Anything can happen for England
I really like the current England squad. If they can defend well, they will be very good on the counter attack – they have pace and they have players who can beat other players one against one.
They can hurt anyone, I think. I believe they can reach the semi finals. You have to tell the players that previous results and defeats are in the past.
Switching to three at the back is scary to a country which has always had 4-4-2, but it shouldn’t be – it doesn’t matter how many defenders you have in your formation, the important thing is you do it well, and that you have players who can play that system.
So don’t be scared about 3-5-2, Gareth Southgate has clearly thought about the way he wants to play. There are many talented players in the England squad but Harry Kane is, of course, the star. He can score six or seven goals in the World Cup, if he’s not injured – touch wood – and take England far. With him as a born goalscorer – and with good defending and smart counter attacks – anything can happen for England.
It looks like Harry is handling the pressure of being captain very well. He seems to be a very simple, down to earth young man, and he has a fantastic season behind him, so everything is there for him and England.
Southgate needs to manage boredom
Football players want things to happen, they get bored easily. Their normal week, when he’s at his club, is train five or six times, then go home and you have your family and friends. In a big tournament, it’s different. You have to stay with the others. So it’s important, as manager, you give the players a chance to do other things outside of football. To forget football for two or three hours.
During the tournament you have to do whatever you can to keep those players not playing happy. Because those playing more or less every game are full of the preparation. Those maybe not playing many minutes need to be kept happy. If you have the possibility to take some young players to the World Cup, you think about now, but you think even more about the future.
Because, even if you don’t play many or any minutes, you learn a lot during these weeks.
To be together with the other players, what it means to be at a World Cup, the pressure, the ambient, the social media – you learn a lot and, if it’s not for this World Cup, it’s for the next one.
I did it with Theo Walcott and maybe Gareth Southgate is doing the same with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Nick Pope.
In terms of the WAGs, it’s totally up to the players if they want to take their family. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t want the distractions, or if it’s because it’s Russia as a country, but for many of the players, especially those with children, it’s too long to be away from them. I don’t think it’s fair. It benefits the players mentally to see their families.
Ronaldinho goal was a fluke – but 2006 hurt most
That Ronaldinho goal was a fluke. I met him many times after that tournament, and I always asked him whether he meant to score from there. He always said ‘of course, Sven’, but I don’t think so. I think he wanted to cross the ball. But, anyhow, it was a great goal and one that will be remembered forever – for me, for the wrong reasons.
But I’m not sure we were ready in that tournament. If you look at that game against Brazil, they were better than we were. That goal is a big bit of luck, of course, but I think we were beaten by the better team. I didn’t like it, of course, I was angry and disappointed – but I was much more angry and sad in 2006 when we went out, because that was the change.
In 2006 we were ready to win. And I thought we should have, or at least reached the final. That was the best team we had during my time, to go into a tournament. There was no better team than us at that tournament.