Tony Adams is worried Gareth Southgate doesn’t have a “proper plan” when England come up against top teams like France at the World Cup as he revealed his concerns over the Three Lions’ defending against Iran.
England were stunning going forward in their opening group game against Iran as they ran out 6-2 winners, but Southgate admitted afterwards that he was disappointed to have conceded two goals.
And Adams believes England need to be more prepared to cover for Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier when they push forward.
“I don’t want to be a doom-monger but there were situations, against what was a poor Iranian team, which would seriously concern me against much stronger opposition,” Adams told The Sun.
“Great as we were going forward and benefited particularly from crosses by Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier, I worry about the gaps we leave when the full-backs bomb forward.
“When you play four in defence, you can leave the centre-backs exposed — and it is what happened for Iran’s first goal.
“I fear we are not making a proper plan for when we come up against, say, France in the quarter-finals, which is something we should already be planning for.”
And Adams explained how Southgate can prepare for Kylian Mbappe et al., who would “ruthlessly expose” England if the problem isn’t remedied.
“When Shaw flies down the wing and we lose the ball, we need to make sure there is cover behind him,” Adams added.
“This comes about by moving the centre-back across to full-back and defensive midfielder Declan Rice dropping into centre-half.”
“You then forget about a No 10 supporting the attack and make a shape with what I would call two No 8s to shore up midfield.
“At Arsenal, Granit Xhaka often drops into defence when Kieran Tierney goes off supporting the attack.
“When I was playing, I would move across and either Patrick Vieira or Emmanuel Petit would drop in to take my position.
“If I was England coach Steve Holland, I would already be working on this.
“I don’t feel it is too much of a concern at the moment because I reckons it’s a given that we get through the group and the last 16.
“That’s not being cocky about England’s chances, it’s just this team is too good to be found out before then.
“But, against France, it will be a big issue — Kylian Mbappe will ruthlessly expose any weaknesses like that.”
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