Ahead of England’s second World Cup group stage match against the US, Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher reflects on the first week of the tournament and claims Gareth Southgate’s group is better than his Golden Generation.
Is this England better than Golden Generation?
I would agree with what Kyle Walker, among others, has said this week. They have achieved much more than any team I have ever been involved with.
When we talk about that Golden Generation, we think of them as great individual players, but football is a team game and we never got over that as a great team.
We were a great bunch of individuals and we saw that for the club sides more than at the international level as many of these guys are taking shape in the Premier League on the international scene.
If we were to be called the Golden Generation, they would have to be called something similar.
Shocks make England’s victory more impressive
I thought it (England’s 6-2 win against Iran) was very impressive, especially in the aftermath given the shocks we’ve seen in recent days.
I know how difficult it is, the first game of a World Cup, no matter who the opponent is – and even more so this time because there have been no warm-up games at all.
I think that’s why we’ve seen some teams get scared. I think it’s England’s best start to a tournament since 1982 in Spain. Hopefully they can get back to work on Friday.
What I think will help England is that this tournament comes in the middle of a season, while other countries usually have a winter break and that helps them get through the summer time.
I don’t think it’s because they can handle the accumulation of games because that’s the norm for all the top players in Europe.
Vital Kane is 100 percent fit
I think it would be a big concern [if Kane couldn’t play] and I don’t think that’s too disrespectful to the other strikers in the side as there’s a big pushback to the other players behind Kane.
Kane has been a world class striker for the past five years. He was the top scorer of the last World Cup and he will try to do the same by coming off the mark against the USA.
We all know that Kane is one of the first names on the team sheet and the backup behind him makes him a bit weaker.
If Kane missed two or three games in this tournament it would be a huge problem so it is vital that we get him back to 100 per cent fit.
Maguire and Stones are Southgate’s first choice
I think it’s always been that way. Most people would say they are the two best centre-backs in this country, which is why Gareth Southgate has always gone for them.
It’s been a tough few months for Harry Maguire and it’s been more about how he handled the situation mentally than his performance on the pitch.
For England he was excellent so I thought he would pick him. He’s always been very loyal to players who have done well for him over the years – especially in tournaments – so you can understand that from Southgate.
England will be disappointed that they conceded two goals against Iran – and they hit the woodwork too. But Stones and Maguire are England’s best two and Maguire also hit the crossbar, so he showed he can be adept from set pieces in the future. They will meet much better opposition.
Bellingham can become England captain
Being captain of a club the size of Borussia Dortmund at the age of 19 as a young foreign player in Germany shows how they feel about him.
We know he is a special talent and he already feels like one of the most important players in the England team. It’s only the very special players that do – it was the same with Michael Owen and it was the same with Wayne Rooney.
I think Bellingham and Declan Rice will be the mainstays of England’s midfield for the next two or three tournaments. The two will compete for years to come to see who will be England’s next captain.
When Kane finally gives up the armband and is not involved in the England squad, Bellingham or Rice will be captain.
No great team can be won by an outsider
When you go to a World Cup you always feel like only two or three teams can win it, but the fact that it’s another World Cup in the middle of a season with no warm-up games… an excellent team in this era, just as we have had Spain and France before.
Italy won the European Championship and subsequently failed to qualify for the World Cup. Greece won the European Championship in 2004 and Italy won the World Cup in 2006 when no one thought it was possible. I feel like someone could win it that we didn’t expect to win for the tournament.
France have the best individuals and the best squad, but they’ve had so many injuries that you think they could eventually suffer. England are in a group of six to eight teams that can beat each other on any given day. I feel like it can be really open.
Blame FIFA and Qatar for the OneLove bracelets feud
I was disappointed that Gareth and the players decided not to wear the bracelet, but I can understand. Ideally, you don’t want Harry Kane going on a booking in a game. Gareth Bale was in the same situation with Wales.
He even got a yellow card in the game against USA, so that would mean he was suspended and of course didn’t score. So you have to think hard about this and I won’t be too critical of the captains.
Much of this is due to FIFA and the country hosting this tournament, which should never have happened. I’ve made my feelings clear on that.
It’s a joke and so if we want to point the finger we should go to the host nation and FIFA.