Paul Merson aims bizarre dig at England star after World Cup loss to France – ‘it wasn’t good enough’

Date published: Tuesday 13th December 2022 11:49 - Lewis Oldham

Merson on Southgate

Paul Merson has aimed a bizarre dig at one England player after Gareth Southgate’s side were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup by France.

The Three Lions are now out of the World Cup as they were beaten 2-1 in the quarter-finals by 2018 winners France.

Southgate’s side were the better side for large portions but they succumbed to goals from Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud.

Harry Kane make it 1-1 with a penalty but the forward later missed his second spot-kick as England were unable to take the tie into extra-time.

France’s first goal was the best of the game as Real Madrid’s Tchouameni fired the ball home from the edge of the penalty area.

Jordan Pickford was slightly unsighted when the ball was struck and the Everton man was unable to get across in time to keep out the shot.

Merson has now strangely claimed that Pickford “probably catches” the shot if he was positioned off his line.

‘No team plays perfectly for 90 minutes, it’s very rare you get that, but yet again there were lulls in England’s performance. You can get away with that against the average teams but, against the crème de la crème, you cannot,’ Merson told Sky Sports.

‘England have bad dips in game, the lulls are too long and drawn out and are happening too often. For 30 minutes against France, it wasn’t good enough and we gave them a goal head start. You just cannot afford to do that at this level.

‘I don’t know a goalkeeper who doesn’t save France’s first goal. Why Jordan Pickford was on his goal line when the ball was 25, 30 yards out I do not know. If Pickford was on the edge of his six-yard box, he probably catches Aurelien Tchouameni’s shot.

‘It was an up-and-down tournament for England. We had three clean sheets in five games, including three on the trot, and scored more goals than any other team without playing particularly well. That is how good this group of England players are.

‘Losing to France is a hard result to take. I rarely feel gutted when it comes to football matches since I stopped playing, but I was gutted.

‘As a 54-year-old I thought I’d never see England win the World Cup in my lifetime, but I thought this could have been it.’

Southgate has admitted that he is considering his future as England’s head coach. His current deal is due to expire at the end of the 2024 European Championships.

Merson thinks Southgate would be foolish to move on at this time.

‘Why would you walk away? Because someone said you should have done this or that? You don’t hear too many managers criticising Southgate,’ Merson added.

‘I’ve heard a lot of people who have never managed in their life criticising him. It’s a bit different when you’re the manager, it’s all well and good criticising when you have no experience of what it is like. I don’t know what people are watching sometimes.

‘Southgate has got an unbelievable job. He’s working with the best talent England have had for a long time. We are big players, serious contenders whenever we go to a tournament, we are no longer also-rans thanks to him. This story doesn’t have to end now.’

READ MORE: World Cup was always a stretch for overrated England squad; don’t blame Southgate for ‘failure’


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