Paul Ince: We shouldn’t get carried away with ‘wasteful’ England

Former captain Paul Ince says England need to be more clinical, and less reliant on ‘best in tournament’ Harry Kane if they want to go far in Russia…


In any major competition, anyone will tell you it’s crucial to get points on the board in the first game.

There’s always going to be criticism, and England do deserve some, but the main thing is the three points are in the bag.

A draw wouldn’t have been acceptable, or good enough against a side like Tunisia. But, when you get the win, who really cares how? I don’t. Just get the win in the bag and move forward.

My major criticism would be that you have to take your chances.

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England had a fantastic start to the game, but it’s essential that they are more clinical in front of goal. Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling both missed chances, and on a stage like the World Cup you cannot afford to be wasteful and miss them. The contest could’ve been put to bed early doors.

It’s easy to say with hindsight, “Oh we could’ve been two or three nil up”, but the fact of the matter is we didn’t take our chances well enough. Once you come up against a better team, you will be punished for it. You’re against Tunisia, those chances should come, and realistically you should be burying them.

We’re too reliant on Kane, who is the best goalscorer in the tournament

England are not always going to score in the 95th minute, and we can’t be totally reliant on Harry Kane to get those goals. Others must step up as we head further into the tournament, especially when we come across the favourites.

You won’t get those chances as frequently, and when you do you have to be lethal. Kane can’t be expected to score every game.

Lingard, Sterling, Rashford and Alli all need to step up and find the net and take that pressure off.

Obviously, I appreciate they don’t have World Cup experience, but hopefully the Tunisia game will have set them up for that.

What I would say is, I genuinely believe we have the best goalscorer at the entire competition in Kane. He is my main hope that we can go far in this competition. He’s a natural, total goalscoring machine which I’m not sure others sides, even the top ones, have.

Don’t get too carried away – it’s only Tunisia

Because we’ve had a good start to the tournament, people are getting seriously carried away. The fact is, England have a more or less easy group.

They should be beating Tunisia and they should beat Panama on Sunday no trouble.  In fact, we should be heading into the game and aiming to go 3-0 up, really punish them and show how capable we can be.

If you looked at the first 20 minutes or so of the game on Monday, you’d be right to say that was the best team we’ve seen at the tournament so far except for Spain and Portugal, performance-wise.

But, those top teams keep that momentum for the full 90 minutes, and that’s where we fall flat.

It’s crazy to suddenly think we’re going to win the tournament based off that one game.

We all expect England to get through to the last 16 – and personally I think the quarter-finals – but we do still need to be realistic about our expectations.

One thing I would be picking up on if I was Gareth Southgate is how quickly the team seem to run out of ideas. I’ve noticed in friendlies and previous games, we might start brilliantly, but as the game wears on we look bored.

Marcus Rashford came on last night and livened things up later on, but we need to keep that pace and consistency throughout the whole game.

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