Belfast Telegraph

England v Scotland: Terry Butcher cut up at lack of hunger

By Nick Purewal

Terry Butcher has launched a scathing attack on England, lambasting the nation's top stars for "playing like they've got their headphones on".

Former England captain Butcher admits fearing Scotland could steal victory at Wembley in Friday's World Cup qualifying clash.

The 77-cap former Ipswich and Rangers defender believes fear of failure still cripples England, but insisted Gareth Southgate's players must shoulder far greater leadership responsibilities.

A blood-soaked Butcher famously played through a head wound injury in England's vital World Cup qualifying goalless draw in Sweden in 1989, but now laments the lack of strong characters in the national side's ranks.

"The players have got to take the responsibility with England now, they have got to really want it," said Butcher.

"With England it's always 'someone's going to do it, someone's going to come up trumps', but no one does.

"Bryan Robson used to lead by example, but he also used to stir people up and have a word. If he had a word with you, you didn't want it again.

"That doesn't happen now. The players are not vocal, they're not demonstrative.

"They play like they've got their headphones on. You think 'what music are they listening to?' They're listening to the wrong track.

"They're not on the same beat."

Butcher branded England matches as "purgatory" for spectators, and said interim manager Southgate must produce results to be considered worthy of permanent appointment. Sam Allardyce's departure after a newspaper investigation into corruption having managed for just one game leaves Southgate holding the fort while the FA plan for a replacement.

England could land a hammer blow to Scotland's chances of World Cup qualification with victory this week.

Butcher admitted in his heyday England would have relished such an opportunity, but now the 57-year-old questioned whether the old rivalry still stokes the fires among the current international crop.

"If that was us we would have taken great joy in effectively ending Scotland's qualification chances," said Butcher.

"But I don't know if the players think like that any more.

"Gareth Southgate's talked a great game, his manner and the way he's conducted himself has been very good.

"But it's results and performances that matter.

"Every game, every week you think 'what's going to happen with England'.

"We're reaching new lows all the time. And just when you think it should have bottomed out, it doesn't, it seems to get worse.

"So from Scotland's point of view there's no better time to come and play England at the moment.

"They've got nothing to lose in a way."

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