By News Team
2nd July 2021
Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas has heaped praise on Gareth Southgate after the Three Lions victory over Germany on Tuesday, with the William Hill ambassador describing the atmosphere at Wembley as the best he’s been involved in as a pundit.
He said: “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a stadium like it on Tuesday. I’ve never heard a sound like it. It was electric and special.”
Despite an embarrassment of attacking riches at his disposal, Southgate has stuck to his guns in the tournament so far operating with two holding midfielders and Jenas believes his decision to back his methods is paying dividends.
He said: “There’s a couple of key factors with what Gareth [Southgate] is doing which go beyond a normal level of management. He has got at his disposal arguably the strongest attacking prowess we’ve had in years and he’s holding them back with regards to what the nation wants to see. The ability of Gareth to resist the urge to go out and attack is really special.
“For a lot of managers, you want to live and die by your own decisions. If it doesn’t go well and he’s caved to the pressure of the public in playing a team he didn’t truly believe in, he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Whereas doing it his way and almost going against the grain is the sign of a strong manager.”
He added: “There isn’t a pundit on this planet who would have put Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw as our wing-backs, but he sees this team in a different way. Every so often you need someone who doesn’t agree with what everyone else is thinking to create that bit of magic and he has that.”
Harry Kane scored his first goal of the tournament against the Germans, and although he hasn’t achieved the goal return many England fans hoped for at the Euros so far, Jenas questions whether it’s entirely the striker’s fault.
Jenas said: “If you look at the stats ahead of the Germany game, we were the slowest in our build-up, so we’re not getting the ball to him quick enough and we’re creating the fewest number of chances in the competition as well.
“So maybe it’s not all him? Yes, he’s not playing at his best, but if you put the ball in the box, like for the second goal against Germany, he’ll be there and he’ll stick it away.”
One player who certainly isn’t having any trouble in front of goal is Raheem Sterling, who netted his third goal of the competition against Germany, and Jenas believes some of the harder moments in his career have helped him so far in this year’s Euros.
He said: “I think people underestimate what it’s like in these major tournaments for an England player. You see the weight on them, and I saw it with Becks [David Beckham] in 2006 that visually he thought it was all on him. These low moments are pivotal in not just their careers but as humans too and I think it transforms them quite a bit.
“Raheem [Sterling] is the same. He’s had a tough year for Manchester City, and he still has the ability to come into this big tournament, with everyone saying he shouldn’t be starting, and do what he’s doing.”
Tuesday night’s victory against the Germans means England take on Ukraine in the quarterfinals and Jenas expects Southgate to make changes for the match in Rome on Saturday.
Jenas added: “In this particular game, I think he’ll go back to a four in defence. In the game against Germany, it was very much stop (Robin) Gosens and (Joshua) Kimmich because they are the two players that could have really hurt us.
“This game, however, is much more on us. The Ukrainians are going to go into this game trying to stop the English. It’s a very dangerous game when the opposition plays counter-attacking football, and we need to be prepared for that.”