I wish England would stop being so self-conscious.
When will the shackles come off?
They desperately need to stop being so fearful of what might happen and live in the moment.
It’s affecting their game and they will never hit the heights this England team deserves if they continue to play scared.
They may have reached a Euros Final, their first major decider since the 1966 World Cup, but Italy gave Gareth Southgate’s men an education last Sunday night.
Sure, the Azzurri just about won on penalty kicks, but honestly, I felt the gulf between the two teams was immense.
One man for me was the difference and his team-mates simply followed his lead.
That was Italian captain Giorgio Chiellini.
Now there is a guy who plays the game in the right way and doesn’t give two hoots about what anybody thinks of him.
He plays with a passion, determination and a will to win which should be the envy of every professional footballer.
How England need a leader of Chiellini’s quality to allow the Three Lions to break out of their shell.
There was uproar when he pulled back Bukayo Saka around the collar but that was basically him saying, ‘You may have beaten me for pace, however thou shalt not pass’.
Win at all costs.
I just love how Chiellini approaches and plays the game. He gives it absolutely everything, enjoys it and expects and demands the same from his team-mates.
Of course it is all marshalled beautifully by manager Roberto Mancini, who after 10 minutes during last week’s Final made the switches that I felt turned the game.
And it was good to see Frank Lampard pick up on that while working for the BBC.
Too many of the pundits on TV these days are simply glorified fans, spouting out soundbites to claim as much air time as possible.
But I felt Frank spoke from a coach’s point of view, detailing the tactics Mancini implemented to change the game in the Italians’ favour despite conceding an early goal.
Mancini opted to go wide and fill the pockets on the flanks, forcing Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw to be on the back foot.
It flattened England to a back five and as a result they weren’t able to impose any pressure on the Italians.
England striker Harry Kane was criticised in the second half for leaving his line and coming deep, but if he stood at centre forward, as was suggested, he may as well have been sat at home due to the lack of service coming his way.
With Italy’s possession-based game, it left England absolutely exhausted. Even when they did get on the ball they didn’t have the energy to do anything with it.
In extra-time, Italy slackened off and England came on to them a little bit more but I honestly think the Italians simply knew they had their number in the penalty shoot-out and so that was the case.
It must be so frustrating being an England fan, knowing you have all the talent – probably more than Italy – but they are so guarded or left on the bench!
Players like Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Saka, Phil Foden, complemented by Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, should all be unafraid to express themselves against the big nations.
Obviously Southgate’s tactics are able to overcome the likes of a second-rate Germany, Ukraine and Denmark but when you face the real elite, as we witnessed in Italy, they have no answers.
If England hadn’t scored early, I honestly believe it could have been three or four nil to Italy.
Northern Ireland probably had more of the ball and created better chances in the second half of their clash with Italy in March.
Of course, England deserve credit for reaching a major Final but honestly, if England play like that in next year’s World Cup Finals, and you add in the South American teams, they’ll be doing well to reach the Semi- or even Quarter-Finals.
Southgate has now taken England to the Semi-Final of a World Cup and Final of the Euros but I wouldn’t say that’s as far as he can go with this team.
He admitted afterwards he may have made mistakes and what I like about Gareth is that he is self-aware. He is a studious and conscientious guy who is openly willing to learn.
He is big into self-analysis and I do think when he reviews the tournament, he will come back a stronger international manager.
I think Gareth will do one more campaign for England and finish after the next World Cup.
He deserves that opportunity and I do believe he will change England for the better once his self-analysis is complete.
England have proven that you can have all the talent in the world but unless the mindset is right, you’ll not get over the line.
What Southgate would give for a Giorgio Chiellini in his ranks.
I’m certain if he had been wearing white rather than blue, then football would have finally come home.
Some players really enjoy the open line of communication social media affords them with their fans.
Supporters are drawn to it as player and club accounts bring them closer than ever to their heroes.
However, as witnessed after the Euro Final, all too often an excellent line of communication is contaminated with racist and vulgar language.
The lowest dregs of society, usually hidden behind anonymous accounts, use it to spew their disgusting diatribe.
It doesn’t take much to trigger a reaction.
Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were all targeted on social media last Sunday night after failing to score for England in the penalty shoot-out against Italy. It was complete and utter hate sent in their direction just because of the colour of their skin.
The players could just ignore it but why should they have to grin and bear it in today’s modern society?
Big Tech companies need to respond with action. It is their platform.
There have been attempts to introduce other forms of social media which are far better regulated, but they are usually eaten up before they even take off.
So what are the Big Tech companies so afraid of in terms of regulation and accountability? We’ve had all the condemnation, now there needs to be solutions.
If we’re stuck with the same old social media, how do we make it better and send the lowlives into the gutter for good?
A start would be using passport numbers, National Insurance Numbers, social security numbers and proper headshots for regulation.
Of course not everyone is going to be happy with regulation – there are always people who will argue about human rights, but honestly for the better good, this needs to happen.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
I felt Jack Grealish’s tweet the day after the Euro Final was bang out of order.
Going on social media to post that he wanted to step up and take a penalty, in my view, is completely disrespectful to his team-mates who were involved in the shoot-out.
There was no need and it smacked of someone who was more interested in protecting their own image than being a complete team player.
He should have been keeping his head down or simply coming out in solidarity with his team-mates who sadly missed their spot-kicks.
Instead, Jack made it about him.
Sure, it was biting back at ITV pundit Roy Keane, who questioned why the senior players hadn’t put their hands up to take one instead of the younger members of the squad.
But why are comments from Keano in an ITV studio getting to a player who has just taken part in a Euro Final? It tells me the player is incredibly insecure and maybe, due to a lack of maturity, he’s not able to take his game to the next level.
Someone who is strong and doesn’t have a weak mentality would not react to Keano’s comments. It’s just another sign of petulance.
Could you ever envisage a David Beckham, Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard reacting like that during their England days?
At Aston Villa, Jack basically has a free role but put him in a structure with England he’s unsure about his responsibilities.
Plus, he said he wanted to take a penalty but there is a big difference from a player saying, ‘I’ll take a penalty’ to a defiant, ‘Give me that ball, I’m taking this’.