Jamie Carragher thinks the demands put on Gareth Southgate and the current England side by supporters have become “unrealistic”.
The Three Lions manager named his 26-man squad for the World Cup yesterday with the tournament in Qatar kicking off on November 20.
Southgate has a wealth of attacking options at his disposal and the England boss has been criticised by fans at times for being too cautious during matches.
The former Middlesbrough manager guided England to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and went one better by reaching the final of Euro 2020 last year.
There has been a suggestion that the current crop of players is the best team since England won the World Cup in 1966 but former Liverpool defender thinks that is a “myth”.
Carragher wrote in his Daily Telegraph column: “Go through the current England team and there are three players who would be a regular first choice in any club side in the world – Harry Kane, Phil Foden and, in the future, Jude Bellingham.
“Compare that to the squad of 2006 when you could list at least nine who came into that category at their peak: Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen.
“The suggestion that this is the greatest England team since 1966 is a myth, but the more it gains traction the more Southgate must deal with unrealistic demands.
“If England go beyond the quarter-finals in Qatar they will have exceeded expectations again, yet the idea is taking hold that the logical next step is to win a final. England are not the best team in Qatar and it is a stretch to argue they are among the strongest four.
“Seeds of discontent have already been planted in the event of England not repeating their recent tournament performance.
“Southgate is being judged for what he isn’t rather than what he is – a safe pair of hands England manager who is a dignified ambassador for the country in press conferences and does not get embroiled in off-field scandals.
“The circuses which too often surround England whenever tournaments come along have been absent since Southgate became manager.
“But the growing divisions in the fanbase and across the media have been obvious, with selections and tactics provoking more criticism than before the 2018 and 2021 squad announcements.
“Walking away from the job would be the most difficult decision of Southgate’s career and I am sure his sole focus is on the next month. It was only last year he signed an extension until 2024 to remove any speculation before heading to Qatar.
“The natural cycle should be for a rethink every four years so a coach builds towards the next World Cup. Unless Southgate has the energy for that, it is wiser to step away.
“Southgate may win over the doubters for a third time over the next few weeks. My hope for Qatar is England to again retain interest in the competition until the final week to give Southgate the option of leaving the job through the front door with his head held high.”
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