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Gareth Southgate told 'England were s**t' in brutal assessment of Denmark draw

Gareth Southgate told 'England were s**t' in brutal assessment of Denmark draw

Legendary England forward Gary Lineker has pulled no punches in his assessment of the performance against Denmark at Euro 2024, claiming the display of Gareth Southgate's side was "s**t" and largely a result of the manager's archaic tactics.

England drew first blood against Denmark in Frankfurt, taking the lead through Harry Kane, but they shrunk into their shell much like they did against Serbia on matchday one. The Danes deservedly levelled through Morten Hjulmand and looked far more likely to go on and win the game despite Phil Foden hitting the post in the second half.

Southgate's conservative approach has long drawn the ire of England's supporters, irrespective of their vastly improved results at major tournaments, and Thursday's draw seemingly marked a new low as the likes of Kane, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice struggled to impose themselves on the game.

Lineker was particularly critical of Kane's performance up front during BBC One's live coverage, despite the 30-year-old scoring his 13th goal at a major tournament, and Southgate's management has also come under the microscope.

Speaking on his The Rest is Football podcast, Lineker pointed out just how bad England's performance was in his opinion, suggesting Southgate's outdated tactics are not in tune with the modern game and that his insistence that there's no player capable of replacing the exiled Kalvin Phillips is wide of the mark.

"I mean, you can think of all sorts of words and expletives if you like, but it was sh*t," Lineker said.

"Was it tactically inept? It's really hard to be critical of Gareth Southgate because, overall in the England role, he's turned England's fortunes around in many ways.

"Having said that, he's kind of ended up adopting a really talented bunch of players. We've done a semi-final of a World Cup final, a final at the European Championship, quarter-final of the subsequent World Cup where, to be honest, we were a little bit unlucky.

"He's an amazing leader, he's a great communicator, he's transformed the public's opinion of the national team and the players. But, tactically, the first game [against Serbia]...and we've seen it in other tournaments as well. England kind of start OK and then get a goal and then everything changes, and it's almost like the kind of tactics of, get a lead, hang onto it. And the game's moved on from that."

England's lack of energy and commitment to pressing Denmark's defence and midfield was a particularly sore subject for many supporters, with pundits also expressing their incredulity at the lackadaisical approach.

Many of England's players are used to engaging a high-octane press for the club sides, leading Lineker to question why Southgate is instructing the players differently.

"They might play it for about three minutes in the game. Are they not coached to play that?"

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"If anyone says that the England team is not trying or not giving 100 per cent, that is nonsense," he added. "They're just a little bit lost tactically. And that comes from the manager, I'm afraid. It really does. He's got to get England playing higher up the pitch, as a unit. Because, at the moment, they're not a unit.

"He talked about, 'I've never been able to replace Kalvin Phillips. I thought, 'Oh come on'. [Adam] Wharton could do that job easily. [Kobbie] Mainoo could do that job. If you want two holding players, Gareth, you can do that. But Bellingham could do that. Bobby Robson, Terry Venables, would have gone, 'This is what you've got to do for the team. This is your job'.

"Footballers will always give everything. They always give everything. But do you know one thing they need? They need to know exactly what their job is. I guarantee you, right, the players will be going, 'We need leadership from the top and we need to be told how to play'.

"I've seen this tournament after tournament now, with an unbelievably gifted bunch of players. You've got to be brave. You can't play and worry about your team's weaknesses. You've got to play to your team's strengths."

England's progression through to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 isn't in question, with four points on the board from two games, but a strong performance against Slovenia in the final game of Group C will likely be needed to silence the growing number of Southgate detractors.