Shearer Says: “Football coming together tells the world that terrorists wont bring us down”
Tuesday night was a very poignant night for football
After the awful events in Paris, Tuesday’s friendly between England and France was irrelevant in terms of competition, but the game stood for so much more. It was about football coming together and sending out a message to the world that we will not let these terrorists bring us down. It was a message of unity and togetherness and, on what was an incredibly sad occasion, it was a very poignant night for football.
I obviously never experienced anything like that in my career. However, on 15th February 1995, we played Ireland at Landsdowne Road and after 20 about minutes or so the game was called off due to riots. We were brought into the dressing room to safety and though not remotely comparable, even that was an uncomfortable ordeal so it must have been tough on both squads not knowing what was happening while they were locked inside the stadium.
Given the difficult circumstances on Tuesday night, all credit must go to the players for trying to perform in the best way possible, particularly the French players. It’s difficult to take anything from the game because there is no way the players were in the right frame of mind to play.
We are starting to see some young talent coming through and that hasn’t happened for a while
Leading up to the game there was a lot of debate around trying out our younger players and I have to say it’s something I am strongly in favour of. We are constantly having a pop at our country for not producing players, but we can’t have it both ways. We can’t give them the opportunity and then turn around and say it’s too early for them. That’s what friendlies are for, to experiment with players, and I was so pleased that Dele Alli, Eric Dier and others got an opportunity.
Alli was obviously the stand out player with the fantastic goal he scored and the way he got the ball in the first place, I thought it was great to see. I know it’s too early to get excited but when you just have a quick glance at the youth such as Ross Barkley, John Stones, Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and so on, we are starting to see some young talent coming through and that hasn’t happened for a while. England need to start going into tournaments with young players and if it doesn’t work out then at least we can say we gave them a go and we’ve tried something.
As soon as England play quality opposition in Spain, look what happens
There are now 24 teams at the Euros and as a result it has become far too easy. The early part of the Euros will be very similar to the early stages of the Champions League now. It takes until Christmas for the Champions League to get exciting and in June when you look at all the teams that have qualified, the group stage matches will be the same. Look at England, they kept a 100 per cent record during the qualifying stage, but as soon as they play quality opposition in Spain, we get back to the realism of where we really stand.
In terms of who can win it, I would be very reluctant to look beyond France. I spoke to Zinedine Zidane on Thursday evening in Paris about how the country got behind France in 1998 at the World Cup. They got off to a good start and he said they can do exactly the same thing next summer. If they get off to a good start, they will be very hard to contain, similar to ourselves at the Euros in 1996. Obviously the other big threats will be Germany and Spain.
I don’t expect us to win it, but i am hoping for improvement
I don’t expect England to win it, although I think that we can put on a good show and demonstrate some improvement from our last couple of tournaments, which let’s face it, shouldn’t be difficult. We qualified with ease, but when I look at top quality opposition, like Spain the other night, you can see the gulf in quality that we still have to address. So I don’t expect us to win it, but I am hoping for improvement.
When I go through the England team, there are not many players who are guaranteed a place in the squad or starting XI next summer so there are plenty of places up for grabs. Jamie Vardy never got his opportunity because of injury, Dele Alli did and he’s now said to the manager because of his performance that he deserves a chance. It’s the same with Dier, Barkley, and Stones. So I think we should put those kids together alongside Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and some other experienced players and head to France with a bit of freshness about us. If anyone is looking for an incentive to play well between now and the Euros, they just have to look at the amount of places available in the England team and see the opportunity.
Mauricio Pochettino stands out as a manager who has nourished English talent
Mauricio Pochettino stands out as a manager who has nourished English talent and it’s great to see. He started off at Southampton, a club that had a very good youth set up and now he is doing the same at Tottenham where he has picked up on the work of Tim Sherwood, by giving these youngsters a chance. We have been lacking that for years.
I always get asked if the international break has an impact on players when they return to the domestic league and I can look back at my own experience and safely say it didn’t ever affect me. I was always coming back up to Newcastle, whether I was travelling from Wembley or abroad, getting home in the small hours of the morning. Now players have 24 hours extra to recover so I don’t think playing international football has that much of an impact on players. I wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
Dele Alli will be desperate to get out on a football pitch and show what he can do again
In fact, I think when some of these young players start for England, they go back to the club with a spring in their step. You can’t tell me that Dele Alli will be going back to Spurs tired, he will want to put on his boots and play as soon as possible. He will bursting with confidence, bursting with pride and will be desperate to get out on a football pitch and show what he can do again.
I think City will have benefited from the international break
The clash of the weekend is obviously Manchester City v Liverpool. City will have benefited from the international break especially with Aguero and Silva suffering from injury. Liverpool were beaten by Crystal Palace at home last time out so they will want to get back to winning ways, but I’m pretty sure Jurgen Klopp will have the same set up as he did against Chelsea, but it will be a tough game for them. It’s a game City have to win to maintain their position at the top.
Spurs are on a great run so will hope they can put right their recent bad run of results against West Ham. With all the injuries West Ham have incurred and with Pochettino’s men full of confidence, especially with Dele Alli coming back, it will be a tough day in the office for West Ham.
If the gunners get the first goal, they wil be very hard to beat
As for Arsenal, I think they will have their work cut out for them away to West Brom. The Hawthorns is a tough place to go and Tony Pulis will have his team well organised. That said, I think if the Gunners get the first goal it will be game over. If there’s a team you don’t want to go a goal down to, it’s Arsenal with the way they can keep possession.
Newcastle got absolutely battered by Bournemouth last time out but still won 1-0. We didn’t have any possession, barely any shots, or any corners, but we still managed to get the result, so I am hoping that that is a bit of a turning point for Newcastle.
Chelsea got beaten by Stoke last time out, but there were positive signs of some decent football being played. However, we have said that so many times about Chelsea and they still haven’t turned things around. Against Norwich, they will never get a better chance to get a win, if they don’t, well then there will be big trouble for Jose Mourinho.
As for me I will be up early to head for the Match of the Day studio on Saturday and I have my fingers crossed for my horse Augusta Kate who is running at Navan on Sunday in a listed Mares race.
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