Former England striker Gary Lineker believes that the current national football team lacks the mental strength to overcome difficult situations which could have resulted from a dearth of success.
England were knocked out of Euro 2016 after losing 1-2 to Iceland — the lowest ranked team in the competition — in the pre-quarterfinals. They also had average outings in the group stage where they drew 1-1 against Russia before beating Wales 2-1 and then finally settling for a goalless stalemate against Slovakia.
England are yet to win a major trophy since 1966, when they had won the World Cup.
“There’s a degree of a lack of mental strength which maybe comes from a lack of success in recent tournaments and the pressure that comes on the England team,” Lineker was quoted as saying by the BBC .
There is a popular perception that England players falter at major tournaments due to the relentless pressure of expectations from the public and media back home. But Linekar pointed out that top teams like Italy, Germany and Spain operate under the same kind of pressure.
“But don’t you think for one minute that there is more pressure on the England team than there is on the Spanish team, the German team, the Italian team. The expectancy in those countries is higher than it is in our country. We tend to be quite realistic because we’re quite used to failure,” the 55-year-old said.
Lineker felt that the England team had no Plan B to fall upon when they conceeded a one-goal deficit against Iceland.
“Perhaps we’re not quite used to it on this scale. I’m sure once it started to go wrong and they got behind, you could sense nobody seemed to know what to do. There was no real game plan, no plan B,” the former Barcelona star remarked.
“I always thought this tournament was a bit early for this lot because they’re very young and a bit inexperienced. Hopefully this doesn’t damage them too much mentally and they’ll turn it around in the future because we have got some good young players coming through.”
The former Leicester City forward added that like films England now need a good director who can steer them.
“They need to know on the pitch exactly what their jobs are, what they’re supposed to do in certain circumstances and I’m not sure that was the case. It’s like an actor. An actor can be as good as he likes but he still needs a really good director,” he said.