Gary Lineker labels Gareth Southgate ‘tactically inept’ in extraordinary tirade

Gary Lineker labels Gareth Southgate ‘tactically inept’ in extraordinary tirade

Gary Lineker branded Gareth Southgate “tactically inept” in an extraordinary attack on the England manager following the dismal 1-1 draw with Denmark at Euro 2024

Former England striker Lineker, who is usually reserved in his criticism while presenting on the BBC, made the comments on his The Rest is Football podcast and said the team’s performance was “s***”.

Lineker said it was “inexplicable” that England were unable to play a high press against Denmark and was scathing of Southgate’s tactics, while also rubbishing the manager’s suggestion that England lacked a replacement for midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

“If anyone says that the England team is not trying or not giving 100 per cent, that is nonsense. They’re just a little bit lost tactically,” Lineker said.

“And that comes from the manager, I’m afraid. It really does. He’s got to get England playing higher up the pitch, as a unit. Because at the moment they’re not a unit. Are they not coached to play that?”

Lineker insisted that Southgate was a “f****** great human being” but added: “He talked about, ‘I’ve never been able to replace Kalvin Phillips. I thought, ‘Oh come on’. [Adam] Wharton could do that job easily. [Kobbie] Mainoo could do that job.

“I mean, you can think of all sorts of words and expletives if you like, but it was s***”, Lineker continued. “Was it tactically inept? It’s really hard to be critical of Gareth Southgate because, overall in the England role, he’s turned England’s fortunes around in many ways.

“Having said that, he’s kind of ended up adopting a really talented bunch of players. We’ve done a semi-final of a World Cup final, a final at the European Championship, quarter-final of the subsequent World Cup where, to be honest, we were a little bit unlucky.

“He’s an amazing leader, he’s a great communicator, he’s transformed the public’s opinion of the national team and the players. But, tactically, the first game [a 1-0 win against Serbia], and we’ve seen it in other tournaments as well.

BBC host Gary Lineker made the comments on his podcast (BBC)

“England kind of start OK and then get a goal and then everything changes, and it’s almost like the kind of tactics of, get a lead, hang onto it. And the game’s moved on from that.”

Lineker, who also said captain Harry Kane had to do better, was far from the only former England international to criticise the Three Lions, with Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Ian Wright and Micah Richards all questioning England’s tactical display.

Southgate admitted England “didn’t function” as a team against Denmark and did not shy away from the negative reaction. “Look, I think we have to accept this is the environment we’re in,” Southgate said. “The environment of winning on the biggest possible stage.

“If we don’t hit the level, if I don’t hit the level that’s needed, then we have to accept what comes our way. We have to find the best way to solve that. Of course we need the fans, you know we need the fans, but I have to say they’ve been brilliant, absolutely brilliant in the stadiums.

(AFP via Getty Images)

“And I can completely understand their frustration with the way that we played, but what I would say is these boys aren’t lacking effort at the moment. It’s not a case that they’re not trying but we’ve got to find a better way of playing, we’ve got to find more quality in what we’re doing.

“I don’t think people would look at them and say ‘they don’t care’. If anything at the moment we care too much and we’ve got to find a way of getting that right balance.”