Paul Merson tells Gareth Southgate how England can win the World Cup | Soccer

Gareth Southgate has Nations League games to gauge his squad

Gareth Southgate has Nations League games to judge his squad (Image: Getty Images)

England need to play on the “front line” and sometimes with more “flamboyance” according to Paul Merson if they want to win the World Cup later this year.

Gareth Southgate has led the Three Lions to the brink of glory – reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and 2020 European Championship final.

But his side have faltered at crucial moments as the World Cup in Qatar offers an opportunity to go one step further.

The Three Lions lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final (Image: Getty Images)

Before that, England still has Nations League games to play against Hungary, Germany and Italy.

These games will give Southgate a chance to assess his squad and who will travel to Qatar in November.

If his side harbor ambitions of winning the tournament, the former Arsenal and England winger believes Southgate will have to abandon his defensive approach.

“There are many who will feel like they can prove points for England in these Nations League games that start on Saturday night – and Gareth Southgate should be at the top of the list,” Merson said Daily Star.

“It’s not the World Cup for everyone that we’re in a decent group and there are no Mickey Mouse games. They cannot repeat the pressure on Gareth and his side when we get to Qatar. But what these four games against Hungary, Germany, Italy and Hungary again offer is a golden chance to show we’ve progressed from the EURO.

England have a wealth of attacking opportunities

England have a wealth of attacking options (Image: Getty Images)

“And for me it’s the boss who has to show that he has learned his lessons. Gareth had a great chance in the Euros. If you were a boxer, you would have led Italy 1-0 on the ropes in the final and you would have endured it all. Instead of going for the killer punch, they raised their arms and tried to defend him.

“That was Gareth’s big mistake and he has to show that he has changed. Gareth played in the middle half and he was a top middle half; I know because I played with him at Villa and England. He was a very, very good central defender.

“However, that was his football all his career – as a defender – and of course you will have that instinct as a manager too. It is understandable. What I want to see is that he throws off the shackles because if we win the World Cup we’re not going to defend ourselves in Qatar, let alone with the defense we have.

“If we want to win, we have to play up front and sometimes play a little more extravagantly. We have the talent for it, but the key is that Gareth has to trust his flair players a little bit more. That’s not to say you get cocky and say ‘right, you have a chance’, we have a chance and we’re going to sit back and win’. But there are certain times in games when you just have to get going.

“In the final against Italy we started so well, took a 1-0 lead and then pushed hard again. I wanted to see how they do it, just for 20 or 30 minutes. Then score a goal and we will be European champions. The worst that would have happened would have been a 1-1 draw, which it did in the end.

“Gareth needs to open us up a bit at certain times in games because we’re going to face the crème de la crème players at the World Cup. Even if we score, believe me, you can’t defend 70 minutes or 80 minutes when you went 1-0 against them. they will break you Hungary, Germany and Italy are all right sides and it’s an opportunity for Gareth to show us he’s learned. We have to make the players worry about us; we don’t worry about them.’

MORE : Fabio Capello assesses England’s chances of winning the 2022 World Cup

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General Sports Paul Merson tells Gareth Southgate how England can win the World Cup | Soccer

Nate Jones

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