire had a great World Cup, but in the long term we need to find that centre-back that will take us to the elite level.
Any manager could do what Southgate has done
He has done a decent job, Gareth Southgate. But we shouldn’t be thinking that there isn’t anyone else out there. There will be a lot of good managers who would do an equally good job.
Any young, English, Premier League manager worth their salt would have gotten England to the quarter-finals, when you look at the teams we’ve played.
In the 2018 World Cup we had a lot of byes. We play one good team in Croatia and they beat us. We play a decent team at this World Cup and they beat us.
In the last Euros, we beat two decent sides in Denmark and Germany – yet neither got out of their group in this World Cup.
If you looked at the candidates right now, you’d see Graham Potter at Chelsea, Eddie Howe is doing a great job at Newcastle. Frank Lampard, who has a great history of playing for England, is at Everton. It didn’t work out for Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, but any of these could have done as good a job as Southgate.
Gareth isn’t silly, he knows there’s a Euros we have a great chance of winning and we’re going to get better and better – so why hand over the baton and give someone else that chance? He thought: “I better take this job pretty quickly unless someone else does it and have real success.”
Now Gareth has been given this opportunity again – make the most of it. Let’s not be happy finishing in the quarter-finals, we should expect more.
We’re very close. We have to appreciate we have good players. You have Jude Bellingham who you can build a team around, Harry Kane will be around in a couple of years, there’s Declan Rice and Phil Foden – who I’d like to see in the midfield.
Qatar was the best WC final I’ve ever seen
The World Cup final was an incredible spectacle. Two special footballers going head-to-head in Mbappe and Messi, you didn’t know which way it was going to go.
I would have to say it is one of the best one I’ve watched. Some might argue it was 1966, imagine doing the analysis on that! Was it over the line, was it not? Geoff Hurst with the left foot, right foot, header hat-trick.
In living memory, I remember watching World Cups such as 1986 with Diego Maradona who single-handedly took Argentina to the final, which was only 1-0 but he contributed with the assist.
But the best? I would have to go with this one – it was everything you wanted from a football match.