Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Gary Neville insists 'woeful' England must make dramatic changes to progress beyond Euro 2024 quarter-finals – Sky Sports


England found a way to win after labouring to a 2-1 victory over Slovakia in extra-time during their last-16 encounter at Euro 2024; Sky Sports’ Gary Neville insists the victory doesn’t mask deficiencies in the group and implores Gareth Southgate to make changes ahead of Switzerland tie
Football Expert
Sunday 30 June 2024 22:58, UK
Gary Neville believes there must be dramatic changes both to England’s system and personnel if they are to progress at Euro 2024 after a late, late show prevented a disastrous last-16 exit against Slovakia.
Jude Bellingham’s stoppage-time stunner saved Gareth Southgate’s England from an embarrassing loss as the Euro 2024 hopefuls fought back to win 2-1 after extra-time.
The midfielder’s overhead kick five minutes into stoppage-time sent the match to extra-time, with captain Harry Kane’s header seeing Southgate’s side through this tricky last-16 clash.
Speaking as a pundit on ITV, Neville said: “Relief is the word of the day. We’ve been very lucky and we should thank our lucky stars. We were woeful and we’ve been woeful now for four games.
“Not even in extra-time have we played particularly well. We drew Slovakia onto us and they were unlucky at the end.
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“We’ve got to change something dramatically now. I’ve played with Gareth Southgate and I know him. He’s a great guy and he’s got massive integrity, but he will realise tonight that he was so close to the edge. Very close to the edge.
“Everyone in the country has been crying out for more change in every single match – from game one, two, three and I think the same clamour will happen again, for Palmer, Alexander-Arnold and for other players to come into the team to create more balance and excitement.
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“Getting over the line and winning is all-important in tournaments, but if you think you can go through a month of a tournament playing like we are doing and get through it to the end, I think is unrealistic.”
Switzerland await in the quarter-finals on Saturday and England will look to build on the spirit shown towards the end of a match that had looked set to end in a result akin to Iceland at Euro 2016.
Southgate has overseen vast improvements since taking over shortly after that tournament eight years ago, but the pressure and scrutiny will be as hot as ever after squeaking into the last eight and onto his 100th match at the helm.
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Neville added: “The players are starting to sound like those of the past, referring to outside criticism. Lads, get your innocence back, get your love for tournament football back. No one wants to lose here, everyone wants you to win.
“No one has criticised them personally, no one is questioning their character, no one has said they’re not working hard – all we’ve said is they’re not playing football very well and there’s an imbalance in the team.
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“It still needs sorting and it’s not like the criticism has been over the top in that respect.
“We thought we had the most technical group of players we’ve ever had, but also you have to be the best defensive team to win a tournament.
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“We need to develop a bit more fluidity in our game, we’re just looking a little bit stiff and scared in possession and that’s the thing that’s been disappointing.”
Speaking alongside Neville on ITV, Roy Keane said: “It [the win] hasn’t really solved anything. You can talk about performances, but at this level it is about getting over the line and winning.
“Everyone wants a great performance, but if they keep getting results and going through… the next game will be tough but let’s see how they go.
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“You have to give them praise as we were really critical at half-time but they found a way to win. The top players found a moment.
“God help us if Bellingham starts playing well. They had two huge moments and they got themselves over the line. Credit where it’s due.”
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Former England manager Sam Allardyce on Sky Sports News:
“It was too late with the subs, but it still saved him with two minutes to go. Ivan Toney saved him and he was the hero – without him, we wouldn’t have scored two goals.
“The best tactic he did for me was the two wide men to become two wing-backs in extra-time, to become a back three so he could get tired legs at the back focusing to defend properly, but also to leave two up top with Kane and Toney.
“He got some of that right, he got the subs right in the end because it paid off. It wasn’t too late because they won it so Gareth has got himself out of jail a little bit.
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“It’s just the overall performance they need to improve on if they want to go any further. We can’t rely on a solid defence that only concedes one shot on target, England have to get better in possession.
“There’s not a chance after Harry [Kane] scored the winner that he won’t start up front against Switzerland. If Southgate goes with a back three, then yes [he could play two up front].”
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England midfielder Jude Bellingham speaking to UEFA:
“You’re 30 seconds away from going home, feeling like you’ve let your nation down, and one kick of the ball and everything’s great. It’s a feeling I don’t want to be in, but when it comes, it’s a great feeling.
“Playing for England is a great thing, but it’s a lot of pressure as well. Being on the pitch and scoring goals for me is a release, it’s a very happy moment.”
On his last-gasp equaliser: “It’s got to be up there. There’s a few nice ones, ones that mean a lot to me personally, but his one was so important, both for today and the mood change if it doesn’t happen. It’s right up there.
“It’s 20 or 30 seconds until we’re out of the European Championship and the mood now is a massive difference, and what it can do for the team going forward. It’s a massive moment, but it’s a long tournament and we’ll only know it if we go on to win the cup. We’ll decide in the next two weeks how important it is.”
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