'England lacking mentally & tactically'

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Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker says England “lack mental strength” and are “not technically good enough” to be successful in major tournament football.

England were knocked out of Euro 2016 at the last-16 stage after a shock 2-1 defeat by Iceland on Monday.

Manager Roy Hodgson resigned immediately after the game in Nice.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, ex-England striker Lineker, 55, backed Glen Hoddle to succeed Hodgson.

‘A lack of mental strength’

England’s conquerors Iceland – with a population of just 330,000 – were among the lowest-ranked teams in France at 34th in the world.

England started the finals with a 1-1 draw against Russia before beating Wales 2-1 and drawing 0-0 with Slovakia in their final Group B game – results that left them in second place and in a tougher half of the draw.

“There’s a degree of a lack of mental strength which maybe comes from a lack of success in recent tournaments and the pressure that comes on the England team.

“But don’t you think for one minute that there is more pressure on the England team than there is on the Spanish team, the German team, the Italian team. The expectancy in those countries is higher than it is in our country. We tend to be quite realistic because we’re quite used to failure.

“Perhaps we’re not quite used to it on this scale. I’m sure once it started to go wrong and they got behind, you could sense nobody seemed to know what to do. There was no real game plan, no plan B.

“I always thought this tournament was a bit early for this lot because they’re very young and a bit inexperienced.

“Hopefully this doesn’t damage them too much mentally and they’ll turn it around in the future because we have got some good young players coming through.

“They need to know on the pitch exactly what their jobs are, what they’re supposed to do in certain circumstances and I’m not sure that was the case. It’s like an actor. An actor can be as good as he likes but he still needs a really good director.

“Mental strength really comes from confidence. It comes from winning and that’s the same in all sports. I don’t think there’s anything in our national DNA that makes us bottlers or chokers. I don’t think that’s the point because we’re so successful in other sports.”

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‘Not technically good enough or tactically sound enough’

Hodgson faced heavy criticism following the goalless draw against Slovakia for making six changes to the side that had beaten Wales, despite knowing a victory would mean England topped the group.

He was also criticised for the tactic of having Tottenham striker Harry Kane take corners during the tournament and starting Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling against Iceland. England scored just four goals in the tournament despite averaging 63% possession.

“Look at the game before [Italy’s 2-0 win over Spain] – Italy went out there and they had a real game plan.

“You could see the coach on the sidelines orchestrating everything, they played a pressing game for a while, then they sat for a while.

“You could see that every single player on that pitch knew exactly what his job was at any given time and the positions they should be in. the organisation and the game plan was obvious and it worked.

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“You couldn’t really see that with England. It seemed a little bit slapdash, a little bit scattergun. I think they caught England by surprise by playing quite high up the pitch. We just didn’t know how to exploit it.

“There were plans and then there were changes. It kind of worked against Wales – in the second half he went for it then and you give him credit for that because he turned it round. I’m not quite sure he ever really had a great deal of faith in the 4-3-3.

“Roy is traditionally a 4-4-2 guy, he has been all of his career. He’s kind of changed and, understandably at times, tried different things.

“We didn’t really have the players to change the system. We haven’t got any wingers – we’ve only got Raheem Sterling, who is bang out of form and confidence.

“He didn’t give himself those alternatives by picking five or six central strikers.

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“We’ve always been a bit tactically behind and it’s unquestionable that we’ve always been technically behind. There will always be exceptions to the rule – and we are teaching our young players better now – but it’s only really in the academies where we get any decent coaching.

“We are getting technical footballers. If you look at our under-21s, under-19s and under-17s, they play the same kind of football that we see the Spanish players, Italian players playing, keeping the ball on the floor.

“Gradually that influx of young talent will come through in our first team. Hopefully they will improve our performances over time because we can compete technically.”

‘Lack of passion, that’s a myth’

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Hodgson and FA chief executive Martin Glenn both dismissed suggestions that England players lacked passion against Iceland.

“We have some decent players, you can’t just say they’re all useless – that’s nonsense. You can’t say they don’t care, we saw how much they care against Wales.

“That’s always been a myth – there’s no passion. Our problem is there’s too much passion, we care too much. We get a little bit tense – we’re not technically good enough, tactically sound enough.

“Everyone thinks the players have so much money they don’t care, they are not focused – but why does that not apply to Italians or Germans or Spanish? They earn fortunes and it does not affect them, so why does it affect us?

“The players who are truly successful are never there for money, they play for passion, joy and love of football – and to be successful.

“I can’t tell you how much it will have hurt those players. It was the worst possible nightmare, total humiliation to a country the size of Leicester.

“It is not about effort – it has never been with England – but sometimes it matters too much and that encumbers our performance.”

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‘FA chief executive will seek advice’

Martin Glenn, a former CEO of United Biscuits, was appointed chief executive of the FA last May. He said on Tuesday he was “not a football expert” and would be drawing on experienced figures in the game to help an FA three-man panel select the next England manager.

FA technical director Dan Ashworth and board member and ex-Manchester United chief executive David Gill will sit on the panel with Glenn.

The 54-year-old, who has also worked for Cadbury Schweppes, Mars and Deloitte, was a non-executive director at Leicester City from 2002 to 2006.

“Martin Glenn is not a football expert and neither is [FA chairman] Greg Dyke, no-one at the FA has been for a long time with the exception of Trevor Brooking. We don’t really have football people there, but Martin is an intelligent man, I know him very well. He is the kind of person who will seek advice from people that are football people.

“It is an advantage if you have played the game at this level. If not, it is hard to realise what it feels like, how it is to play in these matches, to play against the very best, to compete to win games and lose games and understand the tactical nuisances of football.”

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‘Next England manager – I’d go for Hoddle’

Glenn has not ruled out appointing a foreign manager as Hodgson’s successor and the FA says it has an interim plan – likely to mean giving the job to England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate on a temporary basis – if a permanent manager is not found before England’s World Cup qualifying campaign starts in September.

“There is no-one particularly obvious out there. You could take a punt with someone that’s played at the top.

“Alan Shearer volunteered his services, he is a passionate man and understands the game – but he doesn’t think for a minute they will consider him.

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“You could go down the route of a foreigner, but that has not worked before. We were really unlucky with Fabio Capello – Italians are so good at tactics and we found the one who probably wasn’t, according to the players that I have spoken to who played under him.

“If you go English, it is really difficult. There are two or three in the top flight, Sam Allardyce, Eddie Howe and Alan Pardew – but they have not won the trophies you would anticipate.

“Do you go back to perhaps Glenn Hoddle? He was one of England’s best coaches.

“Hoddle has been out of the game for a while, but he understands the game technically. He is the kind of guy who understands how to get over to players how to play in various systems.

“Gareth Southgate has come through and done well with the under-21s. Maybe someone with experience with Southgate like Hoddle?”

Lineker was speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Mark Chapman. You can listen to the interview here.

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