Shearer accuses Lineker of being ‘frightened’ of new England backlash as duo give Slovenia verdict

Joe Williams
Former England striker Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker has been outspoken throughout the tournament on the England team.

England legend Alan Shearer reckons Gary Lineker is “frightened of getting criticised again” as the duo gave their verdict on the Three Lions’ draw against Slovenia.

Gareth Southgate’s side had already qualified from Group C ahead of their match against Slovenia but their disappointing 0-0 draw in Cologne secured top spot after Denmark and Serbia also held each other to a goalless stalemate.

England were slow and lethargic again in the first half against Slovenia but they improved after the break to carve out chances to win the match and Lineker was encouraged by what he saw.

Lineker said on the Rest Is Football podcast: “In the second half, I thought you could see that if this team continue to play a high press, chances will come. And we may have been playing that way because Slovenia knew that a draw would get them through.

“So they were cautious and sat back a little bit. I understand that. But I saw enough to suggest that England are improving slightly.

“Now, I think there were downsides but I think there were real positives, particularly, I thought, when Cole Palmer came on.

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“We were still unbalanced on the left, no question about that, and I thought it was a little baffling that he waited so long for Anthony Gordon to come on, because I think [Phil] Foden was playing there but then he was switching with [Jude] Bellingham and I don’t think that really helped either of them in a way, because they were neither here nor there.

“I’m trying to put a positive spin on it. What I did see in the second half was energy and I haven’t seen energy, apart from the first half an hour of the first game, in the other performances.

“England have got through, they’ve won the group. they might play the Netherlands in the next round but they might not.

“So, I think there’s enough there in the second-half, enough there just to make me think for the first time this England team has some energy, which they hadn’t before.”

Lineker was recently criticised for calling England’s performance against Denmark “s**t”, reflecting what many fans were thinking with Harry Kane and Declan Rice critical of his comments.

And in response to Lineker’s comments on the Slovenia match, Shearer said: “If I was a cynic, one would say one was frightened of getting criticised again.”

But Lineker hit back: “Me, frightened of being criticised? Never in my life frightened of getting criticised. I’m telling it as I see it.

“I thought the first half was really dreadful and, once again, no high press, occasional couple little bits that were really poor. I didn’t like the team selection. I thought it was incredibly conservative.”