Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer Exclusive: England can get better but a more open game could suit

Betfair ambassador Alan Shearer
Read Alan Shearer's latest Betfair exclusive on England v Switzerland

Alan Shearer tells us what Gareth Southgate and England need to do to win their Euro 2024 quarter-final against Switzerland on Saturday as well as giving us his starting XI and thoughts on Ronaldo and Newcastle...


It will be difficult for England to win Euros playing the way they are

The positives are that we are through to the quarter final. They found a way to do it, and how many times over the years have we said that teams need to do that?

In the four games they've played, other than the first 30 minutes they have been really poor. They can only get better, they have to get better - if they don't, they will be coming home early. It will be really difficult to win this competition playing like they have done in the four games.

They are about to play better opposition, better than anyone they have played in this tournament so far. Switzerland are really well organised, they have got a system that everyone looks comfortable in and they've got players who can hurt you in forward positions. Embolo, Ndoye, Vargas, Xhaka in midfield, Akanji and Schar. They've got some really good players so England are going to have to step up.

Three Lions still need to balance the system

I can see what Gareth Southgate is trying to do, but I would much prefer if we were more balanced on the left hand side, hence me wanting Anthony Gordon on that side because I don't think the Phil Foden thing has worked there.

I understand they are unbalanced because of Kieran Trippier having to play at left-back, he's going to have to change again because Guehi is suspended. Whether he thinks it is right then to change the system we don't know. I would be surprised if he did.

I think Phil Foden has been unlucky, he hasn't looked comfortable in the system England want to play. That left hand side hasn't looked right, we haven't got in behind anywhere near enough on that side. His game is he wants to come inside and someone comes on the overlap. That's been difficult for England to do with the lack of a left footer in Trippier. So, he has been unlucky.

But he is going to have to make changes because they haven't played well. I know they've won and they've got through but they were lucky. England got lucky the other night, they are into the quarter-finals, they haven't played well. That has to be a positive because I'm sure that things can only get better.

Losing Guehi through suspension is a concern

The defence was our concern before the tournament started but Marc Guehi has come in and been one of, if not, England's best player. I know Jude and Harry have got two goals but Guehi has been absolutely tremendous.

When you are losing one of your best players that has to be a concern, but it's another decision the manager is going to have to make. Whether that is the only change, I suspect not, and suspect there may be one or two other changes.

Cometh the hour, cometh the spark England need

It took us until the 95th minute to have an effort on target, but boy what an effort it was. That is a positive, we have players that can produce that moment of magic just like Jude did, but we are going to have to step up and improve.

We have been looking for that spark, maybe that's that moment that gives everyone a lift, gets everyone going and playing on the front foot with everyone stepping up.

We saw the Netherlands, who had been pretty poor in their group stages, they go into their game and they produced a performance, they were full of energy which they hadn't been in the group stages and they looked really good playing on the front foot and could have scored six or seven. So let's hope Jude Bellingham's goal is that spark England need and they can all improve their performances.

Give Bellingham a break, he's just rescued England he can celebrate how he wants

Jude Bellingham has been investigated for a gesture he made after equalising. He put a statement out saying it was towards friends in the stand and we have to take his word for that.

He's still young, put yourself in his position, you have just rescued your country with 30 seconds to go, you are a young boy, playing at the highest level, I mean come on.

You have to have a bit of leeway, imagine the emotions and adrenaline that must have been running through his body at that time.

Goodness me, you have just got to understand and appreciate what players are going through at that time, the excitement and everything that goes with it. You can't hold it against him at all.

His words in the press conference afterwards when he said it might shut a few people up, I get the siege mentality that they are wanting to create. But the bottom line is they haven't been playing well and they did get lucky. It was his piece of magic that got England back into the game.

I'm not saying anything different to what everyone else is saying back home in the pubs or in their lounges. No one is saying we have played well, we haven't.

But we're into the quarter-final without playing well. That has to be a plus because things can only get better with the performances.

Ivan Toney offers us something different and could get more game time

I totally understood Gareth's words when he said Ivan Toney was 'disgusted' with him putting him on for 90 seconds. I was really surprised he didn't make other changes before that. Clearly you have got so much other talent on the bench and you are bringing a forward on with nine seconds to go. When I say we got lucky, that worked because he played a huge part in the winning goal.

I was hoping he would bring substitutions on earlier than he did. He is a great option, Ivan Toney, and he must have been thinking 'how am I not getting onto this pitch?'

He does offer us something different. He offers an aerial route. He's someone who will hold the ball up and he's a completely different player to Harry Kane. But he's a really good player, he has scored goals at the highest level for a while now, if he does choose to use him in the next game then maybe he will get a bit longer. I don't think he will start, but if the game is against us I would like to see him earlier.

We could see a more open match, which may suit us better

Switzerland are a really well organised and they've got some really good players. An open game may suit them as well because of the pace and talent they have got up front, three really good players.

And of course Xhaka will want to get on the ball and control it like he did against Italy. They absolutely battered Italy from start to finish, they were miles the better team.

They like to press from the front, but that might be of benefit to England, it might open the game up.

Harry Kane after the first two games said that they were slightly confused about how and when to press because of the back threes they were playing against. Switzerland play with a back three, so they know that and have time to work on it. Hopefully he is not saying the same thing after this game.

My England XI vs Switzerland

Shearer England XI v Switzerland.jpeg

I think Gareth will go with a pretty similar line-up , I don't think he'll go away from what he's used in the past, albeit he'll be looking for a big improvement in the performance.

This is the time where you have to step up. The Netherlands did it in their last-16 game, Turkey were absolutely outstanding as well. There are some huge games coming up in the quarter-finals, so it's something to look forward to.

The Ronaldo show is in town

With Ronaldo against Slovenia, it was all about Ronaldo, wasn't it? He wanted to take every free-kick, despite him only scoring one in his last 60 attempts in major tournaments. One free-kick in 60 and he's taking them from the touchline to try to score from there. He's desperate to get a goal.

I don't think Martinez has a choice - Ronaldo plays. We saw that in their third game when Portugal had already qualified, only three players had started from the previous 11 and Ronaldo was one of them.

Ronaldo_Fernandes_Portugal.jpg

He's 39-years-old and he's taking all the free-kicks, he took that penalty and missed it, although he deserves great credit for the way he took the first penalty in the shootout because the pressure on him was absolutely huge.

But Martinez doesn't have a choice, if Ronaldo is fit Ronaldo plays. That's the rule, I'm afraid.

Newcastle have done good business considering PSR rules

Obviously, Newcastle had to sell players because of PSR. I'm pleased they've done the business they've done, I'm pleased they didn't sell Isak and Bruno.

I know Anderson loved playing for Newcastle, but hopefully he'll get more game time at Forest and he can show everyone how good he is. He's a really good player.

I think because of what Newcastle had to do and the timing of it, it's been good business for them.

Those PSR rules don't sit easy with me. If Newcastle hadn't sold Yankuba Minteh and Elliot Anderson, they would have had to sell one of their bigger players to one of the big clubs. What chance have you got? What message is that sending out? The rules just don't sit comfortably with me at all.

If you look at Newcastle and Aston Villa, they're trying their very best to get near the big boys and challenge. Yet when they do, they have to sell players. Villa have had to sell Douglas Luiz to Juventus because of PSR. That can't be right when a club is trying to challenge the big boys, and what they've got behind them as football clubs doesn't sit easy with me.


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