England have been told by Ruud Gullit that the country’s biggest problem is the number of overseas stars playing in key positions in the Premier League. The Three Lions once again failed to win the World Cup after being knocked out by France in the quarter-finals with Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Declan Rice and Harry Kane all picked out as players who should be at a higher level or Demanding more match action.
England’s long wait for an international trophy went on after the disappointing last-eight defeat in Qatar with the World Cup win in 1966 still the only occasion that the country has lifted any significant international silverware in the men’s game.
While the performances in the Middle East were encouraging, it was not enough to end the long drought with attention already starting to turn to how to turn the nation’s fortunes around.
Now Gullit has offered his opinion on England’s plight, suggesting there is not enough Englishman taking up key roles in the Premier League.
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“What is fascinating at the top level in a World Cup is that every generation must have an example,” he said. “England has been prematurely eliminated at this tournament despite a wonderful performance against France. They really played well but again they could not survive.
Today’s generation in England never experienced 1966 and at all previous tournaments saw only penalty shootouts that failed.
“Also, with the Premier League, England has the most beautiful and biggest league in the world, but the five biggest clubs do not have English internationals playing in the most crucial positions. That is killing the national team — there should be England players there, as they then get used to winning big trophies all the time. You win more with the bigger clubs.”
The Dutchman singled out five players who summed up the problem with Pickford, Maguire, Stones, Rice and Kane all either not playing at a high enough levels or playing frequently enough.
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“Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford plays at Everton, not a top-five club,” he said. “Of the two central defenders, Harry Maguire is on the bench at Manchester United. John Stones does play at Manchester City but not always.
“Declan Rice, the controlling midfielder, plays at West Ham United and Harry Kane is a striker at Tottenham, where he has a team that has not won a trophy for years.
That is England’s biggest problem. The team always plays well, but cannot make the final step.”
England’s next competitive match will be on March 23rd as the Three Lions face Italy in their opening Euro 2024 qualifying match.