London, June 8: Asserting that England has no chance of winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup, legendary striker Gary Linekar said that current coach Gareth Southgate should give youngsters a chance to gain experience for future tournaments.
“Not great. I don’t think the expectations should be very high. Gareth Southgate’s a sensible guy. I think he could sell it to the nation that this is just one for experience. Play some of the young players,” Linekar was quoted as saying by the Independent on Friday.
“If we got to the quarters, I think that would be a really good achievement,” he added.
England had won the World Cup in 1966 on home soil, beating bitter rivals Germany 4-2 in the final, courtesy a hat-trick by Geoff Hurst and a controversial third goal awarded to the hosts by Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst.
But since then, successive England teams have struggled to live up to sometimes unrealistic expectations, failing to win at the World Cup and the European Championships.
But Linekar dismissed suggestions that England’s repeated failure is due to a collective inability to withstand pressure, pointing instead to poor youth development programmes over the past several decades.
“I don’t see why it should be overly mental. It’s not a national trait, because we’re excellent in lots of sports. Look at the Olympics. I just think that a) it’s very, very hard to win, and b) our youth development has been shit for 40 years,” the 57-year-old said.
“I mean, it’s only five or six years since we stopped playing little kids on full-sized pitches with big goals, which beggars belief. We never learned like the Spanish players, the South American players do: pass the ball, possession, dribbling skills. It was just hit it long, punt it down the pitch,” the former Barcelona star added.
“So I think, looking at the next World Cup, we’ll be really good. We’ve got so many talented kids coming through, playing the game properly.” IANS