Gary Lineker has said that Gareth Southgate should ‘write off’ the idea of winning the World Cup and use this tournament to blood the youngsters who could genuinely lift the trophy in Qatar, four years from now.
The BBC‘s World Cup front man, who won the Golden Boot at Mexico 86, said: ‘We have not, at present, got the world-class players that you need. You need half your team to be world class to be serious favourites in a competition like this.’
With nothing to lose, it was time to throw in Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, 19, and even Fulham’s 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, Lineker reflected.
Gary Lineker (above) does not think that Gareth Southgate’s England have a chance in Russia
‘I would sell this on youngsters,’ Lineker declared at the launch of the Corporation’s World Cup coverage. ‘I would take total pressure off them. I would say, “This is all about experience. We are not going to do particularly well. We are not going to win this World Cup”. I would play lots of these talented young players.
‘In four years we are going to be a serious force in world football. There’s no question about that. We have so many young players who have already been successful. But let’s write it off, because we haven’t realistically got what it takes.’
Lineker’s timescale will be viewed with a wry smile by former FA chairman Greg Dyke, who famously drew criticism for setting England the target of winning the 2022 tournament.
Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, another member of the BBC team, questioned Lineker’s argument. He told Sportsmail: ‘I don’t entirely agree with that. I think they’re better than that, to be quite honest.
‘I think we’ve got a nice bit of balance there now. Whether we can win it is another question but I certainly think we can give it a good go.’
Lineker says that England should use the 2018 World Cup to blood kids like Ryan Sessegnon
But Rio Ferdinand, also on the BBC team, insisted Lineker was right. ‘Based on what’s coming through at Under 17 and Under 20 levels, I think (Southgate) can almost get a free pass to say that this time,’ he said.
Barring a calamity, Southgate does seem insulated against the sack this summer. FA chief executive Martin Glenn has observed that while the 47-year-old is ‘not looking at Russia as a free pass… we’re going to (try to win) in a way that’s sustainable.’
Alan Shearer said it was ‘a huge concern’ that Southgate was ‘going into a tournament with a goalkeeper who has no experience of tournament football’. Everton’s Jordan Pickford, Stoke’s Jack Butland and Burnley’s Nick Pope have nine caps between them.
Ferdinand fears for the lack of depth in defence, with personnel at the back who are unfamiliar with each other.
Lineker claims World Cup experience for youngsters this summer could pay future dividends
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.