Peter Beardsley exclusive: England should go all-out attack against Iceland like Keegan’s Newcastle
England legend Peter Beardsley has urged Roy Hodgson to dump the caution and go all guns blazing against Iceland this Monday evening with an attacking formation that would excite any Three Lions fan.
“I would be happy for Vardy, Sturridge and Kane to play together and Rooney to be in midfield. Lallana has to be in there too because Iceland will be more worried about us than us them. They have been amazing but we should definitely have enough to beat them.”
“Eric Dier has been really good but it wouldn’t bother me if we didn’t have a holder and I’d love to see Danny Rose and Kyle Walker continue to bomb on. Our back four will be capable of containing anything Iceland can throw at us and I’m old school and remember Kevin Keegan at Newcastle going for it.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with 888sport the 55 year old was also quick to defend Hodgson’s decision to take so many forwards to France, a selection that led to widespread concerns that the squad was unbalanced.
“I have to be honest and say that if I was the manager of a country like England I would always take five strikers. You’re hopefully playing seven games and they can be the difference so I would always top load with strikers.”
Alas we have seen very little evidence so far of Kane and co making that difference with only one goal apiece for Vardy and Sturridge and the Spurs hotshot yet to get off the mark and appearing to be a shadow of his recent self. Some claim tiredness has set in after playing two years of non-stop football without a break. Beardsley disagrees.
“That’s the first thing we jump on every tournament: that the players look tired. Why would they look tired? They’re getting their rest at the right times and it’s too easy to say that. Would you say that Italy looked tired the other night? I would yet they made eight changes.”
“Vardy or Kane could be a superstar at any time and I don’t see tiredness as a reason.”
That rules out Rooney returning to the frontline then. Indeed the former Liverpool and Newcastle magician is perfectly content to see our national captain remain orchestrating proceedings in the middle of the park.
“In the first couple of games he controlled the game very well and he has the brain and ability to play anywhere. I even think he could do the Dier role at the back of the midfield because he’s got an unbelievable brain. He loves the game and has a great enthusiasm. I don’t see any downside on Wayne Rooney at all.”
High praise then for a player who has divided opinion of late but Beardsley – undeniably one of the greatest technicians this country has ever boasted and certainly the nicest – reserves the biggest compliment for one of the team’s unsung heroes. Adam Lallana, prepare to blush to your bones.
“Lallana would be the one for me who has been outstanding. He is similar to the way I played with how he moves the ball and creates goals. I really like his energy and his enthusiasm in getting the ball back. Dier has done well but overall Lallana has been our best player and I see a lot of myself in him.”
While the Liverpool wideman has impressed inevitably there have been others who have disappointed during the group stage. Cruel or otherwise if there was a nationwide vote for England’s worst player to this point perhaps Raheem Sterling would be in the running and such has been the level of criticism from England fans a social media campaign to bring the youngster home saw hundreds of pounds donated. Unsurprisingly Beardsley has little time for such scapegoating.
“It’s very hard but the good thing about him is he definitely has the talent. It might be the next tournament where we see it or he could come on in the last half hour against Iceland and change the game. There is no doubting his talent.”
“He is in the middle of a big change of direction having gone to Manchester City. It’s a different world for him now. At Liverpool he came from nowhere and was outstanding. Now because of the fee people are expecting miracles and that’s unfair on him.”
Disapproval this past week has not stopped at the garish boots of the City winger with Roy Hodgson’s admission that he still does not know his strongest eleven also prompting negative headlines. The 59-cap maestro – now on the coaching staff in his beloved Tyneside – is diplomatic but his astonishment at the remark is evident.
“He is changing his mind every minute. I train Newcastle reserves and I’m a bit like that myself thinking ‘I’ll play him, and then change it’. You make different decisions and it’s amazing how at his level he also changes his mind a lot.”