Jamie Redknapp: Marcus Rashford has got so much more in his locker
Jamie Redknapp spoke exclusively to JOE prior to England's opening game in the 2018 World Cup
The World Cup exploded into life when Spain and Portugal played out a 3-3 draw in one of the all-time great matches at a major tournament. The game seemed to lift a lot of the smaller teams at the tournament, as a string of upsets followed over the weekend.
France scraped past Australia unconvincingly with the help of VAR, Germany fell victim to Mexico's counter attack, Argentina could not break down Iceland's brick wall of a defence and Brazil failed to beat Switzerland.
These results have led to a spread of optimism among England fans. If this is the standard, why shouldn't we believe we can win it? There's another side to that coin though, as Jamie Redknapp points out.
"The good teams have struggled; everyone expected Argentina to beat Iceland... So yeah, it makes me confident but also nervous. The lesser teams are not that bad. That's something you've got to be aware of because that's where we've struggled in the past: against lesser teams," Redknapp says.
With England facing Tunisia on Monday in their opening group game, the North Africans will be hoping to continue the trend of upsets and grind out a result. Redknapp believes Dele Alli can play a key role in making sure England get off a good start.
"Tunisia are no mugs, they’ll sit back and try to play on the counter. They'll be disciplined, like Mexico in the way that they'll work hard for each other. We've got to be patient.
"Dele Alli is a key player for me tonight. The fact that we've got Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard playing further forward will allow him [Dele] to play that role and maybe go a bit unnoticed. He can arrive late in the box and maybe do what Frank Lampard used to do."
Gareth Southgate's system - that allows Alli, Lingard and Sterling to play together - does however mean that Marcus Rashford must start on the bench, which Redknapp believes is a fair reflection of his season.
"He can't be too disappointed not to be playing. It was an amazing goal [against Costa Rica] and a brilliant performance, but he’s been damaged by the year he’s had at United. He’s had some real highs but also a lot of lows.
"He's a great option to have off the bench if you want to stretch the game for the last 10 or 15 minutes. A bit like Michael Owen in his early years, he’s got pace that can hurt defenders. I’m a massive fan, but there's so much more in his locker. I want to see more from him," he says.
Redknapp believes the solution to Rashford's inconsistency could be to leave his boyhood club, Manchester United.
"He's got the potential to go all the way, I just wonder whether being a bit part player at Man United is actually good for him."
Redknapp's feeling is one of general positivity with the natural reservations over whether the team has what it takes to step up in the big moments, but he has been impressed by Gareth Southgate during his time in charge.
"I have got a nice feeling about this squad, I like what Gareth's done, I think he's been very assured, very calm, although it's easy saying that. Until you get out there and the pressure hits that you're playing in a major tournament, you don't know how teams are going to react," he says.
The current squad appears happier and more together than previous squads, as if they have broken free of the expectation that has shackled teams at past tournaments. Redknapp's experience at Euro '96 was similar, as the squad were brought closer together after some players were photographed on a wild night out in Hong Kong just weeks before the tournament.
"Euro '96, when we had the dentist chair situation, the press turned against us, they wanted a couple of the players out of the squad because of their behaviour off the pitch. I think that all, to a certain extent, brought us all together. We had a 'f*ck it' attitude. That was probably why we had our best performance.
"I hope the players can look at it and go 'let's play with no fear, what's the worst that could happen?' At least let's go and play and show what we're capable of."
Raheem Sterling's recent treatment in the press has been an issue many have cited as another example of the media turning against the squad, but Redknapp believes the situations are not identical.
"I think it's different, we caused the problems for ourselves a lot of the time," he says with a knowing chuckle. "Teddy Sheringham, Sol Campbell and I were out one night when we shouldn't have been, so we did get into a bit of trouble."
"I don't think the press are against this team, they want them to do well. But it's up to them to make the press fall in love with them."
One minute you've ordered #McDelivery with @UberEats for the match, the next you've got @PeterCrouch doing the robot in your front room with @PaddyMcGuinness and Jamie Redknapp! pic.twitter.com/PFgYsKgOjF
— McDonald's UK (@McDonaldsUK) June 18, 2018
Jamie has teamed up with Peter Crouch and Paddy McGuinness to surprise a McDonald’s superfan with the ultimate McDelivery for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Look out on McDonald’s Facebook and Twitter for loads of great content over the course of the tournament and share your own McDelivery 2018 FIFA World Cup moments with #McDelivery