Shearer Says: “I don’t think Roy knows his best eleven or his best system”
It hasn’t been a good start to the tournament for us. This is a results driven business. We’ve played Russia, Wales and Slovakia and we’ve drawn two and won the other in the last minute. I don’t think Roy knows his best eleven and I don’t think he knows his best system. It looks like we are trying to accommodate players at the moment.
I was surprised Roy made so many changes. I expected him to make a couple but not six. I can only draw comparisons with Euro 1996 where the first game we drew (against Switzerland), very much like England did here (against Russia). The second game we played a home nation, Scotland, and beat them two nil, just as England beat Wales here, albeit with a last minute goal. I just felt that it was time to get a bit of momentum going, as we did back then in 96. Everyone would have been brimming with confidence and it was an opportunity to take that into the third game, and carry it on. In 1996 we did just that against Holland winning 4 v 1 but last night with a changed side England couldn’t build on that win against Wales. They lost momentum.
I thought first half we did reasonably well, carved out one or two chances but second half it was similar to the other games in that it went a bit flat again. We just weren’t good enough to break them down. We were concerned coming into the tournament about our defensive frailties but at the minute it’s our forward play that’s the issue as we’re not able to stick the ball in the back of the next. Compare it to Wales who have played Slovakia and Russia and stuck five goals past them, and we’ve scored just one against the same sides.
I understand that it’s difficult when a team puts all its players behind the ball but we don’t seem to be able to stretch teams and play through them. And in the next match whoever we face are probably going to sit back and soak up pressure because they’ve seen us play, and then they’ll try and hit us on the break. You just have to be cute enough and clever enough to open teams up, and when you do get a chance you have to put it away.
It’s ironic that defensively we don’t see to have an issue at the minute; it’s going forward that’s the problem. We have to put away our chances to progress. If you get one goal it makes the difference, then the other team has to come out and try and score. That’s all ‘ifs and buts’ at the moment because we haven’t taken those opportunities when they’ve come our way.
In the next game I think Roy will go back to the back four from the first two games. Clyne did well but Walker will come back in. But in terms of the rest of the line-up I just don’t know what he’ll do now. Sturridge wants to play centre forward, he doesn’t want to play on the right of the three. Vardy doesn’t want to play on the left of a three, he’s a centre forward. Kane’s the same. Kane at Spurs played with three in behind him. Vardy at Leicester played with someone up front with him. Sturridge also wants to be the main centre-forward, so at the moment we are trying to accommodate people out of their positions.
On a positive note I thought Eric Dier was superb; the way he marshalled the midfield; his range of passing. Kyle Walker didn’t play against Slovakia but played very well in the first two games. Wayne Rooney has been excellent. That says everything. Our three best players have been two midfielders and a right back.
It’s frustrating as I felt that England should have just left Sturridge and Vardy in for Kane and Sterling and kept the same team, gained some momentum and hopefully won the Group, and played in Paris on Saturday. Now England have a whole week before their next game next Monday, and apart from Rooney who played just over half an hour, and Alli who came on for a short period, the rested players, won’t have played for eleven days. In tournament football that’s a long time.
So what will they be doing during that week? Well they’ll be working on finishing that’s for sure. That is the one area that has to improve; putting the ball into the back of the net. That said you can practise it as much as you want, but once you get that one chance in a game you have to take it.
I watched the game in the studio, where we were preparing for the highlights show, and Gary Lineker and Danny Murphy had a different opinion to me. They thought we played very well and it’s just difficult to break teams down, and yes I get that, but I didn’t think we played particularly well second half. Yes we kept possession and had loads of the ball, but you simply have to do something with it. It’s not all about possession as Leicester proved in the Premier League last year.
It’s not a disaster that we haven’t won the group. We could now play Portugal, it could be Hungary; there are so many permutations. Whoever we play in the round of sixteen we should still have enough to get through to the quarter finals. But we are going to have to improve. And of course it could turn around for England. Goals change games. It’s such an open tournament. At the moment there hasn’t been an outstanding team. There have been good performances from the likes of Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Germany particularly but there is no stand out team.