“I want more of the same from England please”
|Host Nation: Qatar Dates: November 20-December 18 Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day by day TV listings – Full coverage details|
It’s pretty simple what I want to see after watching England kick off their World Cup against Iran: I’d like more of the same, please.
Monday’s Victory 6-2 it was exactly the result we needed, and also the way we played to get it.
When I saw Gareth Southgate’s team and system – with four at the back – before kick-off, I thought we would be up front and try to go to Iran, and that’s exactly what we did, from the start .
Now we have to keep doing it. Bigger tests await and I know we can’t be as attacking in every game if we go deep into this tournament, but it’s important that we continue with that approach against the other opponents in Group B.
|November 25||United States||Al-Bayt Stadium, Al Khor|
|November 29||wales||Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan|
I have been in the situation as a player with England when people say that some games will be easy and you should win easily, and it’s not nice.
But from what I saw in his game later on Monday, nothing would worry me wales or the United States, Who are we playing with on Friday? In fact, I’d be wringing my hands to deal with them.
The system brought out the best in all the English players
Before this tournament began, there was much debate about whether Southgate would go with five or four at the back and whether he should be less cautious in Qatar.
It’s not just your formation that decides your level of attack, but the 4-3-3 against England Iran He definitely played to his strengths going forward, and I really felt he brought out the best in each player.
It gives us an extra man in midfield and that allowed Jude Bellingham to make the runs he did against Iran and use his intelligence to get forward at the right time, like he did with the first goal.
Playing as one of two midfielders in a 5-2-3 formation makes it harder for him to do that, but against Iran he had more license to roam, which was exactly what we needed against a team that sat deep and defended in numbers. .
Bellingham was amazing, as was Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling, although everyone else also adapted very well to the system, including our centre-backs.
It was a big call by Southgate to pick Harry Maguire, who has barely played for Manchester United this season, but his performance justified that loyalty.
I said in the studio at the start of the game that Maguire needed a few touches of the ball early on just to get the feel of things again, and England gave him that in the first five minutes.
Maguire and John Stones weren’t afraid to come forward from the back and make that pass to the forwards, which we needed when we were trying to make the breakthrough.
Iran were ready to frustrate us, but we extended the play by sending our full-backs up the pitch and they made great crosses, including Luke Shaw’s ball for the opener.
I can understand why Southgate was disappointed with the goals we conceded late in the game, but 95% of this performance – from everyone – was brilliant. If that doesn’t make us believe, nothing will.
Kane’s wait for a goal won’t last long
The manager deserves credit too, of course. As well as picking Maguire, sticking with Sterling was another big call that Southgate got right.
Everything worked, including the changes he made during the game that saw Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish come off the bench and score.
That’s some heavy artillery to carry if we need it, and it’s great that they both hit a target to give them more confidence.
The only person who might not be happy is captain Harry Kane, after failing to get on the scoresheet himself.
I laughed with Gary Lineker after the game about how devastated we would both be, as fellow strikers, if that had happened to us when we were going for a Golden Boot.
In all seriousness though, Kane was still playing really well. He will score soon, so his wait for a first goal in this World Cup won’t last long.
VAR the only cause for concern
My only slight concern after watching England had nothing to do with their display – it was the part the video assistant referee played in their game.
An Iran defender bear-hugd Maguire to bring him down for a corner, but nothing was given, which was pathetic considering Stones conceded a stoppage-time penalty for done much less
It didn’t matter because we were so far ahead at the time, but imagine if we were 2-1 up and on the wrong end of a decision like that?
We’ve seen goals disallowed in other games as well for extremely tight offside (someone’s toe or shoulder is on the wrong side of the line), which I never like to see, and I just hope the VAR doesn’t ‘involve too much in this World Cup because we will enjoy football more without interfering.
Alan Shearer was talking to Chris Bevan in Doha.
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