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Palmer a 'must'? Time for Gordon? What next for 'archaic' England?
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Palmer a 'must'? Time for Gordon? What next for 'archaic' England?

England take on Switzerland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 on Saturday (17:00 BST) with more questions than answers given their performance in the tournament so far.

A largely underwhelming group stage - albeit one in which they finished top of their pool - was followed by a poor start to the knockout stages.

England managed to scrape past Slovakia in the last 16 on Sunday, but were seconds away from an embarrassing exit before Jude Bellingham produced a moment of genius to keep them in the competition.

'A bit archaic' and 'like lost souls'

Former England striker Gary Lineker believes England are "distinct second favourites" against Switzerland after a performance against Slovakia which he felt was "a bit archaic at times".

Southgate guided England to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018 then the final of Euro 2020, but much of that goodwill appears to have disintegrated.

There were rumblings of discontent during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where England lost to eventual runners-up France in the quarter-finals.

Now the England manager's tactical approach and style of play - or, indeed, lack of it - have been more widely criticised by pundits and fans.

"I saw a team which are like lost souls. They don't seem to know what they are doing or how the team should be playing," Lineker told the Rest Is Football podcast he hosts with Alan Shearer and Micah Richards.

"The style is alien to most of them. I feel for the players a little bit. They are trying so hard, but they look a little bit lost.

"It must be tactical, it must be instructions because the players are playing differently to how they are used. It's baffling."

Ex-England striker Shearer said England were "so bad it was untrue" against Slovakia and it was "desperation stuff" at times in Gelsenkirchen from a team which need to "massively improve all over the park" against Switzerland.

He added: "There is so much more to be had from this England team. Would it be wrong to say they have been rotten apart from 30 minutes?"

Richards does not believe there is a quick fix as England's "overall play needs a lot of work" and they are "tactically a mile off".

"What are we trying to do? I don’t know what the message is coming from Southgate and that is worrying," he said.

"Tactically it was crying out for wingers [against Slovakia]. Anthony Gordon would have been perfect.

"Maybe we are a moments team, where we defend deep and rely on a moment of genius. Maybe we have to accept that. That’s what the manager is – and if he wins the tournament playing like this, then we will say ok."

Time to drop Kane to the bench?

Striker Harry Kane popped up with the goal which ultimately booked England's place in the last eight.

He has now scored 14 goals at major tournaments with only four European players netting more than him – Cristiano Ronaldo (22), Miroslav Klose (19), Gerd Muller (18) and Jurgen Klinsmann (16).

However, the Bayern Munich striker's all-round contribution has seen his place in the side come under increased scrutiny.

Danny Murphy, who won nine caps for England, claimed Kane "is still a little bit off his best".

"He has set himself a really high bar, his link up play is usually really good, but things aren’t quite working for him," added Murphy.

"The options we have on the bench seemed like exactly what we needed in the game. We were all crying out for a change."

Kane managed 28 touches in 105 minutes against Slovakia while Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who came on in the 94th minute, managed 22 touches in just 30 minutes including the assist for England's winner.

Lineker believes the 30-year-old might find things tough against Switzerland.

"Kane's movement isn't much at the moment, he is being left isolated most of the time," Lineker said.

"Switzerland play three at the back and Harry Kane has already said England struggle against that."

Ex-Manchester City defender Richards blamed the lack of service for the England captain and said it was a "a tactical issue" and "not a Kane issue".

"I know we have criticised Kane, but he has no one putting the ball into the box. No one is getting to the byline to make cut backs," he explained.

"Sometimes you drop a bit deeper to get on the ball but we need the ball higher up."

A clamour for Palmer to start 

Cole Palmer was one of England's form players coming into Euro 2024 having enjoyed a stellar campaign with Chelsea.

He scored 22 times in last season's Premier League with 11 assists which meant he had 33 goal involvements in 34 league appearances.

The 22-year-old has, though, featured sporadically for the Three Lions in the tournament with just two appearances and a grand total of 73 minutes.

Shearer would "definitely bring Palmer in" against Switzerland while Lineker believes the winger has shown the kind of "swagger" to thrive on the big stage.

For Murphy, he is the "one England player who is taking the most risks" during what many have considered a rather conservative approach from Southgate.

He said: "He is the bravest on the ball, as if to say 'I don’t mind trying things and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen'.

"Some of the other England players are overthinking things but Cole Palmer isn't and that is the way he has played all season.

"He has to start the next game. For some of the players coming in, there is no pressure." 

'Unbalanced' and 'all over the place' at the back 

Southgate's side have conceded two goals in four games so far at Euro 2024, but even in defence the England boss has fresh food for thought.

Full-back Kieran Trippier took a knock to his leg in the second half against Slovakia and had to be withdrawn, leaving Bukayo Saka to fill in at left-back.

The Three Lions will definitely be without Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi, who will serve a one-match suspension after picking up a second yellow card of the tournament.

England's defensive display against Slovakia was "all over the place" according to Murphy who fears if they "play better opposition" they will be "in a world of trouble".

Shearer said it will be "fascinating how England cope with three up front for the Swiss" and called for Ezri Konsa to come in for the banned Guehi with Luke Shaw at left-back.

Richards wants to see Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back with Kyle Walker switched to the left flank.

Lineker is more broadly concerned with the manner in which England's back line operated against Slovakia, and its impact on the rest of the side.

"The defence were very deep, we have a player in John Stones who likes to come forward but he was deep," he added.

"Then [England have] two midfielders, often as deep as the back four. Then a huge gap to Bellingham and Kane. They were so spread out it was impossible to play passing football.

"They weren’t cohesive, there were disjointed, they were unbalanced. It was as though they had just met each other." 

Article source: BBC

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