What do England need to win the World Cup? Dennis Wise and Frank Lampard, apparently

Editor F365
Lampard speaks on Everton

You know who absolutely know how to win the World Cup for England? Some players who never came close, that’s who…


Not such Wise words
So why didn’t England win the World Cup? Some might say that England were unlucky in their quarter-final clash with France, outplaying the World Cup holders and eventual runners-up and coming within a missed penalty of forcing extra-time. But Tony Adams has other ideas and he has been paid handsomely by The Sun to espouse those ideas. And his ideas are roughly as sharp as his dancing.

‘England must stop being good losers…they need a snarling Dennis Wise in there to wind up the opposition’

Because of course Dennis Wise famously won the World Cup.

Or alternatively, Dennis Wise was dropped from the England squad that reached the semi-finals of Euro 96 and was a key part of the England team that made an absolute cock of Euro 2000.

It’s simply a ludicrous idea. Teams don’t win the World Cup because they have a snarling midfielder ‘in there to wind up the opposition’; they win because they have a brilliant and balanced squad.

‘OK England, now what are we going to do?

‘Are we going to get to the next level and win Euro 2024 and mount a serious challenge for the World Cup in 2026?’

England certainly have a chance of winning Euro 2024 but actual World Cup runners-up France have to be the favourites, while hosts Germany will be contenders. The idea that anything less than winning a major tournament is failure is ludicrous.

Especially when that notion comes from Adams, a man who played a key part in England not even reaching the World Cup in 1994. And when he did actually reach major tournaments, he won just four of 13 games he played.

And he is going to tell us what England’s problems are now they have reached a quarter-final, semi-final and final over the last five years?

‘Right now we are top eight but we are not winning material. We have to alter the mindset.

‘We have talented players who can match some of the very best but we have to change our mental approach.

‘Argentina didn’t win the World Cup with the best team but boy did they have the right attitude.’

Did they have the ‘right attitude’ when they lost their opening game to Saudi Arabia?

Some might say that having literally the greatest footballer of all time might have been a factor, but no…it’s all about attitude. Because it’s on such vague notions that old footballers dine.

‘France did us in the World Cup quarter-final because they knew how to do the job.’

Well, also because Harry Kane missed a penalty.

But more importantly, Adams would quite like a job, thank you…

‘Like a lot of countries we’re still lacking defensively. A good defensive coach would not go amiss.

‘I don’t want to sound like a broken record but now that Gareth Southgate is staying, I repeat my advice that he should call on one or two old experienced heads for advice from time to time.

‘He doesn’t have to make it public but it would help him.’

And who can he call with any experience of winning international tournaments, Tony? Because you certainly don’t fit that criteria. And nor do any England players of your generation. Indeed, Southgate himself has come exactly as close as Adams to winning an international tournament as a player.

‘I’d like to see us get a bit ‘Dennis Wise’. Wisey used to shake opponents’ hands, scrape them with his nails and stamp on their foot as he did it.’

Dennis Wise was a thug who was given a prison sentence for assaulting a taxi driver. If that’s the kind of attitude that England are lacking then we will take the quarter-final and semi-final defeats, thanks.

‘I don’t want us to be cuddling opponents in the tunnel and laughing and joking with them. I want us to hate them and to make it as uncomfortable as possible for them.

‘We need an edge to move forward. We need more aggression.’

Or we need to not miss penalties, Tony. That seems rather more important than some outdated notion of ‘aggression’ that got you and your England teammates pretty much nowhere, particularly in Euro 2000 when a midfield featuring hard men Paul Ince and Wise (and David Beckham and Paul Scholes) lost 3-2 to a Romania side who didn’t seem remotely uncomfortable.


Everybody’s talking like Jamie
Another former England international who was part of the same generation as Adams is Jamie Redknapp, whose entire major tournament experience is less than 45 minutes of Euro 96. And yet he claims that this England side should be winning major tournaments.

He’s been on Sky Sports saying as such:

“When I look at France and Argentina in the World Cup final, you think it could have been us. Argentina are a very good side but not out of this world. Lionel Messi gave them a point of difference and was the reason they won.

“If you looked at the French team, it was one of the weakest France sides we’ve seen. When I played them in 1998, they had Zinedine Zidane, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps as their captain – these were players who could turn the game.

“France didn’t have Karim Benzema, they didn’t have N’Golo Kante. They had Kylian Mbappe who gave them the X factor.”

They also had Antoine Griezmann, Aurélien Tchouaméni and various other players who had won the World Cup four years before. And, as Redknapp mentioned, probably the best young footballer in the world. Fourth played fifth in the world and fourth – as you might expect – narrowly won.

Redknapp was indeed part of an England team that faced France in 1999 (not 1998) but what he does not mention in his roll-call of the star-studded France team is the England XI, which contained David Seaman, Tony Adams, Paul Ince, David Beckham, Alan Shearer and Michael Owen. They were hardly chumps.

According to the BBC report of the game, ‘the midfield was over-run in embarrassing fashion’. That will be you, Redknapp. And yet you are somehow now in a position to say that this modern England side should have done better.

“We have tremendous young players and we have come close, but that’s where the frustration is. I look at the two teams who got to the final, we’re every bit as good as them.”

What you have just described are the vagaries of a knock-out competition. This seems to come as a surprise to too many England critics but there can only be one winner of each trophy. You can’t stat-pad with a Carabao Cup.

“Any young, English, Premier League manager worth their salt would have gotten England to the quarter-finals, when you look at the teams we’ve played.”

Even your cousin, Jamie? Is that what we’re getting at here?

Of course it’s all bollocks because plenty of England teams have not made it to the quarter-finals of major tournaments, and certainly not to at least the quarter-finals of three successive tournaments.

“If you looked at the candidates right now, you’d see Graham Potter at Chelsea, Eddie Howe is doing a great job at Newcastle. Frank Lampard, who has a great history of playing for England, is at Everton. It didn’t work out for Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, but any of these could have done as good a job as Southgate.”

Oh, that was what we’re getting at. That Redknapp’s cousin Lampard and his friend Gerrard could do as good a job as the actual England manager who has been the most successful since England won the World Cup in 1966.

Because of course they would absolutely have engendered the kind of atmosphere that has made England one of the most consistent teams in international football over the last five years after the lows of Euro 2016. Of course they would.

After all, Lampard ‘has a great history of playing for England’ and what more do you need? Apart from Dennis Wise, that is.