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12th Jul 2018

Graeme Souness rips into both Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard after defeat to Croatia

Is this a bit harsh?

Darragh Murphy

Graeme Souness has identified England’s midfield as the main area which let them down in their World Cup semi-final against Croatia.

While supporters have been discussing the rare Harry Kane off night and the mistakes from the defence in conceding the pair of Croatia goals, Souness believes that the centre of the park was the issue.

The Scotland and Liverpool legend has particularly pinpointed the shortcomings of both Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli as England failed to defend their early advantage which came courtesy of a gorgeous Kieran Trippier free-kick after five minutes.

Souness has said that England were caught out in their first World Cup game against elite-level opposition and he’s laid plenty of blame at the feet of Lingard and Alli, who he’s accused of seeking glory rather than clever play.

“I want to emphasise the midfield. You can’t win the big trophies, you can’t dominate football matches, you can’t put yourself in a position where you are not giving the ball away unless you’ve got good players in midfield who can keep the ball,” Souness told beIN SPORTS.

“I come back to Lingard and Dele Alli – two players who want to get on the end of things after there has been clever play by somebody else.

“They don’t want to get involved in keeping the ball and dominating possession.

“They want to be involved in scoring the goals and getting on the end of things.

“And the makeup of the team was all wrong tonight. All wrong tonight. When they come up against a decent team, I think it’s inevitable that they were going to struggle tonight.

“Let me explain. They played the worst team in the tournament in Panama. They played, along with Saudi Arabia, probably the second worst team in the tournament, Tunisia.

“Put a line through the Belgium game, that doesn’t count.

“Then they play Colombia and in the second half, Colombia were much better than them. England came back in extra-time but only after a Colombia player hit the crossbar.

“They get through on penalties.

“Then they play a team in Sweden who were in awe of England. Both played a similar sort of game; long ball and feed off the bits.

“Tonight is the first time, other than the Belgium game, that they have come up against a team who wants to pop it around and keep possession – and they really, really were shown up for being a back-to-front team playing very basic football.”