Merson, Neville relaxed after England ‘struggled badly’ against ‘brilliant’ USA

Date published: Saturday 26th November 2022 3:07 - Joe Williams

Merson previews Chelsea vs Newcastle

Paul Merson and Gary Neville know England were not at their best against USA but both pundits are calm on their progress in the tournament.

England will face Wales in their next clash at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in their final Group B game.

While England are favourites to progress as group winners despite an uninspiring goalless draw against the United States on Friday which left some supporters jeering at full-time, Wales are on the cusp of elimination.

Robert Page’s side also drew with the USA but were deservedly beaten by Iran in their second game.

They now need a minor miracle to get out of the group but could yet send England home with a big win.

Reflecting on England’s 0-0 draw against the USA, Merson told Sky Sports: “It was poor against USA. There is no getting away from that.

“But the aim of the game at the start of the group stage was to win the group and get through to the last 16.

“The scenario is clear. If we beat Wales we go through as group winners.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team win the World Cup by just breezing through every game and every round, winning 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 or even 6-2!

“Against USA, we struggled badly. We looked leggy, we looked tired, and let’s not take anything away from United States, I thought they were outstanding. In midfield they were absolutely brilliant up against England.”

When asked if there was any chance of Wales getting a win against England, Merson replied: “They haven’t got any, let’s be honest. If England can’t beat Wales on Tuesday then we don’t deserve to go through.

“Let’s be honest, none of the Wales players would get in the England team. I just think we have to win that game. Wales have got to come out, they’ve got to have a go, they’ve got to win the game as well.

“We saw that yesterday, when the game opened up against Iran, Iran were the much better team. Let’s not get away from that. Football is a funny game though.”

And Neville understands the boos from the travelling supporters but insists “ups and downs” will always happen at a World Cup.

When asked what he made of the performance against USA last night, Neville said: “I’m torn between Gary Neville the England player that played in many games like that and served up what would be a below-par performance.

“The fans, who’ve paid lots of money, come over and made it a special moment in their lives and they go away disappointed because they wanted more, they wanted a better game, they wanted more entertainment, they wanted a better football match.

“But I’m also torn that England are still top of the group, they’re in control. And in a week’s time when England are in the second round, no-one will remember that match, they’ll think about what is going to happen in the knockout rounds.

“Gareth and these players have navigated tournaments well. Tournaments aren’t a bed of roses, you do have ups and downs.

“This morning I think a sensible England fan would be rightly disappointed, asking questions, but also knowing that England have not always been in tournaments, England have not always been in a position after two games to get out of a group and that we should relax a little bit.”

READ MORE: Only ‘f**king morons’ would boo England, ‘clueless’ Southgate, Foden calls dismissed and more…

 

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